17 great destinations for romance

Some say that romance is a lost art – but it’s not. It’s just hiding, waiting to be uncovered in some of the most beautiful places around the globe. Whether you are trying to show that special someone that they truly are special, making a proposal, or rekindling the flame you once had with your spouse, setting the stage is your first step to success. Whether you are searching for the perfect romantic spot close to home or halfway around the world, the following 17 destinations are sure to bring out the romantic in each of us.

Paris, France
Who could leave Paris off a list of romantic places? You simply can’t. Montmartre is the most romantic neighborhood in “the most romantic city in the world.” Begin your tour of this hilly district with a ride up the Montmartre funicular as it glides along on its heavenly ascent to the Basilica of Sacre-Cœur at the summit of the highest point in the city. From here a dazzling view of Paris unfolds before you. Amble slowly, hand in hand, and wind your way along romantic back alleys and cobblestone streets, taking in the magic of the artist’s corner of Place du Tertre, descending the stairs of Rue Foyatier. and concluding at 15 rue Lepic where Amelie Poulain immortalized romantic conjuring at Cafe des Deux Moulin.Rome, Italy
With more than 280 resplendent fountains, a “Rome-antic” tour of this city must undoubtedly center on a day of gastronomy. Enjoy a cafe latte near the Fountain of Triton followed by a tour of Palazzo Barberini. View the Barcaccia Fountain and make your way up (and down) the Spanish Steps for fantastic vistas of Rome and savour a calzone from an authentic Roman trattoria.

At Piazza Navona, view the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Fountain of the Moor followed by an alfresco dinner and soak up the sights and smells. A bewitching time to enjoy the Trevi Fountain is late at night when mystical illumination cast spells and shadows. Before the effects of a day filled with romance takes over drop in to Il Gelato di San Crispino, reported to be the best in Rome.

Florence, Italy

In E.M Forster’s novel “A Room with a View,” Lucy Honeychurch found romance (and the view) in the orange and rose-scented hills of Fiesole overlooking Florence. Grab a table and soak up local flavor as art and culture surrounds you. Book your own room with a view at Hotel degli Orafi.

London, England

Place the sights of London at you feet aboard the London Eye, the largest ferris wheel in Europe rising 443 majestic feet above regal London. Pop the question in a private capsule kitted out with a bottle of Pommery champagne and decadent truffles. The 30 minute rotation of the capsule allows plenty of time to overcome any objections.

San Francisco, California

The “City by the Bay” is as photogenic as Grace Kelly. There’s something almost transcendental about Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, Coit Tower, Alamo Square, and Lombard Street that naturally stirs up salacious appetite. We’ve been smitten for years and the affair hasn’t seemed to ebb. The bar on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel offers stunning, 360-degree panoramic views.

Venice, Italy
A gondola ride in Venice has a heavenly price tag, but is a memory to last forever. There is simply nothing quite as romantic as settling into a red velvet-cushioned gondola as your gondolier paddles slowly through quiet canals and under historic bridges as you drift back into the 16th and 17th centuries. A bottle of Valpolicella beforehand at the Piazza San Marco and your gondolier could sound like Pavarotti.

Budapest, Hungary
Once considered the Paris of Central Europe, Budapest offers a heady blend of Eastern and Western European culture. Stroll over the Danube at Chain Bridge and take the funicular up to the Gothic Quarter with resplendent views over the city. Revel in centuries-old architecture and reasonably priced, hearty food and wine. Budapest is the only large city in the world with 118 natural thermal springs supplying nearly 20 million gallons of healing water every day. One of the most impressive is Gellert Spa.

Bruges, Belgium

Think Venice without the crowds. Medieval Bruges abounds with Gothic churches, 17th-century mansions, sparkling canals and flower markets. Most other European cities you’re looked at with disdain for eating on the street. Bruges responds with pedestrian-friendly pommes frites (fries in the US), stuffed into a paper cone, dusted with salt and slathered with mayonnaise. Go to the Louvre for art. Go to Bruges for chocolate. Consider the possibilities at the town’s official website.

