‘My romantic holiday’: the great, the unhealthy and the calamitous | Travel

To have a good time Valentine’s Day, we requested writers to explain their greatest (or worst) romantic escapes and adventures with those they love

Lost world … Joanne Harris loved dropping her bearings on Kauai, Hawaii.
Photograph: Danita Delimont/Getty

Joanne Harris, writer

Eight years in the past, as a birthday current, I took my daughter to Kauai, one of many Hawaiian islands. Greener and less-populated than the bigger islands, the “Garden Island” is a paradise of rivers, dense forests and waterfalls, bracketed by stretches of largely abandoned, sandy seaside.

It was idyllic in each approach, however one episode stands out in my thoughts. We had set off on a stroll by means of the forest, having been dropped off by a information in a canoe, and in some way strayed off the trail. For some time, we didn’t discover; it was good to be alone. We pushed by means of plenty of tall reeds, remembering scenes from motion pictures. We climbed by means of the roots of banyan bushes. And then, out of the blue, we had been lost. Absolutely, hopelessly lost; miles, it appeared, from wherever. At first it was virtually humorous. We tried a number of instructions. All resulted in impenetrable thickets.

Joanne Harris and daughter

Joanne Harris and daughter.

Hours later, I used to be feeling anxious. There was no cell reception: nobody knew the place we had been. We tried one other path, and after struggling although what appeared like acres of reeds got here throughout a scene straight out of King Solomon’s Mines – a semicircular clearing that resulted in an enormous cover of purple flowers cascading down a tall cliff. It was breathtaking. In spite of our predicament, we felt uniquely privileged – this was a view that belonged to us alone, a spot the place no vacationer had ever set foot. This, to me, is the center of romance: a way of reference to place and time, a window right into a story.
• Joanne Harris’s newest novel is A Pocket Full of Crows (Gollancz, £12.99)

Andrew McCarthy, actor, travel author, tv director

The Vunduzi River watershed inside Gorongosa National Park.Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.

The Vunduzi river, Gorongosa nationwide park. Photograph: Getty Images

There had been no animals. Which, granted, is problematic for an African safari. But Mozambique had suffered by means of many years of civil struggle and all of the animals in Gorongosa nationwide park – I’m speaking concerning the huge ones: elephants, giraffes, lions, even buffalo – had been slaughtered. I suppose that was the explanation there have been so few guests.

Then there was the pre-dawn flat tyre that brought about us to overlook our flight from Beira (the nation’s third largest metropolis). There was not one other for a number of days. We amused ourselves for a day watching youngsters do back-flips off discarded truck tyres on the jellyfish-riddled seaside.

Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Seeking other ways north to our abandoned island vacation spot within the Quirimbas archipelago, we had been terrorised in Nampula by a gang of youths who threw themselves on our automobile and refused to maneuver till they had been paid. Later, as we raced by means of a police checkpoint – having been forewarned it was merely one other extortion ploy – we feared being shot within the again.

We tried one other flight. It by no means arrived. In the tip, we didn’t make it to our hideaway seaside spot.

And for the previous 10 years, every time I let my spouse down, she by no means fails to remind me, “… and you owe me a honeymoon!”

Olivia Laing, author and critic

Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence. Photograph: Getty Images

All my greatest romantic holidays are with mates. There’s an excessive amount of stress with a lover; it’s solely with a pal you will get really passionate a couple of plate of spaghetti.

In 2015, I went on a street journey round Italy with my pal David, a peripatetic playwright from New York who was spending the spring in a citadel in Genoa. David all the time needs to go to the very best place: he’s like Tom Ripley crying “Il meglio, il meglio!” on the finish of The Talented Mr Ripley. I used to decide on very spartan locations however he’s given me a style for luxurious.

He selected the eating places and did all of the driving, debonair in aviator sun shades with a pirate’s moustache. Food was principally all we cared about. We wandered by means of the ghetto in Bologna and crisscrossed the tumbledown bridges of Florence, window-shopping within the goldsmiths above the inexperienced waters of the Arno.

