Jan 25, 2013 3:31:26 AM
Best places to get married – and best places to go after a break up!
From the giddy heights of romance and commitment to the best places to be miserable and alone, we’ve got places to suit, taken from Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences.
1. Leh, India
From the town of Leh in the northern Indian region of Ladakh you can depart for a two-day trip (from mid-July to mid-September only) across the ‘roof of the world’, a lovely global precursor to the roof over your heads. Get married at the end of day one and test your bond on day two. This strenuous pass will take your breath away at 5600m. Make each other proud by crossing the perilous swing bridges between canyons. Buddhist monasteries dot the serene landscape: pay a visit for first-hand instruction in kindness and tolerance.
From 1–15 September the Ladakh Festival spices up Leh and surrounding villages; plan your trip at www.lehladakhindia.com.
2. Tuscany, Italy
Why not make the wedding just as memorable for your friends as it will be for you? Schedule the event as follows: hire the main villa for you and your mates, and a series of connected cottages nearby for both sets of family. Get everyone to arrive the night before and meet up in the irresistibly convivial atmosphere of the local pizzeria – ideally it’ll be in a hilltop town, accessible only by foot. The next day, after a lazy, sunny morning getting ready, be married in the little fresco-painted chapel on the property. Hold an evening reception on the lawns, surrounded by fireflies and caterers with gallon jars of homemade red plonk.
The romantic medieval city of Lucca is a great place to explore the rest of Tuscany; hear bells ringing at the church of San Michele, Duomo of San Martino and Basilica of San Frediano.
3. Manchester, England
Make an instant chemical friend every night in one of Manchester’s myriad dance clubs. You may not even have to talk, but you’ll immediately know you’ve found one of your kind on the dancefloor at Poptastic or in a darkened comedy night in the Northern Quarter. But don’t expect these clubs to stay the same. Tomorrow’s a new day – possibly even a Happy Monday. Manchester After Dark lists all the city’s hottest spots; information about dealers is harder to find.
4. Western Cape, South Africa
Say your vows (and your prayers?) in a shark cage off Gansbaai, 175km southeast of Cape Town. For those who dated at scary movies, this is just a natural progression. Admittedly your celebrant will have to be capable of some depth and your parents might be practising speeches long before the event. But if the cage is as strong as your love, you’ll be fine. Great white sharks are now on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – although critics maintain that humans are more endangered since shark-cage diving started, as the pelagic predators are encouraged to associate bait with us. April to October is the peak shark season; the working fishing village of Gansbaai is a 2½-hour limo ride from Cape Town.
For those who have decided to ignore the cold feet and dedicate themselves to the mating season, what better place to marry than Antarctica? Join your life partner on the good ship Aurora, on your deliciously slow way down to the largest continent on earth (you could propose here too, as it’s the ultimate icebreaker). Ecotourism honeymoon expeditions can include polar adventure activities such as sea-kayaking, scuba diving and camping, and there’s the potential for interaction with whales. Take a tip from the emperor penguins: the best answer to the weather is to go into the most natural of huddles. Life will seem cosy after this trip.
Travel in November to see whole penguin colonies engaged in courtship rituals; February to March is when you’ll see the newborn chicks.
6. Nicobar Islands
It’s a rare thing when two ‘morning people’ find each other. What better way to demonstrate your purposeful compatibility than to marry at dawn? Somewhere along a line in the Indian Ocean, the sun creeps first onto hundreds of tiny islands, islets and rocks. Sparrows fart first here, in the idyllic Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India, located in the Indian Ocean. Isolation has preserved lush forest cover and flourishing fauna, and there are people of many faiths, including Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. Should make designing a wedding ceremony all the more interesting.
Havelock Island in the Andamans is a jewel in the crown of this island-studded region; from Port Blair hop on a boat at the Phoenix Bay Jetty and five hours later you’ll be in paradise.
7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The World Tango Festival, held in venues all over a summery Buenos Aires, is a perfect opportunity to find a new partner who’ll hold you like you want to be held. Workshops are run by the Great Masters of Tango, milongueros. Held in the best dance halls and sports clubs and culminating in the grandest ballroom in the city, the Palais Rouge, the workshops are accompanied by six ‘orchestras’. In broader terms, this dance is also a physical interview for that greater tenet of coupledom: commitment. Can he take the lead and is she capable of following? Has he got big feet? Will he drop her? Test it out.
The festival is held in October. Related events include scores of tango dance classes; check session times and book online here.
8. Elora, Canada
Just over an hour from Toronto, this rustic sandstone mill town preserves the pious ways of the old world, when couples huddled together through fierce Canadian blizzards. The local Mennonite community will teach you how to cook and sew. You’ll learn to survive without TV, takeaway, computer games, shoe therapy, haircuts or counsellors (no powerlines means it’s time to talk to people around you). Best of all, now you can eat what you like: try locally produced maple syrup with every meal or organically grown veggies, the choice is yours. Go on a date with a new prospect in a horse-drawn buggy.
9. Hustadvika, Norway
Chaotic, salt stained, yet free – this stretch of ocean in a storm is a perfect metaphor for your dark heart. Stare out at the fantastically wild waves and contemplate how you got dumped. Or muse over the notorious history of this coast: ships have been sinking here since the Middle Ages. Then jump into an appropriately Scandinavian car and head down the Atlantic Road towards the western fjords and the fishing village of Kristiansund. Along this winding stretch you’ll cross no fewer than 12 bridges over less troubled water.
When you’ve finished brooding head to Hustadvika’s old liquor store and drink to forget. Or take part in healthier pursuits – see www.hustadvika.no for ideas.
10. Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Your return to the blue lagoon of Aitutaki, just an hour’s flight north from the Cook Islands’ Rarotonga, is long overdue. Nominated as the world’s most beautiful island by Lonely Planet’s founder, Tony Wheeler, it’s better looking than your ex too. The truly buff inhabitants won the Cooks’ ‘best young island dancers’ award three years running. They perform every night at alternating beachside restaurants, so learn how to shake it and get on with attracting your next partner. Alternatively, hire a moped for a circuit of the island and feel the breeze in your free-flowing, newly single hair.
The Overwater Bungalows is the premier accommodation option; spend the NZ$1235 per night and glare at all the happy honeymooners.