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The Australian-German couple who met on the seashore at Byron Bay

(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 seen a gaggle of males taking part in soccer additional up the seashore, calling to at least one one other as they kicked a ball forwards and backwards on the sand.

Gianna, then 27, is Australian however her dad and mom are from Italy, so she’d spent quite a lot of time touring across the EU. She figured the group had been from someplace in Europe, however she could not place the language.

As she made her method again to her seashore towel, Gianna discovered herself gazing one of many guys, who was engrossed within the soccer sport and unaware of her gaze.

“I assumed he was extraordinarily handsome,” she remembers now.

Gianna was vacationing in Byron Bay with two associates. One among 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 might visited her and the seashores there are completely stunning, so when she came visiting me in Australia I assumed to myself: ‘Okay, I’ll take her someplace fairly spectacular,'” Gianna tells CNN Journey. “And so I assumed I might take her to Byron Bay.”


“Pondering of how to get his consideration”


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 seashore bars. Alessandra and Gianna had been additionally vacationing with one other pal who was turning 30, so loads of partying alternatives had been a should.

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

“Alessandra and I simply sat there on the seashore watching these boys taking part in, and I bear in mind considering of how to get his consideration,” says Gianna. “However I used to be too nervous to do it.”

Because the day drew to a detailed, Gianna had an thought.

“We have now this factor in Australia the place we discover a spot on the seashore and we all the time say to one another: ‘Okay, we’ll meet on the similar spot.’ You by no means kind of transfer round,” she says. “And I assumed maybe he did the identical along with his associates.”

With that in thoughts, Gianna and her associates headed to the seashore early the subsequent morning, purposefully setting themselves up in just about the identical spot the place the blokes had been taking part in soccer the day past.

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

Basking within the early morning solar and listening to the lapping waves, Gianna felt her eyes begin to droop. Earlier than lengthy she’d fallen into a nap.

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

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

Gianna noticed the man she’d seen the day earlier than. Immediately, the 2 of them locked eyes.

“We smiled at one another,” remembers Gianna. “And he came visiting to talk 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 Pictures

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

A few of Sebastian’s German associates had flown out to go to him a number 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 lady on a seashore wasn’t one thing Sebastian had ever performed earlier than, he tells CNN Journey.

“But it surely felt proper,” Sebastian remembers as we speak. “She seemed up and smiled. I assumed, ‘I actually should go over there.'”

After some time, Sebastian’s associates paused their soccer sport and joined within the dialog and the 2 teams of associates organized to satisfy at an area bar — a Byron Bay mainstay referred to as The Seaside Lodge — later that day.

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

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

“That is fairly foolish,” says Gianna now, laughing. “However I mentioned to her, ‘Okay, look, as a birthday current. I will not do something. That is my present to you, principally. I am going to stand again.”

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

Gianna remembers her coronary heart sinking. “I assumed, ‘Effectively perhaps he actually is extra curious about her than me.'”

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

“We walked to the bar collectively,” she says. “And it was clear we preferred one another.”

Gianna says her pal was positive with this flip of occasions — Gianna’s promise to again off had been extra of a joke than anything. In spite of everything, none of them thought the night time out was going to spark something critical.

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

Sebastian was really speculated to be heading again to Sydney a few 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.

Once more, it wasn’t one thing he normally would do, but it surely simply felt proper.

“I assumed, ‘Why not?'” he remembers as we speak.


Vacation romance



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

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

It was simple 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 spotted he was clever, witty, easy-going and well-traveled,” says Gianna.

A spotlight was the day the 2 trekked to the Cape Byron lighthouse, a beaming white mild station on probably the most easterly level of the Australia mainland.

“The lighthouse, we went there collectively — the entire romantic factor, it was very nice,” says Sebastian.

“We actually did get alongside,” says Gianna.

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

“However he had already prolonged his keep in Byron for me, so I used to be actually grateful that we had had the additional time,” Gianna says.

