Our Favourite Romantic Places Around The World

When it comes to a romantic getaway all you really need is somewhere special and the one you love.  Of course, being in an extra special place certainly helps make the magic happen though!  We asked our team what their favourite romantic destinations were.  Here’s what they had to say.

Greece

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The two most romantic places in Greece in my opinion is Santorini and Mykonos. There is something magical about sitting down for supper and waiting for the most famous sunset around. In Mykonos there are so many places to explore. It is so easy to find a quite and quaint place to enjoy a romantic meal.

Karen Katelnikoff

Kapama Game Reserve South Africa

Kapama River Lodge 1
Highlights:

  1. ALL the animals – what is more romantic than seeing Lions, Leopards and Giraffes by moonlight?
  2. A full spa with rooms facing a dry river bed where animals roam
  3. Beautiful “rustic” lodge rooms
  4. A full wine cellar
  5. Wonderful, locally prepared food and entertainment by firelight each night
  6. As places to propose go, this takes the cake (I should know 😊)

Jamie Milton

El dorado Casitas in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico

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If you’re looking for the perfect place to feel pampered and relaxed this is it!   I love staying at this gourmet inclusive resort where everything we could wish for is already thought of.  The tropical gardens are the perfect place to read a book or enjoy a cocktail.

Joanne Pidwerbetsky

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The top of the Reichstag Building Dome in Berlin at Sunset.

Reichtstag Building 1

Highlights:

  1. Capacity controlled, so never very crowded
  2. A beautiful 360 degree glass dome overlooking Berlin
  3. At sunset all the landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate are highlighted by the setting sun

Jamie Milton

Reichtstag Building 2

Italy

Cinque Terra

It’s easy to understand why Italy is one of the most romantic places in the world.  Visiting this destination with my better half is something I’ll cherish forever.  It was our honeymoon spot and we fell in love with the beautiful hillsides of Tuscany, the gorgeous seaside towns and the Italian way of life to slow down and take it all in.  Toast your partner with some limoncello or vino and indulge in the beauty and romance of this eternal destination.  My heart is with the wonderful Italian people who are struggling through difficult times.  I know one day we will return.

Czarina Sastaunik

The Sydney Zoo at Sunset.

Sydney Zoo at Sunset 1

Highlights:

  1. There is a lookout where you can watch the sun set over Sydney Harbour
  2. Beautiful views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House
  3. Take a romantic boat right from the Zoo back across the Harbour to your hotel after

Jamie Milton

Sydney Zoo at Sunset 2

Disney Parks

Disney 3

We’ve all heard of the “Magic of Disney”.  I’m sure many people think it’s not real but I’m here to argue that it is real and it what romance is made of!   My partner and I have visited both Disneyland and Walt Disney World together as childless millennials (how dare we) and both trips had an element of romance that surprised me.  There’s something about the atmosphere that encourages hand holding.  Maybe at first it’s so that you don’t lose each other but eventually it is because the magic that they pump into the air makes you appreciate each other more.   Sharing the experience of rides, meeting favourite characters, marvelling at how things were created, fireworks shows and delicious dining is like the ultimate date every day.  Plus having access to photo pass photographers means you can get so many cute photos of the whole ordeal!  For me, a Disney trip is all about the romance and I just cannot wait for us to get back there to let the magic take over again.

Heather Peters


We hope you enjoyed our list of romantic places.   As you can see, romance can be found anywhere around the world – it’s about finding those special moments with the person you love wherever you are.

Where have you found romance around the world?

ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 23

November 25, 2018 – Mooloolaba Australia

Our first time to the Sunshine Coast in Australia and a port of call that is on many ship itineraries but rarely do they actually get into port because it is a tender port where they use a couple of the ship’s lifeboats to ferry passengers into town.  The swells can get quite high there and it becomes too dangerous to run the tenders.

In our case, it looked like we would make it and I was invited along for a round of golf.  I was quite excited about this because I hadn’t played in the last couple of months and I have never played golf in Australia.

Unfortunately, just before anyone disembarked the ship, the Captain announced that we were abbreviating our stop in Mooloolaba by 2.5 hours.  This made it too tight to get in a round of golf and so the decision was made to cancel golf and perhaps try for another port of call.

