Locking our Love Forever with Love Locks

Happy Valentine’s Day! We wanted to celebrate the annual day of love by sharing the story of our love locks.

A couple of weeks ago, Bob and I attached a little gold padlock to the new Love Lock Bridge near the Riverwalk in San Antonio to lock our love forever, then kissed and took a selfie to mark the occasion. On our lock was written in Sharpie “RG & LH,” inside a hand-drawn heart pierced by Cupid’s arrow. The bridge was actually a chainlink fence along the San Antonio River, but it was covered with hundreds of locks of other couples declaring their undying love.

It was the 15th time we have declared our forever love by placing a lock on a bridge. Normally we are not super-sentimental people, but love locks are a ritual we have grown to cherish during our travels, leaving our mark on bridges and walls all over the United States, Europe and Mexico (so far).

Paris, France

It all started in the summer of 2016, when I was planning to accompany Gavin’s scout troop on a week in the romantic city of Paris. Before we left, Bob gave me a padlock and asked me to write our initials on it and hang it on the Pont des Arts Bridge, which was famous for having so many lovers’ padlocks affixed to it that it groaned under the weight, and authorities had had to cut them off. He had seen the bridge during a weekend he spent alone in Paris during a business trip, and thought it would be nice to have our own lock there.

Surprised and touched by this rare sentimentality, I happily obliged. After the troop set off for the next leg of their trip, Switzerland, I went down to the River Seine and searched for the love locks. The city had decommissioned the Pont des Arts Bridge in 2015 because of the weight of the locks, so I went to the Pont Neuf. It was covered with thousands of lovers’ padlocks tumbling down the banisters and onto the railings of the river walls beyond. Across the River Seine from where I stood was a magnificent view of the Louvre. I locked our padlock, blew a kiss to Bob across the ocean, and took pictures. I’m sure if the locks get too heavy, authorities will cut them off again. But until then, RG & LH will grace the Pont Neuf in Paris, the city of lovers.

Paris

It was a grand, and small, gesture of love. It felt good. It made me think about why I had married this man, what we had experienced together, and how special our life was.

Hamburg, Germany

Three years later, we were visiting my brother Patrick in Hamburg, Germany, and walking along the Elbe River when we saw another bridge covered with lovers’ locks. We didn’t realize the tradition had expanded beyond Paris. Since we were leaving the country the next day, we went and found a hardware store to buy a lock, wrote RG & LH with a Sharpie and enlisted Patrick to hang it for us. A few weeks later, he sent a photo of our lock on the bridge. (Thanks, Pat!)

Hamburg

And with that, we were off, searching for love lock bridges, or creating our own, everywhere we went, together or apart. While on a five-week tour through Europe, we hung locks everywhere.

London, England

In London, we strolled across the pedestrian Jubilee Bridge and listened to a street musician playing Caribbean steel drums while we snapped our padlock in a spot all its own and kissed above the Thames River.

Rome, Italy

After a long day of sightseeing as a family in Rome, when Gavin’s and my feet were aching from miles of walking, Bob trekked back in the rain to hang a lock over the Tiber River. 

Rome

Sorrento, Italy

Farther south in Sorrento, on a solo weekend trip while I was off doing genealogy searching with some Italian cousins, Bob discovered an iron fence with love locks along the Mediterranean coastline about a mile from his hotel during his morning run. He spent the afternoon searching for a padlock and a Sharpie, but a torrential downpour forced him to wait to return until the next morning, when a break in the rain gave him time to quickly walk there and fix the lock in place before heading for the train station.

Sorrento

Hydra, Greece

In Greece, during a daylong boat trip, Hydra, an idyllic fishing village where bleached-white houses climb up the mountainside from the azure Mediterranean, offered herself as an entrancingly scenic host to our love lock.

Ludlow, Vermont

The tradition continued when we returned to North America. First, we affixed a love lock to a bridge in Ludlow, Vermont, where we have our second home.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Then we headed down to live in Mexico for the first six months of 2019. During a two-night on break the road trip south, we took the streetcar to hang a lock on a chain-link fence in New Orleans, under a banner that read Love Locks NOLA in front of the Eiffel Society, a club built from parts of a former Eiffel Tower eatery.   

Leon, Mexico

When we came to Mexico in January 2019, the first city we stayed in was Leon, where we found the Puente Del Amor (love locks bridge) at one end of the Causeway of Heroes, a wide pedestrian walkway that serves as the gateway into the old city. After spending an afternoon looking for ferreterias (hardware stores) to buy a padlock, we put our lock through the padlock of another lock at the top. The bridge looked down upon a highway, with mountains in the distance.

Lake Chapala, Mexico

We never found a good spot in Tlaquepaque, where we lived for four months, or Guadalajara, the city next door. But we visited beautiful Lake Chapala, half an hour south, for a day trip and walked out to the end of a fishing pier to hang our lock on a rusted turquoise railing overlooking Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. On the way, we had been stopped by announcers for a local radio station who were broadcasting live, and thus posed for the obligatory selfie in our new orange Guadalajara T-shirts.

Guanajuato, Mexico

By far the most interesting place to hang our lock was the magical town of Guanajuato, where there’s an alley so narrow that people can kiss from across two balconies. There’s a tragic legend of a young man who was killed for stealing a kiss from the daughter of a rich man. We put up our lock and kissed across the alley. (Fortunately, Bob survived.)

Montreal, Canada

We lived in Vermont during summer 2019, and took a couple of trips to Montreal, Canada, hanging one lock on a bridge overlooking Gay Village and the other on a small bridge in the main pedestrian area along the St. Lawrence River, looking out at a huge Ferris Wheel.

