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They fell in love on vacation in 1971. They’ve been together for 50 years

(CNN) — In the sundrenched summer season of 1971, Sura Crutch, a current graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, headed to Europe for three months.

Sura traveled round Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands, absorbing the work, structure and sculptures she’d spent years poring over in books.

Sura traveled with a university buddy, and the 2 related with different vacationers alongside the way in which, having fun with, as she places it, “the experience of being just a young hippie hitchhiking through Europe.”

“There were so many of us then,” Sura tells CNN Travel right now.

One night, ingesting in a London pub, Sura obtained speaking to a man from Greece and talked about Athens was her subsequent cease. In response, the person scribbled down an deal with on a bit of paper.

(*50*) he stated. “He’ll find you a cheap hotel.”

The deal with turned out to be a small, household restaurant close to what was then Athens’ important airport. The restaurant was throughout the road from a stretch of sandy seashore, bordered by cerulean blue waters.

Haris Sevastopoulous was the son of the restaurant proprietor. He welcomed Sura and her buddy, exuding a pleasant, laidback confidence. Haris informed Sura he was coaching to be a naval architect, however all he wished to do was play music.

As promised, Haris discovered the 2 Americans someplace to remain. The resort was filled with Greek naval officers, and barely run down, however seconds from the seashore.

Sura spent the following few weeks swimming, sunbathing and exploring Athens. She did not cross paths with Haris, who was holed up making an attempt to scrape by his ultimate exams.

Then sooner or later, Haris was heading out of his dad’s restaurant when he noticed Sura, wrapped in her towel and making her solution to the seashore.

“Hi,” he stated, catching up along with her. “How do you like Greece so far?”

“I love it,” stated Sura.

“You know what, it’s so hot. Let me go across the street and get my bathing suit and come join you,” Haris advised.

Seconds later, the 2 had been leaping in the ocean, splashing the cool water on each other, laughing.

“That was it. The relationship started immediately,” Haris tells CNN Travel right now.

Summer romance

Sura Crutch and Haris Sevastopoulos grew to become inseperable in the summer season of 1971, whereas Sura was visiting Greece.

Courtesy Sura Sevastopoulos

Over the following 5 days, Haris and Sura grew to become inseparable.

“We were just having fun together,” says Sura. “We had the same sense of humor, so we could play in the water and crack jokes and have fun.”

After spending all day on the seashore, the 2 would keep out all evening dancing.

“There were dance clubs with blues and underground music, and they were fabulous,” says Sura. “So he and his friends and I used to go to those every night, and dance and go crazy.”

While Haris and Sura had been having fun with each other’s firm, neither noticed the connection as greater than a vacation fling.

This was crystallized the next week when Haris went off to the Greek islands with a buddy of his, hoping to flirt with vacationers. This was one thing of a convention for the 2 pals, they’d catch the ferry to Mykonos or Kos or Corfu for a couple of days every summer season. Even although he’d met Sura, Haris determined to go anyway.

“When he left, I just kept going out with the friends,” says Sura. “And then I started seeing one of his friends.”

Sura fell in love with Greece.

Sura fell in love with Greece.

Sura Sevastopoulos

When Haris returned and noticed Sura on the again of this buddy’s motorcycle, he was irritated.

Sura simply rolled her eyes. Haris was the one who’d left her. Besides, she was heading house in a couple of days.

“I’m just passing through,” she reminded Haris.

Haris and Sura went out together on the ultimate evening of Sura’s journey, however one thing had soured between them.

“It wasn’t what it used to be for the five beautiful days we spent together,” remembers Haris right now.

The following day, Sura left.

Pen buddies

A yr handed. Sura began working as an artwork therapist in Cleveland. Haris continued pushing again in opposition to the expectation that he’d develop into a naval architect, or take over his father’s restaurant.

Sura had stayed in contact with the man she’d gotten together with after Haris, they usually’d written a couple of letters forwards and backwards between Ohio and Greece. One day, Haris’ buddy talked about this correspondence to Haris.

