That’s a wrap, folks. The Local recently closed a competition in partnership with Lufthansa, offering three pairs the chance to win a trip to three of Europe’s most exciting cities. To enter, we asked our community of travel fans to tell us who they wanted to go with and why.
We’ve now picked the winners and the trips are all booked!
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing short videos documenting the reunions, as the winners take us on a tour of the three European cities. Now’s your chance to get to know them before they go off exploring.
Lisbon trip: Irena Savic and Asaki Dizdar Mehic
“I have a lot of friends all over the world because war separated us.”
Long-time school friends Irena Savic and Asaki Dizdar Mehic were brutally torn apart by the Bosnian war. Irena and her family fled to Belgrade in Serbia, where she lives today, while Asaki ended up in Oslo, Norway. The pair lost touch until ten years later, when they found each other on Facebook.
It didn’t take long for them to plan a reunion in person.
“That was very emotional and amazing! We have another friend who lives in Croatia now and she was there also. When I saw her and Asaki, that was something wonderful to see them again,” Irena told The Local.
Since reconnecting, Irena and Asaki have nurtured their friendship through travel. In February 2018, the pair spent several days in Amsterdam, exploring the city by foot and enjoying a full day in the Van Gogh museum.
Travel often means a reunion for Irena and the Amsterdam trip was no exception; the pair were also joined by another school friend who had been living nearby in Rotterdam.
“I have a lot of friends all over the world because the war separated us,” explains Irena. “A very large number of my friends are in foreign countries and travel is always a good way to see them.”
Fortunately, the time apart hasn’t come between them and the pair still enjoy each other’s company as much as ever. Irena explains that Asaki is an excellent travel companion because the pair both love to stroll around new cities -- walking as far as 15km a day in Amsterdam.
But is Irena prepared to walk 15km a day in Lisbon, the City of Seven (very steep) Hills?
“I was born in the mountains, so I’ll be okay!”, she laughs.
Turin trip: Isabelle Wallin and Natasha Held
“I was surprised that you could become such good friends in one week!”
Photo: Isabelle Wallin and Natasha Held. See their group post here.
Isabelle from Stockholm and Natasha from Newcastle may seem unlikely friends, but it’s the unlikely friendships that can become the most dear.
The pair were both 20 years old when they struck up a friendship in Ayia Napa during summer 2011. Natasha, who was on vacation with friends, envied Isabelle’s bar job and the two vowed to return the following year to live and work together.
What surprised Isabelle was that they stayed true to their word.
“It was crazy that we just met in a week and decided to do this a year later! So I think that was very spontaneous and I was more spontaneous because of her,” she says.
Isabelle and Natasha have since developed a close friendship despite the distance, keeping in touch online and visiting each other’s home towns.
Isabelle’s visit to Natasha’s native Newcastle even rubbed off on her in a surprising way.
“I started talking in a Geordie accent after I stayed with her!”
Despite the distance, the friends are still bonded over a love of sunshine and good food - both of which they hope to enjoy on their trip together to Turin.
“I know all about the pizza and pasta - we have to find what’s really local though,” says Isabelle.
Budapest trip: Alex Newcombe and Pau Revilla Besora
“You need friends if you’re in a different environment. It definitely makes it easier and more enjoyable.”
Photo: Alex Newcombe and Pau Revilla Besora. See their group post here.
A bromance is a beautiful thing, and no-one knows that better than Australian Alex Newcome and Spanish Pau Revilla Besora. The pair met at university in Denmark and have maintained their friendship following graduation.
“It made my time in Denmark a lot more fun. We’ve had a lot of good times here. It can be tough coming from Australia to a very cold place and probably the same for Pau coming from Spain,” says Alex.
Pau may be back in Spain now but that hasn’t quelled their friendship. Since graduating, the friends have toured Spain, visiting Andalusia and Catalunya, and building their personal portfolio of “in jokes”.
“We have a lot of in jokes that don’t make sense to anyone else which always happens when you’re travelling,” he says.
One particular joke is on Alex, who developed a taste for empanadas in Spain.
“I made a big deal about them so Pau kind of teased me a bit about that because they’re nothing special there, but they were for me!”.
Alex looks forward to “walking around, having some beers and eating some street food” as well as checking out some of the local museums.
Pau, he says, is the perfect travel companion which can turn a good trip into a great one.
“He’s really good fun and up for anything.”
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Lufthansa.