The Farm, Cascade, Pennsylvania

When we visited The Farm, the family homestead in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania where Lisa’s paternal grandmother grew up, we hung a love lock from the rusty metal rope that secures the entrance to the old lane.

Thwarted

We were occasionally thwarted in our efforts. In the beach town of Cambrils, Spain, there was no official Love Locks bridge, so we scouted the promenade along the ocean but never found a spot where we could thread a padlock. There was an official Love Locks spot in Barcelona, but we didn’t have time to visit it. We have looked several times while in Burlington, VT, but have not yet found a spot for a padlock.

Part of the tradition of the Love Locks is to throw the keys into the river to seal your eternal love, but we don’t do that because we don’t think it’s good for the health of the fish or the river. Thus we still hold all the keys to each other’s hearts.

Our Love Locks Map

Click on each pin to see an image of the lock in its home!

Up Next …

We have just arrived in Mexico City and are looking for a place to hang our 16th lock. We’ll keep you posted!

Enjoy the video of our love locks experiences on the Messy Suitcase YouTube Channel. Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Lisa & Bob

Italy, Part 7: Bob Visits Capri and Sorrento

I arrived in Sorrento by train late in the afternoon and checked into my apartment, which was perfectly located directly on the charming, vibrant town square. Sorrento is located atop a steep cliff face overlooking the southern tip of the Bay of Naples.

Checking the weather forecast, I realized that I would only have one good weather day, my first day there. So even though it was fairly late, I quickly found a tour company still open and booked a boat tour of the island of Capri that left at 8 AM the next day.

I got up early the next morning — Oct. 31 — and headed to the pickup point. A small bus came that subsequently took us to a small street in town, where we were met by a guide. We were taken to an elevator in a nondescript building that could hold at least 25 people, and in what seemed like a moment, we wooshed down 80 meters (260 feet) down to water level. For some reason, the boat was delayed about an hour, but then I boarded the small boat with 10 other people.

Here are some pictures, since Lisa says I didn’t describe it enough. (Pictures are worth a thousand words. Each.)

This is how far the elevator went, through sold rock 260 feet from Sorrento town to the marina below

The Sorrento Marina

The cliff

A look back at Sorrento from the boat

Capri

We spent the next hour traveling along the coast and out to the island of Capri, where we began a clockwise tour of the island.

First view of Capri

We briefly stopped at the Green Grotto and made our way to the famous Faraglioni of Capri. The sea was fairly choppy and I was already pretty surprised that the boat captain got us as close as he did to the Green Grotto, as we bounced around literally feet from the rocks.

The Green Grotto – I thought he was going to crash the boat 

Now, we were heading directly toward the Faraglione di Mezzo, and as I saw the arch approaching, I was wondering how close he would get us to it. He didn’t even hesitate and as we bounced from side to side, he skillfully maneuvered the rocking boat through the arch, at times no more than six feet from the rocks. Granted, this wouldn’t have been a problem in calm seas, but the sea wasn’t calm this day and I was quite surprised he did it. There’s no way this would have been allowed in the US. The boat captain did make a joke (after he was successfully through) that the arch we just went through had been smaller in the spring before several boats bounced off the sides and made it wider. Ha!

We continued our tour around the island and got to the famous Blue Grotto. Normally, the boat would stop and allow the tourists an opportunity to take one of the local guided rowboats through the grotto. But that wasn’t happening today as it was far too rough.

The Blue Grotto
It was then on to dock at the marina in Capri, where we had 4 hours of free time. I hadn’t done any research on what there was on Capri itself, and honestly, I was a bit tired of walking and doing tourist things after 3 days in Rome and another in Pompeii. Nonetheless, I took the funicular up to the main tourist town. The view from the top was breathtaking.

Funicolare

View from the top

Capri itself, though picturesque, was a typical tourist town, built on a hillside. It had the usual tourist shops, but many were closed for the season, some with people inside boxing up the merchandise (Oct. 31 marks the last day of high season). I walked around for two hours, had some street food for lunch and got half a gallon of red Italian orange juice to take back with me. I decided to walk down the hill to the dock area, which turned out to be longer than I wanted to do, so I relaxed with a beer at a local restaurant. During the return boat ride, some of the other tourists talked about going to the top of the peak on the island, which I regretted not doing.

By pickup time, the weather had started to turn. The wind was up, the temperature was down, the water was quite choppy, and I became wet from wind spray during the chilly trip back. I was wishing for a hot tub by the time I got back to my apartment.

Back in Sorrento … Halloween

Soon though, I was back on the street when I saw that local kids were out in full force in costume on trick-or-treating at the local merchants. I hadn’t expected them to celebrate Halloween in Italy!

Lock of Love

The next morning,  I woke up to rain. My original plan was to take a tour of the Amalfi coast, but the low clouds and heavy rain justified my decision to stay in. There was enough of a lull in the rain to allow me to go for a run, and I found a fence overlooking the bay that had a few Locks of Love locks attached. I had a padlock with me, but didn’t have a Sharpie to write Lisa and my initials. I made it my mission for the day to find one, not an easy task in a tourist town. I was eventually successful, but by then it was dark, so I had to wait until the next day to put it in place.

I woke up the next morning to find it raining too hard to run. I had to check out of my lodging, so all I was hoping for was for the rain to let up enough to allow me to walk the half mile to the fence and back without getting completely soaked. Finally, as I was at breakfast around 9 AM, I got that opportunity. I rushed to the fence, put the lock (inscribed RG + LH) in place, took some pictures to share with Lisa, and made it back to pick up my suitcase before it started raining hard again.

I got on the train, standing room only, for the 75-minute trip back to Naples to meet up with Lisa and Lexie for our flight to Athens the next day.