Carolyn Mazzie arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in September 1971, excited to embark on a 3 week tour of Europe.
Carolyn, then 30, labored for the Southern Pacific Railroad, an American prepare community that’s since been absorbed into the Union Pacific rail firm. 50 years in the past, Southern Pacific Railroad had a number of thousand staff, and the corporate’s worker membership hosted common worldwide journeys, chartering airplanes and buses to ferry the railroad employees round Europe.
On prime of her common work duties, Carolyn was concerned in organizing these excursions. She’d spend hours at conferences, serving to coordinate plans. Arriving in Europe was at all times a little bit nerve-wracking – if something went even barely improper, she felt accountable. Positive, they’d enjoyable, however Carolyn was at all times, at the very least partially, in “work mode.”
On the 1971 journey, Carolyn and her colleagues had been picked up on the airport in a shiny yellow bus. As Carolyn directed her coworkers, serving to them load their baggage on board and settle into their seats, she was unaware of the journey’s tour director, watching her admiringly from afar.
“I used to be standing exterior the bus,” the tour director, Chris De Vreeze tells CNN Journey. “And I need to say that she regarded good to me proper there.”
Chris was a twentysomething from the Netherlands. He’d just lately completed his then-compulsory Dutch army service and launched into a backpacking journey throughout Europe.
Again residence within the Netherlands, he’d landed a tour director job that, at the very least partially, happy his wanderlust – working as a information working journeys to international locations throughout Scandinavia, in addition to to Spain and Portugal.
“We had been in control of selecting the vacationers up at Schiphol Airport, after which touring all through Scandinavia for about three weeks by bus,” Chris recollects. “And that’s how we met, for the primary time, in Amsterdam.”
“I didn’t actually discover Chris that a lot, to start with,” says Carolyn. She was exhausted from the flight and centered on the journey getting off to a superb begin.
That first day, Chris’ bus drove to Lübeck, in northern Germany, so the drained transatlantic vacationers might get some relaxation earlier than the next day’s drive.
The primary leg of the journey was easy. From there, the tour group caught a automotive ferry from Germany to Denmark after which on to Sweden, and Norway.
It was on certainly one of these ferry journeys that Chris and Carolyn talked one-on-one for the primary time.
“I bear in mind we had been sitting on a gangway on an in a single day ferry,” recollects Chris. “We had been simply speaking and consuming.”
Sitting beneath the celebs, the 2 chatted about their lives up till that time – Chris’ travels, Carolyn’s job with the railroad. They mentioned the US and the Netherlands, and their international locations’ variations and similarities.
“We began getting alongside higher and higher,” says Chris.
It was a transparent night time and most passengers had been asleep of their cabins. Sitting on the deck, Chris and Carolyn regarded out over the horizon. Within the distance they observed turquoise spots of sunshine dancing above the water. They couldn’t consider it, it regarded just like the Aurora Borealis.
This second, says Chris, “very romantic and soulful.”
“Though,” he provides. “To today I’m not certain whether or not they had been the Northern Lights or another lights from perhaps a metropolis, or God is aware of what.”
Chris and Carolyn unintentionally stayed up all night time beneath the celebs, watching the water, chatting and ultimately dozed off.
When the ferry docked, the opposite passengers returned to the bus however Chris and Carolyn had been nowhere to be discovered. One of many different vacationers acquired off the bus to go and search for them. Chris and Carolyn had been discovered nonetheless asleep, sitting side-by-side on the deck.
Carolyn was mortified. However she’d liked talking to Chris towards the backdrop of the glowing Scandinavian sky.
Carolyn stored a journal chronicling the three-week European journey, which she nonetheless has as we speak. Within the pocket book, she wrote about how most nights she and Chris wouldn’t go to mattress till 3 or 4 a.m., spending all night time chatting, partying, and attending to know each other.
However though the 2 had been bonding, Carolyn was courting another person again residence in California. She didn’t see the connection outlasting her time in Europe.
In the direction of the top of the journey, Chris, Carolyn and among the different vacationers had been enjoyable in a Dutch lodge bar, when Carolyn was knowledgeable by lodge workers there was a global name ready for her.
The journey had supposedly been paid for in full upfront. However on the telephone, Carolyn discovered there have been some fee discrepancies. Seemingly, the exterior tour firm had uncared for to pay for some lodge rooms and air fares.
Carolyn ended up on the head places of work of the airline, Transavia, attempting to work out what was occurring, and the way it may very well be resolved. Chris got here along with her, for ethical assist, and to see what sensible options they might provide you with.
It transpired there was some $5,000 lacking. What was worse is nobody knew the place it had gone, and till the scenario was resolved, Carolyn and her coworkers had been caught in Amsterdam, their constitution flight grounded.
With Chris’ assist, Carolyn acquired in contact with Southern Pacific Railroad, which organized for the funds to be wired over, nevertheless it wouldn’t be instantaneous. An settlement was organized – the constitution flight might go away the next day, however Carolyn and Chris would keep put, handing over their passports as collateral whereas they waited for the cash to reach. And so, the remainder of Carolyn’s group flew on forward.
Carolyn’s colleagues didn’t totally perceive what was taking place. A few of them thought she was simply discovering an excuse to remain behind with Chris for an additional day. Internally, Carolyn was panicking, however externally she tried to remain calm.
“Carolyn and I stayed in a single day in a lodge close to the airport,” recollects Chris. “And the following morning, we went to American Specific and picked up the verify for $5,000, introduced it again to Transavia. They usually gave us our passports again.”
From there, Carolyn was capable of fly to London to hitch her colleagues and fly again to California. It was an emotional curler coaster that solely introduced the American vacationer and the Dutch tour information nearer collectively.