As they mentioned their farewells, the 2 mentioned the potential of Sebastian coming to go to Gianna earlier than his Australian sojourn got here to an finish.

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

When Sebastian referred to as her in the future and recommended he come for a weekend go to, Gianna needed to let him down.

“I mentioned, ‘You possibly can come, however I’ve to be trustworthy with you, I’ve met somebody, but it surely’s not critical.’ It was additionally initially levels. I did not wish to deceive him. I feel he was a bit disillusioned,” says Gianna.

For Sebastian, this cellphone name sparked a larger realization.

“Usually I’d have thought, ‘Okay, I had fun, no matter.’ However that basically did strike me weirdly and I found I had stronger emotions,” he remembers.

“I assumed, ‘I actually shouldn’t give that up.’ It is onerous to explain — however extra like another, not pressure, however there’s one thing inside that tells you, it’s best to actually observe that.”

“I assumed, ‘I actually shouldn’t give that up.’ It is onerous to explain — however extra like another, not pressure, however there’s one thing inside that tells you, it’s best to actually observe that.”

Sebastian Guggenberger

Nonetheless, Sebastian did not wish to fall additional if Gianna was pleased with another person, so he determined to not come.

In the meantime, chatting to her mom in the future, Gianna discovered herself evaluating the 2 males and the way she felt about them.

“I mentioned, ‘The man from Melbourne, he is the standard man I all the time kind of entice, he is the kind of man who’s going to string me alongside or so forth,” Gianna remembers saying.

“And I mentioned to Mum, ‘And I’ve met this man who’s fairly totally different. That is the form of man that in all probability will not break my coronary heart.'”

A few month or so later, Gianna referred to as Sebastian up out of the blue to reconnect. He requested her concerning the different man.

It fizzled out, Gianna defined.

Relieved, Sebastian agreed to return see her.


Melbourne 2003


Gianna and Sebastian throughout Sebastian’s journey to Melbourne.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

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

“It was nice, he met my household, and so they all preferred him. I confirmed him round, it was good,” says Gianna.

Over the course of the weekend, the 2 additionally talked about the potential of Gianna coming to go to Sebastian in Germany that summer season.

“Not as girlfriend/boyfriend, simply associates seeing one another once more,” says Gianna. “We had been each fairly relaxed and neither one among us anticipated a lot.”

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

“My life had all the time been fairly structured,” she says. “I completed highschool, went on to uni. As quickly as I completed, per week later, I had a job. I used to be working as a gross sales rep for a pharmaceutical firm.

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

Inside a number of months, Gianna had stop her job and bought her Melbourne house — and determined to move to Germany not on per week’s trip, however as a part of an extended, extra open-ended European journey.

This choice wasn’t nearly Sebastian, she says. It was a possibility to journey across the continent, see household in Italy and discover new locations.

And earlier than leaving, Gianna took a TEFL course to show English as a international language, considering she might train in Spain, or perhaps head on to Japan after Europe and train there.

However first, she traveled to Higher Bavaria in Rosenheim, the place Sebastian lived.


Taking an opportunity



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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 remembers. “I used to be residing in a pupil house nonetheless, with different college students, and he or she moved in. It was a tiny room, principally, but it surely was enjoyable.”

Sebastian’s roommates could not imagine a lady had flown all the way in which from Australia to see him, however they preferred Gianna instantly.

“Everybody loves her,” says Sebastian. “She will communicate to everybody.”

Over the course of the subsequent few months, Gianna traveled round Europe, having fun with time in Germany, Scotland, Italy, Eire and Vienna, and Sebastian joined every time his research allowed it.

However by October Gianna was more and more aware her summer season of journey had an expiration date.

“I’ve to return,” she instructed Sebastian. “Or I’ve received to discover a job.”

“Possibly it’s best to keep,” he mentioned.

So she did. Inside two weeks, Gianna received a job at Inlingua Language college in Regensburg, educating English as a international language.

