The incredible Tiwalola Ogunlesi, a 28-year-old London-based Nigerian, walks us through her unforgettable trip to the Greek island, Santorini, with her boyfriend. She talks about rekindling their spark after a draining lockdown experience, and why she thinks more couples should travel together.
This is her story, as told to Daniel Orubo, Content Lead at Backdrop.
My boyfriend and I have been together for a decade now.
For the past four years of our relationship, we’ve gone on a couples trip once every year. I’m a big solo traveller — before the pandemic, I used to travel about three to four times a year — but this is something we get to do together, as a unit, and it’s been amazing for us.
The thing is, we have the exact same birthday, so we go on this trip every April as our own little vacation, a necessary escape. For our first-ever trip, we celebrated our birthdays in Miami; for the second one, we went to Dubai; then for the third, we went to Mexico City, which was amazing. We were meant to go to Barcelona in 2020, but then the pandemic happened.
As we were both living alone, we decided to move in together for a bit but, like most couples during the pandemic, being locked up in the house all day started to drive us crazy; we were fighting over silly things.
When we really started to get on each other’s nerves, we decided to spend some time apart: He returned to his place, and I stayed back at mine. We spent about three weeks apart before heading to Santorini in September. The trip, which lasted for five days and four nights, turned out to be exactly what we needed.
Santorini is unbelievably gorgeous. We stayed in Oia, the part of the island where everything is white and the view is absolutely breathtaking. Charisma Suites, the hotel we stayed in, was also amazing.
It had an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, and you could see the sunset every evening. They also had a private hot tub in each room and brought us breakfast from a seemingly unlimited menu every day. The whole thing was super romantic.
As if all of that wasn’t romantic enough, we also went wine tasting. The wines were great, but the amazing view of the sunset while we drank was even better. There were so many other romantic settings: We went to an outdoor cinema in a cute little garden; we had a yacht day, where we swam in the sea. Honestly, I totally get why so many people go to Santorini to propose. It’s really the island of romance
There’s actually a picture I took from the trip that went viral on Twitter: it got over 25,000 likes. I think it perfectly captures the entire experience. The view, for one, was next-level, and I was just chilling in my bathrobe, chopping life.
After all the fighting during the lockdown, it was great to be in a place where everything was nice and relaxing. It was great to laugh with each other again and just have fun. We had a lot of good conversations. The evenings were also great because we’d go on walks, taking in the beauty of the island.
I think one of the most memorable moments of the entire trip was him taking me into a jewellery store, during one of our walks, to try on engagement rings. We’ve been together for over 10 years, so obviously, we’ve discussed getting married, but this was the first time we actually did anything serious about it. It was fun deciding what kind of rings I like and don’t like.
The pandemic (and then the trip) made me realise that my partner and I don’t need to spend every single living and breathing moment together. I mean, we’ve been together for so long, and he’s basically my best friend, but everyone needs some personal space. Those weeks we spent apart before going on the trip made us appreciate each other’s company a lot more.
It also made me appreciate the fact that we like the same things. Not everyone likes lavish holidays — some people consider them to be a waste of money — so I’m glad to be with someone who is on the same page as me, someone who likes enjoyment. I work so hard as an entrepreneur; I can’t be suffering every day, please.
It might sound silly, but the trip made me feel like I was falling in love all over again. Holidays have this magical effect of making you fall deeper in love because everything is just nice. They allow you to escape reality.
I think couple holidays are essential for everyone who can afford it. Couples get so stuck in their mundane lives, especially if they’ve been together for a while. Going on holiday is actually time for you to switch off from all the basic shit and really focus on each other. It brings a spark that reminds you of why you chose to be with that person in the first place.
For our next trip, we are considering Turkey — we hear Bodrum is really cool. We’ve also begun talking about honeymoon destinations, and I want to go somewhere people don’t usually go, like Fiji or Bora Bora.
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