Passport-less Travel, Valentine’s Day
Don’t have a passport? Don’t worry. Despite new passport regulations (starting on January 23, they’re required for those returning to the States from other countries via airplane), there are still places with an “over the border feel” where you can enjoy a sunny vacation. For example, roughly 1,000 miles due south from the tip of Florida, in the heart of the Caribbean, lie the three major islands- St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. These popular island destinations make up the United States Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory. American citizens just need to present an original or certified copy of their birth certificate, along with a valid driver’s license or government identification card to explore the islands.
Cruise ships, sailing enthusiasts and sun-seekers alike flock to St. Thomas for its stunning harbor, sophisticated attitude, and miles of white sandy beaches. Adding to its appeal, bustling Charlotte Amalie, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ capital city, offers top-notch dining and nightlife, not to mention its label as the Caribbean’s premier duty-free shopping destination (tendered in U.S. currency). The pristine waters surrounding the island offer fantastic diving, snorkeling and water sports.
With town names like Christainsted and Frederiksted, the Dutch have definitely left their mark on St. Croix. The largest of the three islands, St. Croix is dotted with the ruins of hundreds of old sugar plantations (windmills in check) and 18th and 19th-century homes, along with the aforementioned towns. Golfers can enjoy the courses throughout the island. For a view of the fantastic underwater corals and aquatic life, a trip out to Buck Island Reef National Monument is a must.
Heading three miles east, across Pillsbury Sound, St. John is geared to those who seek a departure from the hustle and bustle. Two-thirds of the island are protected by Virgin Islands National Park, lined with paths leading through forests and past old plantations. Cruz Bay, the island’s main area of entertainment, is teeming with numerous shopping, dining and nightlife options. And the beaches on the island, like many of its USVI counterparts, are world-class.
The U.S. Virgin Islands can be reached from many airline hubs throughout the continental United States, either directly or via San Juan, Puerto Rico. St. John is accessible by ferry via St.Thomas. Your travel professional can help you find the best route and islands for you.
How Far Does Your Love Go?
Does the thought of planning a Valentine’s Day outing make your heart race for all the wrong reasons? Instead of trying to do everything yourself, contact your travel professional and set off on a romantic getaway for two and let the destination set the mood.
For many, France holds a certain romantic aura that’s hard to beat, but if a jaunt overseas is a bit of a stretch this Valentine’s Day, turn north to the cradle of Nouvelle-France: Quebec City, Quebec.
With over 90% of the population Francophone, the city definitely stays true to its French heritage. Winding streets, entrancing architecture and a rich culture make for an enamoring European-like experience you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere this side of the Atlantic. Not to mention it’s the only walled city north of Mexico, adding to its unique persona.
For some fun before Valentine’s Day, join in on the events of Carnaval d’ Hiver- the world’s largest winter event- in Quebec City which runs January 26-February 11, 2007.
Within the United States, the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the more picturesque and romantic cities in America.
The allure of Charleston is in its simplicity to be itself. And it’s easy when you’re graced with well preserved antebellum mansions and homes, cobblestone streets, a fascinating history and horse-drawn carriages to help you discover it all. To be further transported back in time, many beautifully maintained plantations lie just outside of the city and are easily accessible.
Looking for a romantic Valentine’s dinner? Charleston is also a haven for gourmet restaurants, with Low country cuisine the most prominent of fares.
And if the destination isn’t enough to set the mood, perhaps a limousine ride or a welcome gift in your hotel room to further set your loved one’s heart aflutter? Ask your travel professional how they can make this Valentine’s Day one you’ll take with you forever.