What does a ro­man­tic break look like in 2018?

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Cruising -

QI’m dat­ing an amaz­ing woman, but the tim­ing is atro­cious. Our first week­end away sits per­ilously close to Valen­tine’s Day, and I feel un­der pres­sure to plan a ro­man­tic city break, in­stead of just a nice week­end away. Ev­ery­thing I think of is a cliché I’m sure she’ll de­test. Please ad­vise.

ARo­mance is an amor­phous sub­stance, and hav­ing the ap­pari­tion of ro­mance loom­ing over our MacBooks as we scroll through Mr-and-MrsSmith ho­tels is enough to make even the most ded­i­cated trav­eller and ar­dent lover slam the lap­top shut and seek sex­less so­lace in Cen­ter Parcs.

Ro­mance means some­thing dif­fer­ent to ev­ery one of us. Mod­ern lovers as­sem­ble a definition from a buf­fet of ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences that may in­clude: a Richard Cur­tis rom-com, Blur’s Park­life, a Ne­spresso ad­vert fea­tur­ing Ge­orge Clooney, some­thing that Barack Obama once said, a para­graph in a Mi­lan Kun­dera book, a pic­ture of Kurt Cobain and Court­ney Love you cut out of Melody

Maker and pinned to your locker, James Bond open­ing a bot­tle of champagne on a train right be­fore his lady friend gets stran­gled by a hench­man, and that Chris Isaak mu­sic video with a sandy He­lena Chris­tensen in it. We blindly thrust these in­flu­ences into a blender, whizz it up and pour out our own per­sonal ro­mance smoothie, which some luck­less lover is then tasked with repli­cat­ing daily.

Some of us as­cribe to the “classic” vi­sion of ro­mance – flow­ers, choco­lates, ex­pen­sive din­ners, per­func­tory gifts and chintzy ho­tel suites. Oth­ers de­test such clichés. Though part­ners like this save you in cash, they end up cost­ing you in imag­i­na­tion and ef­fort.

The neb­u­lous na­ture of ro­mance makes des­ig­nat­ing a trip “ro­man­tic” a dan­ger­ous game, as Chris Isaak might well have sung. Avoid re­verse nom­i­na­tive de­ter­min­ism by shift­ing your fo­cus to other as­pects of the trip, thus al­low­ing ro­mance to seep in around the edges, al­most by ac­ci­dent. Se­lect a walk­a­ble city with great ar­chi­tec­ture, such as Krakow, that lends it­self to tipsy strolls and stolen kisses in door­ways. Opt for a city with af­ford­able and at­mo­spheric din­ing, such as Barcelona, be­cause noth­ing nukes pas­sion more ruth­lessly than stress­ing over the bill. Travel to a city with gen­er­ous and faintly sleazy locals, per­haps Florence, be­cause in Italy ev­ery­one just wants you to eat a good meal and go back to your ho­tel room. Or con­sider a lesser-known place such as Tallinn, so you have that de­li­cious feel­ing of dis­cov­er­ing some­thing new to­gether. Which, be­yond the age of 30, you’re un­likely to feel in the bed­room.

Ro­mance is about show­ing some­one you’ve paid at­ten­tion to who they are. And that you like what you see. So con­sider her tastes in mu­sic, film and fash­ion. Does she lean to­wards the classic, like Rome? Or is she a bit al­ter­na­tive, bet­ter suited to the Gothic, mys­ti­cal Seville? Think about the dates she’s rel­ished so far. Is she a burger ob­ses­sive, an av­o­cadoon-toast In­sta­gram­mer, a juice bar afi­cionado? Find the best restau­rant match in your desti­na­tion and show her that you love her de­spite her fond­ness for chia seeds. In 2018, my friend, that’s love.

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