The couple who met on the beach at Byron Bay

The couple who met on the beach at Byron Bay [ad_1]

(CNN) — It was a summer season’s day in Byron Bay, Australia in early 2003. The solar was shining and Gianna Mazzeo, who’d been basking in its rays for many of the day, determined to clean up with a swim.

As she was popping out of the ocean, Gianna observed a gaggle of males enjoying soccer additional up the beach, calling to at least one one other as they kicked a ball backwards and forwards on the sand.

Gianna, then 27, is Australian however her mother and father are from Italy, so she’d spent plenty of time touring round the EU. She figured the group have been from someplace in Europe, however she could not place the language.

As she made her method again to her beach towel, Gianna discovered herself staring at one in all the guys, who was engrossed in the soccer sport and unaware of her gaze.

“I thought he was extremely good-looking,” she recollects now.

Gianna was vacationing in Byron Bay with two mates. One of them, Alessandra, was visiting from Italy, and it was due to her that Gianna, who lived some 1,600 kilometers away in Melbourne, was in Byron Bay to start with.

“She’s from the Amalfi Coast, and I’d visited her and the beaches there are absolutely beautiful, so when she came to visit me in Australia I thought to myself: ‘Okay, I’m going to take her somewhere pretty spectacular,'” Gianna tells CNN Travel. “And so I thought I’d take her to Byron Bay.”

“Thinking of ways to get his attention”

The beachside city in New South Wales is a picturesque idyll, identified for its browsing scene, burnt orange sunsets, laid-back ambiance, good meals and vibrant beach bars. Alessandra and Gianna have been additionally vacationing with one other pal who was turning 30, so loads of partying alternatives have been a should.

Sitting again on the sand that January day, Gianna nudged her mates and identified the group of soccer gamers, together with the one who’d caught her eye.

“Alessandra and I just sat there on the beach watching these boys playing, and I remember thinking of ways to get his attention,” says Gianna. “But I was too nervous to do it.”

As the day drew to a detailed, Gianna had an concept.

“We have this thing in Australia where we find a spot on the beach and we always say to each other: ‘Okay, we’ll meet at the same spot.’ You never sort of move around,” she says. “And I thought perhaps he did the same with his friends.”

With that in thoughts, Gianna and her mates headed to the beach early the subsequent morning, purposefully setting themselves up in just about the similar spot the place the guys had been enjoying soccer the earlier day.

“I wanted it to look coincidental,” says Gianna. “But it wasn’t.”

Basking in the early morning solar and listening to the lapping waves, Gianna felt her eyes begin to droop. Before lengthy she’d fallen into a sleep.

A short while later, Gianna awoke to the sound of laughter and shouting.

Shading her face from the solar, she appeared up. Her plan had labored, the group of soccer gamers have been solely a couple meters away, exclaiming in that language she could not place.

Gianna noticed the man she’d observed the day earlier than. In an instantaneous, the two of them locked eyes.

“We smiled at each other,” recollects Gianna. “And he came over to speak to me.”

Byron Bay is known for its surfing scene and laidback ambiance.

Byron Bay is understood for its browsing scene and laidback ambiance.

Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

She quickly realized his title — Sebastian Guggenberger, a 28-year-old German engineering pupil who was working in Sydney for a semester as a part of his school course.

Some of Sebastian’s German mates had flown out to go to him a couple of days earlier than, and the group had made the eight-hour drive from Sydney for a weekend of bar hopping and browsing in Byron Bay.

Chatting up a woman on a beach wasn’t one thing Sebastian had ever carried out earlier than, he tells CNN Travel.

“But it felt right,” Sebastian recollects at this time. “She looked up and smiled. I thought, ‘I really have to go over there.'”

After some time, Sebastian’s mates paused their soccer sport and joined in the dialog and the two teams of mates organized to fulfill at an area bar — a Byron Bay mainstay known as The Beach Hotel — later that day.

That night, Gianna and her mates mentioned the German guys as they waited for them to reach.

Gianna stated she was enthusiastic about Sebastian, however her pal who was about to show 30 admitted she was enthusiastic about him too.

“This is pretty silly,” says Gianna now, laughing. “But I said to her, ‘Okay, look, as a birthday present. I won’t do anything. This is my gift to you, basically. I’ll stand back.”

When the Germans arrived and greeted the three girls, Sebastian instantly began chatting to Gianna’s pal.

Gianna recollects her coronary heart sinking. “I thought, ‘Well maybe he really is more interested in her than me.'”

But then Sebastian turned to Gianna and provided to purchase her a drink.

“We walked to the bar together,” she says. “And it was clear we liked each other.”

Gianna says her pal was effective with this flip of occasions — Gianna’s promise to again off had been extra of a joke than anything. After all, none of them thought the evening out was going to spark something severe.

