I’m no objectum sexual, a person with 'pronounced emotional and often romantic desire towards particular inanimate objects', like newlywed Erika Eiffel who changed her name and held a commitment ceremony with the Paris landmark a few years back. But, like most people, I do feel a comparable attraction to places, going so far as to cheekily assign what are generally considered human attributes to explain their appeal.
This oddity crossed my mind when my editor floated the idea of writing a Valentine’s Day piece about places I would marry. My first thought was 'Nah, too much commitment'. However, if places had faces, I would totally make out with several of them - and I’m not alone.
What follows is a list of smooch-worthy destinations, populated by me and a number of lustful contributors, including our shameless use of human traits explaining why. Don’t judge us. Infatuation makes people do and say strange things.
Verona – Almost perfect, in a Jennifer Aniston, romantic comedy kind of way. Beautiful, mellow and an exceptional flair for romance. She got even more appealing when she quit smoking a few years ago. Unfortunately, she has a tendency to stand out on her balcony and talk to people who aren’t there.
Melbourne – Who doesn’t want to mash with the animated, youthful, fun girl who also happens to be an amazing cook? She befriends and welcomes all forms of culture, so she’d probably be the best travel companion on this list.
Salzburg – Becoming, polite, aging extremely well, with countless twists, turns and nooks that hide even more captivating charm. Not only would I make out with Salzburg, I’d probably Facebook stalk her the next day.
Santorini – A quiet and achingly well-groomed creature whom you’d likely meet in a photography class. She has tonnes of platonic friends, but getting close to her takes unusual effort, especially since she tends to get quiet and anti-social in winter. You get the sense that she’s been intimate with precious few people.
Portland, Oregon – It’s a rare thing to find someone who’s smart, charming, outdoorsy and attractive without being high maintenance. However, she’s undeniably weird, with some new age leanings that stray dangerously close to hippiedom. Expect your Christmas present to involve crystals.
Barcelona – Energised, passionate, a little dangerous, with the capacity to consume prodigious amounts of alcohol. This is the girl you meet at a party who will kiss your face off in a corner for three hours, but then you never see again - and you never forget.
Sofia, Bulgaria – This one may not have a day job, because it seems like you only ever see her while you’re out clubbing. She’s probably the sexiest one in the room, but she always smells like cigarettes and alcohol.
Brussels - Kinda quiet but intriguing, polyglot, beautiful but not flashy, with a sly appreciation for the absurd. Logical and not prone to drama, Brussels would be the ideal friend with benefits.
Buenos Aires - Way sexy, a little rough, gratifyingly carnivorous and full of adventure. Also, probably has the best wine collection of anyone you ever met.
Paris’ wingman - If I found Paris in a club, I'd look for her less flashy 'wingman'. Not 'cause Paris isn't exciting and classically beautiful; just because I like surprises better and I think Paris has put out for just about everybody.
Leif Pettersen has authored multiple guidebooks for Lonely Planet.