Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top 10 Most Romantic Destinations According to Me

It's that time of year again, you know the one where the little baby in the diaper with the bow and arrow causes millions of people to spend a ridiculous amount of money on things like flowers and chocolate. That's right, it's Valentine's Day. And while some may scoff at the mere thought of the day, why not take an opportunity to relive some magic travel memories? While most of this top ten list is made up of destinations where I traveled alone or with friends, they are definitely places where sparks can fly. This list is a bit Europe heavy, but what can I say, it's where I'm living these days. These destinations are in no particular order, but consider this a "best of" list of my travels up to this point in my life.

10  Zanzibar Beaches
In addition to this being a fascinating spice island, Zanzibar has some absolutely stunning beaches with crystal clear water and old fishing boats washed up on the shore. Here you can live large, or enjoy the scene on a budget. Either way, you will have a wonderfully relaxing time.

9   Greek Islands
All the ones I have visited have been absolutely stunning. Some are known for the party crowd, and others are known as honeymoon havens. Santorini tops the list of typical tourist destinations, but Tinos is a diamond in the rough. The best place to stay here is the Tinos Beach Hotel, minutes away from the port and steps from the salty Aegean Sea. Amazingly fresh food and a beautiful backdrop can't be beat for romance.

8   Amsterdam 
Amsterdam is full of all sorts of surprises for both the experienced and novice traveler. The city itself is beautiful, full of hundreds of really old (we're talking 1600's here) leaning buildings and lazy canals. You could spend days just wandering around the little neighborhoods like Nieuwmarkt, the Jordaan, or de Pijp. If you don't feel like walking, there are tons of boats for hire where you can pack a picnic lunch and love the one you're with.

7   Belgium 
Have a Belgian Beer With Your Honey
Not only can you find some of the best beer in the world, you can also find some of the cutest small towns in Europe. Belgium, in my humble opinion, is highly underrated. It's easy to get to from surrounding countries, and it is easy to take a day trip there. It is also just downright angelic in the winter when the snow covers the gabled rooftops.  It's great fun to just wander around or go on a brewery tour.

6   Paris
Eiffel Tower
'Nuf said, but there are some truly great spots that don't include waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower. Just about every street in the city has a cafe and a bakery. Choose one and make it your home for a week. Get to know the locals and practice the sultry sounds of the French language. If that doesn't strike your fancy, the National Archives has a lovely courtyard in the center of the building where you can sit among the well manicured gardens. There are many spots like this around Paris including small parks and museum gardens. I highly recommend walking through open doors throughout the city because you never know what will be on the other side. It's an Alice in Wonderland sort of approach to travel.

Costa Rica

5   Costa Rica 
If adventure is more your speed, then Costa Rica is the perfect place to go. This country has the best of everything, relaxation, diverse landscapes, and a lot of fun. Zip lining is a great way for couples both new and established to take a risk and be spontaneous. You can climb the side of a volcano, go on a wildlife hike, or just bask in the sunshine. Anyway you slice it, Costa Rica is perfection.

4   Venice 

No list of romantic destinations would be complete without Venice. Who wouldn't want to eat some fabulous Italian food and watch the pigeons in St. Mark's Square? But there's more to this location than all the tourist hype of gondola rides with singing gondoliers (although I highly recommend spending the money to do this). The overall feel of the city, especially at night is one that can compare to few others. Walking through the dark labyrinth of alleyways, you hear the echoes of others talking, getting lost in the moment.  The canals are calm and quiet in certain areas of the city, and the lights provide a calming backdrop to this truly unique locale.

Hurricane Ridge

3   Olympic Peninsula 
I only allowed myself one U.S. destination for this particular post, and keeping with the spirit of adventure, hiking in Hurricane Ridge topped my list. Even in the spring, snow tops the mountains providing some fantastic vistas. It's not uncommon to see deer wandering free and coming quite close it you are still enough. Pack a picnic lunch and strap on your hiking boots for a lovely trek through the mountains.

Tented Camp in Tanzania

2   Tanzania
One of the best once in a lifetime (hopefully more than once) experiences is a safari in Tanzania. Picture a Hemmingway-esque tented camp complete with hot water and all of the essentials including three beautifully catered meals per day.  You spend your mornings and evenings on game drives and afternoons napping by the pool. Surrounded by some of nature's most exquisite wildlife, you forget all of the troubles and stressed surrounding daily life. If being with your partner doesn't quite take your breath away, being just feet from a lion will.

And the # 1 most romantic destination according to me is......

Wherever Your Honey Is
Take it from a girl who has spent the last year and a half in a long distance romance, this one beats all. No really, it does. The best destination is anywhere in the world with the one you love.  You don't have to travel long distances to find a romantic destination; where you are is sometimes the best place to be. Yes, it can even be the living room couch.

Have a very Happy Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day, or whatever you may celebrate!