Elizabeth “Quinn” Gallagher, whose round-the-world trek with a perfect stranger was followed by millions of readers hoping for romance to sweep them away, is back in the arms of her long-term boyfriend, who whisked her to her Nova Scotia home and her husky lab Chang.
Gallagher, who arrived at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, said she was exhausted from her travels with Jordan Axani — the Toronto man who last fall posted an ad on Reddit seeking a travel companion with the same name as his ex-girlfriend, so as to match the name on pre-ordered airline tickets. But she was still excited to recount the unexpected adventure that took her through eight countries in 23 days.
Together, the native of Cole Harbour, N.S., and Axani visited the top of the Eiffel Tower, rode a ferris wheel in Vienna, climbed Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and made plenty last-minute sprints to catch departing planes.
“I would try to hurry him up all the time and he would say, ‘Don’t worry, we will make it,’ but then we were always hurrying,” Gallagher said. “Jordan is not a planner and I am a planner, so this was a test to see how I handled it and I am proud of myself.”
She’s also proud she broke a vow she made last summer not to fly again this year after a job in Newfoundland kept her constantly in the air, jet-lagged and homesick.
Now she is thankful her family encouraged her to jet-setting with Axani.
Since the Toronto Star first revealed her as the chosen Elizabeth Gallagher, her family has become famous by association, she said.
“I would call them to tell a story and then they would say, ‘You won’t believe who got in touch,’ ” said Gallagher, giggling. “My mom thinks she is quite popular now because people talk to her about my trip.”
On Wednesday, she resumes classes at Dalhousie University. She’s already sent apology emails to explain her absence and says most of her professors have been understanding, including one who admitted to following her journey.
Meanwhile, Axani will head to the U.S. to handle the flood of emails and offers in the wake of all this international media attention.
The planned itinerary
Though he remains tight-lipped about what deals might be on the table, there were two cameramen following the pair for a day in Hong Kong, and Axani told the Star, “It is entirely likely that this will be a Hollywood motion picture and it’s something that’s been in the works for several months. Otherwise, it’s opened a number of doors.”
One of those “doors” is A Ticket Forward, a travel-based charity started by Axanis.
The charity — intended to help those who have survived cancer, abuse or warfare go on trips they always dreamed of — was inspired by the countless heartbreaking emails Axani got from people around the world describing roadblocks that keep them from travelling.
“I tried to see what organization could help them,” Axani said. “There was no charity in this space so I thought we could create something.”
For those without a harrowing story, A Ticket Forward launched a sweepstakes Tuesday offering couples that fundraise for the charity a chance to win a 10- to 21-day trip to select destinations in Europe, India and Asia.
As for Gallagher and Axani, there was no romance but they plan to stay in contact.
“We are not in the same city, but we will definitely check in with one another,” Axani said. “We will always be in touch.”