French road trip seals romance

Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012

ETCHED ON THEIR HEARTS: The carving in the bench at Bad Bergzabern where Rob and Shannon fell in love.

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My wife Shannon is a Kiwi and we first met in Karlsruhe, Germany, while we were both teaching English for a private language school.

She was the new teacher, just hired, and from the moment I first saw her, I knew that she was the one I wanted to marry.

She, however, took some convincing and it didn't help that she still had a Kiwi beau when she moved overseas.

A few weeks later, when things fell apart between them, I had my chance to step in. We had become good friends in the meanwhile, but I knew that in order to win her heart I had to make our first real date an absolute showstopper. I asked my friends at our church for some ideas and soon enough I crafted a plan to sweep her off her feet.

When the big day finally arrived, I showed up at her apartment in my car with a huge bouquet of sunflowers and roses. Sunflowers to match her bright and fun-loving personality and roses to show her I wanted to get out of the friend-zone and into a serious relationship. We then jumped in my car and I announced that we were going for a drive, but she would have to trust me about the destination. What she didn't realise was that the border to France was only about 20kms away.

Since I had never driven this route before, I told her we could stop wherever she would like along the way. Before she knew it, we were driving through the European countryside past romantic little villages and true to my promise, we stopped at a small town called Bad Bergzabern where we sat on a small bench on a hillside trail and talked for hours.

We then drove across the border (much to her ecstatic surprise) and stopped at a beautiful French village called Wissembourg before we finally ended up at a small French cafe in the town of Lauterbourg.

Since we were both quite poor at the time, I didn't have enough money to buy her an expensive dinner, so we ordered Flammkuchen, a type of German flatbread pizza (and the cheapest thing on the menu) and afterwards, not wanting to drive home quite yet, we danced in the parking lot even though it was raining because the restaurant had loudspeakers in the car park. I think the other customers thought we were mad, but we didn't care. We were in love.

Three months later, we made the trip again and sitting on the same bench where we first sat, I popped the question.

A year later, we got married and made the trip again, carving our names into the bench before we left. Shannon and I have been married five years now and we hope to one day return to Germany so we can show our children (Olivia, now two and Isaac, three weeks) where we first fell in love.

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