Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which means romantic getaways and an entire weekend dedicated to love and devotion.
We all have different ways of celebrating, but if you like the old-school methods of wooing, swooning, wining and dining, why not try this list for some inspiration in the how, what and where of romancing?Cheap International Flights
Explore the City of Love in Paris, France
Often referred to as the City of Light, Paris has also been dubbed the city of love; therefore, it can’t be left off a list with any kind of romantic bent. The city’s names have been tried and tested, and found to be quite true. Paris is where you’ll find all your romantic staples – from candlelit dinners to a moonlit stroll along the river.
There is seemingly no end to the romantic meanders you can take, and other places to stroll through include the Jardin du Palais-Royal, La Promenade Plantée and the Jardin du Luxembourg.
You also can’t go home without visiting Le mur des je t’aime – literally, an “I love you” wall – a mural created by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito that has those three important words written 1 000 times in more than 300 languages.
Read the Book of Love in Kerala, India
The American band The Monotones wondered who wrote the book of love. Someone should have told them it was the Indians. The Kama Sutra was written by Vātsyāyana in ancient Indian Hindu and is widely regarded as the seminal text on sexual behaviour and practice.
To experience a part of the country that inspired this well-known work of sexual shenanigans, take a trip to Kerala, India. Here you can spoil your loved one, and yourself, by taking a break at an ayurvedic spa indulging in luxurious treatments, oil massages, panchakarma sessions and aroma therapy.
When you visit nearby plantations for a tea tour you will feel as if you’ve been transported to another world and time – even more so when you head to the harbour at Kochi, where fishermen use cantilevered nets that date all the way back to the 1400s.
Eat the Food of Love in Knysna, South Africa
If the Kama Sutra is not inspiration enough, why not try an aphrodisiac? Your options include honey, figs, chocolate and, of course, oysters. It’s the perfect excuse for a seaside holiday and Knysna offers both, with the town being renowned for this seaside delicacy, as well as its oyster festival in July.
Make your moments here even more romantic by coupling it with glasses of bubbly and you’ll be all set to gaze lovingly into one another’s eyes. To fill your days, you can go paragliding, abseiling and hiking. With the stunning scenery of the Garden Route surrounding you, these are adventurous opportunities not to be missed.
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Board a Love Boat in Bruges, Belgium
The words “love boat” may irresistibly remind you of the cheesy soapy from the 1980s, but let your mind wander towards something with a little more charm, such as the city of Bruges, Belgium. With tranquil boat rides on the city’s canal system, De Bruges Reien, you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of a romance.
On dry land there’s another form of romantic travel you can take: horse-drawn carriage rides. Taking you over the cobblestoned streets, make a detour at The Chocolate Museum for another excuse to nibble on an appetising aphrodisiac. After boat rides and carriage rides, chocolates, truffles and pralines, use your pent-up energy to climb the 366 steps of Belfort, a mediaeval bell tower in the centre of Bruges.
Move to the Dance of Love in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Countless songs have been written about love and when it comes to dancing nothing rings truer than the words of Sammy Cahn who wrote “what is dancing…making love set to music.” Arguably the most passionate form of dancing, which makes these words ring true, is the tango.
There’s no better place to see it, or dance it yourself, than in Argentina, one of the countries of its origin (the other being Uruguay). Whether walking through the streets of Buenos Aires, visiting La Boca or catching a show in the basement of Café Tortoni, you can guarantee that you will find dancers with their bodies intertwined in amorous grace.
Smell the Flowers of Love in Kyoto, Japan
Valentine’s Day seems to revolve around what the woman wants, which according to every shop window around this time of year is chocolates, hearts and flowers. Chocolate is good all year round – no one really sits around waiting for an occasion to eat it – but flowers are a little more special.
In Kyoto, an enchanting world bursts to life with the blooming of cherry blossoms (known as sakura), albeit a little after Valentine’s Day, at the end of March. If flowers aren’t your thing, don’t fret, there is lots more to see and do.
For those who want to explore the more traditional side of the city, there is Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion). Burnt down by a monk in the 14th century, it was reconstructed in 1955 and is a glorious sight to behold. However, the endless stream of tourists that flows through may make it a little less intimate than you’d like. If you do take a liking to it and don’t mind the crowds, you can also visit Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion).
If you want to try something a little more modern and playful, visit Toei Kyoto Studio Park. It’s a film and TV set which functions as a theme park, and allows you to dress up as a samurai and watch actors engage in sword fights and melodrama. You can also go shopping at the ultra-modern Shijo-Dori; and don’t leave without experiencing Kyoto’s culinary past with the aristocratic kaiseki ryori, the monks’ shojin ryori and the homespun obanzai ryori.
Escape to a Lover’s Paradise in Bali, Indonesia
Everyone has their own definition of paradise, but no one can argue with the nirvana Bali has to offer. There is plenty of opportunity to do the sort of things paradise demands, like drinking sundowners on the beach, but there is a lot more on offer, all heightened by the magnificent backdrops of the island.
Unavoidable and not-to-be-missed are the majestic temples. Bali’s biggest, known as the Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, is perched atop the slopes of Mount Agung. Tanah Lot, meanwhile, is situated on top of an enormous rock and surrounded by the sea. Uluwati is another astounding sea temple, and once you’ve visited these there are also the Tegallalang rice terraces to explore, as well as the Ubud Art Market and the five waterfalls between Bedugul and Singaraja.
Photo by Lima Pix