What’s he up to? What’s he dropped this time… Nothing? Then why is he bending down? Why is he… Wait! What’s that he’s pulling out of his pocket? And why is he… Oh my goodness! Is he really doing what I think he’s doing?
Now, isn’t that what you want your partner to think as you get down on bended knee? You want some shock don’t you? Especially as you’re planning on doing it around Valentine’s Day, Mr. Obvious. So, yes, shock is what you want.
And awe… Awe will go a long way and get you plenty of brownie points. Shock and Awe. So, how are you going to go about making this proposal the most awesome thing that ever happens to your significant other?
You do that by choosing one of these not-too-obvious, but-still-ridiculously-romantic places to propose that I’ve helpfully handpicked for you.
Giardino degli Aranci, Rome
Put the Roma into romance by proposing in this little known and even less visited corner of Rome, the garden of orange trees – also known as Parco Savello. High up on Aventine Hill, Giardino degli Aranci promises some of the best views of Rome and you can distract her by showing her the very special view found at the ‘Keyhole to Rome’ in the gates to the Priory of the Knights of Malta.
If the one you love wants a fairytale proposal as well as a fairytale wedding, then you’d do well to whisk them away to Sintra, near Lisbon in Portugal. A small town famous for its abundance of theatrical castles and palaces, you can take your pick of views and romantic backdrops.
Bridge of Love, Helsinki
credit: Tina Maria
Of course, there’s Pont des Arcs in Paris and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, but one of the least known, and yet most romantic, bridges covered in love locks is the Bridge of Love in Helsinki. This small and modern bridge connects Meritullintori to Katajanokka, a regenerated waterfront area home to the Uspenski Cathedral, lots of bars and restaurants and many examples of art nouveau architecture. Don’t forget your padlock (or the ring!).
Leeds Castle, Leeds
Leeds Castle is England’s answer to the Taj Mahal…albeit a monosyllabic one by comparison. Originally built as a Norman fortress, two centuries later Leeds Castle was presented as a gift to Anne of Bohemia by her soon-to-be husband King Richard II, often regarded as one of history’s most romantic monarchs. Anne went on to spend a whole winter at LeedsCastle preparing for their nuptials – let’s hope your bride doesn’t take that long to get ready!
Hotel de Ville, Paris
Scene of arguably photography’s most famous kiss, L’Hotel de Ville in Paris is the place to propose if you’re heading to Paris for V-day but still want to surprise the one you love with a less obvious location (unlike the Eiffel Tower or in front of Rodin’s kiss statue). Just ignore the fact that the kiss as photographed by Robert Doisneau was staged. Yours will be 100% original and authentic.
LOVE Sculpture, Montreal
The original LOVE design by Robert Indiana was created in the 1960’s for a Christmas card design and can now be seen at Indianapolis’ Museum of Art. I’m not too confident of Indianapolis’ qualifications as a romantic city, but I know very well how quaint and cute Montreal is, which is why it’s the perfect city to find a LOVE sculpture worth proposing in front of. Despite several cities now having their own LOVE statues, this one is definitely more of a surprise, found outside Lhotel on Rue Saint Jacques, just a few steps away from Montreal’s romantic old town.
Jo’s Hot Coffee, Austin, Texas
Another unassuming North American location, but one that admittedly has been photographed a lot thanks to the simple graffiti-ed message you’ll find there “I love you so much”. But the story behind the street art on the corner of South Congress Avenue is a really romantic one. Written as a spontaneous love note by Austin musician Amy Cook for her partner, Liz Lambert (who happens to be one of the owner’s of Jo’s Hot Coffee), the original was sadly removed a year after its creation in 2011, but together the couple painstakingly restored the original message so everyone could keep sharing the love.
In what has to be one of the most romantic films to not feature a single sex scene, few can forget that poignant scene from Lost in Translation when Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen say goodbye to each other in the busy shopping district of Nishi-Shinjuku, a.k.a. the last place your lover will expect you to propose. And as for what he whispers into her ear when they share their tender embrace? Well, that’s entirely up to you.
St Pancras Station, London
No matter how late you’re running for your train most find time to stop and gaze at the bronze statue of a couple kissing in St Pancras station’s international terminal. Known as the Meeting Place, this 30ft statue was actually modelled on the artist and his wife (aww!). If you’re catching the Eurostar to or from London this could be a very unexpected but utterly romantic place to propose.
So, there you go, and I’ve done all the hard work for you. Now you’ve just got to book some flights, find yourself a swanky apartment to stay in, buy the ring, hide it somewhere it’s not going to be found, maybe arrange some flowers and some chocolates, keep your cool and of course, don’t overlook a celebratory dinner for afterwards. Oh, and don’t forget the Champagne… See? Easy!
A new year is just around the corner so obviously it’s time for me to ask; have you started stretching yet? Have you bought that brand new pair of running shoes you promised yourself? I hope you’ve also invested in some elbow pads and a helmet.
Am I talking about preparations for a new year’s fitness challenge? Nope. I’m wondering how ready you are for the January Sales.
With words like “scrum”, “horde” and “mob” often being used to describe the crowds that descend on some of the world’s biggest and best sales, the winter sales are not for the faint-hearted, but done right they are a great way to enjoy a new city. I did a little research and here are ten of the best January Sales around the world I recommend. On your marks, get set, go!
