I Fell in Love Abroad & We're Still Together

“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” - Ibn Battuta.

Oh, the stories I can tell.

Many people travel and come back with souvenirs and pictures, but not many people come back with a boyfriend…from Australia.

It was the summer of 2013. My sister was still in high school and was given a choice by our parents: go on her high school’s trip to Spain or travel around Europe with her sister. She went with option two, giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. We tried looking for tours, as a way to see all of Europe, but the only tour that accepted a 17-year-old was an Australian tour group called Contiki.

Fast-forward a few months: June 25, 2013—we meet with our primarily Aussie Contiki group in London. After the meeting, we called our parents to check-in. My mom being a mom asks, “So are there any cute boys?” We both giggled and said, “Yeah but we think a lot of them are gay, but at least we will make some really good friends.”

Our European adventure began the next day traveling from London to Brussels, Belgium.  As we arrived at the hotel lobby in Brussels, I saw a guy wearing a familiar hat– Miami Dolphins.  I scurried up to him and said, “I love your hat. I’m from Miami!” He gives me nothing but a smirk, so I walk away in disappointment. Maybe making friends wasn’t going to be so easy.

Somehow, that same strange guy, Ryan Brazier, (a Melbourne, Australia native) became good friends with my little sister. A couple of days later in St. Goar, Germany, Ryan and I began hanging out, but not by choice.  According to my sister he was cool, but I still thought he was rude and annoying. In my head, he was just another immature boy. I got along better with his “best mate,” James, so the four of us started sitting next to each other on the bus.

Swiss Alps (my favorite sight of the entire trip) was where everything changed. Maybe it was the beautiful scenery, or the romantic vibe while stargazing. As our whole group was hanging out in the lobby, I decided to give Ryan a chance. I sat down next to him, grabbed his hand and asked, “Truce?” He agreed, so we sat down together and talked for hours. We talked about our friends and family from back home, and how we both love sports. We even talked about our favorite shows, which both consisted of One Tree Hill (sorry, Ryan) and Friends. I remember having this weird feeling after that it would be one of the most important conversations of my life. To my disbelief, I felt an instant connection.

Even though I knew I felt something for him, I decided to play hard to get. I loved watching him chase me. Day two in the Swiss Alps, he followed my sister and I around like a puppy. He came with us up the mountain, stayed with us as we played in the snow and even asked me to take a picture with him; then the random man who he asked to take the picture accidentally broke my camera. James kept hinting that Ryan had a thing for me but a girl always knows. In Ryan’s head everything was going terribly: He broke my camera, I paid him no attention and I laughed in his face when he knocked on my door asking for moisturizer for his burnt nose. 

That night, he took me on a walk to stare at the beautiful scenery. He got all of Contiki talking, because when you share a hotel with 40 other people, nothing is private.  As we sat down and stared up at the stars, he finally shared his true feelings with me. I remember his exact words, too. He said, “People keep telling me I have a crush on you, and I think it’s T-R-U-E.” I could tell he knew that was dumb, but little did he know, I was falling for all of it. I knew that I had to keep him chasing, so I lied. I told him I was not sure if I liked him, and he had to give me a few days. Yes, I am aware that I am stupid and I should have kissed him under the stars.

The next day, we continued our travels to Munich, Germany. No one in our group knew what was going on except for my sister and his mate, James. Poor Ryan was in for a treat. We were going on a bike tour around Europe, but he did not know how to ride a bike. You could sense the fear in his eyes. Not only was he going to embarrass himself in front of 40 people, he was also going to embarrass himself in front of me. To be honest, I thought it was one of the cutest things I have ever seen. He rode his bike as best he could, but was so happy when that day finally ended. 

That night he told me something I would never forget. I showed him a picture of me standing by my bike earlier that day, just so I could hear a compliment. Instead he looked at me and said, “A picture doesn’t tell the whole story.” I remember wanting to kiss him so badly that night, but instead we just talked in the lobby. He dropped me off at my door, said goodnight and went back to his room. I messaged him on Facebook and told him he should have kissed me. Talk about throwing someone mixed messages.

We were in luck because the next day was Venice. My sister and I decided to venture away from the group for a day, and get lost in the beautiful city. Being that he was away from me that day, Ryan tried planning something romantic. He decided to buy me a rose. Trying to hide the rose from the group, he kept it in its plastic bag and threw it behind his back into my hands. WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?

Back in the hotel, I knew our first kiss was coming. I was so nervous I couldn’t even eat. At dinner, I threw back a couple glasses of wine just to scare the jitters away. We snuck out of the hotel, while James and my sister, Adriana, covered for us. To this day, I do not regret making him wait, because we got to share our first kiss in Venice, Italy. A storyteller’s dream. What people don’t need to know is that it was on a park bench next to a gas station outside the city and also, surprisingly next to a circus with Tigers and Elephants out in the open.

From there, as the quote from The Fault in Our Stars goes, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

It got harder and harder to keep it a secret from the group, so in Florence, we finally let everyone know. We were all out at a bar called the Red Garter. Ryan came up to me and sat on my lap, as everyone began chanting “KISS, KISS, KISS!”. So, we did and everyone cheered as we became Contiki’s favorite couple.

When it came time to say goodbye, I was not ready to let go. We shared some incredible moments together. We kissed on top of the Eiffel Tower, walked hand in hand on the beach in Barcelona and even partied with the rich people in Monte Carlo. 

That’s when we decided it wasn’t goodbye, it was “see you later.” And that has been our motto for the past two years. Ryan is the love of my life and I know I am going to marry him one day. Of course, we struggle with the long distance, but none of that matters when you really find the one. We get to travel to places we have never been to. I even got to go to travel around Australia for a month, which is an opportunity I never thought I would get. People always wonder how we do it, but in my opinion, it’s easy. When you know, you know and you will always fight for love.