What was a huge disappointment turned out to be a delight!

Mooloolaba sits on a spit of land between an international standard marina on the Mooloolah River and beautiful ocean beaches with great surf that the Pacific Ocean has to offer.

Visitors can enjoy the intimate restaurants, shopping, sparkling white beaches with highly patrolled areas for swimming and surfing, walks along the boardwalk and through tropical foliage. The town – with approximately 17500 residents – is situated approximately 100 km (1 hour) from Brisbane.

The ship’s tender dropped us off at Mooloolaba Wharf, one of Mooloolaba’s best drawcards. If you’re into boats then it is a great place to wander about and pick out your dream cruiser or yacht. If boating’s not your thing then content yourself with a wander around the great clothing and specialty shops. There’s also a variety of restaurants and bars to choose from which offer great al fresco dining.

 

We started off with a stroll along the waterfront and made our way to the Mooloolaba Esplanade which is a shopping destination and is the perfect place to go in search for the perfect cup of coffee, lunch, bathing suit or special dress. There’s a variety of clothing boutiques offering fashions from Australia and around the world. There are also specialty jewellery stores, galleries and specialty stores selling homewares and gifts.  After some retail therapy, we opted for one of the many, many restaurants and in this case a coffee and wine bar.

A lovely lunch of some tapas and a nice cold glass of white wine before we had to start back, along the spectacular beach toward the Wharf to catch our tender.

 

Mooloolaba Beach is one of the most picturesque on the Sunshine Coast with its clean, white sands and azure waters. The beach is patrolled every day of the year by lifeguards and is perfect for those a little more timid in the sea as the waves aren’t too big. The beach is the perfect hang out as long as you remember the sunscreen!

 

True to the Captains best judgement, the seas were significantly rougher on the ride back to the ship and we were happy it wasn’t worse at that point.

Now for a day at sea before we arrive in Sydney, home to our friends Gary and Chris who we are excited to visit with.

ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 22

November 22, 2018 – Cairns Australia

What started off as a goldfields port out in the swamp is today one of Australia’s best cities. Cairns lies nearly 1,200 miles north of Brisbane and is a city where nature meets concrete. The rainforest and human civilization co-exist gracefully. Pronounced “Caans”, Cairns is a great starting point for those interested in exploring northern Queensland which is raw and wild, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef.

It is well known as a base for those interested in sports and activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, parasailing, hiking through the rain forest, etc. Wildlife is one of Cairns’ main attractions for tourists. The rain forest is home to some incredible flora and fauna including animals such as wallabies, gray kangaroos, crocodiles, snakes and even poisonous jelly fish. In fact, the jelly fish is so lethal that for half the year, some of the most stunning beaches in the area are cordoned off from the public and swimming isn’t allowed. The wildlife, the forests, and the activities on offer here make Cairns the perfect spot for tourism marketers to sell to tourists. The fact that it is in such close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef also helps.

Our activities in Cairns were at the invitation of our table mates, John and Margaret, who although originally from Australia, now live in Calgary.  They had rented a car and were driving up to Port Douglas via Kuranda and invited us along.  Since John was used to driving on the left side of the road, we thought that was a good option.

The drive to Kuranda was very nice…a windy road through the forest and the town itself was like a Waskesiu, a small resort town with lots of shops and cafes.  We did a quick walk through and stopped for an Aussie Meat Pie.  I had the steack and kidney pie and I must say it was excellent.

Cairns 1

We stopped at the Barron Falls which in normal times is a raging river with spectacular falls through the deeply cut gorge.  Unfortunately, Cairns and area has had a severe drought and as a result, the spectacular falls turned out to be a small version of its former self.  The gorge was very impressive.

I don’t think this wild turkey realized it was American Thanksgiving…

We followed the coastal road up to Port Douglas and the scenery was amazing!  Being landlocked in Saskatchewan gives me a great appreciation for the ocean and the magnificent views we saw along the way to the beachfront town.

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However, now we are ready for some beach time at Four Mile Beach!  In the pictures below, you will see a “roped off” area in the water.  This is the safe swimming zone as box jelly fish are known to infest the waters.  These nets around the area keep the stingers out of danger for people in the water.  It was low tide and the water was not very deep and very warm.

