A sublime sunset view, a wild off-road adventure: these are the moments that turn our escapes into love affairs for a new locale. And while there may be myriad cities on your bucket list befitting a fleeting holiday romance, what about the destinations we choose to make a long-term commitment to?
We often have a love-hate relationship with the cities we live in. They may infuriate us at times and have us dreaming of more exotic affairs, but through the make-ups and break-ups we still get butterflies when we think of home. In celebration of these special relationships, our Lonely Planet Locals get to the heart of why they love the cities they’ve decided to settle down with.
Rome, Italy: an eternal love
My type used to be quaint and quiet, but spirited Rome swept me off my feet. Italy’s capital wooed me with its sweeping views and gilded sunsets, best relished from the top of the Gianicolo Hill. Even the most mundane tasks were thrilling – a work commute became a heady adventure brimming with the clatter of coffee spoons, the Colosseum, cupolas. Five years in, the initial passion has ebbed: I’ve seen Rome’s flaws, its traffic and graffiti and noise. Sometimes I’m tempted by Copenhagen’s icy good looks or Glasgow’s hills. But one twilight stroll along the Tiber, and I’m reminded why I stay.
The moment I fell: A way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach; by my first dish of rigatoni alla carbonara, Rome had me weak at the knees.
Alexandra Bruzzese is an American freelance journalist who has lived in Rome since 2012. Follow her on Instagram @foodaroundrome.
Tel Aviv, Israel: my springtime soulmate
Those of close acquaintance know Tel Aviv by its pet name ‘Hill of Spring’, so it seemed apt that we should meet in April, just as the flowers were blooming and the locals were starting to dip their toes back into the balmy Mediterranean after the winter. Maybe it was the seasonal stirrings of romance in the air, but Tel Aviv felt like an old soulmate. As I delved deeper I discovered a spicy, artistic, musical soul. Like all long-term couples, we’ve had our ups and downs, war and peace – but it’s safe to say things have never been boring.
The moment I fell: The sun was setting over the sea, turning the sky purple and pink as I walked along the seafront promenade. Struck by the energy of the locals jogging, cycling and playing basketball I had the urge to climb a tall eucalyptus tree. Sure, it wasn't the most sensible idea, but I know for certain that was the moment I fell (almost literally) for Tel Aviv.
Dan Savery Raz is a travel writer based in Tel Aviv. He loves writing poetry and fiction, as well as going on nature trails with his children. Follow his tweets @dansaveryraz.
Dublin, Ireland: love at second sight
My first encounter with Dublin was at the start of a crippling recession and we didn’t gel. After some time apart, we met again in 2015 and everything changed. It felt better this time around; we’d both grown up and become more confident. Dublin wasn’t the best looking city, but it had an unbeatable sense of humour and lots of hidden creative talent. Eventually I realised this wasn’t a fling; this was a real grown-up love affair with the right mix of comfort, excitement and plenty of date nights to keep the spark alive.
The moment I fell: Every time I round a corner to find a new, colourful piece of street art, I fall a little more in love.
AnneMarie McCarthy is Social News Coordinator for Lonely Planet and lives in Dublin. Follow her photos @annmo13.
Delhi, India: my metro mania
Though somewhat aloof, Delhi had always been close to my heart, and that inexplicable fascination for the unattainable found me vying to bridge the emotional gap. As we got closer I discovered an exasperatingly conflicting personality – impetuous one moment, surprisingly genteel the next and, at times, almost hostile. But being smitten I doggedly pursued, and before long came to understand the substance beneath the superficial attitude. As things stand today, Delhi completes my constant craving for history, culture and cuisine like nowhere else in India.
The moment I fell: Delhi’s resilient architectural heritage tells of a rich and animated past – these weather-beaten poems-in-stone had me at first sight.
Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu is a travel writer, content developer, food critic and incorrigible globetrotter. Follow her on Instagram @puneetinder_kaur.
New York City, USA: my mercurial amore
I'd long admired New York City from afar. And when we finally became acquainted, I knew it was the beginning of a lifelong romance. Its energy was beguiling, filled with the easy confidence of someone who knows they're special. As I wandered its cinematic streetscapes, I came to love New York’s electric and unpredictable charms and the way its mood changed in an instant – from chaotic urban scenes set to a cacophonous rhythm of taxi horns, to tranquil, brownstone-lined lanes with cafes tucked away from view, a secret to all but those in the know.
The moment I fell: The day I finally realised the secret to New York’s heady allure: whether your inclination be culture, food, fashion, architecture or history NYC can fulfil your fantasies.
Mikki Brammer is a writer, editor and photographer who always strives to have visited as many countries as years she’s lived. Follow her tweets @mikkibrammer.
Běijīng, China: love is blind
Whoever said love is blind must surely have meant you, Běijīng. Dressed in your gown of prim modernity, girdled with skyscrapers and garlanded with scarlet flags and socialist flowerbeds. Harmonious, civilised, and just a little bit bland. But I see the fire in your eyes that tells of a life richly lived. Triumphs and tragedies, love and laughter, secrets that reveal themselves to those who get close to you. Your winding lanes and willow-lined lakes, temple relics and wall remains, culinary and artistic treasures that survive and thrive. What I’m really saying is drop the act, you’re not fooling me. I love you for who you really are.
The moment I fell: Wandering through silent, sleeping hutong alleyways by the light of a silvery moon.
Tom O’Malley is a writer who swapped London for Běijīng in 2008 and never looked back, apart from those times when he really missed pubs, or his mum. Follow his tweets @Beijing_gourmet.
Cape Town, South Africa: more than skin deep
It wasn’t quite love at first sight. I mean, I couldn’t help but find Cape Town attractive – how could you not? But it was only after I left that I realised I had fallen head over heels. What followed was a (rather one-sided) long-distance relationship, and when I returned I wondered how I could ever have left. Cape Town gets more beautiful by the day – of course it comes with some baggage, but who doesn’t? After all, it's Cape Town’s history that makes it such an amazing, soulful place, reminding me that you should never judge a book by its cover.
The moment I fell: Seeing that first glimpse of Table Mountain on my return to Cape Town and getting that wibbly feeling in my stomach, a feeling that confirmed this city was the one for me.
Lucy Corne moved to Cape Town in 2010 and writes on travel, food and beer. If she cricks her neck at just the right angle, she can see Table Mountain from her spare room/office. Follow her tweets @LucyCorne.