Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The world's most romantic destinations

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, …

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna , Austria

Along the Wien River in Vienna stands Schloss Schönbrunn, a 1,441-room imperial building and grounds that date back to the 16th century. With gardens in glorious blooms and exquisite sculptures, the panoramic palace has inspired lovers, painters, poets and writers. Unsurprisingly, Schönbrunn means “beautiful spring.”

Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, though glorious, have been done to death. The most fascinating location for love to bloom is the heart-achingly picturesque Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Gardens. Great writers such as Balzac, Sartre and Baudelaire have been moved to words here.

Taj Mahal, India

Agra, India

Who hasn’t felt romantic at the Taj Mahal? The monument in white marble is a paean to love itself. Arrive early to brush aside the tight security, the blazing heat of the stones under a summer sun, and the throngs of tourists and visit the Taj in spring, when a slight haze still drapes the marble mausoleum at dawn. Pause a moment. The love-cries of sarus cranes echo from the fields across the Yamuna, the chains of elephants clank and the bells of camels chime, and you can travel back in time to the Mughal Empire, and dream again of a love that lived forever.

Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Alhambra, Granada, Spain

The palaces of Alhambra were constructed in the 14th century by the Moorish Muslim dynasty that ruled Granada. The Emirs of Granada were the last Muslim rulers and after the “reconquest” of the region by Catholic Monarchs in 1527, the region remained neglected. Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century and restored. Today, Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the favored sites of people in love is the dense grove of English elms in the Alameda de la Alhambra, a park full of wildflowers and haunted by the song of nightingales. While most airlines connect Madrid with the city of Malaga, one of the best ways to get to Alhambra is by a picturesque train ride from Madrid or Barcelona. A tip for travelers: Remember to book your tickets to the Alhambra in advance, as only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside daily.

London Eye, London, UK

London, Great Britain

Many a romance has been ignited in London, the city on the Thames. A private capsule on the London Eye, the city’s most recognizable modern structure offers, literally, a bird’s-eye view of the city. Say the magic words when you’re up in the air.

Palace of the Legion of Honor, …

San Francisco, California

San Francisco has no dearth of heart-stopping destinations: The fog-draped arches of the Golden Gate Bridge, the heights of the all-seeing Coit Tower, an arm-in-arm walk down the Embarcadero, or a hippie evening at Haight-Ashbury. But most romantic of all is the Fine Arts Museum that goes by the name of California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Occupying an elevated part of the city and commanding fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lincoln Park Golf Course, the Legion of Honor houses an impressive collection of European and ancient art. If you’re in love, do remember to stop at Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Kiss. You know what to do next.

Lighthouse Park, Vancouver, …

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Breathtaking Vancouver is stacked to the sky with infinitely spellbinding views, a largely salubrious climate (compared to most of Canada) and a dreamy waterfront. In spring, the University of British Columbia’s cherry-blossom-lined avenues are charming. The North Shore of the city offers excellent easy hiking trails around the Lighthouse Park and is highly recommended for you if your idea of romance borders on the outdoorsy.

Juliet's House in Verona, …

Verona, Italy

Shakespeare, who told one of the most enduring love stories of all time, found inspiration in Verona. This city in northeastern Italy was the location for his tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Casa di Guiletta (Juliet’s House), with its telltale balcony, is one of the city’s most visited attractions and the shrine of smitten couples. One spoiler, though: it’s a make-believe story. The story has no connection with the bard, and the balcony was added many years later. But if it is love that brought you to Verona, make time for the city’s many other attractions such as the Arena, the Basilica of St Zeno, and climb the top of the Lamberti tower for great city views. Several airlines fly to Catullo airport, 12 km from the Verona, from major European cities

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, …

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, USA

Overflowing with oomph, the French Quarter of New Orleans has a characteristic allure that smacks you in the face. Rue Bourbon, a historic street and the spine of the district, is the cultural hub of New Orleans. Bars, restaurants and strip clubs, as well as gay nightclubs, line the length of the street. Sandwiched among them are souvenir shops and eateries selling delicious local cuisine. In the daytime, Bourbon Street is sleepy but as night falls, it turns into a whole new animal. Just a tip: while this may be a great place to get drunk, get away to somewhere more romantic if you’re serious about love.

Whitsundays, Australia

Off the coast of Queensland, Australia are the Whitsundays, a group of islands of assorted sizes. Named by Captain Cook, they are popular with tourists who visit the Great Barrier Reef. The largest of the isles, Whitsunday Island, is the haunt of honeymooners. Lindeman Island, covered by national park forests, is favored by romantic couples for its relative isolation. Tour packages are available from Queensland, Australia.

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