Everyone has their own way of coping with a bad break-up. Some eat their way through the frozen food section at Wal-Mart, others drown their sorrows in booze or the soundtrack to Titanic and still others chose to travel. Because sometimes retreating to the other side of the globe to nurse your heartache at a yoga retreat in Myanmar or in a bottle of vodka in Moldova is not only cathartic, but necessary. It can be agonizingly difficult to move on when everything from your Netflix movie queue to the drink menu at the Coffee Bean reminds you of the life you and your former love once shared. A vacation to a wholly unfamiliar environment can often provide a reprieve from that.
Finding a piece of the planet that hasn’t been overrun by gooey-eyed honeymooners or love-stoned newlyweds, however, can be tricky. Possibly the last place someone newly single would want to vacation solo is a honeymoon-hotspot like Mexico or the Bahamas and popular sight-seeing cities like Paris or Venice, with their rose gardens and gondola rides, are far too romantic. A love-wary singleton needs a place where she can binge on cookie dough and Alanis Morisette songs in peace. The following is a list of 10 such places.
Museum of Broken Relationships – Zagreb, Croatia
The Museum of Broken Relationships is the answer to the question: “What do you do with your ex-girlfriend’s garden gnome or your ex-boyfriend’s model sailboat collection, after the relationship has ended?” The museum exhibit, which has a permanent home in the capital city of Croatia but can be seen on tour in art museums and shopping malls across Europe, the US and Asia, features a collection of artifacts donated from bitter or bereaved ex-lovers. The relationship mementos range from photos and poems, to teddy bears and wedding dresses and even a vial of tears.
Though the previous owners’ identities are kept anonymous, each artifact is accompanied by an explanation of the significance of the object and why it was donated. A prosthetic leg, for instance, was gifted to the museum by a war veteran after the end of a relationship with his physical therapist and an axe, which one jilted Croatian woman used to chop her ex’s furniture to pieces, was donated after she discovered her girlfriend had fallen in love with another a woman. The Museum of Broken Relationships can be a choice destination for those in need of reassurance that they are not alone in their heartache or at the very least, for those in need of a new home for their ex-boyfriend’s Scooby Doo underpants.
Juliet’s Wall – Verona, Italy
When you’re feeling like no one can relate to the depth and devastation of your pain, a visit to the residence of one of the most famed star-crossed lovers in literary history might help. Because who better to relate to the suffering caused by an ill-fated love than the girl whose husband killed her cousin, fled the city and then committed suicide? Though the famous balcony in Verona is fictitious, the stories of heartbreak inked in the letters on the wall below it are very real.
Every day, people from all over the world visit the supposed-former Capulet residence to ‘mail’ letters to Juliet. A team of volunteer ‘Juliettes,’ acting as part-postal service and part-therapists, regularly collect, read and respond to the letters, offering their sympathy and advice. It may be a tourist gimmick, but sometimes the simple act of penning your past to paper can make for a speedier recovery.
Amsterdam, a city once home to the painter famous for presenting a prostitute with a severed piece of his left ear, makes an ideal choice for those wishing to tourniquet their bleeding hearts with something a little stronger than mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not only can you drink yourself silly at any of the 1,200 pubs in Amsterdam but thanks to relaxed social norms, you can also smoke yourself stupid at one of the over 200 coffee shops or have your wounded ego tended to at a brothel in the city’s red light district. Or if it’s a little perspective you’re looking for, you can also opt to explore the attic where Anne Frank lived, take a World War II history tour or visit the Torture Museum.
Singles cruise to Mexico
A singles cruise is a good option for those who embrace the theory that the best way to get over an old relationship is to dive headfirst into a new one. Though the only thing you may leave the cruise with is a sunburn, there is always the chance that you’ll meet that special someone in the process. At the very least, you’ll get to spend a week sailing along the Mexican Riviera and partying with people that are, ahem, in the exact same boat you are.
The Library Hotel – New York, New York
For an escape from reality that’s a little gentler on your liver than tequila shots in Puerta Vallarta, you can venture into the world of literature at the Library Hotel. This Manhattan boutique hotel is ideal for broken-hearted bookworms in need of a comfortable couch, a good book and a quiet weekend alone. Because included in every room at the library hotel is a collection of books, which in keeping with the library theme, are ordered by the Dewey decimal system.
