How couple's whirlwind holiday romance led to 53 years of marriage

A REAL Greek odyssey! Philadelphia man who fell in love with German flight attendant during vacation in Greece reveals how whirlwind romance led to marriage after just NINE MONTHS (and they’re still going strong 54 years on)

  • Anthony Sall, then 28, spotted Barbara Olle in Greece in the summer of 1969
  • He pursued the flight attendant, then 24, and won her heart after hanging out
  • Nine months after meeting, Barbara moved to the US and they tied the knot 

Vacation romances can be fleeting but one couple have revealed how they got married just nine months after meeting and their sun-kissed love affair is still going strong 54 years on.

In the summer of 1969, Anthony Sall, from Philadelphia, found himself in Greece towards the end of a five-year trip around the world at the age of 28. 

While waiting to board a ferry from Athens to the Greek island of Hydra a young lady in the line caught his eye and he made it his aim to speak to her. He realized she was headed to Mykonos so he changed his ticket to jump on the same boat as her. 

Thanks to his persistence, Anthony learned that the woman in question was 24-year-old Barbara Olle – a flight attendant based in Germany – and from their first encounter, a whirlwind relationship quickly took flight. 

Anthony Sall spotted Barbara Olle in Greece in 1969 while waiting to catch a ferry

The 28-year-old traveler pursued the flight attendant and eventually won her heart after hanging out

Anthony realized Barbara was headed to Mykonos (pictured) so he changed his ticket to jump on the same boat as her. That’s where they started getting to know each other

Anthony, now 81, told CNN Travel that winning Barbara’s affection required a bit of effort at first. 

To start with, when he got on the same boat as her to Mykonos, he realized they were in different classes, as Barbara and her girlfriend had been invited into the first class section by a male admirer. 

Anthony, who was in third class, got talking to a young American couple, Alan and Lili, and he told them how he had his eyes set on Barbara. 

The duo encouraged him to pursue his love interest and the three of them hopped over the barriers into first.

After introducing themselves to Barbara’s table, the trio were invited to sit down and the six travelers ‘talked for several hours.’

When the boat docked, Anthony invited Barbara to dinner that evening, but she politely declined his offer as she had just come out of a relationship and wasn’t interested in striking something up so soon. 

However, over the next few days the group from the ferry hung out in Mykonos together and gradually Barbara warmed to Anthony’s affections as she learned more about him. 

She explained: ‘Once we started to hang out together more and more, I found Tony to be very interesting and enjoyed his company and stories. He has a great way about him.’

When the week ended, most of the group dispersed, but Barbara still had a few days left on her vacation and Anthony was also free. 

The duo decided to go to Hydra together and that’s when their bond further cemented.

Over the years Barbara has worked for National Airlines, Pan American World Airways and Delta where she still works to this day. Pictured during her days with Air France

Anthony and Barbara tied the knot in 1970 just nine months after meeting

Anthony said: ‘We got to know one another very well, hiding nothing from our past, and finding out that we not only had a lot in common, but she was beginning to care about me as I had cared about her from the first sighting.

‘We truly began to connect.’

On their third day in Hydra, Anthony told Barbara that they would get married one day, but Barbara ‘laughed it off thinking Americans are completely crazy.’

However, when it came to the end of their stint in Hydra, Barbara realized it was more than a holiday fling and she accepted Anthony’s invite to meet him in Vienna the following week where he was meeting his parents for a long-awaited reunion. 

During his five-year stint abroad Anthony hadn’t returned to the US once. 

This was partly down to financial reasons, as he was funding his travels through part-time work and he was also worried if he went home, his father would convince him to stay and help out with the family business. 

Barbara said when she went to meet Anthony in Austria she was struck by his wealth. 

While they had shared everything in Greece and lived quite frugally, she discovered Anthony’s family were used to the finer things in life with a suite in a fancy hotel and a limousine chauffeur service.

Anthony had some initial fears about how his Jewish parents would react to Barbara’s German heritage but to his relief, they took an instant shine to her.

After their Vienna trip, Anthony went on the final leg of his travels while Barbara returned to her Air France base in Frankfurt. They got together when they could and Anthony also made time to meet Barbara’s parents. 

In November 1969, Anthony finally returned to the US and Barbara flew out to join him and his family for Thanksgiving. 

It was then that they decided to take a gamble and get married. Barbara returned to Germany to quit her job, sell her car and get rid of her possessions. 

She returned to the US on December 31, 1969, and two weeks later, after converting to Judaism, the couple got married. 

As she moved around as a child, Barbara said she didn’t find settling into Philadelphia a problem and the friendliness of Anthony’s family helped.  

A year after getting married, Anthony and Barbara embarked on their honeymoon aboard the newly-launched QEII cruise ship. 

Anthony told that their honeymoon on the high seas was ‘fantastic.’

‘As it was our first trip together, and everyone knew it was our honeymoon, we were treated like royalty,’ he said.

The couple went on to have four children and they are now based in California 

‘I had dated a fair amount of woman in my life and travels, but seeing Barbara was it for me, as I immediately knew she was the one for me’

Barbara worked as a flight attendant when she met Anthony and after marrying him she returned to the same line of work 

‘We had the time of our lives together on the cruise. We went on for several more cruises every year, and started taking our four children on all of the following ones when they were young.

‘Now they go on their own vacations with their own children, having a ball together as we had done.’

In terms of work, Anthony went on to work for cosmetics company Revlon, which saw them relocate to Chicago for a short time and in the late 1970s Barbara decided to go back to working as a flight attendant.

Over the years she has worked for National Airlines, Pan American World Airways and Delta where she still is to this day. 

Anthony, who is now retired, says he still gets excited when Barbara returns home from her work trips. 

‘Oh my God, you would think I just met her. Here we are, 54 years together, 53 married. And I can’t wait for the day that she’s coming home from the trip – after just three lousy days,’ he told CNN Travel.

The Salls are now located in California with their four children and grandchildren living close by.  

Quizzed on how he thinks the world of travel has changed since his own adventure more than five decades ago, Anthony told ‘Travel back then for me was fantastic, as I went wherever I desired and planned, seeing everything I desired to see and meeting endless people making endless friends.

‘Today travel is very different and somewhat superficial, as you get on a plane, arrive somewhere, and get mixed up in the hustle and bustle without the interaction with the people or society. 

‘From my experiences, people are much more guarded then they were back than in the ’60s.’

And on his secret to a long-lasting love, Anthony concludes: ‘I had dated a fair amount of woman in my life and travels, but seeing Barbara was it for me, as I immediately knew she was the one for me.

‘What we have is a very deep and abiding love for one another, one that with any fallouts all get solved through our love for one another.  

‘Our greatest pleasure is always the time we spend together, even after 53 years of marriage. We adore each other to this very minute!’

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