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Sonoma’s 'reality TV' encore features travel, not wine

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Sonoma Valley School graduate Ryan Matthews and his wife Megan Hardesty can finally disclose that they are the couple who were being followed around town by a film crew last August.

“We couldn’t say anything then,” said Ryan, referring to their agreement with the show. “But now that we have an air date for the episode, we can.” The couple will appear on the Friday, April 27, episode of the reality TV show “House Hunters International” at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV and again at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 28.

The episode captures the couple’s search for a two- or three-bedroom flat in the historic center of Valencia, Spain, to accommodate their new travel business.

Ryan and Megan were in Sonoma last year staying with Ryan’s parents, Daphne and Tim Matthews, when an episode of the reality show came on TV. They began joking about contacting them about their upcoming move to Spain.

“Megan was on her computer and just sent them an email then and there,” said Ryan. “We didn’t think about it again until a couple months later when they reached out to us. We thought it sounded like a fun experience so we went with it.”

Megan has Italian citizenship, so the couple can legally live anywhere in the European Union.

“We were interested in moving to either Italy or Spain, but ultimately Spain – and Valencia in particular – won out because we wanted a coastal city that wasn’t too big, with great weather,” said Ryan. “I also studied a little Spanish in school which helps a lot.”

From Valencia, the couple will run their new travel company, Cohica Travel, which they first conceived of in Sonoma.

“When we got home from traveling around the world, we spent a lot of time over at Barking Dog (Cafe) in Boyes Springs, designing our website and applying for certification as travel planners,” said Ryan. “The new site launched a couple months after we moved and we had our first client shortly after. Now we have a steady stream of clients each month and have planned trips all over the world. It’s pretty amazing how far it’s come.”

He said that, so far, they love living in Spain.

“There have been ups and downs but now we really feel at home in Valencia,” he said. “We’ve made a completely different kind of life here that would be hard to give up.” They write a travel blog at cohicatravel.com/blog.

Ryan grew up on West McArthur and attended Sassarini Elementary and Altimira Middle School before graduating from SVHS in 2002 He has a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and a master’s degree from San Francisco State. Before co-founding Cohica, he managed staffing and human resources for Google Express.

Megan grew up in Boulder, Colorado and moved to Hawaii after graduating from the University of Colorado. The couple met when visiting mutual friends on Maui in 2014 and left their jobs soon after to travel around the world together. Megan’s background is in marketing, advertising, and public relations in the nonprofit and travel/tourism industry.

Ryan described the experience of filming with the crew as “really fun and totally unique.”

The crew filmed for one full day in Sonoma (with scenes of the Plaza, Mission and City Hall) and four days in Valencia. Sonoma’s last starring role on a reality TV show was when local winemaker Ben Flajnik starred in “The Bachelor” in 2012.

“We think it’ll be pretty cool to have a record of this time in our life that we can always look back on,” said Ryan. They have not yet seen the episode and expect that friends and family in Sonoma will see it long before it airs in Valencia. More information on the episode can be found on the HGTV website.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.