Valentine’s Day Travel Special: Where in the World have you felt the most love?

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One of the important factors in deciding where your favourite place you’ve travelled to is how much love you felt there. This love can come from those you travelled with, the locals you meet or even just the general feeling in the air.

I reached out to some incredible bloggers that I follow to share their experiences of where they felt love around world and I guarantee this will give you some travel inspo for 2019!

 

1. A home away from home

Abi and Lulu on New York, USA:

It’s no secret that our hearts have been firmly captivated by this particular concrete jungle. We defend it as if we were Mayor. As Croydon (South London) natives, we get more than enough postcode war practice so we’ll never take a bad word against the Bronx, our honorary home borough, lying down.

Our winter 2014 visit stirred a raging internal warmth that we have found incredibly hard to match from anywhere else. Our summer 2016 visit exuded a vibe so tantalising that two weeks just wasn’t enough. We found ourselves being our happiest selves in NYC, and try to bring these versions of us home and everywhere else we travel to.

New York, why do we love you? Let us count the ways – well, we already have and we struggled to cut our list down to 10. Our fondest travel memories were birthed at your core, our big sweet cinnamon apple. Until we meet again, our love!

 

Jenna on Jamaica:

In 2013, I travelled back to one of my countries, the beautiful Island of Jamaica 🇯🇲. I had not been back for sometime now, so you can imagine the level of excitement that I was feeling.

From the moment I stepped out of the airport and felt the hot sun ☀️ and cool breeze serenade my skin, I knew my time in Jamaica was going to be amazing.

The love I received in Jamaica was real. From the warm embrace I received from my family to the smiles exchanged with strangers in the streets. Home was happy to have me and I was even happier to be there. It is always a nice feeling to come back to your country and feel the love from the people. Jamaica has been the only country that I have ever visited that makes me cry like a baby when I leave, lol.

 

2. Being more accepted in previously challenging environments 

Johnny on Dublin, Ireland:

It’s up there when I think of the warmth, kindness and genuity its natives showed me. From my Airbnb hosts, fellow travellers I befriended when sightseeing, the bartenders who served me at the local bar to the old man who blocked me from crossing the road so that I wasn’t hit by oncoming traffic.

The city never failed in educating me about its history and delivering on the hospitality front. This is all despite Dublin actually having a pretty dark history that includes its war for independence, many of its residents living in sub-standard conditions around that time and suffering from slavery (something me as a black man can strongly empathise with).

The icing on the cake was the cloudless sunny weekend when I visited. I’d say the sun shining on the city alone epitomises that Dublin and the Irish in general look past the darkness and live in hope looking forward.

 

Ibby on Portugal:

Out of 39 countries I’ve visited, I felt the most love here in 2017. I’d been to Portugal before and was discriminated against so my attitude towards the country was mostly negative.

Trying out one of my hobbies this time allowed me to experience Portugal in a fun, exciting way. I was my happy, bubbly self, mingling and meeting new people. I made friends with the opposing teams through bantering and shared helpful tips on focusing on individuality outside of the competitive game.

My personality was noticed by the organisers and recognised for my contributions as I received a lot of love from opposing teammates. The cherry on top was my team went undefeated and won. At the end of the tournament, I bonded with a local who took me around his hometown, showing me some hidden gems.

For anyone reading this piece, I would definitely recommend meeting people who have similar interests and passions abroad.

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Listen to podcasts of stories from his adventures by searching “Tales of Traveller Podcast”. IG: @toatpodcast

 

Kim on Nashville, USA:

A few years ago, my friends and I were in need of a new adventure. So, we packed up a car and drove from Atlanta to Nashville. While there, we stuffed our faces with hot chicken, danced at the best music joints, and even experienced something new together: zip lining.

However, we also faced conspicuous eye rolls on the street and went to flea markets decorated with Confederate flags. No one said anything to us, but they didn’t need to. Being from The South (of the US), we were familiar with this dance. However, it was on this trip that I felt the most loved.

I can’t tell you if Nashville has changed, but the bond between my friends and I did. We leaned on each other and mustered up collective gusto to enjoy ourselves. For us, this trip was about attempting new things and creating unforgettable memories—which is exactly what we did.

3. Love from the locals

Dineo on Mexico:

I recently spent 54 days here and it’s really one of the happiest places in the world. When I travel, I love to interact with locals and make friends along the way. The people in Mexico made my time truly memorable because they have a simple recipe to happiness – a large dose of social contact.

