Love, love, love…
Everywhere you look it’s full of hearts, pink stuff, flowers, candles and lots of chocolates. It’s that time of the year when we get intoxicated with so much so-called passion. Wait a minute, don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against all of this. I just don’t like how commercial Valentines Day has become.
Who is to decide that all this stuff equates to love? And why if this is how love gets to be celebrated, it’s only once a year? I’m the least entitled to talk about the subject. That’s why I’ll better stop here.
But what do you do if you let yourself get carried away by all the commercials and the soapy dramas around you this time of the year?
And what if you decide you would like to surprise your other half? You haven’t had the chance to plan it or to budget for this.
Don’t panic! There are still plenty of things you can do. I would like to share some of them with you.
(Ready for a surprise tea party at the castle)
Home sweet home
I wasn’t thinking about staying at home but I wanted to see what’s around you that’s worth exploring.
England isn’t doing bad at all when it comes to romantic places. It’s true that the weather doesn’t help but no storm will stop two birds like you two.
I know many people born here, in Birmingham, that have never been to London? What?!…
I love London. It can be very sweet even if you go for a one day trip. Trains can be quite expensive but even so, you can find plenty of deals. At one point, Virgin had this offer for 5£/ticket to London. Of course, that’s not something you find every day. We have used National Express coaches a couple of times. They’re very comfortable, they have wifi, pretty cheap ( £20 return) and easy to book.
What to do?
- Of course, pay a visit to Her Majesty at the Buckingham Palace. It was cool to see the Changing of the Guard. The garden in front of the Palace is prettier than any bunch of flowers you can buy for your sweetheart.
(What did I say? It’s the magic of the flowers)
- Get lost in the Westminster Abbey. Actually, what is more romantic than being where seventeen royal weddings have taken place?
- London Eye. You might not get to see everything in one day but from the top of this wheel, you can see most of the city’s landmarks. Situated on the South Bank of River Thames it guarantees you a nice walk and beautiful views.
There’s so much to see in London. The list is quite long and open to your preferences. Perhaps you’ll choose to take pictures next to your favourite Hollywood celebrities at the Madam Tussaud’s wax museum. Also, you might want to meet the old Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster (called Houses of Parliament). You’ll find many tourist points, ready to feed your hunger for more.
When I say Cotswolds is actually a very big area, I mean it. It stretches from the border regions of South Warwickshire and Worcestershire, through West Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and takes in parts of Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset in the south.
(I love the colours, it’s like therapy to me…)
Bourton on Water
I especially like Bourton on Water which is called the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” due to the fact that the River Windrush flows right through the centre of town. I love the old artisan village bakery here. Their cakes and pastries are delicious and you can have a seat in their riverside garden and relax with your loved one.
Stratford upon Avon
I have said it before but Stratford upon Avon is part of the Cotswolds too. What can be more appropriate for celebrating love than to spend a day in the home town of Romeo and Juliet‘s writer? It’s a beautiful drama. After all, Juliet wasn’t meant to die. She only drank that potion in order to avoid an arranged wedding. The potion only made her fall in a deep sleep and everybody thought she was dead. But the one who made the potion, Friar John was unable to deliver the letter to Romeo informing him of the plan. So, when Romeo’s servant brought him the news of Juliet’s death, Romeo was heart-broken. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read it yourselves, I don’t want to spoil it any more.
Still, Stratford remains one of my favourite places when it comes to romanticism. It’s got all the secret ingredients for a stunning day out. And one of the ingredients I’m talking about are the rowing boats. You can row past the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity church and enjoy uninterrupted and unique views from the Avon river. Or simply take a peaceful trip to the countryside. If you can’t afford a fancy dinner, I suggest to get a picnic basket, stop along the river and fall in love again…and again.
Also, a very good thing is that you can come by train to Stratford and it’s quite cheap. So here you are, stop making excuses and go for it!
The next one I’ll tell you about might be quite popular among you guys as a seaside holiday destination.
Even if it’s still winter according to the calendar, Barmouth remains as beautiful for me as it’s in the summer.
