My Bloody Valentine
For all the guys who believe Valentine’s Day has to be just about her, think again. Charlie Dawson shows how choosing the right romantic break can pay for you too!
More than Christmas and New Year, one date in the calendar is proven to send men into an aggressive bout of denial on the Xbox. In 2002, my then boyfriend rocked up on 14 February to deliver a promised surprise. I had been hinting heavily about a trip to Budapest, but it had apparently fallen on hatted ears.
What I was presented with, though, was a bunch of garage-bought carnations, a box of Ferrero Rocher and a nudge to get a move on because his flatmate was waiting in the car. I hurled the Ferreros across the room and they scattered like grenades, only to be crunched into my carpet underfoot as I raced to block him from leaving in disgust. An inexpensive flight to Budapest would have saved my carpet cleaning bill, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Plan A / SEVILLE
ALL ABOUT HER: Hold off squeezing her backside and comparing it to a juicy orange for the meantime. Start the day with a meandering wander through the Barrio de Santa Cruz, and tick the boxes that read cute, authentic and pretty. Think whitewashed walls, orange tree-lined squares, tiled benches and plenty of characterful cafés. Don’t miss Callejon del Agua (meaning “Water Alley”), a narrow, shaded lane that follows the Alcázar garden. At the end of it is Plaza Alfaro, inspiration for the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet and your setting to stage a goofy re-enactment. It’s not Verona, honest.
In the afternoon, reward her for all those hours slaving over a hot stove, with an “ir de tapeo” (tapas walking tour) of the city organised by www.isango.com. It starts at 1pm and lasts three hours, so you can assure yourselves of secret finds, as you head down side streets for a nibble on olives and tortilla.
ALL ABOUT YOU: Shopping is an activity guaranteed to draw a girl in, so use this to your advantage here. Take her to Flamenco Cool, where you can pick up toreador capes with cool graphics, fans and stomping shoes to play sexy Latino dress-ups later on. If your dancing needs a comedy soundtrack, steer her to Discos Latimore to find “your tune”. This music store harbours rock gems, cool shirts and badges to kill any romance stone dead. Relief !
WWW.FLAMENCOCOOL.COM / DISCOS LATIMORE, 4 JAVIER LASSO DE LA VEGA, TEL: +34 954 382 161
Fly to SEVILLE from nine destinations, including Dublin and Pisa (Florence). Visit www.ryanair.com for more information.
Plan B / PARIS
ALL ABOUT HER: Predictable perhaps, but for Valentine’s break virgins, Paris is also the perfect place to stage an anti-Valentine. First, impress her with the information that Chanel used a giant carousel in their last Paris fashion show, then take her to the base of the Eiffel Tower for the romantic ride of her life, with a chocolate crêpe after. Usually, the most decorative horses on the merry-go-round are the ones on the outside, which is also known as the “romance side”.
Stay at the Plaza Athenée Hotel where Carrie Bradshaw joined The Russian. The Sex and the City package includes a Cosmopolitan cocktail, a chocolate shoe made by worldchampion pastry chef Christophe Michalak, a shopping bible with all the best shoe shops on Avenue Montaigne and your VIP contact at each. If carousels, crêpes and Carrie Bradshaw moments don’t bag it, dump her!
ALL ABOUT YOU: Perfume stopped being for “ponces” the day David Beckham started selling his own fragrance. At Editions de Parfums you can only win. Frédéric Malle’s distinctly masculine line-up is featured in the Naughty Paris guide for its testosterone appeal. “Woodpanelled walls, polished concrete floors, contemporary art and retro curiosities… and did we mention the futuristic gadgets?” Walk away with one of 16 scents and you’ll be turning girls’ heads right into March.
Another stop disguised as something for her but secretly for you is bar Le Baron. Propose a drink at this former brothel with its 1920s poster girls caught mid-spanking and it may put her in the mood for another sort of Frenchie.
Fly to PARIS (BEAUVAIS) from 21 destinations, including Alicante. Visit www.ryanair.com for more information.
Plan C / PRAGUE
ALL ABOUT HER: Dine at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in the Hilton Prague Old Town, and the sleek marble, glass and leather interior – part art deco, part statement-making modern – will distract her from the fact that the owner has allegedly scandalously cheated on his missus.
A couple of things that will make her feel special include the taster courses that arrive like special treats between courses, and the copy of the menu that the head chef will sign on a behindthe- scenes tour. Or you could sign it “Marry me?”.
ALL ABOUT YOU: Give new meaning to the phrase “Taking the piss”, by visiting the “Piss Sculpture” in front of the Kafka museum. It’s basically two statues peeing into a puddle shaped like the Czech Republic, spelling out famous Prague literary quotations. Text +420 724 370 770 with a cute message for her and the sculptures will pause to spell it out in wee. In the evening, take her to Darling Cabaret, a saucy dancing den with classily themed dance acts like the cancan and Egyptian numbers – just take her to the bar when the pole dancers start their gymnastics.
Fly to PRAGUE from five destinations, including East Midlands. Visit www.ryanair.com for more information.
And if you’re coming to London, you can always…
Take her to see the brilliant Darwin exhibition at the Natural History Museum and explain why you have the best genes for the survival of her species.
Keep it classic with a flight on the London Eye. For some VIP alone time, hire a private “Cupid’s Capsule” with a host who will pour you Laurent- Perrier Champagne as you see the sights.
Head to Asian fusion eatery Inamo in Soho, where the interactive interior means you pick the design of your table and order your food by the touch of a button.
Relive that feeling of first love with a freewheeling session at the Renaissance Rooms roller disco. Push her along squealing as she attempts to skate backwards.
Fly to LONDON (GATWICK, LUTON AND STANSTED) from over 100 destinations. Visit www.ryanair.com for more information.