Adventurous miles together


How this van brought love into our lives

(First published in Issue 3, August 2021) This is the story of how I, Christina from Switzerland, fell in love with Ralf from Germany. Or should I say, how I fell in love with a white T4 and then accidentally also with its owner? More importantly, it’s the story of how we gave a long-distance relationship a go and decided to overcome the many kilometers between us, thanks to the mentioned T4.

But let us start from the beginning: It was back in the autumn of 2018 when we first “met” online and started exchanging messages via Instagram—thank you, Algorithm, for showing me that first picture! All I saw was this cool T4 that was apparently from Germany but at the time traveling through Switzerland. As a people-loving tourism student, I could not resist giving some tips on great places that are worth a visit, and it then turned out that the owner of the van knew my country better than I did, suddenly giving tips to me. Without really knowing the owner, I then agreed to accompany him on a hike in the beautiful Alps.

Christina and Ralf, known as @miles_together, are standing together and smiling on a rocky outcrop in the Gotthard region of Switzerland. They are surrounded by a stunning mountainous landscape under a partly cloudy sky. The image captures their adventurous spirit and love for exploring nature.
Christina & Ralf in Gotthard, Switzerland - @miles_together 08/2021

Because why not? But as life is at times, we never made it due to a change in my university schedule. Our “relationship” from then on was a sporadic comment on a story or a beautiful landscape picture posted. We went on with our lives and pretty much forgot about each other. Until... it was clear that the T4 would come back to Switzerland for another vacation! Immediately it was agreed to make up for lost time and finally go on a little adventure together. We had many ideas—an overnight stay in a mountain hut or maybe sleeping in a tent on a mountaintop? Time went by, and the vacation came nearer. We both did not think much about meeting each other—this was, after all, just this random person who lived many kilometers away. In the end, the plan was to spontaneously decide what we could do, as the weather forecast was not looking peachy. And so we met in Bern on a Friday evening in September 2019. Ralf had driven straight from Germany. We both remember that first moment and how I could not take my eyes off... the van! So, of course, I got a grand tour. I then straight away betrayed the cool T3 from a friend with whom I had been on vacation before and announced that the T4 was not only lovely but also deserved the title “luxury van.” No convertible roof, nor a built-in kitchen, but lovely lighting, a heater, solar panels on the roof, and handy USB charging ports everywhere! What else could a girl want?

A white T4 van, with bicycles mounted on the back and a rooftop storage box, is parked on a narrow mountain road in a lush green valley. The van is surrounded by towering cliffs and dense forests, leading to mist-covered mountains in the distance. The scenic landscape captures the spirit of outdoor adventure and travel, reflecting the journeys shared by Christina and Ralf, known as @miles_together.
Christina & Ralfs T4 van - @miles_together 08/2021

On that weekend, we went on rainy hikes and joined crazy Americans and curious Japanese on the “Top of Europe,” the Jungfraujoch (but that is a story of its own...). I spent my first night in the luxury van and decided that I liked it there. It was also my first time spending a night freestanding by the road, and suddenly I had found a whole new world with many possibilities. Of course, two days is a very short time, but I was cheeky enough to add to our goodbyes a “maybe I’ll just join you again next weekend.” Somehow Ralf also enjoyed my company, and I was welcome to accompany him for another two days... and then another two the week after, before Ralf and the T4 returned to Germany. We spent wonderful days in the Valais, went on hikes to lovely mountain lakes and huts, and slept by a glacier and on a mountain pass. I was reminded how beautiful Switzerland is and enjoyed many conversations with the man I had just met. Suddenly, those days together were coming to an end, but we were both not willing to let that be the end of our time with each other. I might have opened my heart for a van, but its owner had also found his way into it. A long-distance relationship was something that we both had never considered beforehand. But we made it work, and the van helped in so many ways! We were able to meet in between our hometowns, explore new places during the day, and spend the nights in the van, eating Swiss Raclette and watching movies. The time of the year did not matter.

A stunning view of a glacier in the Valais region of Switzerland, with rocky mountains and snow-capped peaks in the background. In the foreground, a serene glacial lake reflects the surrounding landscape under a clear sky. This image captures the natural beauty and rugged terrain of the Swiss Alps, showcasing the breathtaking scenery that Christina and Ralf from @miles_together explore during their adventures.
Valais, Switzerland - @miles_together 08/2021

Until Covid came... and suddenly this border between us was a problem, something we both never would have expected. Those couple of weeks were hard, but we stayed strong and afterward enjoyed more vacations in the van, both in Germany and Switzerland in June and September 2020. However, Covid also made our wish of moving in together even stronger. Luckily, Ralf already loved Switzerland, my home country, long before he fell in love with me, and we are planning on moving in together. Before that happens, though, we will use the great opportunity of him changing his job to travel around Europe for a bit... let’s say for a year or maybe longer? We will see! Sadly, the white T4 won’t be joining us on that adventure. We have decided that it is a bit too old and small, plus it is not a 4x4, and maybe, just maybe, a girl after all also prefers to be able to stand in a van and to have a toilet and a shower. I know we could live without those things, but in the long term, it is just nice to have that little luxury in our tiny home on wheels. Therefore, we are soon welcoming a 4x4 Sprinter into our little family.

About Christina & Ralf
Christina & Ralf are travel enthusiasts who share their adventures in their beloved van across Europe. Since the first publication of this article in 2021, they have transitioned to a Mercedes Sprinter van and continued their travels throughout Europe.
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