San Diego, California
Can’t splurge on a romantic weekend in Paris? Budget-conscious Americans can retreat to a “staycation” in La Jolla, an affluent suburb of San Diego. San Diego can be your affordable base to tour this romantic getaway blessed with 366 days of warm sunshine, trendy boutiques, swanky restaurants and an active arts and cultural community. Toss in a few sumptous stretches of beach, ranging from quiet coves to heady surf, and you have a place that most closely resembles the French or Italian Riviera. Accommodation ranges from a Best Western to the opulent La Valencia, known as La Vie. La Dolce Vita, stateside.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
The South American capital of Buenos Aires breathes sensuality. Voyeuristic spectators can observe on city streets as couples maneuver between emotions of love and hate, contempt and passion, repulsion and desire, all within a 3 minute dance known as tango. Ditch the marriage counselor back home and take lessons at La Catedral in the microcentro.

— The above was written by BriBuenosAires, Seed contributor

Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Nestled amongst the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia in the South Pacific, Bora Bora is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Many have heard of it, but few have actually experienced its beauty. The island itself is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef and is home to an extinct volcano. The lagoon holds some of the most truly breathtaking water you will ever see.

With average water temperatures in the 80’s year around, there is never a lack of water activities available for couples to partake in. For the more adventurous at heart, take a trip inland to the massive peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. Bora Bora may take a little longer to get to, but if you are looking for a not so well trodden path to romance, then it is well worth the trip.

San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is the second oldest European-settled city in the Americas, giving it a rich cultural and archaeological history. With average daily temperatures in the 80’s all year around, the weather is perfect for strolling downtown along the old streets that are covered in cobblestones or lounging on the white sandy beach with the ocean breeze blowing by.

San Juan has somehow managed to blend a modern metropolitan city with the antiquities of the past in a way that offers something for everyone. The pace is slow in keeping with its Latin roots, but vibrant nonetheless. The island of Puerto Rico is only 100 miles wide and 40 miles across making day trips to the tropical rainforests that cover the interior or the less crowded beaches of Ponce an easy drive. Beautiful beaches, stunning history and warm tropical nights filled with the sounds of Latin music – a definite recipe for romance.

Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is for the hopeless romantic. Take a step back in time to an era where romance was still alive and well. Savannah sits along the Savannah River and is only about 20 minutes from the Atlantic. Some of America’s most treasured eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture can be found in Savannah’s large historic districts.

With warm summers and cool winters, the weather in Savannah is usually agreeable. It’s almost impossible to walk down the streets of old Savannah and not envision ladies in antebellum gowns riding alongside their beau in a horse-drawn carriage. If old fashioned romance is what you are looking for, then Savannah is your city.

Bali, Indonesia
The island paradise of Bali covers about 2,000 square miles and is located at the westernmost tip of the Lesser Sunda Islands. With a history that dates back to at least 2000 B.C., the Balinese people are an interesting mix of Chinese, Arab and Indian. While you can find modern conveniences on Bali, you may also encounter pockets of native people that are forbidden to have contact with outsiders. If seclusion and privacy are your ingredients for romance, then Bali is the spot for you.

With temperatures in the 80’s year around, you will definitely want to find your own slice of beach paradise while you are there. Bali has gorgeous white sand over much of its beaches, but if you want to see something unusual, check out the black sand found on the west coast. Bali is one of the few places left where you can still find a secluded little cove along the beach to make your own little romantic hideaway for the day.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta can be found along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, in some of the most crystal clear water on the planet. The city itself somehow manages to blend modern restaurants and shops with centuries old architecture and culture. With perfect weather year around and breathtaking sunsets daily, you are bound to feel romance in the air here.

