Yahoo Travel profiles readers who came back from a trip with the best souvenir ever — true love. This week we share how Yahoo Travel Managing Editor Jo Piazza met her fiancé on a trip to the Galápagos Islands. Want to share your own story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick and Jo at the Mulberry store in SoHo for the book party for her new novel, “The Knockoff.”
Who: Jo Piazza and Nick Aster
Where we met: On a boat in the Galápagos Islands
When: January 2015
Relationship status: Engaged
They say that love comes along when you least expect it. And sometimes it comes when you don’t even want it.
Not only was Jo not looking for love, but she had recently put finding a relationship on the back burner. “I had sworn off dating and wrote an essay for Elle magazine about how I was dating myself,” says Jo. “I bought myself an engagement ring in the Serengeti.”
So when a co-worker had to back out of a dream trip aboard an Ecoventura cruise to the Galápagos, Jo stepped in, never thinking that she would meet her future husband on the trip.
Meanwhile, Nick, whose website Triple Pundit focuses on sustainability, was invited on the Galápagos trip with his brother. The duo had no real expectations for the week other than to relax, work a bit, and unwind.
The couple bonded while paddling in a two-person kayak. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
So there they were, two unsuspecting souls riding on a bus to board a boat in the Galápagos. During the ride, Nick attempted to introduce himself. But Jo, a self-proclaimed Internet addict, had just been told that there would be no Wi-Fi on the boat and was using the bus ride to frantically shoot off last-minute emails. Still, Nick didn’t walk away empty-handed. “I did notice he was cute,” she says.
Ultimately, no Wi-Fi meant that Jo spent more time with the group, and it didn’t take long for the two to come together.
“It was a small boat, so Jo and I did a lot of things together,” says Nick. “We went on hikes and at one point we got in a double kayak. That’s when we realized we knew some of the same people and had a lot in common.”
On the last night of the trip, everyone was hanging out and Nick was teaching the group a game called Euchre. People slowly started to turn in for the night, but Jo lingered, hoping the interest she had in Nick wasn’t one-sided.
“I thought if I stayed long enough, then maybe he would kiss me,” she says with a laugh.
After talking for two hours, Nick did kiss Jo. After the boat docked, the couple had one night together in Guayaquil, Ecuador. They walked the boardwalk, saw a pit of crocodiles, and went to a mangrove swamp. Their hotel was so excited to have American guests that they threw a Super Bowl party for the group. For Jo and Nick, watching the Patriots beat the Seahawks was technically their first date.
Jo and Nick wandering the beach in the Galápagos. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
The next day, they parted ways — Jo back to New York and Nick to San Francisco. But the distance didn’t last long. Jo had plans to visit Palm Springs, and after telling Nick that she had never been camping, the pair decided to meet in Joshua Tree for what they refer to as the “most ambitious second date of all time.”
Jo was hell-bent on making s’mores, but Mother Nature had different plans. After one night, their campsite got rained out and they were forced to get a hotel. That night, Nick set up camp chairs in one of the luxury suites at the La Quinta Resort and made s’mores for Jo. (Does it get any cuter?!)
For their third date, Jo flew to San Francisco. And shortly after, Nick made a trip to New York. Then the couple took their new relationship overseas for a six-day trip to Corsica and Paris for a friend’s birthday. “We rode bikes, walked around, and tried new restaurants,” says Jo. “We started talking about getting married while looking at the Eiffel Tower outside of our hotel window at the Four Seasons George V.”
In April, Nick decided to pop the question on his birthday. It was three months after they met on that boat in Ecuador.
“It was remarkable. There was no doubt, and there is still no doubt, that Jo was meant for me,” says Nick. “We knew it was quick, but it felt right.”
The couple after Nick proposed on Mount Tam. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
Nick took Jo on a scenic drive up Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, laid out a picnic, and proposed to her on top of the mountain. Later that evening, the couple checked into the romantic wine country Farmhouse Inn, where they sipped champagne and made s’mores … naturally.
Since they got engaged on his birthday, it’s only fitting that the couple plans to get married on Jo’s birthday in September. The nuptials will take place in Jo’s hometown of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Vesper Boathouse on Boathouse Row in front of all of their friends and family.
After the wedding, Jo will move to San Francisco, and the couple plans to take a mini honeymoon to the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. A year from now, they plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and visit Madagascar for their actual honeymoon.
While both love to travel and plan to incorporate it into their lives, they are just as excited to explore the simpler side of marriage.
“I’m most looking forward to building our lives together, starting projects, and having a partner for the rest of my life,” says Jo.
“I can’t wait to build a home together,” Nick agrees. “We have options and I’m not worried about where we’ll wind up as long as we’re together.”