When I think of romantic minibreaks, I immediately think Paris, Italy and New York; the ideal places to find romance lingering in the air. Paris, for example, is the perfect lovers’ cliché. You’ll take photos in front of the Eiffel Tower, share escargots in a dimly lit restaurant on the left–bank with a glass of wine and admire masterpieces in the Musee D’Orsay. Then there’s Italy, where warm days will allow bike rides down pebbled streets. You’ll share a bowl of spaghetti and meet in the middle of a single strand for a gentle kiss. And lastly New York, where you’ll miraculously catch eyes with a stranger across a busy café and experience a love that is both instantaneous and intense. These destinations are so idealised in our minds that we feel like anything less than these levels of perfection are somehow a failure. But they are not. As I wrote this article I came to wonder why we consider these places more romantic than others and I realised that it is because we are taught to.
Let’s think about some of our favourite romantic films; The Phantom of The Opera (set in Paris), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (a classic set in New York), and Romeo and Juliet (the ultimate romantic tragedy, set in Italy). Even movies that we wouldn’t think of, such as Disney’s Anastasia, set in Russia, is partially set in and highly romanticises Paris, having a song named ‘Paris holds the key (to your heart)’. This is not the only Disney film to be set in Paris either: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Aristocat’s, Beauty and the Beast and even Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are also set there, or at least thought to be.
Therefore, these places have been ingrained in our minds as settings for romance from a young age, and even throughout our adult lives. However, the reputations that these destinations hold make them risky holiday choices. A make or break situation is created- things are either perfect, or the whole thing is a disappointment.
As a result of this, I like to look at ‘romantic holiday destinations’ in a whole different way, and use my own experiences in far less obviously exciting places to show that romance is what you make of it. I believe that the lower your expectations, the more romantic your experiences can be. For example, a simple trip to London including a picnic, peddle boating and romantic dinners can be perfect without the concern of flights and foreign currency. I spent this New Year’s in Edinburgh, Scotland and although I was concerned about the cold and the small details of accommodation these worries were immediately eradicated upon arrival. Edinburgh celebrates New Year with a ‘Hogmanay’ festival and a Street Party, twenty-thousand people walking through the streets holding torches is a lot more beautiful than you imagine, especially with Edinburgh castle as a backdrop. We were lucky with the weather over those few days, but honestly rain, snow or hail couldn’t have ruined that trip, because it was about who I was with, and what we made of that holiday that made it special.
Essentially, what I am trying to get across to you all, is that romantic breaks are personal and therefore unique to each couple. Don’t worry about not taking your girlfriend to Paris or Venice for Valentine’s Day, as these are not the only places where romance exists. Worry about what works for you: if you’re in love, you’ll be happy whether you are in the Brighton Pavilion, on top of the Eiffel Tower, or staring at the stars from your porch. You make the romance, not the destination.