Cities For Valentine’s Day

VALENTINE’S DAY, FEBRUARY 14TH, IS A DAY TO HIT THE ROAD. FOR LOVE IS FELT MORE KEENLY WHEN YOU TRAVEL… WHETHER IT BE IN A REMOTE CORNER OF A TINY ISLAND, OR ON THE BUSY STREETS OF METROPOLIS.

One day is of course not enough for lovers. Then again, it’s still a chance for a tète á tète at Pierre Loti on the Golden Horn, or Aya Yorgi Hill on Büyükada, or in a rustic waterside cafe at Kanlıca… And if you are one of those who believe that love means just picking up and going somewhere, then there are many spots to please you in Turkey. Cunda Island is synonymous with lovers in winter.

Breakfast with freshly steeped tea, for example, at the Taş Kahve coffeehouse in whose rafters birds nest, followed by a motorboat outing along the coast where giant mussels are gathered… The pleasure of snuggling up next to the fireplace at a cosy bed&breakfast with thick stone walls in Assos defies description.

The boutique hotels in the foothills of Kazdağı (ancient Mt. Ida) is a favorite with countless romantic couples. And although there is a chance of being stranded on the island in February, Bozcaada too finds a place on lovers’ lists.

Besides the traditional destinations like Dilek Peninsula, Cape Gelidonya, Sinop İnceburun, and the Yedigöller (Seven Lakes), we can also add to our list the Black Sea coast from Amasra to Cide, and the magical atmosphere of Gideros Bay, so sheltered it is a virtual lake.

JOURNEY TO LOVE
For those seeking an alternative to Europe’s romantic capitals like Paris, Rome, Vienna and Prague, we suggest the sunny French Riviera. You can spend three perfect romantic days in Nice, Cannes and Monaco. The Italian Riviera is no less delightful. The picturesque towns of Positano on the Amalfi coast, and Portofino, immortalized in song, are among the Mediterranean’s most romantic spots.

With its colorful cube-shaped houses that descend to the sea in terraces, Positano nestles snugly against the Monti Comune and Sant Angelo Mountains.  For those unwilling to forego the Mediterranean’s warm winter sun, we have another suggestion: Girne. Pearl of Cyprus with its magnificent castles, long beaches and quiet streets, it has a different beauty in winter.

You can explore the island’s narrow lanes, historic sights, and mosques and churches in just a few days. Meanwhile St. Petersburg, where Tchaikovsky spent his honeymoon and Dostoevsky and Turgenev both lived for extended periods and set their novels, is another rising star on the romantic itinerary. February is also a month for going to the Far East. Bangkok is our first stop on a trip to Vietnam. Two days are plenty of time to explore the city and do some shopping. After you see the Royal Palace and the temples, you can tour Bangkok by night on your last day.

The next day you will fly to Ho Chi Minh City, where royal buildings, war tunnels, city museums, rose rooms and traditional markets are the key spots to visit. What we were saying?  Happy Valentine’s Day!

MAKE YOUR OWN GIFT
You can stop at one of the workshops in Avanos, Cappadocia’s historic center of pottery production, and try fashioning a pot with the help of an expert. You can even buy your own work! What could make a more lovely gift than a ceramic pot made with your own hands?

You can take February 14th as an excuse for visiting Amasya, where Ferhad is believed to have tunneled his way through the mountain for love of Shirin. This city, that bisects the Yeşilırmak River (the ancient Iris), is permeated with vestiges of a long history stretching from the Ottomans back to the Hittites.

You can use the book, “Meeting Places for Lovers in Istanbul”, as a gift for Valentine’s Day. Written by Atilla Birkiye based on the idea that the place where one meets is significant, the book describes 34 such places in Istanbul.

1. Kasımiye Madrasa (Mardin)
2. İshak Paşa Palace (Doğubeyazıt)
3. Erythrai Ancient Theater (Ildırı)
4. Knidos (Datça)
5. Patara (Antalya)