Why this place? Because the majority of accommodation places are practically on the beach. You can get a cosy room with a sea-view in a lovely cottage. Who cares if it rains? All you need is the one you love, a cuppa and very large windows from where you feel like you’re on top of this world. With it being winter, not many people dare to adventure to the beach. But trust me, it’s worth it.
On a clear day, the view across the Lleyn Peninsula is breathtaking. I do recommend walking over the Barmouth Bridge to get a different view of Barmouth.
Again, it’s possible to get here by train. The train station is in the heart of Barmouth. You can walk to most of the hotels and cottages from there.
Thinking of escaping abroad?
For years it’s been described as “the city of love”, as the best place to impress and the place to be when you are deeply in love. Right…
It is a beautiful city indeed but it might be too much for some of us. Who knows how bad you want to escape, maybe you barely found somebody to babysit the kids and you dream for an oasis of peace and relaxation. Paris is nothing close to that. It’s very crowded, it’s unnecessarily expensive and you need time and patience to get the most out of it. Therefore, a weekend in Paris is not something you might be keen to do. You could leave it for a bit later in life when the kids start going to camps and you have more time. The reason being that there is so much to do and see and you might regret that you had to queue for most of your time there.
Paris on a rainy day…feat. L’Arc de Triomphe
No matter where you choose to go in Italy, you’ll probably find it to be one of the most romantic countries you’ve ever been to.
Maybe you decide to join the Venice Carnival, which is the biggest party of the year and it’s happening now in February. Don’t forget to dress up! The most popular outfits are traditional costumes of 18th-century lords and ladies. But Venetian masks have an extensive history and were once worn throughout the year to hide people’s identities. The amazing food they cook, the language…aww, sweet language. Italian is the most beautiful language I’ve ever known.
Of all the major Romance languages, Italian retains the closest resemblance to Latin. The struggle between the written but dead language and the various forms of the living speech, most of which were derived from Vulgar Latin, was nowhere near as intense or protracted as in Italy.
If you ever wondered where does Pasta Bolognese come from, this is the place. The authentic recipe is far from what people are cooking here in England. I lived here for a year when I was a student. I had the chance to meet an 87 years old local who was cooking Pasta Bolognese at least once a week. It was something like a ritual. Every morning he was going to the local market to choose his favourite beef, not mince and then he did everything at home( chopping the meat, the herbs). After that, everything was slow cooked for a couple of hours. The smell of it was absolutely gorgeous.
One of my favourite places in Bologna is Piazza Maggiore, a place where people used to gather in the 15th century, where they used to hold markets and also Giardini Margherita. Why? I like Piazza Maggiore because it is surrounded by the most important buildings of the medieval city and its history at every corner. Giardini Margherita because it is the most romantic city park I have ever seen. The garden has a surface of 26 hectares and many exotic trees (cedars, pines, horse chestnuts, sycamores, bald cypresses, English oaks, a Sequoia). Both of them are free to visit. Therefore, you’ll only have to worry about where to stay (you can find cheap accommodation for about 50 euros per night). And recently, I’ve searched the web and have seen really low price flights. Also, you don’t have to worry too much about food. Everywhere you look you can find amazing woodfire cooked pizza. A huge one is between €5-€7, so let’s say £5. My favourite one is Pizza ala Salsiccia ( Italian sausage). It’s really really good, trust me.
Now, I can tell you about more places I’ve been to in Italy as we managed to visit a big part of it. My conclusion is that you can’t fail with Italy, no matter what area you’re going to.
More and more…
We lived in Turin for a year, when Christian was a baby. I find it to be amazing. It gives you a chance to get really close to the true Italian taste.
Christian in Turin (Parco Valentino)
We were by the Italian seaside in Rimini and Ravenna. Or try “la dolce vita” of the Tuscany Region. This part of the world really left a mark on me. Everything is pure beauty. Their culture is to celebrate and appreciate life. It’s all about art, love, music and wine. What’s not to love about that?!
If you decide that just being at home in your garden is the right place for you to be in, that’s wonderful. Just don’t forget love is in you and it can be everywhere and anywhere. Also keep bringing joy, smiles and blessings in your other half’s life. It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind.
As always, see you in my next post!