Each of the 60 rooms has an assigned subject matter, making it possible for guests to choose from a wide-variety of topics ranging from ‘Poetry’ to ‘New Age’ to ‘Paranormal’ (though it probably goes without saying that the ‘Love’ or ‘Erotic Literature’ themed rooms should be avoided). Unlike in the public library, talking (and crying, sniveling and sobbing) in the Library Hotel is allowed.
>> Drink away your sorrows at a winery or wine hotel
A butler or maid cafe – Tokyo, Japan
When you’re a guest in one of Japan’s butler or maid cafes, you’re treated like royalty. In butler cafés, women receive their own personal man-servant whose job it is to answer to their mistresses’ every beck and call. Each woman is given a bell upon being seated, which she can ring whenever she needs her bread buttered or seat cushion fluffed or simply whenever she wishes to be showered with complements. This service works well for the recently dumped because as many would agree, there’s no greater confidence boost than being told by a handsome, well-dressed stranger that you’re the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on.
A maid café operates in a similar fashion, except the wait staff is female and dressed like, you guessed it, French maids. The maids giggle, flirt, refer to their patrons as ‘master’ and even sometimes perform cheerleader-esque song and dance routines. Both butler and maid cafes have English-speakers on staff and one butler café in Tokyo, the aptly-named “Foreign Butler Café” employs only English-Speaking foreigners.
Dolphin therapy – Bali, Indonesia
Although the dolphin therapy offered at the Melka Excelsior Hotel Resort in Bali, is geared more towards those suffering from actual broken hearts (as in heart disease and stroke), a week spent relaxing on the beach and swimming with Flipper’s cousin surely can’t hurt. The theory behind the dolphin therapy is that daily interaction with animals reduces stress and relieves depression, both which tend to exacerbate illnesses. Therefore, in addition to dolphin therapy, guests at this resort can visit a wildlife animal park, a butterfly park, go horseback riding on the beach or attend horse therapy sessions. While an hour-long session with Mr. Ed may not solve all of your problems, considering room rates start at just 70 dollars per night, it might just be well worth the try.
Build houses with Habitat for Humanity
They say that the best way to rid yourself of your problems is to help others rid themselves of theirs. Building a house for those in need of one is certainly one way to do that, but if helping humanity isn’t enough of a draw, just think of the work out you’ll receive in the process. A week spent hauling plywood around a construction site in New Orleans, for example, will mean that not only will you be too busy and sore from all of the hard labor to mope or obsess about your ex, but after it’s all over, you’ll be able to return home slimmer, fitter and with a heaping dose of karma points to carry over into your next relationship.
>> Learn more about voluntourism
Meditation and yoga retreat – Nevada City, Northern California
A meditation retreat helped heal divorced Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, so why not you? Although she traveled to an ashram in India, you don’t need to go that far (or fancy) in order to escape for some quiet reflection and meditation. Northern California has a simple yet serene forest retreat center called The Expanding Light, which in addition to vegetarian meals, daily meditation sessions and yoga workshops, offers Ayurveda massages, astrology consultations and a five-day all-inclusive course for women entitled “Divorce: Springboard for a Fresh Start”.
>> Read more about practicing yoga on your travels
Kick-boxing retreat, – Barcelona, Spain
Sometimes the anguish of a breakup can be so great that all the yoga, introspection and leafy vegetables in the world just aren’t enough. There are times when you may think that you won’t ever be able to successfully move on until you’ve planted a big beautiful fist into that lying, slime ball’s face. ‘Of course, acting on this impulse could land you a one way ticket to prison. Thus, a wiser choice may be to enroll in a kickboxing retreat in Barcelona.
Spring Health Kickboxing, based in London, England, holds yearly kickboxing retreats in various villas across Europe. Advertised as a retreat that will “transform your physical and mental wellbeing,” the activities offered include classes in personal training and kickboxing as well as massage therapy and organized sight-seeing trips. It’s a fitting choice for those lovelorn souls searching for a safe outlet for their pent-up rage.
>> Read about other crazy adventure sports around the world
Read more about relationships and travel:
- 7 Places to Make Love Before You Die
- How to Travel With Your Partner and Still Come Home as a Couple
- Five Unexpected (and Perfect) Destinations for a Proposal
- How to Impress Guys from Around the World