In Playa Del Carmen, I met two girls randomly at a bar. We instantly got along and danced the night away like we had been friends for years, I felt love then and still do now.

I never thought I’d fall in love with a place like I did with the island of Cozumel. The locals are happy, laid back and take life as it comes. They are also helpful and didn’t hesitate to give directions to top beaches or suggestions for the best food.

Mexico is officially one of my favourite countries in the world because I felt the love at every place I explored.

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Central and South America Travels: dineozonke.com  IG: @dineo_zonke Twitter: @dineo_zonke
FB: Dineo Zonke: Travel & Photography

Sarah on South Africa:

With a lifestyle that sees me jetting off on the weekly, I’ve met ALOT of people around the world. I recently went on my first safari in Kruger National Park…everyone had been SO friendly but just as I was wheeling out my Barbie pink suitcase, the love was taken to a whole new level.

One of the ladies who worked in housekeeping at The Outpost Lodge caught eyes with me, shared her beaming smile, I thanked her for looking after us, she picked me up off the floor, squeezed and twirled me around. Then excitedly she asked me how The Queen was and her grandchildren. She told us about Prince Harry and Megan’s wedding, the drama BTS from one of the hotel’s magazine and had a million further questions about the royal family. She left me with another massive hug, humming on her way and we left The Outpost Lodge on a crazy high feeling SO loved.

 

Gary on Paris, France:

The city of love and one of my favourite European hot spots. I’ve visited on numerous occasions and I’ll keep going back because it’s just so full of love!
It’s a global centre for art, fashion and culture and the 19th century cityscape is separated by picturesque boulevards and the River Seine. One of my favourite things to do is to wander around the beautiful landmarks and photograph them all. There’s something special about being at the Eiffel Tower at 6am without another soul in sight. Just you, your travel companion and the creation of yet another awesome Parisian memory.
Strolling the streets of Paris, you’ll see many beautiful restaurants, cafes and designer boutiques. It’s hard to find somewhere that isn’t full of those who have a passion and love for what they do. I’ve created some great relationships in Paris and have felt welcome there from my very first visit.
Paris je t’aime!

Tolu on Dominican Republic:

People always talk about the Caribbean hospitality being second to none and my girls trip to Punta Cana in the beautiful Dominican Republic confirmed this. The people there have such big hearts and were happy to help in any way they could.

On an excursion, we made friends with some of the locals who showed us the ‘real’ Punta Cana and we ended up spending a few nights out with them! It’s not often that you go away and stay in touch with the people you met whilst on holiday but that was the case for some of us. That alongside some of the amazing days out we had puts it up there as one of the countries I fell in love with.

 

4. When strangers become friends

Pelumi on Athens, Greece:

We had just finished a 2 hour walking tour under the sun and I felt so dehydrated, not help by the fact that the lady issue began at that exact moment. I thought I was going to pass out.

Fenia my walking tour guide (an absolutely blessing) walked all the way to the pharmacy to get some pain killers whilst two total stranger from the tour group tried to keep my hydrated and fanned me. I felt like a princess in distress (lol). She came back with some pain killers and called a taxi for me to take me back to the hotel to get some rest.

Feeling a lot better that evening we met up at The National Observatory of Athens for a night tour to watch the stars. We have maintained our friendship to this date.

The Millers on Cancun, Mexico
What makes us fall in love with a destination? One might think it’s the sugar white sand or crystal clear turquoise water, but it’s not.  As all-inclusive travelers one of the most important factors in our opinion is the atmosphere of a resort.  Atmosphere is set by two things, the staff and other travelers.
We fell head over heals in love with Cancun, Mexico for exactly those two things.  The staff always goes above and beyond to make sure we have a great time.
Our advice: engage in conversations with the staff beyond just ordering your next meal or fruity cocktail, you will be amazed at the level of service you receive.
As for other travelers, step outside your comfort zone and make a few new friends.  One reason we continue to go back year after year is the lifelong friendships we have formed with other travelers in Cancun.

 

Davida on Paris, France:

There was Sergio, the Serbian guy whose house we gathered in for endless laughs over hot meals. Charles the Californian who was a kindred wanderer-in-chief, ever ready for arty walks and random happenings in the city. Jamaican sistren, Hanni, who was the embodiment of fashion and faith, always turning heads with her admirable style.

