Lists! > Ten Romantic Places
10 Romantic Places
There are a lot of people out there that mistakenly equate "romance" to Paris, and choose the French capital as the must-go location to take their prospective lover.
Hogwash. I have a good friend who was taken to Paris twice by different boyfriends, both ending disastrously. Why? I'll offer two reasons that have to do with Paris -- first, it is a big city that has all the same troubles as any other big city you've ever seen, and second, Paris is so expensive and frankly full-of-itself that it makes even easy-going guys like me feel uptight. In my opinion, romance is better enhanced by places that offers great natural beauty, wonderful culture, and the opportunity to relax and be oneself with the man or lady of your dreams.
And so, for Valentine's Day, here's my list of Top Ten Romantic Spots (and no, it doesn't have Paris):
#10. Strasbourg or Colmar, France
Ok, ok, ok... so I started with another place in France just to rub it in. But the fact is, the Alsace region in eastern France is wonderful. It has a lot of small town charm with small town friendliness and small town prices. And you don't have to do black tie and tails if you don't want, though both Strasbourg and Colmar provide plenty of opportunities to do so.
The island of Capri is a great "getaway" location. Located just off the coast of Naples, it provides everything one would need for a romantic weekend -- a bit of seclusion, lots of great restaurants, wonderful shopping, and great scenery! Bit on the pricy side, but aren't all island retreats?
Like classical music? Salzburg is the place to go in July, when the Mozart Festival is taking place and the flowers are blooming in nearly every corner of the city! Even though I visited Salzburg in the wintertime, when it was under a thick blanket of white snow, Salzburg was absolutely gorgeous. Hard to beat the beauty of the Alps any time of the year, of course!
That said, Bruges gets the nod over Amsterdam or Venice as the best, most romantic canaled city. First off, Bruges doesn't have the drugs like the former nor the dirtiness of the canals of the latter. But more positively, Bruges is gorgeous and relaxing.
#6. Prague, Czech Republic
As big cities go, Prague is clearly among the best. It's a huge place with lots of sights, culture (art, museums, architecture), food, you name it. Plus, the Czech Republic is comparatively a bargain!
The Mosel Valley ranks among the most beautiful places to go in Europe during the springtime. The steep riverbanks are turning green with the new crop of grapes and the wine festivals (such as the Happy Mosel) are taking place. The castles and ruins are intermixed with charming little towns... wow! If you consider taking a long bike trek romantic, the 120km ride from Cochem to Trier will provide plenty of happy memories!
Czech gets two on this list, both very well deserved. The fantastic western Czech city of Karlovy Vary is just a stone's throw across the border from Germany but is absolutely worth it. The city has been given a world class face lift, and now hosts an annual world-class Independent Film Festival (that survived during the Cold War years). I absolutely adored the sights, the shopping, and yes the Czech prices!
If you want to do high-brow France, the Cote d'Azur is a much better choice than Paris, in my opinion. I included Nice and Monaco together since they are just a ten minute drive apart and their advantages are similar -- tremendous cliffside views, stupendous beaches, classy dining, and great weather year round. Of the two, I preferred Nice since it had the best brick-oven pizzerias I've eaten at.
#2. Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Environs, Germany
I have always ranked Bavaria very high on my list of truly romantic alternatives. Garmisch is a perfect central location, as it has a wonderful collection of classic and colorful Bavarian architecture and wonderful people on its own, while being in the middle of several other attractions -- King Ludwig's Castles, Oberammergau, the Ettal Monastery, and Mittenwald!
Austria breaks Belgium's winning streak at two!
I have been asked several times, "If you had one place to go, where would it be?" Vienna is my absolute number one choice! I had never seen a city that absolutely overwhelmed me with its imperial splendor the way Vienna did. I loved everything about it -- the massive museums, the Schonbrunn Palace, the great outdoor cafés, and most importantly the friendliest people I've met in any big city in the world. I guarantee that people who thought they would find romance in Paris will have a better chance in Vienna!
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!!!!!
(c) 2003 Tom Galvin