At the finish of a night spent chatting, ingesting and dancing, Gianna and Sebastian exchanged numbers.

Sebastian was really purported to be heading again to Sydney a couple of days later, however he realized he wasn’t prepared for the journey to finish.

He determined to increase his time in Byron Bay, calling work and reserving some further day without work.

Again, it wasn’t one thing he normally would do, nevertheless it simply felt proper.

“I thought, ‘Why not?'” he recollects at this time.

Holiday romance

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Sebastian and Gianna with Gianna’s pal Alessandra, on the evening they met in Byron Bay.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

It was straightforward to get swept up in romance in Byron Bay, says Gianna.

She and Sebastian spent their days strolling Byron’s spectacular coastal paths, and their evenings attending to know each other at bars with ocean views.

“I realized he was intelligent, witty, easy-going and well-traveled,” says Gianna.

A spotlight was the day the two trekked to the Cape Byron lighthouse, a beaming white mild station on the most easterly level of the Australia mainland.

“The lighthouse, we went there together — the whole romantic thing, it was really nice,” says Sebastian.

“We really did get along,” says Gianna.

Saying goodbye after this idyllic week was onerous for them each.

“But he had already extended his stay in Byron for me, so I was really grateful that we had had the extra time,” Gianna says.

As they stated their farewells, the two mentioned the chance of Sebastian coming to go to Gianna earlier than his Australian sojourn got here to an finish.

But again dwelling in Melbourne, Gianna reconnected with a man she’d met proper earlier than the Byron Bay journey.

When Sebastian known as her sooner or later and advised he come for a weekend go to, Gianna needed to let him down.

“I said, ‘You can come, but I have to be honest with you, I have met someone, but it’s not serious.’ It was also at the beginning stages. I didn’t want to lie to him. I think he was a little disappointed,” says Gianna.

For Sebastian, this telephone name sparked a larger realization.

“Normally I would have thought, ‘Okay, I had a good time, whatever.’ But that really did strike me weirdly and I discovered I had stronger feelings,” he recollects.

“I thought, ‘I really should not give that up.’ It’s hard to describe — but more like some other, not force, but there’s something inside that tells you, you should really follow that.”

“I thought, ‘I really should not give that up.’ It’s hard to describe — but more like some other, not force, but there’s something inside that tells you, you should really follow that.”

Sebastian Guggenberger

Still, Sebastian did not need to fall additional if Gianna was proud of another person, so he determined to not come.

Meanwhile, chatting to her mom sooner or later, Gianna discovered herself evaluating the two males and the way she felt about them.

“I said, ‘The guy from Melbourne, he’s the typical guy I always sort of attract, he’s the type of guy who’s going to string me along or so forth,” Gianna recollects saying.

“And I said to Mum, ‘And I’ve met this guy who’s quite different. This is the kind of guy that probably won’t break my heart.'”

About a month or so later, Gianna known as Sebastian up out of the blue to reconnect. He requested her about the different man.

It fizzled out, Gianna defined.

Relieved, Sebastian agreed to come back see her.

Melbourne 2003

Gianna and Sebastian throughout Sebastian’s journey to Melbourne.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

The 2003 Formula One competitors was going down in Melbourne that weekend, and Gianna had tickets.

“It was great, he met my family, and they all liked him. I showed him around, it was nice,” says Gianna.

Over the course of the weekend, the two additionally talked about the chance of Gianna coming to go to Sebastian in Germany that summer season.

“Not as girlfriend/boyfriend, just friends seeing each other again,” says Gianna. “We were both pretty relaxed and neither one of us expected much.”

But one thing about assembly Sebastian had ignited in Gianna an already burgeoning need to make a decisive change.

“My life had always been quite structured,” she says. “I finished high school, went on to uni. As soon as I finished, a week later, I had a job. I was working as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company.

“I simply tried to do the whole lot proper, and I wanted to do one thing completely different.”

Within a few months, Gianna had quit her job and sold her Melbourne apartment — and decided to head to Germany not on a week’s vacation, but as part of a longer, more open-ended European trip.

This decision wasn’t just about Sebastian, she says. It was an opportunity to travel around the continent, see family in Italy and explore new destinations.

And before leaving, Gianna took a TEFL course to teach English as a foreign language, thinking she could teach in Spain, or maybe head on to Japan after Europe and teach there.

But first, she traveled to Upper Bavaria in Rosenheim, where Sebastian lived.

Taking a chance

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Gianna and Sebastian on their first journey to Italy collectively.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

“I picked her up from Munich airport,” Sebastian recalls. “I used to be residing in a pupil house nonetheless, with different college students, and she or he moved in. It was a tiny room, principally, nevertheless it was enjoyable.”

Sebastian’s roommates couldn’t believe a girl had flown all the way from Australia to see him, but they liked Gianna right away.