Greek ladies, Maria and Valia, whose infectious energy made everything seem like an adventure from the inside of their warm hearts. American pastor, Ginger, who brought a sense of humour and compassion on Tuesdays when the Christians got together for pizza and prayers.

And then there was me, the Ghanaian Londoner who brought Jollof rice to the potluck while we got our fill of culture and cuisine. We were a motley crew making memories in a new city, thrown together from all walks of life. But for one magical moment in time, we were family – and Paris was ours.

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Travel, Food & Culture blogger wondersofwanders.com IG: @wondersowanders
Twitter: @wondersowanders

 

5. And one of the best feelings ever…being surrounded by love when in love!

Stefan and Sebastien on Key West:

One of the places we fell in love with when travelling was South Florida, particularly Key West. It’s super relaxed, Bohemian and very gay friendly.

There is a terrific gay scene here with bars like 801 Bourbon, Bourbon St Pub and Aqua. They have hilarious drag shows and famous local drag queens to look out for like “Miss Sushi” and “Randy Roberts”.

Key West also has many gay hotels, Island House being the most famous, which is also a day spa with a fun pool party on Sundays.

The stand out highlight for us in Key West, which we loved the most are the stunning sunsets that you see every evening. So much so, that there’s a “Sunset Celebration” at Mallory Square each evening where people gather to watch the sunset and enjoy the street performers.

 

Tenesia and Terence on Aruba:

One of our trips where we felt a ton of love was Aruba! Not necessarily love towards each other (which there was that too), but love from the people! After visiting, we understand why they call Aruba ‘The Happy Island’—it really is a happy place!

Everyone we met there was friendly and helpful. From our Airbnb host giving us a cell phone and a million recommendations to go, to a random guy we met at a wine bar giving us lessons on vaping and having a conversation with us that turned into hours! Even the guy we rented UTVs from gave us recommendations on places to go and what to see!

All the love we received from the locals made us love Aruba even more!! We would definitely recommend it as a destination for anyone who needs/wants to be surrounded by good vibes! xoxo

Gemma and Campbell on Scotland:

Travelling makes you truly appreciate the things on your doorstep. As much as we loved Scotland’s beauty, we weren’t so keen on its weather. Having both grown up loving the idea of travelling, we couldn’t wait to explore the rest of the world. We have travelled to over 20 countries together and since then, our appreciation for our beautiful home country has never been greater.

Those views we used to plan to escape from are some of the most beautiful in the world. Loch Lomond is a popular stop on a Scottish road trip as the gateway to Glencoe and the Highlands. The mountains have been there for millions of years, and will be enjoyed for millions of years to come.

During the toughest times of our University years, they provided perspective. No matter how big you think your problems are, this landscape reminds you how insignificant they are.

These lands will always have a place in our hearts.

 

 

The Matthews on Ghana:

It was Christmas Eve when we arrived. As we descended the stairs of the aircraft, the warmth of the Ghanaian air kissed our cheeks. The locals in the airport cheerfully greeted us; AKWAABA! This was much more than a welcome, it symbolized acceptance of foreign customs, friendliness and cooperation. It really was setting the tone for what would be the trip of a lifetime.

Throughout our visit in Ghana, we were made to feel Royal; the accommodations, food, music and experiences all brought on a feeling of HOME. It was the most mystical vibe to feel so connected to a place we were visiting for the first time.

The river of love was overflowing; so much that on New Years Eve, hubby asked for my hand in marriage. This was the beginning of two becoming ONE.

Ghana, we love you because you first loved us!

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Lifestyle + Travel Vlogs IG: @makingitwiththematthews

Wow! I don’t know about you but I’m feeling all the love after hearing these stories! As for me, I found it too hard to just pick one place but I would say one of my recent favourite places has to be Thailand – A1, hospitality, amazing food and it’s just a really happy place to travel to… check it out here
Another huge thank you to all 16 bloggers who agreed to take part in my first collab post! Make sure you check them out on their blogs and socials for true travel inspo for this year.
Let us know in the comments where you’ve felt the most love and why 💗
J Xo

6 Comments on “Valentine’s Day Travel Special: Where in the World have you felt the most love?

  1. An absolute pleasure being part of your first collab Jess! Love hearing what makes a difference between a likeable travel experience and a lovable, unforgettable one, and from people from many backgrounds as well. I’m defo here for it 🙂

    Congrats on doing your first by the way! I’m sure this is the first of many 😉

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures
    https://johnnystraventures.com

    Liked by 1 person

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