By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas
Good morning, travelers. Instead of enjoying fancy dinners and romantic getaways, many of us will spend Valentine’s Day at home this year, as the pandemic continues to affect Southern California and beyond.
In the spirit of staying home and staying safe, this week I’m bringing you virtual Valentine’s Day destinations that will take you from northern Italy to a national park in Utah. As always, my inbox is open for virtual or nonvirtual travel recommendations — let me know if you’ve discovered close-to-home gems you’d like to share.
Note from our designer Jade Cuevas: All of the graphics in this newsletter double as Valentine’s Day postcards! To access printable versions of the art, click and download this PDF. Be sure to select the “double-sided” option when printing and, if you can, use thick card stock to create that classic postcard feel.
No worries about wasting precious color ink — printer-friendly grayscale versions of each Valentine’s Day postcard are also included. Don’t have a printer? You can download the images as you scroll through the newsletter and text them to your beau.
All imagery has been digitally collaged with artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Open Access initiative. This is, in my own way, a love letter to art. Happy mailing!
💑 Tour Romeo & Juliet’s hometown
“Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…”
Take a trip to fair Verona, Italy, the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” with this virtual tour.
Verona expert Marina Sorina will take you to storied locations such as Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House), the Piazza delle Erbe and the Scaliger Tombs. And attention all literature lovers: The tour also includes a section about Dante and the time he spent in Verona.
Tickets for the live one-hour tour cost $13.99; private tours can be booked as well.
📖 Share your love story with a museum
Dubrovnik, Croatia, has more to offer than its impressive Old Town and “Game of Thrones” film tours. It’s also home to the Love Stories Museum, which includes exhibitions on the romantic myths of Old Dubrovnik and the history behind famous love songs.
Although planning a vacation to Croatia isn’t recommended right now (U.S. citizens are banned at least through Feb. 15), you can still engage with the Love Stories Museum by sending your personal love story for possible inclusion in its collection.
Who knows — maybe in a year or two you’ll visit Dubrovnik and see your love story immortalized in the museum.
⛰️ National parks are for lovers
I get goosebumps when I see marriage proposals, whether in some jaw-dropping destination abroad or right here in L.A. You can experience that feeling over and over again with this video created in 2013 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Titled “The coolest Valentine’s Day video you’ll watch all day,” it shows a montage of couples getting engaged on public lands across the country, from Haleakala National Park in Hawaii to Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.
“As stewards of America’s National Parks, Wildlife Refuges and other public lands, we get to see many wonderful events on a daily basis,” the video’s description reads. “None of which are more exciting than when we see visitors using our Nation’s public lands for their most memorable moments.”
Hang in there until the end, where you’ll see a unique proposal — not for the faint of heart — in Utah’s Arches National Park.
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💔 Join this lonely hearts club
Not every love story has a happy ending. That’s the premise behind the Museum of Broken Relationships, “created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions.”
Although the museum has locations in L.A. and Zagreb, Croatia, you can tour part of its collection for free on its website. It includes mundane yet oddly poignant donated items that memorialize past relationships. For example, a clothes iron from Norway has this description: “This iron was used to iron my wedding suit. Now it is the only thing left.”
Like the Love Stories Museum, people are invited to share their personal story or donate items that symbolize their broken relationship.
💌 Put this destination on your list for next year
Sending valentines in the mail is a sweet way to celebrate Feb. 14. But postmarking your cards from Valentines, Va., is even sweeter.
The tiny town, with fewer than 1,000 residents, is a destination for many visitors leading up to Valentine’s Day, Amber Rupinta reported last year for KABC-TV Channel 11 in North Carolina. She explains that several weddings, anniversary photo shoots and road-tripper selfies have happened outside the charming post office.
“It’s just one of those time-honored traditions where people come in here and get their Valentine’s Day cards stamped,” postmaster Bryan Watson told Rupinta. “Customers really seem to love it.”
So, next year, if you find yourself traveling through southeast Virginia in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, you might consider a stop by Valentines.
📰 What I’m reading
- “I can’t travel, but a girl can dream. So I’m learning Italian until the day I can fly,” writes Times contributor Sara Cagle. Read about her experience studying Italian during the pandemic.
- Catalina Island is reopening to visitors in time for Valentine’s Day. Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds reports on the Catalina Express’ new schedule.
- Plane, train and bus passengers without masks now face fines up to $1,500. Times business reporter Hugo Martín explains what you should know about wearing masks on public transportation.
- Denmark is developing a digital passport that will show whether travelers have received a COVID-19 vaccination, reports Jan M. Olsen of the Associated Press.
- Canada has announced stricter restrictions on travelers. Associated Press reporter Rob Gillies has the latest.
- Iceland is rethinking tourism for the long haul. Julia Eskins explains the coming changes in Condé Nast Traveler.
- Forest selfies are helping save British Columbia’s old-growth trees. Malcolm Johnson reports in Outside on a skateboarder-turned-conservation photographer’s work documenting the impact of logging.
📸 Photo of the week
🎸 Road song
This week, I’ll leave you with a classic love song for travelers: “Two for the Road” by Henry Mancini.
In the words of Mancini, thank you for “wandering through the world with me,” fellow adventurers. Until next week!
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