By the time you read this, it will be almost February 14 and hopefully you will find a place to celebrate the occasion in a way that it deserves. Valentine’s Day is an excellent time to consider a romantic getaway with your significant other.
To me, Valentine’s Day is a kind of a second Thanksgiving Day. For those who are fortunate enough to have a significant other in their lives, it seems fitting and proper to set aside at least one day of the year devoted to gratitude for the good fortune of having somebody to love, and to honor the person with whom you share that special kind of relationship.
I can hear someone now saying, “Why should any vacation NOT be romantic?” And why not, indeed? But certainly the great gift of romantic love, whether brand new or enduring, is worthy of its own special day of thanksgiving. And that is Valentine’s Day. But it should not be limited to February 14.
For my own personal biases, there could be no better way to celebrate, or enliven, romance than to travel. It goes without saying, and I’m sure millions of others feel the same. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to take a trip together?
It doesn’t really matter what day. It’s the feeling and the intention that count. February 14 is only a date on the calendar. Love endures throughout the seasons, changing form with them. As to “romantic travel,” the more often the better, right? Why not? Life is short.
The Romance of Travel
When I hear the word “romance,” one of the first things that comes to mind is travel. Romance is not only about love between two people. Historically, it has a larger meaning that encompasses romantic love, but also includes adventure and mystery.
The Oxford English Dictionary gives two meanings for “romance.” The first is “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” Pretty much what you’d expect. But the second definition refers to a way the word was used in the past more than now: “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.” Ah! Precisely what you go off in search of when you travel.
The word originated as a description of stories written in the languages that grew out of Latin in the Roman provinces, and became French, Spanish and Italian, the romance languages. Since those stories were customarily about love and adventure, those qualities became associated with the word “romantic.”
The concept of romance is not only about “romantic love.” It’s also adventure. That’s a quality that envelops love, feeds it, stokes it. Love and adventure are inseparable. I would add travel to that equation.
Nothing embodies the essence of adventure more than travel. When one speaks of adventure, it usually involves a journey. And adventure is a large component of romantic love. When people fall in love and are swooning in those first fine, careless raptures, what do they envision doing? More often than not, when lovers first discover each other and fall under the spell, they envision themselves traveling together, going off on a great adventure. Some say romantic love is the greatest adventure of all. So, in that sense, when you take a trip with someone you love, you get a double dose of romance.
Where is the Love?
How do you choose the best destination for a romantic holiday?
There are standard ideas of a romantic vacation, a honeymoon near the beach, for example, or in overwater bungalows in a remote, private place. That works. But I think the range of possibilities is much broader, perhaps as broad as travel itself. Romantic travel is travel with an extra driver: the romantic passion generated by two people, which makes everything more exciting.
For many people, a great travel experience is only complete if it is shared with a special traveling partner. Traveling alone is also its own special kind of powerful experience, but having someone to share a great travel experience with can enhance and enlarge the experience. And it can reinforce the memories when you talk about it together afterwards.
Choosing a destination is as individual a matter as love itself.
A couple will hopefully choose a place where their individual passions converge.
I’ve been googling for the most romantic places, and of course it’s literally “all over the map.” Travel magazines run lists of this year’s trendiest romantic destinations, and they vary widely. One thing they all seem to share is great beauty, but even beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is the breathtaking natural beauty of Santorini, the Greek island, or the towering cliffs of the Amalfi coast, and then there is the natural beauty within an urban setting in Paris. And then there is the exotic beauty of Marrakesh. All are listed as top romantic destinations, and each has its own kind of beauty.
I would say a romantic destination is whatever place stirs your soul. This is certainly an area in which you should “follow your heart.” There are some components that are needed to make a trip qualify as a romantic getaway. It should be exciting, stimulating, luxurious and comfortable.
Even if the partners have big differences in the kinds of activities they enjoy, there are some things that almost no one could remain unmoved by. This is true of places of great natural beauty.
I was recently in the fjords of Chilean Patagonia, and the views of the mountains jutting high into the sky above the shores of the channels were of such staggering beauty, it was dumbfounding. There’s no way to express the feeling such a sight evokes. It was overwhelming. All you can do is take it in and absorb it as thoroughly as possible in the rare opportunity that you have. It’s a feeling too profound to be described, but it can be shared.
I can still see vivid flashes of scenes from long-past travel experiences in my memory when they are brought to the surface by association.
When two people share a memorable experience it strengthens the memories, fills them out with extra dimensions. When the memory is drawn back into a conversation, it is there to be savored, like fine wine, or like a hot dish of your favorite delicacy.
Those are the experiences that are stamped in our memories. Though a memory may be buried by thousands of other impressions that wash over us, they can be called up, one at a time. And that’s one of the sweetest aspects of my life at this point.
While a remote bungalow can be very romantic, for some it could be romantic to be in a crowded city, full of culture and things to do, such as Paris, aka “The City of Love.”
For some people, a museum could be a romantic place. What if it was the realization of a lifelong aspiration to visit the Louvre, and to see the Mona Lisa? That might be very romantic to share with someone. Whatever excites you as individuals can be great to do together.
It could be a trip to a place you have always wanted to go. Any place that engages the heart could be a good destination for a romantic getaway. Overlooking the Grand Canyon, where the mind is irresistibly drawn to lofty thoughts, could be very romantic.
Romantic destinations are as individual as anything, but finding vortexes of shared interests is part of the challenge of maintaining a romantic relationship.
So, go for it! All you need is love.
Your humble reporter,