“Everyone loves her,” says Sebastian. “She can communicate to everybody.”

Over the course of the next few months, Gianna traveled around Europe, enjoying time in Germany, Scotland, Italy, Ireland and Vienna, and Sebastian joined whenever his studies allowed it.

But by October Gianna was increasingly conscious her summer of adventure had an expiration date.

“I’ve to return,” she told Sebastian. “Or I’ve acquired to discover a job.”

“Maybe it’s best to keep,” he said.

So she did. Within two weeks, Gianna got a job at Inlingua Language school in Regensburg, teaching English as a foreign language.

Gianna’s parents — who’d always viewed her as the sensible middle daughter — were surprised when her summer in Europe became more of a permanent relocation to Germany. But they trusted Gianna’s decisions and wanted her to be happy.

Alessandra, Gianna’s friend from Italy who was there when it all began in Byron Bay, was pleased to have her friend on the same continent, but she confided in Gianna years later that she thought the whole thing was a risk.

“She thought, how loopy to be residing with this man that I hardly knew. She thought it might by no means work out,” says Gianna.

But Gianna was confident it was the right choice.

“I by no means needed anybody’s opinion,” she says. “I simply thought, ‘I do know I’m doing the proper factor. I’ve by no means actually carried out something like this.’ And I form of trusted myself. I simply trusted the state of affairs, and I trusted him I assume — the method he was, the method he thought. I simply knew it was proper. And it simply felt proper, it actually did.”

By Christmas 2003, Gianna and Sebastian had settled into a routine together in Germany. She’d met and instantly gelled with his family, and the two were committed to making the relationship work long-term.

Sebastian finished up his degree and started working in a job that often took him abroad.

And the two continued to travel extensively together when they could, a love of exploring the globe being one of the many things that had first bonded them.

In 2005, Gianna and Sebastian spent a long vacation in Australia, returning to the shores of Byron Bay once more.

“It was simply as superb,” says Gianna.

And when they got back to Germany, Gianna fell pregnant.

They were both delighted to start a family together, but while Gianna had always dreamed of a wedding, Sebastian says he’d never planned to get married.

“I do not know why,” he says now. He was committed to Gianna, but weddings had never been his thing.

But a few months before the birth, Sebastian proposed a hiking trip.

“I’m pregnant, I do not need to go,” Gianna protested, but Sebastian insisted, so she relented, and they headed to Tegensee, Bavaria, in the south of Germany.

“And after we acquired to the prime, he requested me to marry him. I managed it to the prime. And I feel my first phrases have been like, ‘No method.’ That’s how shocked I used to be.”

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Sebastian requested Gianna to marry him whereas they have been mountain climbing in Tegensee, Bavaria in Germany.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

Sebastian says his change of coronary heart took place as a result of he’d as soon as once more felt overcome with certainty. It was “the similar feeling I had once I met her, or once I tried to go to her in Melbourne,” he says.

And Sebastian figured hiking was a way of making a proposal “fascinating and never tacky.”

Gianna said yes, and the couple were married at a civil service not long before Gianna gave birth to their first child.

A year later they celebrated their marriage with family in the beautiful surrounds of Bali, with guests attending from Australia, Germany and Italy.

One day at a time

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Gianna and Sebastian celebrated their marriage in Bali.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

In the intervening years, the couple have had two more children and Gianna, who arrived in Germany without speaking a word of German, is now fluent in the language.

Via their dual cultures Sebastian and Gianna have instilled open-mindedness and a love of travel in their kids.

A few years ago, the family temporarily relocated to China for Sebastian’s job.

The couple dove into this new adventure with enthusiasm and passion. The fact they’re both willing to take a risk is key to making their relationship work, says Sebastian.

“We assume typically so alike it is scary,” he says. “But after all there are variations.”

“I embraced all of them,” says Gianna. “I’ve by no means had issues or a foul expertise. I actually love my life right here. But not sooner or later goes by the place I do not ring Mum, learn the Australian information on-line or miss the ocean breeze.”

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Gianna and Sebastian live in Germany with their three children.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

It’s hard, agrees Sebastian, that Gianna’s family lives so far away, especially during the pandemic.

Gianna does wonder if a return to Australia could be in their future, especially when their kids are older — they’re dual citizens, and they might express an interest in studying or working there.

But both Gianna and Sebastian are of the view that it’s best not to overthink or overplan for the years ahead.

That’s always been the couple’s policy, ever since Gianna first flew to Germany. And it’s worked pretty well for them so far.

“We actually simply took sooner or later at a time,” says Gianna. “That’s how our relationship form of labored out.”

And wherever they end up, they know it’ll be together.

“We are removed from joined at the hip, I’ve tried to all the time give him the freedom to search out his success and happiness,” says Gianna. “But at the finish of day we each like the concept of claiming good evening to one another.”

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