In Parma we grew to become hysterical over a trolley of frighteningly pale veal loin, like human legs. We ate the world’s biggest ragù in All’Osteria Bottega in Bologna. And on our final evening we drove by means of terrifying mountain passes to get to Amerigo dal 1934 in Savigno, a restaurant straight out of a Hemingway novel. We nonetheless discuss that truffled egg, a central exhibit within the tender mythology of our friendship.
• Olivia Laing’s newest guide is The Lonely City (Canongate, £9.99)

Shappi Khorsandi, comic and writer
Rye, East Sussex

A beautiful cobbled street in the historic town of Rye in East Sussex

Photograph: Alamy

I have been to Rye 4 occasions in my life for a romantic mini-break, every time with a special accomplice. That in itself is maybe not very romantic and one thing I maybe mustn’t have talked about to the fourth man. It’s a beautiful little place and shut sufficient to London, the place I dwell, to make an early exit if it seems to be a clumsy mistake (second man).

It’s excellent in the event you’re as into the “olden days” as I’m. Mermaid Street is a cobbled magnificence and in the event you go there at nightfall in winter, it feels such as you’ve stepped again in time. Have a drink on the Mermaid Inn, which dates from the 15th century and has been on TV’s Most Haunted. You’re as prone to see a ghost there as you’re the Loch Ness Monster in Tesco, however listening to the tales is enjoyable. A brief drive from city are the sand dunes of Camber, which you’ll be able to run up and down along with your lover laughing merrily and falling into one another’s arms. I like going for a mooch across the vintage outlets then getting some chips. For me, romance needs to be cosy, cobbled and medieval, and so Rye is ideal.
• Shappi Khorsandi is on tour together with her present Mistress and Misfit till June. For dates see

DBC Pierre, writer

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana.

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana. Photograph: Getty Images

Soft lights and music we have at home, romance certainly thrives close to the wild. Guyana is overtly wild, because the girlfriend who as soon as joined me for a “Caribbean” expertise agreed inside a minute of touchdown. Just the lengthy, shallow descent into Timehri airport is sufficient to shift you into a type of motion pictures the place dinosaurs seem after your aircraft crashes. Clouds flip to vapour and the ground is out of the blue rainforest, unbroken miles of it, extra of it than the realm of Britain; a lot that it marauds over eight extra international locations after that one, sufficient once more to suit Britain 30 occasions. The aircraft jitters over its gases as if browsing cobbles.

The solely symmetry by means of the window is the Demerara river, gleaming alongside like a handrail. And you possibly can already inform, wanting down, that snakes will probably be there that would eat you entire, spiders the dimensions of your head are at giant, and the mud stirs with organisms no less than as huge as canine that science has but to explain.

For romance we must always go away them alone. Georgetown’s tartan of canals and colonial wooden, with its Indian and Creole meals scene, is shut sufficient to hold the voltage. Anywhere with darkish rum and ice is shut sufficient.

Then mirror: that is the place Indiana Jones acquired it flawed.

Helen Russell, journalist
Skagen, Denmark

Denmark, Skagen, lighthouse at the beach

Photograph: Getty Images

I’d heard concerning the mild – supposedly so extraordinary that it impressed a bunch of 19th-century impressionists, the Skagen painters (just like the Bloomsbury set solely Scandinavian, so, you realize, cooler and fewer angsty). I knew Skagen was meant to be romantic, too, and this was to be our final holiday earlier than having a child. Friends who’d visited had turn into so cherished up, they drank an excessive amount of rosé and by accident purchased a farm there.

As we drove alongside a slim spit to the northernmost tip of Jutland, service stations and farmland had been changed by ochre cottages with red-tiled roofs and sand dunes so far as the attention might see. A bleached, ethereal mild made the world and everybody in it look as if they’d been Photoshopped, and at Grenen seaside – the place the Baltic and the North Sea collide – we paddled within the shallows and felt the currents converge.

We ate fish and chips on the Jollehuset on the harbour, handled ourselves to afternoon tea at upmarket Ruth’s , then took a visit to the Buried Church – a 14th-century church commonly submerged by sand from close by dunes. Until the late 18th century, the congregation used to have to dig out the doorway each Sunday; immediately, solely the tower is seen. We noticed the Skagen painters’ works first hand at Skagens Museum, turning into transfixed by PS Krøyer’s work of the “blue hour” – the time the sky merges with the ocean every night – and Laurits Tuxen’s stirring sunsets, earlier than heading again exterior to witness our personal. And we fell in love, once more.
• Helen Russell’s guide, The Year of Living Danishly (Icon Books, £eight.99), is out now. Her debut novel, Gone Viking, will probably be revealed by Ebury on 19 April

Rupert Thomson, novelist

Tourists Watching The Sun Set at Erg ChebbiErg Chebbi, Middle Atlas, Morocco

Photograph: Getty Images

We drove south-east from Marrakech, over the Atlas mountains. We stored going till the street gave out. Scattered within the desert close to the oasis of M’Hamid had been essentially the most lovely stones I have ever seen. The dimension of clenched fists, they’d been blasted easy and polished by the weather. Some had been the boring brown of previous leather-based. Others had been darkish inexperienced.

