wanderlust, the best Valentine’s lust of all

Hopefully love is in the air (or the sea or the train) or wherever you may be this St. Valentine’s.  And if not, well then you can always continue your wanderlust for travel and adventure, the best kind of lust in my opinion.

V-Day is right smack dab in the middle of the week this year, but it’s never too early to start planning a long, romantic weekend getaway for next year…maybe choose one of these sweet spots:

New Orleans. This magical city is teeming with dark mystery and romance.  How better to cuddle up on a winter’s night than to snuggle arm in arm along the gas lantern-lit cobblestone alleys whilst boozing it up and eating the most decadent food?  And extra points for it being Mardi Gras this time of year, so there’s a ton of stuff for singletons, too.

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Bali.  This is a top honeymoon destination for a reason.  Secluded and sexy, there’s lush landscapes and privacy abound.  Everyone loves an island rendezvous.

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New York.  If only to meet your love at the top of the Empire State Building.  Watch for traffic before you cross the street though.  (Please tell me at least someone understands this reference, the original movie, not Sleepless in Seattle–also a classic rom com).

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Tokyo/Kyoto.  Lovers in Japan, indeed.  The best way to get to really know someone is to explore a foreign country with them, specifically a place where you can’t read or speak the language.  If you can get through it unscathed, then you should probably hold on to this person forever.

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Cape Town.  Overwhelming views from the top of Table Mountain and V&A Waterfront will fill your heart.  The city offers couples everything they could want, luxurious digs, celebrated wineries, horseback riding/outdoor activities, and popular open air cinemas (especially crowded on Valentine’s).

Paris.  The City of Love may be cliche, but it is that way for a reason.  It’s a city of creatives and dreamers and there’s inspiration on every block.  Everything from the food and wine, the music, the scenery and the history is seductive.  If you’re not in love, you’ll definitely feel it here.

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And of course, probably the most romantic city, or rather, country is Italy.  Venice, Florence, Rome, Tuscany?  There could be nothing more charming, nothing that sets ones heart afire like an Italian escape.

And you may ask, why no pictures?  Well that’s because I’m headed back to Italy in about a week so there will be pictures to come.  Ciao bellas, that’s amore!

lovers in japan: tokyo and mt fuji

Japan is a special place.  Its culture is unique and traditions well preserved.  Tokyo is probably the most interesting city in the world, as it is a city of contradictions.  There’s an avant garde, boldness to it, but yet there’s also a timid sensibility, too.  It’s both modern and ancient, debaucherous and pious.  The food, the facilities, everything is deliberated over and planned out, but there’s spontaneity around every corner.  It’s edgy, real and fearless.  Yet, for a city of its size, it’s unimaginably safe and tidy.

Japanese citizens have a sense of responsibility in keeping their homeland organized and neat, and proudly show off their incredible technology and forward thinking nature.  I love everything about it.  There’s so much to see and do in Japan, and often times not enough money.

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know before you go: Tokyo Narita (NRT)

 

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Japan is one of my all time favorite traveling destinations; it’s also a busy layover spot to get to the rest of Asia.  It is amazing to me how a country can be universally reserved and orderly while being culturally avante garde.  Japan is an amazing contradiction of tradition and progress.  Unfortunately I’ve only been there twice, but hoping to go back many more times in my life.

Traveling to Japan, the tone is set when you arrive at Narita Tokyo International Airport (NRT).  This airport is huge and awesome and clean.  There are three terminals encompassing somewhere around ~155 gates. Terminal one is split into a North and South wing, with the North serving Delta/SkyTeam carriers (Aeromexico, Air France, China, China Eastern, China Southern, KLM, Korean, Vietnam), Hawaiian.  The South encompasses United/Star Alliance carriers (Air Canada, ANA, Egypt, EVA, Lufthansa, Singapore, South Africa, Swiss, Thai, Turkish) and Etihad.

Terminal 2 is where Japan Airlines operates along with American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, FinnAir, Iberia, Qantas, Tam and a few airlines from other Asian countries.  Terminal 3 is for low cost carriers.  This airport is amazing for layovers as there’s a ton to do, but it is somewhat far from the city, so you can’t just make a quick trip into Edo itself (it’s 40 miles away) if you only have a few hours.

The food here is amazing, but I am biased because if I can get a decent bowl of ramen in an airport, it’s shooting to the top of the list (that’s right, Heathrow ;).  There’s your regular McDonald’s, Starbucks offerings for western food, but if you’re laying over in Japan, enjoy Japanese food! There’s udon, soba, sushi, curry, yakatori, ramen, donburi, tonkatsu shops, and a food bar where you can get ALL of these things.  I spend most of my time here stuffing myself (but if you’re flying on JAL, save your stomach for their snacks and yuzu sky time drink).

There are luxury and duty free shops galore: Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co, Burberry, etc, but I recommend hitting up the Japanese convenience stores, Hello Kitty, and souvenir shops.  Where else are you gonna get your last minute Japanese KitKats for your flight?

Remember: ✈️ = Sayonara, sucker  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = domo arigato, mr. roboto

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (far from city center, BUT there are trains that go directly to the airport)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️  (it’s very large, but there’s an abundance of clear signs in Japanese and English)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️  (it’s a very busy airport, but they go as efficiently as they can)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️  (Japanese food bonanza)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (like everything in Japan very clean, and has their musical toilets with the automatic seat covers)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi not available, decent amount of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (lots of things to see, shops, food, japanese culture, kabuki, shower and rooms available to rent, airline lounges, observation deck to watch takeoffs and landings–I want to live here)