Look out point:

Compared to Sydney, Cairns is very laid back and easy going. There are several bars, pubs, restaurants, smaller eateries, cafes, and social hangout spots to cater to the hungry and thirsty tourist. One sight that we could not miss out on when we were back in Cairns is the stunning 3 km Esplanade boardwalk.

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The ship is docked downtown so access to the Esplanade was very easy.  It was also docked right next to Hemingway’s Brewery and since all aboard wasn’t until 8:30PM and the night was so lovely, why not enjoy a local brew and some snacks!

A couple of days at sea next and then Mooloolaba, Australia!  Yes, there is such a place and we are looking forward to it!

ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 21

November 18, 2018 – Darwin, Australia

Darwin 1G’Day Mate!  We have finally reached Down Under.  Our first stop is Darwin.  For me, the Japanese air raid after Pearl Harbour is what Darwin is most famous for.  If you ask the locals, they would say the perfect weekend is going fishing for barra (barramundi) in a tinny (small boat) with an esky (cool box) full of beer.  There does seem to be a plethora of pubs and restaurants.

There are a variety of sights and activities to do in and around Darwin, from crocodile performances to national parks, giant termite hills and botanical gardens.  We chose to do none of those at all.  Instead, since my camera is still not working, we hunted down a camera shop in the hope of getting it fixed.  Unfortunately, the one person there (it was Sunday) tried very hard to help but to no avail.  It seems that the shutter curtain is locked down…I’m hoping that perhaps in Sydney I might find some help.

Feeling sorry for ourselves, Karen opted for some retail therapy and after, we decided a nice lunch overlooking the water would be just the thing.  Off to Stokes Hill Wharf for a nice feed of Barra, calamari and fresh oysters accompanied by a lovely bottle of southern Australian Yulumba Pinot Gris and that completed our short but enjoyable stay in Darwin.

Next stop is Cairns…we better decide what we want to do there soon.  Cheers.

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Jamie’s Hawaii and Australia Adventure – Final Blog

Wow, what a week in Sydney we’ve had.  I spent 5 of the days in a conference, but luckily the conference organizers had some fun and unique activities planned for us throughout our stay.  We also spent a few days catching up with friends and seeing some of the sights on our own.  Here are a few of my top picks if you have a few days in Sydney!

1)       Taronga Zoo.  It was my second visit there and went to Sydney knowing that I wanted to revisit it.  It is a quick ferry ride from Circular Quay and it really is one of the best zoos in the world.  You arrive at sea level and take a Gondola up to the top of the zoo.  From there, you spend the day making your way down to sea level again to take the ferry back to downtown Sydney.  The views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are incredible.  They have a wide variety of local Australian Animals as well as African animals like elephants and Giraffe and other exotic animals like Tigers, etc.  You could spend a few hours or a whole day, depending if you want to catch any of their shows.  A family pass to the zoo including the ferry, etc for 4 people is $150.00 AUD.

2)      Sailing on Sydney Harbour.  You can learn to sail with an experienced sailing company right on Sydney Harbour.  Your afternoon adventure with East Sail has you going on board with a skipper and your crew of new sailors-to-be.  You learn a few basics, then you have two races against their other sailboats.  You get to do everything from steering the sailboat to pulling and letting out the ropes (I wish I remembered what it was all called!)  It was something I wouldn’t have done on my own but it was a blast – unexpectedly my favorite thing I did in Sydney.  I am not sure the cost is as this was included in our conference rate.

Sailing on Sydney Harbour

Sailing on Sydney Harbour

3)      Sydney Aquarium.  We spent about 3 hours here with the kids and could have stayed longer if we weren’t all starving for lunch.  They have tons of sea life – sharks, dolphins, Dugong’s (looks like a Manatee) Barrier Reef fish, all kinds of Sting Rays, octopus, Platapus, sea horse, penguins, etc.  It was fabulous and the kids loved it.  It was about $26.00 AUD for adults and $16.00 AUD for kids if you bought the tickets online – they were more at the door.

