In case you haven’t noticed: it’s Valentine’s Day. I’m stood in the queue of a well-known coffee shop chain in West London, waiting for a fat latte to bolster my morning, staring out of the window at the usual humdrum of life. When, suddenly, I become aware of the gooey fact, that, “Love is in the air, everywhere I look around.” I even start tapping my feet.
There’s a guy on the corner with a half-dozen roses; ten feet away, stands a young lady, losing herself in her lover’s eyes. There’s a couple playing out a frisky reunion, and a cheeky grin unravelling across a young man’s face, as he looks down towards his mobile phone.
There’s a white van parked outside. In that van, sits a man. He’s sat quietly in the passenger seat, wearing a dark blue beanie hat. I’d say he’s around twenty-two. His arms are tightly folded, his thick fleece jacket is zipped right up to the top, and his chin is tucked into the collar.
I grab my coffee and a handful of sugar, and walk back to the office, to sit down at my desk, to write a blog post, titled: “The World’s Most Loveable Destinations”.
I had it all planned out; there was a lingering journey through Tuscany, and a sunset sojourn to Australia’s Whitsunday Islands among other heart-warming adventures.
But I couldn’t shake the image of that guy; sitting in his van; isolated from a world of lust. A pane of dirty glass was all that separated him from a world of tumbling romantic gestures. So I deleted the “Loveable” post; took a deep breath, and set about a new direction.
Don't be disheartened by Valentine's Day, we've got your back. | Photo by B.S. Wise
A look at some of the world’s best destinations to embrace the inner-singleton for your year of travel. A round-up of destinations that will leave you, the reader, feeling empowered. If you’ve recently broken up with someone, these selfless bursts of inspiration will help to soothe your achy, breaky heart.
You might even leap to your feet, and thrust your fist into the air. I hope you even go as far as to bang that fist down onto the nearest heart-shaped item. Unless it’s a child’s lollipop; that would be deemed overly excessive.
Valentine’s Day Emergency Escapes
Be still, thy beating heart. For what comes from here on in, is a rally of inspirational destinations; so powerful, yet wonderfully soothing. Like a hug from an orang-utan, in the evening mist of a distant jungles.
Nestled at the very top of Europe — as in, the very top — Nordkapp is within easy reach of the UK for those looking to scarper from the love hearts. What should you do when you get there? Swagger over to the cliff edge, where you’ll find a great big globe of the world at one of the most northerly points on mainland Europe. And then? Leap… into a tirade about how tacky Valentine’s Day is, and that you don’t care anyway. You don’t even like teddy bears. They’re for children. And chocolate is. And flowers are for old people.
You’ve heard the clichés: go to India, and find yourself. How about this, instead: go to India and lose yourself in the rich collection of amazing sights on offer in the north of the country. Don’t get me wrong, the south is breathtakingly beautiful; fit for lovers. The north, however, is raw and powerful. You could even scuff your feet on the world’s most famous monument to love: the Taj Mahal. Don’t miss the Golden Temple in Amritsar, either.
World renowned for being beautiful from the inside out, Bali is one of Indonesia’s most-cherished islands. Don’t dwell on the flower-dappled spa treatments on offer here; head straight for Ubud, hook yourself up with some budget accommodation and head out for some babi gulung (roast suckling pig) at Ibu Oka. I can promise you, that there is no better cure for heartache than to sink your teeth into some juicy spitroast pork. (Unless you’re vegetarian.)
Close your eyes and pretend Valentine's Day isn't happening. | Photo by beccafrog
Get your life back on the rails, with an epic journey across Siberia, aboard the world’s most famous train: the Trans-Siberian Railway. Even better than that, jump aboard the Vodkatrain experience and maximise your crusade by including some truly empowering adventures. Who needs love, when you’ve got a yak in the Gobi, right?
Fancy falling in love on the rebound? Imagine working your body into an uncontrollable sweat, before staring, longingly, into a pair of beautiful onyx eyes. That’s right, the fantastically named Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is the perfect place to take a deep breath and snatch an audience with the beautiful and noble, Mountain Gorilla.
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Latino’s are famous for being hot lovers; but they also have an unmistakable approach to life that’s infused by a fiery tempo and virile culture. Lead your way onto the Yucatan Peninsula and enjoy the ruins of beauty arising from the ancient Mayans. Then, grab life by the crotch, and mix the stunning Tulum landscape with the incredible history of Chitchen Itza’s famous pyramids.
Do you know what the best cure for a Valentine grinch is? Jump off a bridge (with a bungee chord tied to your ankles). Leap out of a plane (with a parachute tied to your back). Jump in a raging river (in a raft). Yes, you can do all of this, and more, in New Zealand. Head down there, take a deep breath, and get it out of your system.
"You caaaaaan't get me up here cupiiiiiiids!" says Andy. | Image taken from our MOVE Remixed video
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Another great cure for a leaky heart, is a good cup of tea and some fresh air. The Cameron Highlands in Malaysia could be the perfect remedy to your downhearted days. Rise into the lush centre of Malaysia and sample some of the fine teas and mellow hiking trails. You can even pick up some of the world’s best strawberries. And strawberry milkshakes. Strawberry sweets. Strawberry tea. Even, the rare strawberry flavoured strawberries.
For a holistic retreat, head to the centre of Buddhism in Japan, at the apex of Mount Koya. Grab yourself a shukubō (lodgings in a temple) and release your inner monk. Be warned; you can’t just rock up to Koyasan. It’s a combination of trains and cable cars, but hey, you’re avoiding Valentine’s Day, so it’s worth the effort, right?
While the lovers roam (Rome?) in the golden lights of Northern Italy, it’s the southern quarters that dole out the passion of empowerment, and there’s no better place to pile it, than on top of the world’s best pizza. Sure, you could share it with a loved one, but that will just leave you hungry for more — so order one for yourself, and take a seat on the long bench seats of the city pizzerias, and feel your lonely days drift away on the crisp edge of a local Margherita.
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Did you love that round-up? Don’t let the love-bug weigh you down, hammer it home by revealing your favourite spots to banish Valentine’s Day in the comment thread below. Where would you most like to retreat to?