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February 13, 2013

2

Love Is In The Air

by Julianne Mooney

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I don’t subscribe to Valentine’s Day. Not because I don’t believe in romance, on the contrary, I believe in spontaneous romance. You may ask, how can you shun a day dedicated to celebrating your love for someone? Easy. The commercial world. The shops tie red ribbons around their columns, spray love hearts in their windows, up the price of cards, flowers, perfumes and what not, then sit back and laugh at us idiots emptying our wallets.

Restaurants try their best to create a romantic ambience, but it’s like setting a stage for a play. It may resemble the real thing, but we all know it’s staged.

Ah, I sound bitter, but I’m not. I just think romance should be all year round, when and where you want it. I love getting a bunch of flowers mid-week when he returns from the shops with the milk, just because. Or find my favourite bar of chocolate on the couch to cheer me up or find a love heart on the kitchen counter designed out of multi-coloured jelly snakes. That’s my kind of romance. This is one time when the little things really do matter.

Saying that, if my lovely man announced he was whisking me away to some romantic European city for a weekend, my bags would be packed and a smile plastered over my face for the duration of the trip. Romantic walks through an unfamiliar city, finding cosy restaurants where you can snuggle down to a glass of wine and hours of chats. There’s nothing better than that.

With Valentine’s Day falling over the mid-term break, many couples will have pushed their romantic getaways out to March or April, a good idea as there are plenty of great offers for then. This morning, Thursday 14th February, I talked on Ireland AM about where you could whisk or be whisked away to and what to do when you get there. The information is below. (WATCH SLOT HERE)

Last year, I was a little less conventional and you can read about some of the alternative romantic European breaks here or Ireland breaks.

PARIS, FRANCE

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With stunning architecture, atmospheric cafes and bars and a rich cultural history, it’s no surprise that Paris is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. Many a proposal has been made standing on top of the Eiffel Tower and lover’s can be spotted strolling, hand-in-hand along the banks of the Seine soaking up the Parisian atmosphere.

If you’re planning a weekend of romance, here are some things not to miss:

  • Pick up a bicycle at Notre Dame, cross over to Ile St Louis and cycle all the way to the Eiffel Tower, then cross back over the Seine and cycle up towards the Louvre, past Hotel de Ville and into the Marais area where you can drop the bikes, find a cosy cafe and enjoy a glass of wine and then stroll through Place des Vosges
  • Get a Paris City Pass – From €30 it will give you free transport (Zones 1-3), access to over 60 museums and a boat trip along the Seine
  • Explore the Marais district, packed with cafes, restaurants and quaint boutiques
  • Take a metro to Montmarte and weave through the maze of streets discovering small galleries, cafes and shops
  • Take a bottle of champagne and two glasses up to Sacré-Cœur where you can find a spot on the wall and soak up the most beautiful view of Paris. Boy’s if you’re planning on proposing, you could do worse than here!
  • Bois de Boulogne  – go for romantic walk then take the boat over to the restaurant in the middle of the lake (Les Chalets des Iles)
  • Have an apperitif in Georges at top of the Pompidou Centre
  • Splurge on a meal at Laperouse, a former sanctuary for secret lovers in the 19th century for secret lovers who would be ushered through a secret passage from the Senate and up a hidden stairway to one of the private rooms. The rooms are still there and make for an incredibly romantic evening with fabulous food.
  • Visit the Arenes de Luteces in the 5th arr. and then walk in Jardin des Plantes and finish with a mint tea in the Grande Mosque de Paris
  • Marvel at the stained glass at the breathtaking Saint-Chapelle

Getting There Fly direct to Paris from €30 one way with www.aerlingus.com and www.airfrance.com and www.ryanair.com

Hotel Accommodation from €100 per room night or if you’re treating yourselves stay at Hotel d’amour, in the 9th or Hotel Particulier, Ave Junot in the 18th. Beautiful

Special Offers

Gohop.ie From €199 per person. Price includes: Return flights ex. Dublin, 3 nights accommodation in 3* hotel , taxes and charges. Travel: 8th March 2013

 Lastminute.com  From €289 per person. Price includes flights and 2 nights at 4 Star Best Western Hotel Mercedes. Travel: 29th March 2013

VENICE, ITALY

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Photo Credit: Italian Tourist Board

  • Get lost – this is the best way to see Venice and to escape the throngs of tourists. Take a turn down a quiet street and see where it leads you. This is how you’ll find local restaurants, eat incredible food like the locals and find a bench to sit on and marvel at the beauty of the city. My fondest memory of Venice was jumping off the water taxi at the wrong stop and ending up in a small neighbourhood and strolling the quiet streets discovering life in Venice outside the tourist traps.
  • Go to the opera at Teatro La Fenice, Venice’s famous Opera house or for something a little more intimate, attend a performance in a small palace near Grand Canal – http://www.musicapalazzo.com/the-palace/
  • Take a water-bus (vaporetti) to Guidecca, once famed for its palaces and mansions, then for its industrial status and today, its status as an exclusive neighbourhood. Wander the streets of this small island.
  • Explore Burano with its brightly coloured homes and lacework factories and shops
  • Stay and explore Dorsoduro
  • Rent an apartment, pick up your food in the Rialto market and then have a romantic meal out on the terrace in the comfort of your own place

 

Getting There Fly direct to Venice from €65 one way 

Hotel Accommodation From €120 per room night

Special Offers

Topflight From €399pps departs 28th Feb. Price includes flights, 2 nights B&B at 4* Hotel Principe and a traditional cooking course, taxes and charges. Travel: 28th February 2013

 Travel Mood  From €384pp. Price includes: Return flights ex. Dublin, 4 nights B&B in 3* hotel, taxes and charges. Travel: 26th February 2013

SEVILLE, SPAIN

The capital of Andalucia, Seville’s winding medieval laneways lead you to quaint squares lined with orange trees and dotted with small taverns serving local wines and mouthwatering tapas. A strong moorish architectural influence is evident throughout the city, exotic and

  • Stroll through the narrow alleyways and stumble upon local cafes and restaurants
  • Home to flamenco, you simply have to see flamenco when you’re in Seville
  • Put your trip off to April and celebrate with the locals during the festive – Feria de Abril, a six day festival where the town constructs a tented city, lit up with thousands of lanterns, multi-coloured bulbs and music streams out from the different tents, people dance the flamenco and the city parties for 6 full days.
  • Stroll through the beautiful gardens of the stunning Real Alcázar, a Moorish fortified palace. They have evening visits from Thursday – Saturday which is extra special
  • Visit the Museo de Bellas Artes where you can admire Baroque art and rest in the peaceful cloisters adorned with reflective pools
  • Watch the sunset on the Paseo Marqués de Contadero (Walk of Contadero Marquis)
  • Have a glass of “Agua de Sevilla” on the Betis street (Sevilla water is a local cocktail)
  • Treat yourself to a massage in the Arab Baths “Aire de Sevilla” and have a mint tea in the teahouse after
  • Explore Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter, it’s a maze of small houses, pretty squares and orange trees

Getting There Fly direct to Seville from €20 one way or Indirect flights via London with http://www.easyjet.com

Hotel Accommodation From €60 per room night

Special Offers

Ribera de Triana 4* Hotel from €75 per room. Includes B&B for two, bottle of champagne on arrival


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