4)      Darling Harbour.  I didn’t go over to Darling Harbour on my first visit to Sydney and that’s a shame.  It is a beautiful harbor with some excellent restaurants, the Aquarium, Sydney wildlife Park, shops, a large playground, the Maritime Museum and more.  You could easily spend a day or two exploring this area and enjoying the views.

5)      Manly Beach.  This was also new for me.  You can take a fast ferry – about 20 minutes – over to Manly Beach from Circular Quay.  It is $12.00 AUD each way.  When you arrive, you can walk along a pretty little street full of shops and restaurants over to Manly Beach.  It is beautiful – stunning.  Just what you think of when you picture Australian beaches.  Sugary white sand and water that’s every shade of blue and green.  You can learn to surf there, go scuba diving, find great shopping and restaurants, or just enjoy the beach.  We walked along Manly beach to a second little side beach called Shelley Beach and had lunch at a restaurant called Le Kiosk.  It is tucked out of the way with incredible views of the beach.  The food was excellent, but just make sure you aren’t in a hurry as the dining process there is meant for you to take time to enjoy the food and views and not rush through.  It was a very busy little spot – I think reservations would be a must.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

Sydney remains one of my favorite cities.  The people are welcoming, there is lots to do and it had a clean, safe feeling.  It is also a very expensive city – quite a bit more than being at home and even quite a bit more than being in Hawaii.  If you go, you will need to budget accordingly.  It was hard to have a meal for 2 adults and a child that was under $100.00.

We are now back in Hawaii – our last night in Honolulu at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, before we fly home tomorrow evening.  I have the patio doors open and I can hear the Hawaiian band playing in our outdoor hotel lounge.  I will be sad to leave and return to the -40 temperatures of Saskatchewan, but I guess no one can be on vacation forever….

Jamie’s Hawaii and Australia Adventure Part Three – Hawaiian Airlines Coming Up Roses!

First of all, I have to admit I am a terrible flyer.  Most people are surprised by this, given that I own a travel agency and I have been in the travel industry for over 15 years.  I hate flying, I am terrified of turbulence, I get sweaty hands and at can’t wait to get off the airplane at the end of a flight.  I have never flown Hawaiian Airlines before and I was a bit skeptical (and nervous)… I was sure this would be some sort of second rate-discount-airline that would not have my safety and comfort as their top priority.

However, they were the only airline flying direct Honolulu-Sydney on the days I wanted and they were a good price, so that’s how we came to have a reservation on Hawaiian Airlines.  I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised!  The check in staff was very helpful.  Please make sure to get to the airport  in Honolulu at least two hours prior as they suggest – the security lineups were very long and we stood in line about 45 minutes.  The in flight crew and staff were very friendly and polite and they took extra time to make sure Sydney was comfortable and felt special.  I had ordered a special children’s meal ahead of time for Sydney (complimentary) and it was chicken nuggets and tater tots and fruit salad – perfect for a kids meal.  The adult meal was also quite good – surprising by airline standards.  It was an Asian chicken stirfry with asparagus and rice, plus cheesecake and a salad.  They came around with a snack later in the flight which was sandwiches, cookies and macadamia nut chocolates.  They also had complimentary drinks including wine and beer throughout the flight.  In between the meal services, they had snacks for purchase in the galley.  They have personal in seat entertainment units (not standard on all flights, but I think it’s standard on most of the long haul international flights.)  They had a selection of movies, music, tv shows and games for free, plus a few new releases at an additional cost.  There was no problem finding something to pass the time.  It was an 11 hour flight…I watched three movies and read the rest of my book and we were there!

My only complaint is that the leg room was not quite what I would have liked.  If I had anything at all in my seat pocket, my knees were touching the seat in front of me.  However, the seats reclined quite a bit and had adjustable head rests which made it nice for napping.  They also gave everyone a pillow and blanket.   All in all, Hawaiian gets two thumbs up from me and I am quite happy to be flying them back to Honolulu next Friday night.

