Romance in the Great Outdoors

Exotic Locales
  |  Gorp.com

Here's a walk that involves a little change... of mind. And it might sound a little odd. But if you let the metropolis become your forest (granted, most of the trees you do see will be steel reinforced and embedded in concrete) and you deliberately try to become lost in it, your perception changes. You're no longer the sightseer ticking must-dos off your list but rather an explorer traveling for the sake of finding something new.

Rio de Janeiro
Even the hearts of Cariocas (locals) pump to a samba rhythm here—the sensuality of the city is contagious. Plus, the topographical frenzy provides new melt-in-your-mouth views every 300 yards. Come to think of it, so does the plastic surgery. You'll certainly fall in love here; hopefully, it will be with the person you arrived with. Before you set out for a walk, though, be sure to remove all jewelry, cameras, and other valuables... or someone else might do it for you (just try to avoid the favelas, or shantytowns, and you'll be fine). The best place to start is at the beach—the boardwalk along the Copacabana and Ipanema may be the single most spectacular stretch of urban coast in the world, with mountains or rock outcroppings framing your view in almost every direction. Then turn inland and head for Corcovado. You can't miss it. It's the only 2,460-foot peak with a giant statue of Christ in the area. If you decide to go up on foot, your calf muscles may not thank you, but the vistas will reward your eyeballs tenfold and possibly stretch them to new widths. And when the concrete jungle starts to wear you out, try the Parque Nacional de Tijuca, just 15 minutes from the city center. It's 47 square miles of trees, trails, and waterfalls ripe for strolling.

Kyoto, Japan
It'll still be a bit chilly in February, but walking the cultural capital of Japan will warm almost any heart (and if it fails, there's always the sento—Japanese hot baths). Around every corner is another temple. Hundreds of them survived WWII, largely because the United States decided (urged by historians) not to bomb it. The Higashiyama district is a good place to start walking, with so many beautifully preserved temples with raked pebble gardens and sensuously curved rooftops. And the Gion district, famous for its traditional Geisha evening entertainment, is immaculately kept in traditional style. All in all, there's enough here to explore annually for your next 20 romantic trips.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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