That evening, we stopped at a small resort in a spot known as Tinfou. We arrived after sundown, and the wind was blowing laborious. There was nothing for miles round. We drank glasses of recent mint tea in a naked room, candles flickering. Our shadows leapt in opposition to the pinkish-brown mud partitions. In the nook was a person in dark-blue robes. A Tuareg. I spoke to him in French, looking for out about his life out on the dunes. He was evasive. Is it straightforward to journey on a camel, I requested. He gave me a gentle look. Easier than an aeroplane, he stated. We each smiled.

Rupert Thomson and girlfriend (now wife), Katharine Norbury, in Morocco

Rupert Thomson and girlfriend (now spouse), Katharine Norbury, in Morocco.

Not lengthy afterwards, my girlfriend and I went to mattress. We lay beneath heat blankets. The skinny howling of the wind, the prickle of stars at midnight heavens. There is one thing about being within the desert. I felt distant from every part, and likewise keenly alive. It was chilly exterior, however within the morning the solar blazed down as soon as once more, and the sky was a flawless blue.
• Rupert Thomson’s new novel, Never Anyone But You (Corsair, £eight.99) is out on 5 June

Kelly MacLean, comic
Fogo island, Canada

The Fogo Island Inn.

The Fogo Island Inn. Photograph: Alamy

The most romantic journey I’ve skilled was an extended weekend on the magical island of Fogo – alone. As the solar broke pink over the horizon one winter morning, I ferried the frosted ocean from Newfoundland’s coast to what the Flat Earth Society believes is “One of the Four Corners of the World”.

The small island was seemingly utterly frozen – in frost, sure, and time itself. Each day, I woke to large home windows framing blue sky over snowy sea, warmed by hand-knitted quilts, crackling pine logs and beautiful espresso. I ice-fished with locals, stalked a herd of caribou whose stampede shook me to the marrow, and ate selfmade pond-water moose stew with out concern about remaining ladylike.

Kelly MacLean.

Kelly MacLean.

I overspent. I overslept. I overate. I drank ambrosial cocktails made with native gin and – look forward to it – hand-chiselled iceberg ice on the iconic Fogo Island Inn (an beautiful however costly place to remain; there are many cheaper locations). I stayed out till dawn on St Paddy’s Day buying and selling photographs of low-cost whiskey and singing ballads with the Irish descendants of the village of Tilting. Woo Fogo within the dead of winter with a lonesome coronary heart and she or he’ll love you proper again.
• Kelly Maclean’s podcast The Tao of Comedy is accessible on iTunes

Lois Pryce, adventurer and travel author

Marseille ,Cours Honoré Estienne d’Orves, Bouches du Rhone

Photograph: Getty Images

Our motorcycling honeymoon by means of Europe started in Catalonia and we had been quickly crossing the Pyrenees into southern France, heading in the direction of Marseille and a ferry to Corsica. The French had been fast to warn us about Marseille – a tough seaport with a fame for violent crime, apparently. The evening earlier than our method we wild-camped on a headland close to Pointe de le Corbière to the west of city, amongst gorse and pines with a million-euro view of the Med. But we had little thought of what awaited us alongside the corniche the following morning.

Maybe it was my Bristolian roots, however as we entered Marseille, I felt instantly at home on this historic port with its steep, twisty streets and graffiti’d alleyways, drawn to the clamour and promise of the harbour with its ships sure for Algiers and Tunis.

