We love any excuse to celebrate, but as our name 'Original' Travel suggests, we aren't much into clichés - especially when it comes to Valentine's Day. Over the years, we've compiled a list of our favourite unusual experiences that are perfect for couples who want a romantic getaway with a few surprises in store. While some may not scream 'romance' initially, they are sure to leave you with some brilliant memories that will last far longer than a dozen red roses..
Want to Get Hitched? Head to Las Vegas
If you've got marriage on your mind but don't fancy the wedding-planning stress, how about a 'drive-thru' ceremony? Roll up in a Barbie-pink stretch limo and cruise through the 'Tunnel of Love' at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, for a wonderfully wacky wedding ceremony. It may not sound as charming as a traditional white wedding, but if you simply cannot wait to be married, then we think there is something terribly romantic (and wonderfully rock 'n' roll) about upping sticks and jetting off to Vegas. If that isn't enough to tempt you, how about the fact that you can then use the rest of your wedding budget to do some travelling? Embark on a two-week western USA honeymoon, and take the time to explore some of America's spectacular national parks. Marvel at the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, explore the lunar-like landscapes of Bryce National Park and head to Lake Powell for romantic rowing excursions. At the very least, you'll have a fantastic story to tell the grandchildren, and a plethora of wonderful memories.
Take My Breath Away...in Peru
If you have been together so long you've lost that 'butterflies in your stomach' feeling, we know just the thing to get them fluttering again. Sitting 11,800ft about sea level, the Bolivian city of La Paz is the world's highest national capital, meaning you may well suffer from a smidge of altitude sickness on your visit. Once you've gotten used to the slight feeling of breathlessness (we recommend consulting a doctor before visiting), La Paz is a wonderfully colourful and carnival-like city, surrounded by gorgeous views of the Andes Mountains that are sure to leave you speechless as well as breathless. The wonderful thing about La Paz is the lack of commercial supermarkets and stores, meaning there is an abundance of bustling markets to explore. Well worth visiting is the fascinating Mercado de las Brujas (meaning 'Witches' Market') which is wacky and wonderful in equal measure. This is the place where the locals go for spiritual advice, potion ingredients and spells; just mind out for the odd alpaca foetus...
Fancy Dinner, But Not a 'Fancy' Dinner? Go to Vietnam
If the prospect of dinner in a bourgeois restaurant leaves you feeling hot under the collar for all the wrong reasons, saddle up and fasten your helmets because we have something much more unusual in store. Get your pulse racing with a night-time street food tour of Saigon on the back of a vintage Vespa. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, experience the best of Saigon's delicious local specialities against the backdrop of the constantly buzzing Ho Chi Minh city. As well as sampling some of the weird and wonderful delicacies at a seafood restaurant (fermented fish soup, anyone?) and indulging your sweet tooth in a traditional Vietnamese pancake joint, you'll also stop off at a rousing live music bar where you can end your night on the town with some free-flowing cocktails and fabulous foot-tapping music.
Keep Your Hands Off Each Other In a Japanese Onsen
To get a real feel for traditional Japanese home life, you simply must stay in a ryokan (Japanese inn) which will give you the chance to experience local hospitality, rituals and foods. The rooms tend to be of a minimalist design - featuring very low furniture, futon beds and tatami floors; etiquette and cleanliness are everything; and you will be provided with some slippers and a yukata (a dressing gown/robe), to wearing during your stay. Many ryokans also have an onsen attached - a type of hot spa where you can relax in mineral-rich waters. Although this is a wonderfully peaceful and serene experience, there is some strict protocol attached to this ritual (read more here) and there will be separate spas for men and women. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, what's more romantic than that?
Get Down and Dirty on a Graffiti Tour of Paris
Home to one of the world's most famous painting - The Mona Lisa (or 'La Jaconde' en Français) - art-lovers visiting Paris are likely to make a beeline for the Musée du Louvre. Resist the temptation and instead, opt for a more off-the-beaten-track art experience. On a colourful street art tour, accompanied by a graffiti artist, get under the skin of picturesque Paris while discovering a wealth of quirky paintings, sculptures, graffiti, stencils and collages scattered around the nooks and crannies of this charming city. Be mesmerised by the freakishly lifelike portraits by urban artist Jef Aérosol, and stand in awe beside the bold stencil pieces and poetry created by the infamous artist Miss Tic. This is a fun and unusual way to get to know one of the world's most romantic cities away from the obvious tourist attractions and a chance to see some fabulous modern art!
Want to find out more about unusual romantic getaways? Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.