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I met a stranger on a bus. Weeks later he flew from France for our first date


Lowri and new partner Quentin outside Liverpool’s The Cavern Club (Picture: Lowri Llewelyn)

When I boarded the bus to Albania, the only thing I was concerned with was making every moment of my visit count.

Albania was the last stop on a four-month backpacking trip across Central Europe and the Balkans. It had started as a mission to mend my broken heart, following a violent date in the UK and subsequently being let down by the system that

I’d promised myself I wouldn’t go home until my heart was healed. Love was, frankly, the furthest thing from my mind.

So when two guys from France sidled up to me and my new friend, Anna, during a refreshment break halfway between Montenegro and Albania, I rolled my eyes.

‘Where are you two staying in Tirana?’ Louis asked.

I wasn’t impressed – I just wanted to hang out with Anna – but I had to admit his friend Quentin piqued my interest.

Lowri and friend Anna on their travels (Picture: Lowri Llewelyn)

I was attracted to his dark features and rock star style. He had a brooding air and was exactly the type of guy I usually went for.

Back on the bus, I confided my feelings to Anna, who agreed that Quentin was cute.

The guys asked if we’d like to meet later in Albania’s capital. While I wasn’t interested, Anna was keen, and I didn’t want her to go alone.

Quentin intrigued me over the course of the evening. Like me, he hovered on the outskirts of conversation, and we smiled shyly at each other across the table.

I discovered that he was a lawyer and found myself opening up about a predicament I was in: I’d misunderstood immigration law and overstayed my time in the Schengen zone. I was facing a fine or ban, and given that Schengen constitutes most of Europe, this was quite the calamity.

He was on the case immediately, researching on his phone and utilising his legal expertise to figure out just how much trouble I was in.

I was relieved to learn I’d only have to avoid Schengen for a year and swooned at how he’d taken control of the situation.

Other travellers joined our little gang over the next couple of days, visiting museums, watching a jazz concert and grabbing drinks.

The kiss nearly knocked me off my feet and as we pulled apart, I felt butterflies (Picture: Lowri Llewelyn)

Finally, it was the boys’ last night in Tirana and I still hadn’t spent one on one time with Quentin, so the two of us took a detour en route to the next bar.

We dashed out in front of traffic, I grabbed his hand – and I didn’t let go. This, I think, gave him the confidence to do something I’d been thinking about more every day.

‘May I please kiss you?’ he asked. I was flattered and giggled sheepishly. The kiss nearly knocked me off my feet and as we pulled apart, I felt butterflies.

We swapped social media contacts and I offered to show him around Liverpool, where I’d lived in my twenties.

I’d set out travelling to heal my heart and I could finally say I’d done it.

A week later, back home in Wales, I thought about Quentin and that kissWould he take me up on my offer? Was he thinking about me too?

My questions were answered quickly: he got in touch within the week and asked when he could visit.

I couldn’t quite believe it. I’d used dating apps for years and they’d become brutal of late, from ghosting to being stood up to assault. Did someone really like me enough to fly to another country?

I’d planned an epic tour of the city (Picture: Lowri Llewelyn)

I told myself he just wanted to see Liverpool and was grateful to have a tour guide. Right until the last moment I braced myself for a no-show.

In October 2023, Quentin flew to Liverpool for our first date.

Things got off to an awkward start. Being British and valuing my personal space, I instinctively dodged his French-style peck on both cheeks. Our nerves meant conversation was stilted and it took a champagne breakfast to loosen us up.

I’d planned an epic tour of the city. I showed Quentin where I used to live, the cathedral I’d visit while hungover, my favourite bar.

The more we walked and talked, the more he charmed me. I loved his passion for human rights and the way he spoke like a character from a Jane Austen novel, with the superfluous language of someone not speaking their native tongue.

We discussed films – as a proud feminist I found it very attractive when he thought Barbie ‘could have been more feminist’ – and I learned that he played the guitar. I was falling hard and fast.

Rain began to pour so we rushed into the soggy depths of the Cavern Club, a Liverpool landmark synonymous with the Beatles. Quentin turned to me and said, ‘I have been longing to kiss you all day. May I?’

I’ve been brushing up on my French and he’s been learning Welsh at my insistence (Picture: Lowri Llewelyn)

As our lips met, the whole world melted away, and we slow-danced to a rendition of Imagine before parting. It was the perfect end to the perfect date.

I’m pleased to say we’ve been together ever since – though dating from a distance has been hard.

I still can’t enter Schengen, so the effort of travelling has fallen on Quentin’s shoulders. He visits once every month or two and we meet in a different UK city each time.

And with so little time spent in each other’s company, we often fret about things other couples discuss much further down the line, like, where will we live? Do we want a family? Would the tooth fairy visit our kid, or a French-speaking mouse?

It’s serious stuff considering we’ve only been together a few months, but our story isn’t typical, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The language barrier between us and cultural nuances can sometimes be challenging to navigate. I was offended when, several months in, Quentin still hadn’t asked me to be his girlfriend. I eventually learned that isn’t the done thing in France. As far as he was concerned, we’d been in a relationship for quite some time – oops!

I’ve been brushing up on my French and he’s been learning Welsh at my insistence. He delights in my broken efforts while, well… he can count to 10. It’s a start.

Over the coming months I hope to increase how often we see each other. For now, my concern is getting to know each other, and I try not to worry about the logistics of merging our lives long term.

I’d heard the expression that ‘relationships are like buses’ but I never thought an actual bus would lead me to the love of my life. Now I’m just so thankful I got onboard.

So, How Did It Go?

So, How Did It Go? is a weekly Metro.co.uk series that will make you cringe with second-hand embarrassment or ooze with jealousy as people share their worst and best date stories.

Want to spill the beans about your own awkward encounter or love story? Contact [email protected]

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