4 Years

We don’t have an exact date, but sometime in February 2014, Matt and I started dating. Over the years, we’ve decided on the 18th (as we weren’t going to let Valentine’s Day steal our thunder). In the time we’ve been together, we’ve experienced and shared so much with one another. I don’t want to get too soppy, as we recently wrote open birthday letters to one another, and an article that was published by Hostelling International Canada about travelling as a couple… but I’m so lucky to have found him.

We haven’t blogged much about our previous travels, as Borderline Backpackers was started in autumn of 2017, just before we reached Australia. I’m sure, by now, you all know how we met (if not, check out Our Story), but the adventures really began about a month into our relationship, when we took a weekend getaway to Prague!

Prague, Czech Republic – March 2014

This is such a special city for me, and our trip together completely turned my world upside down – I always say, Prague is where I fell in love with Matt. We spent four days wandering around the old and new town, exploring, holding hands and laughing, as we got to know each other better. We were blissfully happy and in love. I wish we could have lived in that moment forever. My favourite parts of the city were Charles Bridge, The Absinth Bar, The Ice Bar, the pub crawl we went on, where we met loads of wonderful people and our boat cruise along the city at night.

Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, England – April 2014

My mom and uncle had come to visit me in England, and were both very excited to meet Matt. The four of us went to Durdle Door for the afternoon, to hike and explore the Jurassic Coast. After a perfect day together, hiking and enjoyed the landscapes with all my favourite people present, Matt and I finally said the L Word to one another. Less than a week later, we moved in together!

Toronto/Niagara Falls – September and October, 2014

After being in a relationship for such a short amount of time, I was surprised when Matt suggest a 2 month trip to Canada, to stay with my family. He said he wanted to visit my country and see all the wonderful things that made me who I am. I took him all over, to places where I grew up and loved to visit as a kid. It was a dream come true, to watch my family fall in love with Matt too, and see how perfectly he fit in to my world.

Cleveland, Ohio, USA – September 2014

My dad had taken us to visit my family in Cleveland, Ohio for the weekend! My American cousins are huge Cleveland Browns fans (NFL) and we spent the morning tailgating before heading into the game. Afterwards, we spent alllllll night playing Cards Against Humanity, which has become a tradition each time we visit.

Varadero, Cuba – October 2014

SURPRISE! My mom and stepdad bought the four of us a trip to Cuba. It was a place Matt had always wanted to go, and we were excited to escape the cool autumn breeze in Canada, and explore the streets of a country that time forgot. The week long trip was full of adventures – exploring Havana, a Tropicana show, 4×4 jeep driving, snorkelling in an underwater cave and horseback riding.

Athens, Greece – January 2015

For our birthdays (which are less than two weeks apart), we decided to visit a place neither of us had been before, and we found ourselves in Athens. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and I was surprised the city was very run down and dirty. The ancient ruins were breathtaking, and we spent the week walking around the streets, discovering hidden cafes and visiting other historic sites. One of the perks of visiting in January was that it was “off-peak” for tourist season, and the city was fairly quiet.

Our First Home Together and The Start of University – July 2015

After our holiday to Greece, a lot of things changed for us – most importantly, the end of my 2 year working holiday visa was in sight, which would expire in September 2015. Matt started a new job at Amigo in March, and I spent months desperately trying to find a way to stay in England. At the time, we were living in this awfully small room in a 6 bed house on the high street, that was grubby and old, and decided we were ready for an upgrade. We moved in to a beautiful flat, on a quiet street in Bournemouth, surrounded by lovely green parks and large trees – a breath of fresh air, at last. To a few people, this seemed like a silly thing to do, because we hadn’t exactly found a way for me to stay in England yet. Thankfully, a friend suggested looking at university classes and I was accepted to join a Foundation program at Bournemouth University, for Tourism and Events Management.

Amsterdam, Netherlands – July 2015

To celebrate our new flat, Matt’s successes in his new job and my university course, we flew to Amsterdam for a few days. Two very important people were also in Amsterdam at that time: my cousin Jess, from California, whom I share a birthday with, and Mike, Kiwi pen-pal I’d known online for years but never met in person. Of course, the first thing we did was catch up with them. We had dinner with Jess our first night, and spent the next day with Mike, exploring the city and all his favourite places: The Heineken Museum, the coolest breakfast place in town called Coffee and Coconuts, and finally, Vondle Park. A short trip, but memories that will last a lifetime!

Cherbourg, France – September 2015

I had to fly home to Canada to apply for my student visa. When I got my passport back from the UK Consulate, we discovered my visa was only valid from the day I started classes in September, and rather than be away from Matt for an extra month, I returned to England as a tourist in August. The day before classes start, we’re on a ferry to France (for the day) so I could return and activate my student visa. Matt and I spent the afternoon wandering around Cherbourg, drinking coffee in quaint cafes and having dinner on the waterfront. We had roughly 10 hours in France, and took a return ferry home that night, arriving back in Bournemouth the following morning – just in time for me to head to class!