“How’s she doing?” requested Haris, who usually discovered himself questioning concerning the American woman from the summer season earlier than.

The buddy handed on the deal with, suggesting Haris write to Sura and discover out for himself.

Sura was shocked to listen to from Haris, however she wrote again, telling him what she’d been as much as over the previous yr.

These letters kickstarted a pen pal friendship that spanned the following three years.

And as time handed, Sura and Haris’ letters grew to become longer and extra intimate.

The consequence, say Haris, was they grew to become “true friends,” and discovered “to respect each other’s needs and ways.”

“We got to know each other well,” agrees Sura.

“I couldn’t wait to read what he was doing, how he was feeling. It was a really close friendship. We would tell each other everything.”

Sura began saving up cash to return to Greece. Partly, as a result of she wished to see Haris once more, and partly as a result of she wished to expertise Greece once more.

“Of all the places that I had traveled, that was the place I just wanted to be again,” she says. “It was warm, and sunshine, and azure blue skies, and azure, blue, turquoise sea, and just diving off rocks and things like that, and ruins.

“And the individuals had been wonderful — and the meals was wonderful. It was an entire completely different world for me, which had modified all the pieces in me.”

Return to Greece

Here's Sura and Haris, reunited at the airport in September 1974.

Here’s Sura and Haris, reunited on the airport in September 1974.

Courtesy Sura Sevastopoulos

In summer season 1974, Sura returned to Athens. Haris picked her up from the airport. The two went straight to the seashore the place they’d first swam together.

“We went — with out even speaking — immediately in the water with our garments on,” recalls Haris.

“I could not wait,” says Sura.

“We had been so pleased to be together,” says Haris.

By then, Haris was living in a cave-like apartment built into the Athenian hillside, with his brother. Sura stayed there for two months, and she and Haris translated their pen pal friendship into a real romance.

They enjoyed exploring Greece together, visiting the islands of Crete, Santorini and Mykonos.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. It was obvious to Sura that Haris drank too much, and at one point she gave him an ultimatum.

“Sura is a really dynamic lady,” recalls Haris. “She stated, ‘Either you get higher or I’m going to see one other boyfriend in Norway.'”

When the time came for Sura to return to the US, she and Haris started wondering if Haris could go with her. A meeting at the US embassy made clear there was only one real way to make this happen. Sura and Haris would have to get married.

At first, Sura wasn’t convinced this was a good idea.

“We actually beloved one another,” she says. “I simply — I used to be very hesitant about marriage, as a result of I’d seen too many marriages break up, and I wasn’t anxious to maneuver into it.”

But the alternative was leaving Haris behind, indefinitely. After a long evening discussing their options, Sura and Haris decided to give marriage a shot.

The next roadblock was their parents. Haris’ father wanted him to stay in Greece. Haris’ Orthodox Greek mother didn’t like that Sura was American and Jewish. Haris ignored them both.

Meanwhile, Sura’s mother was taken aback at the idea of her daughter returning from her travels with a fiance.

“Is this somebody you love and wish to spend the remainder of your life with?” she asked Sura.

“All I can let you know is that I love him. I can’t let you know about the remainder of my life,” replied Sura.

Her mother conceded that was good enough.

“No one else stated that,” says Sura today. “Everyone else thought I used to be completely out of my thoughts.”

There were bureaucratic complications too. Haris was Greek, but he’d been born in Turkey. He hadn’t claimed Greek or Turkish citizenship, as he didn’t want to do military service in either country.

Haris and Sura determined to get married and transfer to the US together.

Haris and Sura decided to get married and move to the US together.

Sura Sevastopoulos

Eventually, the couple navigated the paperwork. Sura went on ahead, and then Haris moved to the US in September 1974. He arrived with no baggage beyond the clothes on his back. Haris and Sura married two months later, in her home city of Cleveland. Sura wore a flower crown and a long white dress with billowing bell sleeves. Haris wore white too. Sura took Haris’ last name, becoming Sura Sevastopoulos.