Visitors fly in to London from all over the world for the UK capital’s January Sales, which strictly speaking start on 26th December. The day after Christmas is also called Boxing Day locally, though I assure you this does not relate to the tactics you need to employ to beat your way through the crowds in Harrods in Knightsbridge or Selfridges on Oxford Street. My best advice for avoiding the crowds is to head to high streets in the suburbs and be sure to check how late the shops stay open.
New York City, USA
The January Sales begin a little later in The Big Apple with famous department stores like Bloomingdales and Macy’s chopping prices from early January onwards. However, for the best bargains follow those in the know upstate to Woodbury Commons a huge outlet mall that sells designer and luxury brands at eye-poppingly low prices.
Despite having enough museums and art galleries to keep any visitor happy for a year or two, Paris is as much a shopping destination as a sight-seeing city-break. With historic department stores like Galleries Lafayette and Le Printemps and smaller shopping enclaves like Les Halles, Passage de Grand Cerf and Viaduc des Arts, come 8th January 2014, Paris will have reduced shopping for everyone.
credit: *Crazy Diamond*
Never outside the top five shopping cities in the world, Dubai may not celebrate Christmas, but it’s happy to indulge in the seasonal sales. Considering the city’s airport has more shops than the average shopping centre, the one month-long Dubai Shopping Festival – which starts on January 2nd – is only for the fittest and most experienced shopping pro.
In addition to the usual reductions across all goods, Rome is a haven for accessories shopping with more than its fair share of boutiques selling beautiful shoes and designer handbags – a good or bad thing depending on your budget and luggage restrictions! The other upside of shopping in Rome is that the main shopping district is littered with many of the city’s most famous sights including the Spanish Steps and Campo de’ Fiori. January Sales begin on 5th January 2014.
If you’re a little slow to get pennies saved in time for the January Sales, Hong Kong may be the shopping Mecca you should head thanks to the biggest reductions coinciding with Chinese New Year at the end of the month. With a 10% increase in retail sales for the last few years and up to 50% off prices in Hong Kong’s huge malls, expect a shopping experience on a grand scale.
Singapore’s biggest sales actually take place in the summer, thanks to a city wide event called the “Great Singapore Sale”, but that doesn’t mean January doesn’t see some worthy reductions in the city’s many designer and department stores along Orchard Road, which also have special sales to celebrate Chinese New Year. For more independent boutiques head to Haji Lane, and Bugis Lane is your best bet for a bargain.
The UK’s second most visited city, Edinburgh is another great shopping destination disguised as a historical hub of culture. The main shopping area is around Princes Street and you should definitely pop your head in Jenners just to admire the 19th century interior of the grand hall. Sales start at the end of December and reductions will continue throughout January.
credit: Bert Kaufmann
Not known for its shopping as such, Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities to go shopping in thanks to the sunlight bouncing off the marble mosaic floors and white stone buildings found along the pedestrianised Rua Augusta, the city’s main shopping district. Alternatively, head to the upmarket Príncipe Real, where you can find more independent stores and a picturesque park and gardens to grab a coffee in. January Sales begin in late December and will carry on into February.
Last but not least is Tokyo, not just home to the world’s best electronics shopping in Akihabara, but also a pioneer of winter sales thanks to Japan’s new year’s tradition of “Fukubukuro” a unique concept of giving out “goody” or “happy” bags which are filled with a mystery collection of the shop’s produce, bought at considerable discount. As popular as the sales themselves, many shops will see people queuing up for hours on New Year’s Day to carry away a Fukubukuro from their favourite store.
Are you feeling strong enough to face the January Sales of 2014? If so, where will you be heading? I’d love to hear your tips for surviving the retail madness and still walking away with some bargains.
Featured image by World of Good
The International Olympic Committee are getting ready for a huge announcement this weekend: who will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games? The 3 contenders have been preening their feathers, flexing their muscles and showing their best side.
And it’s all come down to this.
Will current favourite Madrid claim this incredible honour?
credit: Víctor Peña
credit: Tonymadrid Photography
Will Tokyo be able to overcome the negativity surrounding the Fukushima disaster, and prove to the world they have the passion to host the best games yet?
credit: Brendan Skinner
credit: Stuck in Customs
credit: Jun Takeuchi
credit: Stuck in Customs
Or perhaps Istanbul, making its 5th bid for the games, will finally be able to show us all just what their flourishing economy, young population and widespread support will give to a transcontinental games.
credit: Christopher Chan
credit: Kıvanç Niş
Who would you like to see hosting the 2020 Olympics?
In this week’s Flickr Friday, we’re taking a look at Christmas trees in cities across the world. Many urban centres try to outdo each another with the biggest, brightest and most cleverly designed Christmas trees that their top creative minds can come up with. A lot of the time there’s also a story behind them; like the tree in London’s Trafalgar Square which has been donated to the city by Norway every year since 1947, for services rendered in the Second World War.
Please enjoy this collection of festive and arboreal images, and have a joyful weekend.
Rio de Janeiro © alobos Life
Berlin © fotoeins
Tokyo © toooooool
Prague © hdc.
New York © Luke Redmond
Madrid © alvarezperea
Strasbourg © hoosadork
Warsaw © Daniel*1977
Vienna © rabasz
London © micamica