Dubia, UAE – March 2016

This was a very unexpected trip for us. From September 2015, I was swamped with university, while Matt was busy smashing his job at Amigo! Every Christmas, Amigo puts on a Christmas Ball, with the Golden Ticket Awards, where employees dress up, have drinks and are recognised for their hard work. Matt was nominated, and won, Employee of the Year for his department and went up on stage to pick a prize. The tickets, as you can imagine, were in golden envelopes, and each winner could pick one at random. Matt’s envelope had a location – DUBAI! Flights and accommodation were included, and we explored the great desert for four nights, months later in March. If you’ve ever been to Dubai, you might agree with me in saying it looks and feels like any major city in North America – I mean, we had a Tim Horton’s next to the hotel!! The mall was impressively large, but my favourite part was the desert excursion, where we went dune bashing and spent the evening riding camels, getting henna tattoos, trying tradition food and dress, and watching dance performances – an experience I highly recommend for all visitors to Dubai.

WE BOUGHT A FLAT – April 2016

Although we loved living in our rented flat, Matt and I were distraught with news that we were being evicted – not because we had done anything wrong, but the owners wished to sell. After renting for only 6 months (thinking we were signed in to a 12 month contract), we were at a loss for what to do. Thankfully, the sale took another 5 months, and we were given the opportunity to stay until we found a place of our own. Instead of renting again, we thought it was time to get our own place, so we’d never be in this position again.

Our home at Kingswood Place had only belonged to one other person before us, and we quickly fell in love with the beautiful oak floors and unique decor. Thankfully, it also came with a loft so we were able to store all our seasonal belongings out of sight (a luxury we didn’t have while renting). There would be no mould, no leaks, cheaper bills and a permanent home for our cat (a stray we took in while renting). It was the best decision we could have made, and every day I miss it.

Thankfully, we found a friend to look after our cat, Lindy, and tenants to live in our flat while we’re on our current trip!

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It would be ages before we next got to travel, mostly because all our savings had gone in to the purchase of our home, but also because Matt and I decided we would pack up our flat and go backpacking when I finished university in September 2017. We spent months planning, saving up again and working hard to afford the trip of a lifetime – and were very excited when our working holiday visas were granted to Australia in April 2017. Of course, we still had fun along the way: Friends from Canada had come to visit Bournemouth, we were attending music festivals, we took many day trips to London, I had cheerleading competitions with the university… Life was good!

Amsterdam, Netherlands – July 2017

What can I say? Amsterdam was so great the first time, we decided to go again – and this time with one of our friends from Bournemouth, Abi! It was another short trip, but the most fun I had had in ages. We visited plenty of pubs, the cat boat, Coffee and Coconuts (again), multiple markets, The Red Light District and even went on a bar crawl with two of my best friends from Canada, who just happened to be in Amsterdam the same days as us. A perfect farewell to Europe – for now!

EVERYWHERE, Canada – September – December 2017

On 12 September 2017, not only did Matt and I leave England to start our backpacking adventure, but his parents were joining us for the first three weeks of our trip in Canada – to meet my family and explore a country that had always been on their bucket list. We had been planning their trip since January 2017, through numerous emails, facetime calls and whatsapp group chats. It was very surreal to have both my families in one place, and I vividly remember crying when everyone was sat in the backyard that first day, enjoying a glass of wine, because I was so happy. With Greg and Louise, we explored Ontario and Quebec, visiting places I hadn’t been to since I was much younger. Don’t get me started on how often our parents would imitate each others accents and how we’d end up crying from laughing so hard (WATER BOTTLE)! I never wanted it to end. 

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When Matt’s parents left, we flew out west to Vancouver, where we embarked on a week long tour of the Canadian Rockies. HOLY WOW I had never experienced anything so beautiful. Most of my friend from high school moved out west while I had been living in England, and I had seen their photos, but was still blown away by the views. We met lots of wonderful people from all over the world, and formed friendships that will last forever.

The remainder of our time in Canada was spent with my family and friends, who knew we would be embarking on a journey around the world, with no idea when we’d be returning home next.

EVERYWHERE, Australia – December 2017 – Present

The journey has only just begun. We’re currently two and a half months into our working holiday visas, and only now starting to look for work. We’ve travelled from Sydney to Melbourne, along half of the Great Ocean Road, and all the way up the east coast to Cairns. From skydiving, to bar crawls, empty beaches, crazy hostel roommates, lighthouse walks, scuba diving, jeep safaris, motorcycle tours, camping, swimming in waterfalls, meeting kangaroos and watching the most beautiful sunsets – it’s been an incredible adventure, and I’m so grateful to have experienced it all with Matt.

What I’ve Learned Throughout Our Time Together

Love is the most powerful motivator, and brings happiness like nothing else in the world. It’s difficult to be with someone from another country, not because of our cultural differences, but because of the challenges we face in order to stay together: visas, immigration laws, point systems, work/holiday restrictions. When we complete our trip around the world and want to find a place to live, it wont be easy – but I know anything is possible with Matt by my side and we will get through it together. The adventure has only just begun – here’s to you and me, and the rest of our lives exploring the world, hand in hand. For anyone looking to travel with their partner, I believe it’s the most wonderful thing you can do.

— Ally

 

 

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