“Oh, I used to be determined, I used to be a wreck,” recollects Carolyn. “And my hero got here to my rescue and he took care of every part. That’s after I began considering, nicely, this man’s actually sort.”
Chris says the expertise, and the additional day they spent collectively, “solely furthered our romance.”
Earlier than Carolyn boarded her flight, she and Chris swapped addresses. Again residence within the US, she acquired her first letter from Europe.
“We stored in touch,” Carolyn recollects.
Her Californian relationship fizzled out, however the letters to and from the Netherlands continued, and upped in frequency.
The 2 wrote, says Chris, “about every part and something.”
“It was commonplace in any respect for us to get two or three letters per week,” he recollects. “Plenty of telegrams, and costly phone calls from time to time, not too usually. However it was principally all by mail. So we had stacks – we nonetheless have them – stacks and stacks of letters that had been despatched to one another.”
Chris and Carolyn each regarded ahead to the letters arriving. And the uncommon telephone calls had been further particular.
“He has an exquisite voice, I liked speaking to him on the telephone,” says Carolyn.
If the seeds of their romance had been planted on the Scandinavian ferry, the couple fell in love by way of their lengthy distance correspondence.
When Chris deliberate a go to to the US that December. Carolyn had a “little feeling” he may suggest. Her intuition was appropriate.
“I at all times wished to see her once more, after all, and I already had made up my thoughts – I used to be going to ask her to marry me,” says Chris.
To get from the Netherlands to the US, Chris spent over 24 hours touring – flying from Amsterdam to Luxembourg, then to Reykjavik, Iceland, and from there to New York, earlier than flying throughout the US to California.
Chris was nicely traveled, however he’d by no means been on such a mammoth air journey. And he’d by no means launched into a visit that appeared so important. He was nervous and excited.
“However after I acquired there, I met her household,” Chris says, calling them “great individuals.”
The proposal, he says, was “quaint.”
“I need to admit I used to be fairly nervous,” he says. “The nervousness disappeared when Carolyn accepted and it grew to become a joyous time for each of us.”
Carolyn says her household liked Chris from the get-go. If her family members had hesitations about her falling in love with the European tour director she’d met simply as soon as earlier than (“Who finally ends up with their tour director on a visit to Europe?” she jokes) they didn’t categorical them.
“I used to be 30 on the time. In these days that was sort of late in life to satisfy anyone,” provides Carolyn, laughing. “So that they had been so glad.”
Carolyn was a lot nearer to her household than Chris was, so residing within the US collectively appeared like the plain selection. This turned out to be extra difficult than the couple anticipated. Chris’ visa was held up for a number of months, however ultimately Chris and Carolyn acquired married in Might 1973 within the US. Carolyn took Chris’ identify, changing into Carolyn De Vreeze.
The marriage was a raucous, glad event, with some 500 visitors in attendance.
“It was only a nice get together, reside band and all that – it was simply completely fabulous,” recollects Chris.
Many of the attendees had been Carolyn’s family and friends. “All my mates from work, everyone I might consider I invited,” says Carolyn. Chris’ visitors had been fewer in quantity.
“Within the late 60s, early 70s, a visit to the USA was like an enormous deal,” he explains. However he says he didn’t thoughts.
“I had you,” Chris says to Carolyn as we speak. “That’s all I wanted.”
On the finish of the marriage, Chris and Carolyn placed on their “going away” garments and acquired into their automotive – a Ford Mustang – to drive off into the sundown, or at the very least into the brand new chapter of their life. Chris held the passenger seat door open to Carolyn, and jumped into the motive force’s seat, as was custom.
“I get within the automotive, we drive away. All people’s waving and cheering, ‘Goodbye, Goodbye.’ We drove across the nook out of sight and I acquired out of the automotive and she or he acquired behind the wheel.”
Chris didn’t have a US driving license but, so Carolyn needed to drive.
From there, Chris and Carolyn settled into their life collectively in Oakland, California. In 1975, they moved into the home through which they raised their two youngsters, and through which they nonetheless reside as we speak.
As we speak, Chris and Carolyn say they’re proud to have raised worldwide youngsters, who take pleasure in their Dutch and American heritage, and still have their very own multicultural households.
“We raised them proper, with none sort of prejudice,” says Chris.
The previous 50 years haven’t all been simple for Chris and Carolyn. There have been attempting, heartbreaking moments – corresponding to when Carolyn suffered a miscarriage within the early years of their marriage. After which, when their youngsters had been younger, Chris’ hospitality job stored him at work into the early hours of the morning, the couple had been like ships within the night time. Chris and Carolyn say they’ve labored laborious to trip the waves of life collectively over the a long time.
“There’s at all times ups and downs in each relationship and positively in ours, at occasions it didn’t look all that promising, however we caught it out,” says Chris.
“You survive the tough occasions, and then you definitely’re glad that you simply did,” says Carolyn. “It’s a dedication.”
As we speak, the couple treasure the recollections of hurtling round Scandinavia on the brilliant yellow bus, and delight within the years they’ve shared collectively.
“Trying again at 50 years in the past, or so, all of it went so quick. Time goes by so quick, it’s over earlier than you already know it,” says Chris.
However the couple hope there may be extra pleasure to return, they dote on their grandchildren, and love spending time with their household. They’re trying ahead to celebrating their 50 yr marriage ceremony anniversary later this yr.
As we speak, the couple suppose crossing paths with one another on Carolyn’s European tour was destiny.
“I liked her from day one and I nonetheless love her to today,” says Chris.
“It was simply meant to be,” says Carolyn. “It was meant to be.”