It was an interfaith wedding, incorporating both Haris and Sura’s religious backgrounds and cultural traditions. There were sections of the service in English, Hebrew and Greek.

The early months of Sura and Haris’ marriage weren’t always easy, and the couple often argued.

“It’s completely different to be a vacationer and have a girlfriend. And it is one other factor to reside together on a regular basis,” says Haris.

“The actuality sinks in that there’s a lot of onerous work, obligations. And, you realize, you continue to have that playful feeling. But you additionally should get critical about critical issues.”

Haris also kept recalling an interaction he’d had on a boat that summer. En route to one of the Greek islands, a fellow passenger had offered to tell Haris’ fortune, and he’d humored her. Then the fortune teller pointed at Sura and said, in Greek, “This lady will destroy you inside three months.”

Haris had brushed it off, and hadn’t told Sura. But the words would haunt him late at night, especially when the couple fought.

But even after their bitterest arguments, the two always made up. The date the fortune teller pinpointed came and went, and Sura and Haris remained solid.

Sura and Haris had two wedding ceremony ceremonies, one in the US and one in Greece.

Sura and Haris had two wedding ceremonies, one in the US and one in Greece.

Courtesy Sura Sevastopoulos

Almost two years later, the couple got married again in Greece at the request of Haris’ parents. This ceremony took place in Athens, followed by a reception at Haris’ father’s restaurant on the coast.

Before the Greek Orthodox ceremony, Sura was baptized.

“My Jewish mom had considerations about [the baptism], however didn’t wish to mess something up for us,” recalls Sura.

“If my daughter is Jewish, and she or he is getting baptized in a Greek Orthodox Church, what does that make her?” Sura’s mother asked a Cleveland-based Greek Orthodox priest.

“I suppose that makes her a Greek Orthodox Jew,” said the priest.

“Oh, good, so long as we’re including into and never taking away, I’m effective with it,” said Sura’s mother.

By then, Haris’ father had come to terms with his son moving to the US and he and Sura had grown close.

But Haris’ mother still hadn’t accepted Sura. Almost two years in, this was less because of religion, and more because of their different personalities.

“She was very subservient along with his father. And she simply could not perceive why I could not try this with Haris,” says Sura.

This relationship remained strained for several years, but eventually the two women connected.

“I wrote a extremely lengthy letter to her that his brother translated, as a result of she actually could not perceive who I used to be all these years. And I wished her to grasp, and I wished her to grasp that we had been pleased, and that is what her son wished,” says Sura.

“And she heard all the pieces in that letter. And simply extremely, we grew to become inseparable after. It was essentially the most wonderful, loving relationship.”

50 years and counting

Sura and Haris have been together for 50 years and counting.

Sura and Haris have been together for 50 years and counting.

Sura Sevastopoulos

In subsequent years, Sura and Haris welcomed two daughters and built a life together in the US. Sura continued working in the art world, while Haris pursued music and also works in construction.

It’s now been over 50 years since Sura and Haris first met in Greece. Over the past five decades, the couple have experienced incredible joys — like the birth of their children and grandchild, and travels together across the globe.

They’re still dreaming of future adventures together.

“If we had been ready, I believe we might spend the time we’ve got left simply visiting locations we have by no means been,” says Sura.

The couple has also gone through tough times, including dealing with illness and bereavement, and periods where the relationship has been stretched and challenged.

“There are wounds alongside the way in which,” says Sura.

Reflecting on their life together now, the couple say they’ve “shared 50 years of evolving together.”

Meeting in 1971, “modified each of us,” says Haris. They both think they would have become very different people had they not crossed paths.

And they roll their eyes when other older couples suggest the secret to a long marriage is never fighting.

“Without arguments you do not develop very a lot,” says Sura.

“You’ve obtained to really feel life, by the ups and downs, and make it higher, struggle for it,” adds Haris.

The key to happiness, says Sura, is “not giving up,” and continuing to “imagine that your love is price one thing.”

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