Ah, Valentine's Day - in my opinion, one of the least romantic days of the year. After all, it's the one day when you're actually expected to do something nice for your partner. Hardly very spontaneous or original, is it?
So rather than present to you a list of the most lovey-dovey, romantic places to take your significant other this Friday, I thought I'd do the opposite. In the spirit of anti-Valentine's Day, these are the least romantic places you can go.
I'm not saying you shouldn't visit. You can think of these destinations as a test. If your relationship can get through a journey here, then it can get through pretty much anything.
Don't be fooled by idyllic images of the Taj Mahal at sunset, or a majestic Rajasthani fort. Your dream romantic trip to India will involve one of you, if not both of you, doing horrible things in a hotel toilet late into the night, plus plenty of arguing with rickshaw and taxi drivers and a collective tearing out of hair at the everyday frustrations that come with travel in this insanely populous country. One of those trips you'll look back on and wonder how you did it.
Any ski town
Talk to pretty much any long-term resident of a ski town and you'll hear a familiar story - I came here with my boyfriend/girlfriend, and now I have a different boyfriend/girlfriend. Ski towns are party towns, where long-term romances seem to fizzle out in the face of so many other fit, tanned options.
It's not that Argentina is a bad destination to visit. In fact it's one of my absolute favourites. But as you walk the streets of Buenos Aires you start to realise something about the people of Argentina: they're incredibly good-looking. And immaculately dressed. And polite. And sophisticated. And very good dancers. It's like taking your partner to Temptation Island.
A trip to the Happiest Place On Earth is a more effective form of contraception than the pill. Some might find it romantic spending an entire day surrounded by screaming, whining kids who just want to go on one more ride and really want a milkshake and why can't we get hotdogs dad? But not this guy.
"Do you know how to set this thing up? I'm sure I put the instruction manual in the glovebox. Put that pole over there honey. No, the other pole. Well I told you which pole! Don't just stand there staring at me like that. What do you mean you can't light a fire? Didn't your dad teach you? You left the sausages where? Is that dripping coming from the top of the tent? Why is our air-mattress going down? Why are you getting in the car and driving away? Honey? Honey!?"
The Middle East
What is romantic is standing on a rooftop somewhere deep in the Middle East, watching the sun gradually set as the call to prayer rings out from hundreds of minarets that pierce the orange skyline. What's not romantic is being unable to display any affection in public, or having to ward off the advances of the occasional overzealous local.
A European bus tour
It happens. I've seen plenty of couples come on bus tours in Europe. Some have the right attitude and score the perfect fellow passengers and have the time of their lives. Others are a little stunned by what they've got themselves into, a gap-year hook-up fest of tent-bound fondling, and start to wonder if this really is the best thing for their relationship.
Amsterdam's Red Light District
Amsterdam proper is incredibly romantic, with all of its cobbled streets and narrow bridges and perfect dollhouse terraces. Then you stumble into the Red Light District, and all of a sudden you're confronted with every tempting sin of the flesh imaginable, including partially clad girls in shop windows. Romantic? Of course! Because nothing says "I love you" like a prostitute in a sequined bikini mouthing the words "I love you" while you walk past.
The romantic thing about Vegas is that you might just get married. The not-so-romantic thing about Vegas is that you might just get married to the wrong person after ditching your date to go off with the Penn State students who seemed so much more fun than the person you originally turned up with. Vegas is a party town. It does funny things to people.
While you will get to share one of the world's great adventures with your significant other on the Trans-Siberian Railway, you will also get to share a six-bed cabin with a bunch of Russian soldiers and neither of you will be able to shower for about a week. You just better hope you develop a taste for vodka.
Have you put your relationship to the test by travelling together? How did it go? Where do you think are the least romantic destinations around the world? Post your comments below.
- Sydney Morning Herald