While you will find American tourists in Puerto Vallarta, you will find a more sophisticated class of tourists – this is not Cancun’s party central. Just a short drive to the north or south and you will find lovely little towns for shopping or more private walks along the beach. Mayan ruins and tropical rainforest canopy trips are also perfect day trips from Puerto Vallarta. Grab a margarita, pull up a rock and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy. If you like music, culture or people then this is the romantic city for you. The French Quarter in New Orleans is a world unto itself. Definitely skip Mardi Gras, but any other time of the year it feels as though you have been transported to another time and place where music and love are perpetually in the air. The people (or more appropriately – characters) that you will encounter in the French Quarter just seem to exude fun, happiness and romance. If you want to spend some time alone, follow the ocean along Interstate 10 for a day trip and soak up some of the most beautiful scenery the south has to offer. If you aren’t in love when you get to New Orleans, you will be when you leave.

Santorini, Greek Islands
Imagine watching a breathtaking sunset from your Santorini villa perched on the side of a volcano overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s like being inside a Hallmark card. The views are like nothing found elsewhere on the planet. Black sand beaches cover most of the island but a gorgeous and unique red sand beach can also be found on Santorini. If you are feeling adventurous, there a number of islands close by, all within an easy day trip and just waiting to be explored. Romance seems to be carried on the wind in the Mediterranean and Santorini is a perfect example

— The above was written by Leigia Rosales, Seed contributor

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SkyMall Monday: The Siamese Slanket

On October 13, 2008, SkyMall Monday was born. On that day, I selected a very special product to be the first offering featured in this column. It wasn’t the SkyRest Travel Pillow, the Time Mug or even the Baseball Bat Pepper Grinder that I love so much. No, the product that kicked off this little operation was none other than The Slanket, the original blanket with sleeves. Forget all the commercials that you’ve seen for the Snuggie and how adorable you think that dog Snuggie is. They’re nothing but cheap knock-offs of The Slanket. The Slanket’s so amazing that even mythical beasts rock it at parties. But what happens when you finally find that special someone and you’re no longer content being alone on the couch with your Slanket and a sloppy gyro? You need to be ready for the day when you actually fool someone into thinking that you’re a functional member of society who can provide for her and sometimes let her out of the basement. Well, when that happens, you can keep her warm and, more importantly, close to you, by wrapping yourselves in the Siamese Slanket.A wise man once said, “Sharing is caring.” I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen too many relationships end because a selfish man lounged cozily on the couch while his lover languished, freezing to death, on a nearby recliner. The distance between them, both physically and emotionally, eventually tore apart their relationships at the seams. Avoid suffering that same sad, pathetic fate by being both intimate and warmed with your mate in a single garment. 1 blanket + 4 arms = 2 souls 4ever. I think. I was awful at algebra. Do the arms and souls cancel each other out? Shoot. Can I borrow your slide rule?

Anyways, I’m going to deviate from protocol a bit here and eschew the use of the SkyMall product description. Instead, I cede the floor to the distinguished folks at the official Siamese Slanket website:

If passion was a Slanket, it would be this color…maybe passion IS a Slanket. Slide into one and find out.

If rhythm is a dancer, then it’s perfectly logical that passion is a Slanket. I can only assume that after you slide into a Slanket you will then slide into your lady’s, you know, um, vaaaaaaaaaacation plans. Yeah, let’s say vacation plans.

In this instance, they are referring to the Ruby Wine Siamese Slanket. Ruby Wine somewhat alludes to a color. Limoges, on the other hand, is a city in France and a type of porcelain. In the world of the Siamese Slanket, however, it is also a shade of blue.

So, pick up your Canadian supermodel girlfriend at the airport (being sure to shield her with your Double Umbrella), take her home to your hovel and show her how much you love her by keeping her no more than two inches from you at all times. Be sure to insist that she asks you for permission to use the bathroom (and for the love of all that is holy, let her out of the Siamese Slanket when she needs to pee and/or poop). And, if you really want to take your relationship to the next level, wear your Siamese Slanket during a three-legged race. Assuming you’re dating someone at a sleepaway camp or company picnic.

