We Found Love in a Hopeless Place.
Our beloved Instagram community knows some of our back story. Our followers have been watching our wanders for years now. You can read more about it here, if you wish. As some have politely asked for it, we wanted to share it – with a tad more length. Just enough to help you believe that true love still exists in this world.
After all, the tale of how a German traveller met a Canadian wanderer is not to be taken lightly. Some people test the water temperature by dipping their toe in. Others take a brief look, assess the situation, hold their breath, and dive in head first. Us two? We’re the latter.
Once Upon a Time: Finding Love on Instagram.
Our story begins where any classic love story begins: Instagram. It’s a story about a love of travel bringing two travellers together. It’s a story about taking a chance. It’s a story about trust. It’s a story about travelling a total of seven countries in Europe with someone you hadn’t previously met in person. Only over Skype.
We always cringed when asked about who we were going travelling with. “So when did you meet?” is what friends and a few family members would ask. Not quite a simple answer when the real answer is technically “never”.
Lisa was in Bilbao, Spain on exchange, while Eric was in Small Town, Canada having moved home after living in Edinburgh. What started as a few messages about travelling turned into a Skype call. One became many, and very quickly we were hooked to the human on the other side of the screen.
“Optimistically mad”, a close friend once described us as. We Skyped for months growing closer and closer with each log in. Before Christmas, Eric sent Lisa a letter written in English and German along with her birthday gift – a stuffed Penguin due to an inside joke – by mail to Germany. Lisa immediately fell in love with “Penguin”.
We had planned our whole four-week trip – cities, transportation, accommodations, and some activities – entirely over Skype, and yes, it came together very easily. We learned quickly that we aligned on all the big topics, and slowly found out we aligned on the small stuff, too. With New Years fast approaching, the plan was set in motion.
The Game Plan: We were to meet before New Years in Lisa’s home country, Germany, and off we would begin our adventure travelling through Europe in the winter. Skyping before we left, we had a clear plan to meet at Berlin Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). For Eric, this involved about a 40 minute train ride from the airport which would have been a brutal mix of butterflies with jet lag. With a kiss for good luck, off we went heading for Berlin to begin our trip.
“Oh fantastic, it’s snowing in Iceland”
Leaving Canada was nerve-wracking for Eric: on top of meeting the girl of his dreams (or at least he so optimistically hoped would be) Iceland was facing a major snow storm just before New Year’s and flights had already been delayed. For Lisa, the trek by land was a few hours of introspective analysis and anticipation spent on a train. After successfully transferring in Iceland only a few hours behind (better than cancellation) Eric received a sweet “Welcome to Europe – looking forward to seeing you!” message, to paraphrase.
For both of us, that final journey to Berlin was filled with internal chatter, but honestly, it was all positive. “What if my friends were right?” and “What if it wasn’t meant to be?” was always immediately replaced with “I’m sure of what we have” and “I can’t wait to finally meet her/him”. Writing it back – honestly, we recognize how crazy it was – considering at the time our connection was built entirely over computer screen. But, sometimes you just know. Travellers everywhere and friendly readers, remember: listen to your heart. It’s usually very right.
Taxiing the tarmac having landed in Berlin, Eric got a text from Lisa welcoming him to Germany. Most importantly, the message basically said “Don’t leave the airport after clearing baggage”. While initially confused, Eric began to put the pieces together. It helped knowing just how sweet Lisa was. But could it be? Was she here at the airport already? Time would soon tell.
Eric got off the plane feeling every emotion in the book. Lisa waited in the Arrivals hall almost too excited to stand having checked Eric’s flight on her phone like a dozen times. Each time, the little plane icon getting closer to the end.
Eric took one last breath, fixed his hair (plane sleepy hair was an issue) and rounded the corner.
Scanning the humans standing in Arrivals from right to left, it wasn’t long before that puffy blue parka, long blonde hair, and huge smile came into view. The look on her face, as if to almost say “surprise”, is something Eric will never forget. Lisa came to the airport so they could meet faster, and so Eric wouldn’t have to navigate the final leg of the journey alone.
Europe, here we come.
We spent New Years in Berlin, and enjoyed the Christmas markets in Prague. Bratislava, while small, was a nice little stop which prompted our impromptu day trip to Vienna. We love Vienna. Having never been to Poland, Krakow and Warsaw were amazing cities to waddle around – Krakow for its medieval feel and Warsaw for a familiar city look.
Remember, it was in Krakow that we fell in love with our beloved “Pia”. Our first waddle together is filled with photos, amazing Airbnb hosts, silly Go-pro footage, and chats about our future. We hope to share with you many of those memories but some – well, those are just for us.
We parted ways in Warsaw, and while difficult, we knew we had a Phase 2 to the trip. Lisa headed to Copenhagen to get ready for the start of the new semester, while Eric solo travelled the Baltics (shout out to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). Eric’s flight was cancelled leaving Tallinn, and almost got delayed by over a day heading to Copenhagen to reunite with Lisa.
Luckily, and this is a story for another time, Eric made it to Copenhagen the same day. It involved a prop plane and hitching a ride through Helsinki. True story. Finally, from Copenhagen, we flew together to Edinburgh to enjoy a few days in the city that brought us together.
Separating in Edinburgh was difficult, to say the least. The bus on the way to the airport was the quietest and somber 30 minutes of our lives. Holding hands and fighting back welling eyes, we knew where we stood.
We were together for good.
That’s what made it even harder. The trip didn’t go to hell after two cities. The trip had melted us together as adventure buddies for life. If you know Edinburgh Airport, you’ll know the escalators leading up towards Departures. After a long embrace and a wish for a safe journey, we watched one another glide away into the crowd.
We left knowing we didn’t want it to be too long until we reunited – but was that 4 weeks or 12? With work and school, we had no way of knowing. Spoiler: It was 3 weeks. Eric booked a flight back within a week of being home. “Fu*k it,” he thought, “she’s worth it”. Lisa was more than okay with that.
Lessons Learned after our Euro Wander.
And that’s the tale of our first wander together. The next few months involved crossing oceans twice more, but that’s for another day. As we end off, for now, we wanted to leave you with a few brief lessons we learned from our first trip. We hope we can inspire, challenge, and spark a little craziness in everyone.
1. Travel is a Compatibility Gauntlet. You learn pretty quickly if you’re going to click or not.
2. Patience is Key. Travel throws curve balls, it’s how you respond to those twists that defines you.
3. Choose Peanut M&Ms. This last one might be a bit of a mystery – but, friends, like all good P&P tales – that’s a story for another time.
If you want to see more photos from our trip together you can follow us on Instagram. For now, we’ll leave you with this: Yours is out there, too. Keep your head up and just keep searching. Believe us, it’ll happen when you least expect it.
Thank you for joining our journey. As always, Happy Waddlin’!