They Met in Costa Rica, Fell in Love in Rome, and Eloped to Antarctica

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Shaney and Chris on a boat in Sydney Harbor. (Shaney Hudson)

Who: Chris van Hove (37) from the Netherlands and Shaney Hudson (33) from Australia

Where we met: Costa Rica

When: October 2007

Relationship status: Married 18 months

(As told by Shaney)

In 2007, I quit my job to travel the world, and I met Chris at a remote turtle conservation project on the coast of Costa Rica. Accessible only by boat, the project was located in thick jungle on a black beach where generations of turtles have laid their eggs. The season was winding down while we were there, so Chris and I were often exhuming old turtle nests together — there’s nothing like the smell of rotting eggs to cement a friendship! The group of us who were volunteering became tight, and 10 months later we reunited in Brighton, England. Although I didn’t realize it, Chris had a little crush on me, and during the next 12 months we corresponded as friends while I was based in Australia and he was in the Netherlands.


Shaney holds a turtle hatchling; she met Chris while volunteering in Costa Rica at a turtle conservation project. (Courtesy of Shaney Hudson)

In July 2009, a work trip to Europe popped up, and on a whim I asked Chris if he wanted to meet me in Rome. He told me he’d fly to meet me, and if we were going to Rome, it was just an added bonus. I arrived in the eternal city feeling jetlagged but elated to see him. We walked around, sat in the shade of historic monuments and talked forever. We both knew that day that this was it; it wasn’t a feeling of fireworks and explosions but quiet contentment. His sense of calm and his kindness, as well as his quirky sense of humor, won me over.

Related: It Started With a Barf Bag and Ended With Love

Over the next week, we explored Rome, Naples, and the isle of Capri before I left on a bus tour around Europe. But a week later, Chris flew to Istanbul to surprise me near the Hagia Sophia mosque.


The couple testing out the mouth of truth in Rome (Shaney Hudson)

I spent one day in Holland with Chris before I had to fly back to Australia, and in that moment, I decided to immigrate to be with him in Europe. It was tricky to conduct our romance from a long distance, but ultimately it made us stronger because we had to learn to communicate across not just cultures but time zones. Chris visited me in Sydney in October, and I moved to live in the Netherlands just before New Year’s Eve 2009.

That’s not to say the story ended once we got to Holland; it was a struggle to live in a new culture, and I had to travel often as a travel writer. Luckily, Chris picked up my camera and had a natural flair for photography, and he began to accompany me on work trips as a professional photographer. Chris proposed while we were on a trip to Finland to cover a story on the northern lights. He was so nervous that he proposed on the first morning because he couldn’t wait any longer. Our trips have taken us as far as Iceland and the Arctic, and in March 2014 we eloped while on a trip to Antarctica.

Related: They Met at a Pub While Crisscrossing Australia


Chris and Shaney hiked the Camino de Santiago in 2014. (Courtesy of Shaney Hudson)

Our latest challenge is building a new life in Australia. In May 2014 we packed up our life in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and walked the 900km Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from France to Spain together in preparation for our move. It was a wonderful chance to wrap up our life in Europe and prepare for Australia, where we’ve created our own photography business, working on destination weddings around the world, as well as in our new backyard. After working together for so long on travel assignments, it’s great to take that energy back and start a new adventure together.

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