It’s time to grow up and share your life with someone special. Show them that you’re ready to make that commitment by giving up all sense of personal space. Pick up a Siamese Slanket and start getting fat together today!

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

5 reasons to travel after a breakup

We’ve all experienced heartbreak — the kind where you’ve cried until you have no more tears and you feel like your soul is on the floor. It’s never a good feeling, and you feel so emotionally spent that you feel like the best thing to do is stay in bed so you can’t get more hurt. The problem is you can’t get into a bad pattern of self-deprecation. You have to see the light of day at some point, and it might as well be as soon as possible.

Here are five reasons you should travel after a breakup:

  • A much-needed distraction: You may not feel inclined to pack your bags and hit the road, but travel requires mental (and emotional) energy that can make it the perfect distraction after a breakup. Instead of wondering about your ex or why things went wrong in your relationship, you’ll have to plan your next great travel adventure.
  • Learning about yourself: Breakups are all about learning and moving on, and the best way to truly know yourself is by getting yourself into a healthy state of self-reliance. By traveling, you quickly discover your limits and your goals realign so quickly that your heart will realign with them in no time.

  • Freedom is a gift: Relationships require work and time, and now that you’re no longer in one, you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want, so why not embrace it! Liberate yourself on the road by giving yourself the gift of independent travel.
  • The world is a beautiful place: Even if you live in paradise (I’m raising my hand right now), there are plenty of beautiful places in this world and life is too short to just experience them vicariously or virtually. Beauty will make you smile again, and soon enough you’ll wonder why you ever frowned.
  • Get cultured: I find open-minded, free-spirited, cultured people the most attractive and inspiring individuals to be around, and when I’m traveling I’m surrounded by them. Not only that, I’m experiencing life and educating myself of cultures I could only read about before.

After a breakup, there’s a tendency to trap yourself in a seemingly endless state of sorrow that it’s easy to forget about the world around you and the beautiful, inspiring things out there. If you can, find that strength to lift yourself out of that dark, personal space you’re in, step out into the fresh world, and embrace everything travel has to offer you. There are more than five reasons to travel after a breakup. In fact, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t, so get out there and go!

Do solo adventures break up relationships?

Outside Magazine has an interesting story on their website entitled Never, Ever Let Her Go (On a trip overseas. Alone. Especially to Africa.) The article begins with author Eric Hansen recounting a tale of a married couple who were friends of his, and seemingly had an idyllic marriage. But when the wife went off to Botswana on a volunteer trip for a month, she returned home and announced that the marriage was over, and she now longer was attracted to her husband.

When telling this story to others, Hansen discovered this wasn’t an isolated tale. He uncovered similar stories from a number of people who had their significant others go off on a big, adventurous trip, only to have their relationship end once they came home. Even more confounding was the fact that many of the travelers were women and many of them had been traveling in Africa. The article goes on to get quotes from several guide services and travel companies, who say that this is indeed a common tale that they encounter on a regular basis themselves. A marriage counselor also weighs in on the topic, saying he sees at least one marriage per month break up after an adventurous solo trip.This of course begs the question as to why this occurs. The story speculates that it is due to the person traveling expanding their horizons and having a life altering experience on their journey, something we can all relate to from our own travels I’m sure. The same counselor mentioned above says that generally the issues were there before the solo adventure, but the travels bring them more the forefront.

Outside‘s article concludes with the advice that you don’t let your significant other travel alone. Go with him or her. Experience the life changing moments together, and share the journey. If you break up when you get home, at least you got a great trip out of it, right?

So, has anyone experienced this phenomenon first hand? Have you been the dumper or the dumpee?

Gadlinks for Monday 9.21.09

Food and relationships have been on my mind lately, so today’s Gadlinks reflect some of these things. I am also looking forward to going HOME after being away for over two months! The last link is a nice homage to beautiful HAWAII and other gorgeous destinations. Enjoy!

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening!

More Gadlinks HERE.