Alternative title: “How I Fell in Love with a Frenchman”
Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you all that I moved to France a few weeks ago. Crazy, right?
This is my big excuse for being a terrible blogger these past few months.
Settle in, folks. I’m going to tell you the story of why I moved to France.
Well, I ended up backpacking around Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa for a total of 8 months. I lost myself, I found myself, I did all of things one is supposed to do while traveling aimlessly.
I visited 34 countries and even found time to fall in love.
It’s a lovely little tale.
I met Geoffroy in Romania — Transylvania, to be exact. My travel buddy Taliha and I had found €18 flights to Romania from Cyprus, so we figured it was a good place to start exploring Europe.
We had just hitched a ride from the village of Sighisoara to a little hostel in Brasov*. It was raining, as it often does in Transylvania, so we arrived at our hostel in Old Town looking (and likely smelling) a bit like wet dog.
He was there, on a couch next to the registration desk, hanging out with two other travelers.
One of them, an Australian guy, was letting the hostel dog play tug-of-war with a plastic water bottle, while the other, a Canadian, was offering to pay him to stop. The noise was aggravating his hangover.
My guy, Geoffroy, hailed from France. Being the only non-native English-speaker in the group, he didn’t talk much. Taliha and I wasted no time inviting the three of them to grab some dinner with us.
Someone suggested Italian, so the five of us set out into the evening in search of pasta and wine.
Geo and I ordered the same thing for dinner and dessert, and after a few glasses of wine I started giving him a hard time for carrying an umbrella with him to the restaurant (I’m obviously really good at flirting).
Being from Portland, Oregon, I was born with webbed feet and was taught from a young age that umbrellas are for wimps and tourists.
Of course, it was raining cats and dogs when we left the restaurant. He shared his umbrella with me anyway.
That night we all got pretty toasted at the local Irish Pub (as one does), and the next morning Taliha set off on her own adventure while the Australian and Canadian moved on to their next destination.
Geoffroy and I decided to spend the day exploring the town.
He later told me he was meant to leave that day, too, but decided to stay after I invited him to hang out. Cue the “awww” track.
We wandered around town, explored the local fortresses, churches, and ruins, then found a table at a cafe in the main square and ordered some wine.
I taught him the word ‘bumpy’ in English, then impressed him with my high-school French skills (I could only remember the words ‘funiculaire’ and ‘petit-déjeuner’).
By the time we met up with Taliha for dinner, I was pretty smitten.
We spent a few more days together exploring villages and castles on a road trip through Transylvania.
You can read more about my time in Romania in this post.
Geoffroy had brought his car all the way from France as part of a year-long solo adventure through Europe. He was headed north to Ukraine and I was headed west to Serbia with Taliha.
He invited me to come with him, and while I was tempted, Taliha and I had plans of our own that I wanted to stick to. We exchanged contact information and mused that perhaps our paths might cross again.
Within a few weeks we had decided that we needed to meet again.
I was planning to be in Scotland and Ireland towards the end of July (both to get out of the Schengen zone and to avoid the summer heat), so I booked a flight up to Bergen to meet Geoffroy for a 3-week camping trip through Norway and Sweden.
As everyone knows, the best way to start a new relationship is to live out of a car, sleep in a tent, and shower only occasionally.
This was really only a mild step down from hostel living, and by this point in my trip I could sleep literally anywhere so I figured it would be fine.
Norway was extraordinary. We took car ferries across the fjords, camped in the woods, and hiked up to Kjeragbolten.
The day of my 30th birthday, we drove into Sweden and stayed at a little Airbnb with real running water and a full kitchen. He cooked me dinner and we rested up before heading back into the wild the next night.
A few days later, I had the idea to visit an amusement park in Gothenburg so we could ride some roller coasters. We spent the whole day at the park, only to return to the car that evening to find the window broken and nearly all of our possessions stolen.
Let me tell you: when you are backpacking, the last thing you want stolen is your backpack. Well, maybe second-to-last, because luckily I had my phone, camera, and passport in a separate bag under the seat.
Poor Geoffroy lost his guitars, his travel journal, all his souvenirs, and some camping gear.
Since we no longer had any clothes or toiletries, couldn’t camp, and couldn’t afford to stay in hotels or hostels in Scandinavia, we decided to drive home, to France.
He had been on the road for almost 12 months, and I was meant to meet Taliha in Spain, so we stayed with his family for a few weeks.
I loved spending time with them, and Geoffroy loved showing me around his region. He grew up in a small village in the region of Jura, not far from the Swiss border.
Before I knew it, it was time to fly to Spain to meet Taliha for La Tomatina. Geoffroy and I talked everyday and missed each other like crazy.
I roamed around through Bulgaria, Romania (again), and Italy before catching a flight from Naples back to France. We spent another week in France before flying to Morocco together for a 3-week road trip.
After Morocco, he flew back to France and I flew back to Spain to meet Taliha (again). After a week in Madrid, Taliha and I spent a few days in Iceland, then I (finally) took a flight back home for my sister’s wedding.
Two weeks later, Geoffroy’s plane touched down in Portland and he stayed for two months.
I had a blast showing him around Oregon.
We explored the coast, the Willamette Valley wine region, hiked Smith Rock, and drove to Crater Lake.
During these two months we debated the big question: Will we live in France, or in the States?
There were plenty of pros and cons for both, but when it came down to it, it made more sense for me to move to France.
I spent another two months back home getting my affairs in order, preparing my cats for the big move, and spending time with my family.
In the middle of March I packed my backpack, my carry-on, and my cats, and headed to the airport.
Geoffroy picked us up in Geneva and drove us to our new home in a little village (population 310) about halfway between Lyon and Dijon.
The move hasn’t been easy, but the rewards have been plenty.
Our house overlooks a beautiful valley filled with farmland and vineyards.
I can see four cathedrals and three castles from our balcony, where we watch the sunset on clear nights.
We are still settling in, but I’m very excited to get back to a (somewhat) normal routine where I can write, cook, and share recipes and stories with all of you.
Expect lots of travel stories, tips, and itinerary ideas from this past year!
Okay, I think that’s enough for today.
Thank you, dear reader, for continuing to support this crazy journey. I promise to keep you posted along the way!