We wanted some necessities for our bikes, and found somewhat bike workshop down a backstreet, incongruous amongst a jumble of North African greengrocers. The younger mechanic welcomed us with Gallic attraction and, upon discovering we had been on our lune de miel, insisted on giving us a marriage present of a set of internal tubes. Thrusting them into our fingers, he taught us the impossibly romantic French phrase for this down-to-earth merchandise, chambre à air. A number of weeks later, a concierge in a five-star resort in Prague responded in a lot the identical approach with a bottle of champagne, however for me, the internal tubes of Marseille will all the time stay an icon of romance.
• Lois Pryce’s guide Revolutionary Ride – On the Road in Search of the Real Iran is out now (Nicholas Brealey, £14.99)

Zoe Williams, journalist
Isle of Wight

Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight. Photograph: Getty Images

Normally the mini-breaks begin some time after you’ve fallen in love, within the “well that was nice, now what shall we do?” part of a relationship, however for causes that I received’t describe, it wasn’t like that on the Isle of Wight. I went within the grip of a ardour so intense that being aside felt like drowning, and even in winter every part shone so brightly you needed to look away – although that can be due to the microclimate.

It’s 5 levels hotter than the remainder of the nation, you’ll study from the indicators within the Ventnor Botanical Gardens, epic, raked, unique beds, verdant with the bones of the TB victims for whom it was initially constructed (scratch that, nobody’s truly buried underneath there, but it surely has a a Victorian, convalescent really feel).

The island is filled with austere, Hardyesque church buildings – with final-sounding names like New Church, the place you think about lovely and tragic occasions – and fire-dappled pubs the place they’ll trick you into consuming native brews that science hasn’t but introduced under 10%. In summer time it’s virtually too fairly, however the chilly gave it gravitas.

The geography is wild: coast on one aspect and sharp hills like stalks of broccoli on the opposite. Something in its stubborn distinction – not England, not something apart from England – made it unspeakably poignant, a spot that doesn’t change the backdrop to a love that doesn’t. God! The romance.

James Reeves, Guardian blind dater

Tixall Gatehouse, Staffordshire

Tixall Gatehouse, Staffordshire. Photograph: Landmark Trust

After we married in Scotland, in July 2014 (three-and-a-half years after we met by means of the Guardian’s Blind Date column), Olivia and I went on honeymoon in Staffordshire. When we noticed Tixall Gatehouse, the Landmark Trust property we had been staying in, among the many bushes, it was like that scene in Brideshead Revisted when the home first seems – simply superb! It’s a four-storey Elizabethan gatehouse that was as soon as a part of a much bigger property, however now stands alone in a area. The Landmark Trust restores unimaginable historic buildings and every part was in interval model.

We had been like youngsters on Christmas morning, excitedly working round and trying out the place. On the large open-plan second flooring there was a ping pong desk, which was a bit surreal. We spent hours taking part in – which can not sound romantic however in some way was. There was a desk and chairs up on the roof and we’d have our breakfast up there, absorbing the 360-degree views. We explored the realm on foot, strolling alongside the sting of the close by canal. It was restorative, in addition to romantic, and a spot I received’t overlook.
•, 4 nights from £479

Jessica Knappett, author and actor

Jessica Knappett and partner during a rain squall in Thailand.

Jessica Knappett and accomplice throughout a rain squall in Thailand.

It was meant to be essentially the most romantic holiday of our life – however one of the simplest ways to sum up our “luxury” honeymoon in Thailand is with an outline of the primary couple of minutes of our arrival. The journey begins when our driver collects us from Phuket airport and falls asleep on the wheel. Twice. A slight hitch, we optimistically assume, as we arrive on the resort clinging to one another and making an attempt to regular our respiration. It is the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve and the fireworks dance in our eyes as we kiss out of reduction to be alive.

“NO FOOD FOR YOU”. Booms the resort receptionist. “RESTAURANT CLOSED. NO FOOD FOR YOU.”

“Hi, we’d like to check in?” My new husband responds politely. We are bundled right into a golf cart.“We’re quite hungry. Could we maybe order something to our room?” I place a hand on my husband’s knee.

“KITCHEN,” the person barks, violently turning the buggy round and driving at pace, presumably to the kitchen. He parks and darts inside. There is shouting and the clashing of pans. “KITCHEN CLOSED. FRUIT IN ROOM.” We are escorted to our room to find a stray canine barking exterior our door. We grip one another’s hand tightly and smile.

Inside the room, devouring our unripe bananas, we discover that the resort information guide is open on the native excursions web page. The first suggestion? A neighborhood dentist providing enamel whitening. We practically die for a second time that evening however this time it’s of laughter. Not in any approach the romantic journey I’d envisaged, but it surely was actually memorable.
• Drifters, created by and starring Jessica Knappet, is accessible on

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