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The Nine Most Romantic Places To Get Engaged

Some little girls start to plan their weddings from the time they can walk and talk. They can tell you what month it will be in, what everyone will wear and what color the flowers will be. Some are even more prepared. They know exactly how the mythical Prince Charming will propose and what their engagement ring will look like!

The rest of the world may require a little advice, if you're looking for the perfect place to pop the question you have a wide variety of romantic choices. In no particular order you can consider:

Hawaii--the Aloha State. Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world- a place of turquoise water, silky sand and never a day too cold to swim. When planning a visit to Hawaii you have a choice of islands and each of them offer you something different. If you want to make a busy nightlife part of your memories try the island of Oahu. You can choose a luau- a dinner combined with some outstanding entertainment or you can take a moonlight catamaran sail. A short flight will take you to Kauai, the Garden Isle or to Hawaii, the Orchid Isle. Either one of them will offer you horseback riding, a snorkel/picnic day trip and even find a beach for just the two of you. On the island of Maui you can visit the Tedeschi Winery for a wine tasting and then watch the sunset from the top of Haleakala. Each of the islands will offer you the opportunity to make your future plans and memories that will last forever

New York City--the Big Apple. Not everyone realizes the romantic potential of New York City. How many large cities can provide 24 hour entertainment, world class cuisine, amazing theatre choices and in the midst of it all, an 843 acre park. What could be more perfect than a hansom cab ride through Central Park ? As you round the 22 acre lake, make a stop near the Delacorte Music Clock. When the clock strikes and plays one of its 26 different tunes, you can see a parade of dancing bronze sculptures. You can also visit Belvedere Castle. Designed in 1865 as a Victorian "folly" (a fantasy building) it is built to offer not only a romantic setting on its own but amazing views of the surrounding park. This time spent outdoors and close to nature is just one of the choices you have on this island of Manhattan.

If your special time is near the holidays there is nothing more magical than New York at Christmas. Stroll down Fifth Avenue and enjoy the window displays- visit Rockefeller Center and see the Christmas Tree. If you're feeling athletic join the ice skaters twirling around on the rink. Many proposals have been made at center ice! If you're more of an observer settle in to one of the restaurants overlooking the rink.

You can have a wonderful dinner in the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center. Enjoy the panoramic view of the city and, on some Friday and Saturday nights, dance to the big band music. If you want a starry night, no matter the weather, you can visit the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History.

San Francisco--the City by the Bay. It has been called the country's most romantic European style city. It is a city where you can rent a luxury yacht for a sail on the Bay or arrange for a private chauffeur driven tour of some local wineries. If you just want some leisure time you can pick one of the unique neighborhoods in the city. Stroll through Hayes Valley for cafes and shops or Cole Valley, tucked against the tip of Golden Gate Park. You can try Russian Hill for some of the best window shopping in the city. When you're ready for a break step into one of the neighborhood stores for a sourdough baguette and some cheese then grab a cab to the Conservatory of Flowers for a romantic lunch. Wander through this 19th Century Victorian greenhouse, home to 1500 flowering species, and enjoy the waterfalls, pools and a glass bridge. For some special relaxation try one of the many day spas in the city. The Huntington Hotel's Nob Hill Spa offers spectacular views of downtown along with their indoor pool, bubbling Jacuzzi or eucalyptus steam room. This is a food city! You have a wide variety of both venues & menus! Many of the restaurants feature outstanding views of the city. Try Julius' Castle Restaurant on Telegraph Hill near Coit Tower or the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins for a 360 degree look at San Francisco.

Sanibel & Captiva Island, Florida. Imagine a tropical island, with soft sugary sand, a long beautiful beach, swaying palms and crystal blue water. Picture yourself watching pelicans and herons fish for their dinner while sandpipers run through the surf. You can do all of this on the west coast of Florida! Fly into the Fort Myers airport, take a short drive and you have arrived! Start your future in the area where Charles & Anne Lindbergh celebrated their 10th anniversary and Thomas Edison spent his honeymoon. You can escape to one of the small private island beaches, accessible only by boat or spend the day swimming and picnicking at one of the area beaches. How about a romantic bicycle ride through Lovers Key State Park ! Does it get any better than that! Plan on spending some of your time in the "Sanibel Stoop " (or "Captiva Crouch".) When Ponce DeLeon first landed on this west coast of Florida he named it Costa de Carocles- the Coast of Sea Shells. There are about 400 species of seashells here and those romantic strolls on the beach can be spent searching for the perfect sea polished shell. Just to the east you can visit the Eden Vineyard and Winery and then close your perfect day with a sunset cruise.

