As the most romantic day of the year is approaching fast, it’s time to dig up some hot ideas to romance your loved one. Modern urbanites these days might find it quite a bit of a commercialized gimmick for romantic fools to empty their pockets and boost the economy; I’m just one of those fools who love to be swept off my feet and completely indulge in romance.
Here are some of our favorite ways to spend Valentine’s:
1. Prayers at Tanah Lot Temple – Bali, Indonesia
Tanah Lot Temple is one of the most tranquil and peaceful spots of Bali. It stands in the sea, built out of cliff rocks jutting out of the coastline. A visit to the temple comes with blessings by the local pilgrims who say a little prayer for you, and bless you with rice on your forehead and frangipani flowers. Our favorite place to enjoy the beauty of Tanah Lot are the cafés perched on the cliff top, overlooking the temple, offer fantastic view of the entire coast and a tranquil time for you and your loved one.
These days, Bali is mostly dominated by lobster-tanned tourists, but fret not, there are still many areas undiscovered by the conventional crowd. The emerald green rice paddies of cultural center, Ubud , bring you through a journey into the traditions and cultural aspects of Bali, which is one of its kind.
Tanah Lot is approx. 1 hour’s drive away from Kuta, the hotspot of Bali. We rented a jeep for US$15 a day, that took us around the coast, stopping by several temples along the way and up to Ubud.
2. Driving along the Great Ocean Road – Melbourne, Australia
A recent trip along the Great Ocean Road made me fall head over heels for it again, it’s hard not to. With the ocean breeze in your face, cruising along the coastline, with the dramatic cliff rock formations passing right by, is the perfect way to romance your loved one. At least we did.
The romantic fools in us decided to splurge for once, on a 15-minute helicopter ride that took us high up, with a full frontal view of the 12 Apostles, Loch arch Gorge and the rest of the coastline. Our first time on a helicopter, and it rocked. Definitely worth the AU$70!
A natural phenomenon of sea erosion has created the amazing 12 Apostles – odd cliff formations lining the coast. Unfortunately with the impact of the waves, there are only 7 rocks left. Better see it before they are all gone!
Our picnic at the nearby Warnambool made the trip even rosier. With green grass and a swan lake, having a glass of wine and salad makes it a perfect Valentine’s.
3. Cruising the canals of Venice, Italy
Nothing beats the whimsical and dreamy atmosphere in Venice – you breath, smell and soak in romance. I surprised Alberto on his birthday in 2007 with a weekend trip to Venice – of course, even guys fall for that!
Taking a Venice gondola ride through the Canals (although that is costs 60euros for a ride – budgeted travelers like us could take the 4euros Vaporetto instead.) or people-watching at Piazza San Marco are the best ways to fire up your passion. Accommodation can be way costly, check out small hotels in the Venetian countryside that cost half the price and only a bus ride away. We stayed in the Hotel Villa Dori, with room rates of 77euros per night, and Venetian styled 4-poster beds. Definitely true Valentine’s style!
4. Sunset at the Alhambra Palace – Granada, Spain
One of our frequent haunts in Alberto’s hometown in Southern Spain, is the outdoor café of the Alhambra Palace Hotel. Built in commemoration of the ancient moorish Palace, the Alhambra, it is perched on the hilltop, overlooking the Andalusian city of Granada. We love having a glass of tinto de verano (Spanish concoction of red wine and soda), in the outdoor verandah with a bird’s eye view. Dotted with white-washed houses, the Alhambra Palace on the left and snowy Sierra Nevada (mountain range) on the backdrop, there is no better way to spend some time with each other.
The Alhambra is also a mystical spot to get lost in its maze-like architecture, especially when it gets dark. I was awed by the beauty of the Alhambra on my first visit to Spain, when we went for a night tour of the Alhambra. Dimly lit with yellow lights, the Palace exudes an enigmatic feel where you can’t help but immerse in the Arabic mystique.
The 5-star Alhambra Palace Hotel is definitely costly to stay in, but the café offers reasonably priced drinks from 3-4euros each. With an exquisite Moroccan influenced interior, its decor of arabic lamps and intricate carvings not only enchant you but also add a romantic flavor to your evening.
Every single time we’re in Granada, we pay a visit to this café just to remind us of our love for each other, and for this charming city.
5. Admiring the night view of Singapore – Marina Barrage
A newly built man-made dam that separates the Java sea from the Singapore River, Marina Barrage not only functions as a dam, but also offers state-of-the-art architectural marvels. Built as an eco-friendly spot, the rooftop of the barrage is covered with green grass and wading pools, idyllic for a romantic escape from the city. What’s more, it’s free!
The best thing about the barrage is its location – right at the outskirts of the CBD (Central Business district) of Singapore, it boasts of an amazing view of the skyline of the city. Yet, in the tranquility, you feel that you’re away from the hustle and bustle of this Asian cosmopolitan city. I love to spend quiet nights here, admiring the twinkling city lights and enjoying the silence of it all.
6. Secret coves at the Venetian pools – Miami, USA
This was where we spent some of the most beautiful days together. Miami was where we met, and we had such wonderful memories at the Venetian pools. Probably the most romantic spot in Miami, the natural spring water pool formed from coral rock quarry has a vintage vibe to it since its popular days in the 1920s.
We loved the secret hideouts in the coral caves (some private time away from the crowd) , the refreshing waterfalls and grottos. It’s a great site to steal kisses, enjoy the privacy and walk back through the past.
Right near the University of Miami, it’s a great respite from the heat as well.
Flickr photo by Matt Kiefer
7. Cotton clouds of Pamukkale, Turkey
Definitely one of my favorite spots in the world, Pamukkale (Cotton castle) boasts of crystal white limestone pools, laying vicariously over the plateau slopes, forming a beautiful phenomenon of travertine. So pure, lavishing and unspoiled.
Unfortunately, these days, swimming in the pools is prohibited due to environmental damage brought by tourism. Still, sitting by the slopes, watching sunset hand in hand with your loved one – you couldn’t ask for more in life.
Besides the cotton clouds, Pamukkale is actually famous for the ancient city of Hierapolis. Amazingly well-preserved roman ruins show evidence of an ancient civilization – from the Temple of Apollo to the Hierapolis temple, you could almost feel the entire city come to life! The Sacred pool at the foot of Hierapolis even allows you to swim with ancient artifacts.
Flickr photo by Filippo Salamone
8. Marveling at the architectural beauty of Santorini, Greece
Blue domes and white washed houses litter all over the volcanic island of Santorini. We were really lucky to have the opportunity to visit the island back in 2006, seeing that it was world famous, and quite extravangantly expensive. It is possibly the most picturesque island in the Aegean sea – amazing volcanic geology and typically greek architecture.
We rented a car at the foot of the island for 20euros a day, where we started the steep drive up to the villages of Santorini. Oia enjoys praises in guidebooks and fellow travelers’ commentaries, as the most beautiful village atop an impressive cliff with a spectacular view of the Aegean sea.
I especially loved having a drink in the cafés along the narrow paths of Oia, offering a view to die for. Life can’t get any better with some wonderful Greek cuisine – salad and Moussaka, along with a shot of Ouzo. How else do you light up the fire of romance, besides the Greek style?
Where are you spending your Valentine’s Day? What are your favorite romantic places in the world?