We arrived in Sydney in the evening and took a taxi from the airport to our downtown hotel (about $45 AUD).  Check in at the Four Seasons was very quick and efficient and our room was as requested with a king bed and a cot all made up for Sydney.  The room is quite large with a really nice bathroom.  They provide adaptors which is a bonus and there is a DVD player and very large flat screen TV.  They have complimentary bottled water in our room – replaced nightly and they include breakfast and WIFI.  My only complaint about the room is it seems quite dark.  The lights are all covered in a very dark shade and there aren’t enough lights in the ceiling.  Ironing was a bit of a challenge when I couldn’t see where the wrinkles were!

View from hotel room in Sydney

View from hotel room in Sydney

The included breakfast at the Four Seasons was very good – buffet style but made to order eggs and lots of fresh breads, baking, fruit, eggs benedict, bacon, pretty much everything you could want.  I am thankful for the included breakfast since the costs in Sydney have not gotten any better since I was here a few years ago.  Caesar Salad at the hotel is $28 AUD and at a restaurant on Darling Harbour it was $18 AUD.  Pasta was $24-$30AUD for lunch and a glass of wine starts at $13 AUD – beer starts around $9 AUD.  Considering the AUD is pretty close to being on par with the CAD, the prices are quite a bit higher than at home.

Tomorrow we will check out the Aquarium and do a bit more sightseeing before my conference starts on Monday.  It really is a beautiful city and the view of the Opera House out our window can’t be beat!

Jamie’s Hawaii and Australia Adventure Part Two – A Little Slice of Paradise

We have spent the last 4 days on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii and we both still agree that if we were to buy property in a tropical destination, Hawaii would be it. It’s safe, it’s clean, you can drink and eat anything without worrying about the consequences, there is good health care and it’s the only Island I have been to where I feel comfortable driving around. I love the freedom of being able to come and go as we want without being on a tour guide’s schedule.

We spent the first couple of days exploring the hotel and getting some R&R – lots of pool time, beach time and nap time. The Marriott Ko Olina Beach club is full of families and kids of all ages. There are lots of multi-generational families and because they offer lots of different sizes of suites – up to a 3 bedroom villa, it’s great for families of all sizes.  It is also wheelchair accessible including lifts/chairs in the pools and hot tubs.  They have a schedule of daily activities that comes out every morning (similar to being on a cruise ship for you cruisers out there). They have things like fish feeding, hula lessons and lei making for kids and yoga, golf lessons and ukulele lessons for adults.  They have a market and gift shop on site for all of your forgotten or last minute necessities the staff is very friendly and helpful with any questions or needs you might have.

There is a little shopping center a few blocks from the hotel that has some restaurants (sushi, Mexican, pizza, a coffee shop, a trendy restaurant called the Monkey Pod with live music in the evenings) a few gift shops and the necessary ABC shop. Once my 5 year old discovered the magical world of the ABC shop, I didn’t think I would ever get her out of there…I did eventually, but we had $40 worth of treasures (junk) with us.

This afternoon we did something I had wanted to do on our last trip to Oahu, but never did; we took a drive up to the famous Oahu North Shore to see the surfers. It’s about an hour (or a bit more depending on traffic) drive from Ko Olina or Honolulu  You head North through the middle of the Island and come out at the ocean in a town called Hale’iwa. It is a historic beach resort town with lots of gift shops and restaurants – we spent a good couple of hours poking around and had a really good (surprisingly) meal at a place called Breakers Bar and Grill.  The best coconut shrimp I have ever had – I didn’t think I would ever top Las Palapas!

Just North of Hale’iwa is Sunset Beach – where the Bonzai Pipeline is. This is the end of the Surf Season in Hawaii and the Surf Season ends in Oahu. There are three big competitions on at this time of year. We hit the middle one the “Vans world cup of surfing” and it was on a Sunset Beach. Lots of the professional surfers are in Oahu now for the competitions and we saw some really great surfing displays.  It was a very entertaining afternoon on the beach watching!

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The one thing I can’t get over in Oahu is the traffic – 4-6 lanes of cars driving too fast and too close together… That’s the one thing that makes me miss Maui and would make me pick a different island next time. It just doesn’t feel like “island time” when you’re in the middle of rush hour traffic.

The next couple of days will be more pool and beach time, then we head off to Sydney, Australia on Thursday morning.  Stay tuned for the next up date when we arrive Down Under!