Gianna’s dad and mom — who’d all the time seen her because the smart center daughter — had been stunned when her summer season in Europe turned extra of a everlasting relocation to Germany. However they trusted Gianna’s choices and needed her to be completely happy.

Alessandra, Gianna’s pal from Italy who was there when all of it started in Byron Bay, was happy to have her pal on the identical continent, however she confided in Gianna years later that she thought the entire thing was a threat.

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

However Gianna was assured it was the suitable alternative.

“I by no means needed anybody’s opinion,” she says. “I simply thought, ‘I do know I am doing the suitable factor. I’ve by no means actually performed something like this.’ And I form of trusted myself. I simply trusted the scenario, and I trusted him I suppose — the way in which he was, the way in which he thought. I simply knew it was proper. And it simply felt proper, it actually did.”

By Christmas 2003, Gianna and Sebastian had settled right into a routine collectively in Germany. She’d met and immediately gelled along with his household, and the 2 had been dedicated to creating the connection work long-term.

Sebastian completed up his diploma and began working in a job that always took him overseas.

And the 2 continued to journey extensively collectively once they might, a love of exploring the globe being one of many many issues that had first bonded them.

In 2005, Gianna and Sebastian spent a protracted trip in Australia, returning to the shores of Byron Bay as soon as extra.

“It was simply as wonderful,” says Gianna.

And once they received again to Germany, Gianna fell pregnant.

They had been each delighted to start out a household collectively, however whereas Gianna had all the time dreamed of a marriage, Sebastian says he’d by no means deliberate to get married.

“I do not know why,” he says now. He was dedicated to Gianna, however weddings had by no means been his factor.

However a number of months earlier than the beginning, Sebastian proposed a mountain climbing journey.

“I am pregnant, I do not wish to go,” Gianna protested, however Sebastian insisted, so she relented, and so they headed to Tegensee, Bavaria, within the south of Germany.

“And once we received to the highest, he requested me to marry him. I managed it to the highest. And I feel my first phrases had been like, ‘No method.’ That is how shocked I used to be.”


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

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

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

And Sebastian figured mountain climbing was a method of constructing a proposal “attention-grabbing and never tacky.”

Gianna mentioned sure, and the couple had been married at a civil service not lengthy earlier than Gianna gave beginning to their first youngster.

A yr later they celebrated their marriage with household within the stunning surrounds of Bali, with visitors attending from Australia, Germany and Italy.


Someday at a time



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Gianna and Sebastian celebrated their marriage in Bali.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

Within the intervening years, the couple have had two extra youngsters and Gianna, who arrived in Germany with out talking a phrase of German, is now fluent within the language.

By way of their twin cultures Sebastian and Gianna have instilled open-mindedness and a love of journey of their children.

A number of years in the past, the household briefly relocated to China for Sebastian’s job.

The couple dove into this new journey with enthusiasm and fervour. The very fact they’re each keen to take a threat is vital to creating their relationship work, says Sebastian.

“We expect typically so alike it is scary,” he says. “However in fact 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. However not in the future 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 dwell in Germany with their three youngsters.

Courtesy Gianna Guggenberger

It is onerous, agrees Sebastian, that Gianna’s household lives so distant, particularly in the course of the pandemic.

Gianna does surprise if a return to Australia may very well be of their future, particularly when their children are older — they’re twin residents, and so they may specific an curiosity in finding out or working there.

However each Gianna and Sebastian are of the view that it is best to not overthink or overplan for the years forward.

That is all the time been the couple’s coverage, ever since Gianna first flew to Germany. And it is labored fairly effectively for them thus far.

“We actually simply took in the future at a time,” says Gianna. “That is how our relationship form of labored out.”

And wherever they find yourself, they know it will be collectively.

“We’re removed from joined on the hip, I’ve tried to all the time give him the liberty to search out his success and happiness,” says Gianna. “However on the finish of day we each like the concept of claiming good night time to one another.”

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