Paris--the City of Lights--the City of Love. Associated for years with love and lovers what could be more romantic then planning your life together while cruising down the Seine on a river cruise. Some of these include dinner while others just show you the illuminated sights of the city. Another picturesque spot would be high above the city. You could also make a reservation at Le Jules Verne Restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower. You can visit the Louvre and be surrounded by some of the worlds most beautiful and most famous art. Much of this art celebrates love. If you want something simpler stroll to Montmartre, with its artistic influences. There are wonderful views of the city and in Place du Tertre there is usually an aspiring artist willing to paint your portrait on the spot. What better memento of a momentous occasion!

Venice--Queen of the Adriatic. Visit Venice in the spring, before the heat and humidity of summer arrive. Take time to wander the streets since every turn is more beautiful. It is a city of canals and palaces! As an homage to romance visit the Ca'Rezzonico, now the Muse del Settecento. This is the place where Robert Browning spent his last days. To get another look at the city and make your proposal very special take a gondola ride on one of the romantic side canals. A word of warning- this is not an inexpensive ride. Be sure that you understand the price and the length of the ride before getting in the gondola. The city of Venice has set a standard of a starting price of €31 for a 50 minute ride. This climbs after 8PM and singing is extra! Many gondoliers view this price as a "suggestion" rather than a rule. If you don't want to negotiate you can let your hotel concierge make the arrangements for you- understanding that they will build in their own commission. Your other option is to book the ride before you leave. Most travel professionals can help you with that.

Monaco. In a tiny corner of the Cote d'Azur, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea lay Monaco. This tiny jewel encompasses a mere 485 acres- slightly more than half the size of New York's Central Park. Monaco is a sovereign and independent state- a principality ruled by the same family for 700 years. Monaco's history is filled with pirates, kings and movie stars and it has been a mecca for visitors since 1863. Known mostly for the Casino at Monte Carlo and the fairy tale romance of Grace Kelly, where better to begin your romance? Getting to Monaco is quite simple- it is only 15 miles from the International Airport in Nice. Once there you have a wide variety of hotels to choose from. You can stick with well known names such as Fairmont or indulge your romantic side at the palace-like Hotel de Paris, built in 1864 with its sweeping views of the harbor. You can visit the ornate Casino, constructed in 1878; attend a performance at the local opera or Ballet Company or enjoy the Philharmonic of Monaco. Have a late supper and then stroll the streets of this magical place. Remember, this is the place where an ordinary girl became a princess - if the fairy tale worked before--you can't lose!

The Greek Islands--The Cyclades. While these are some of the most popular of the Greek Islands this group represents only a small part of the whole. The entire group of islands, 1400 in all, is spread throughout the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The Cyclades are a group of 24 islands in the Aegean including Santorini, Mykonos and Milos. They have everything a romantic couple could want- endless beaches, water sports, traditional white painted villages, Byzantine churches and the dazzling white light of Greece. They are accessible through Athens by either plane or ferry. There is not a wide choice of big name hotels on the islands although Santorini is home to both a Princess Hotel and a Best Western! Most accommodations are smaller but offer the flavor of the islands. Each of the islands is unique; Santorini is the most popular with its volcanic landscapes and endless beaches. Mykonos is perhaps the most famous. You can visit "Little Venice", a small village with its houses built out over the sea or the islet of Delos, thought to be the birthplace of the god, Apollo. Then there is Milos; this most westerly volcanic island is where the Venus de Milo was found. This 4th Century statue of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love now resides in that other city of love- the Louvre in Paris!

At Sea. If you can't choose a destination don't try! How about a cruise to several destinations? You board the ship and sail away from your daily life into an adventure! What could be more romantic then a moonlit stroll around the deck? There is the daily pampering from your room steward, the opportunity for intimate dining in the many new "supper club" like restaurants on board, the spa visits and couples massages!

The cruise industry is doing everything they can to provide their passengers with ultimate experiences. There are adults only sections on many of the ships, ensuring a bit of peace and privacy; balcony dining for breakfast or dinner and enough activities to keep you as busy as you choose to be. You can be part of a wine tasting class or make that special purchase at a champagne art auction. Princess Cruises, long associated with the television show The Love Boat, has even established a Department of Romance. This "dream team" of experts includes Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Alba Carreras, a wedding planner and of course Captain Stubing himself, Gavin McLeod.

Obviously the choices of romantic places are as varied as the couples seeking them. There is a place for every age, every pocketbook and every dream!

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