At Maptia we believe that places are like people - that their sights, and sounds, and personalties can fill our lives with joy and wonder, that we can fall heads over heels in love with a place just as deeply as with a person, and that for just a few special places we form relationships or memories that last a lifetime.
So this year we decided we would like to pay homage to the places that we love, and we are asking you all to join us by declaring a place as your Valentine today.
Below you can see that a few of our wonderful friends and mentors from across the globe have already been kind enough to delve deep into their emotional memories of place, and the locations they chose as their Valentines range far and wide across the latitudes and longitudes of the Earth. Check out the special maps we made them to say thanks and we hope they inspire you to take part in our project yourself!
Once you have checked out the declarations of love below, and while feeling suitably inspired, all you need to do is click this link to go to our 'Make a place my Valentine' form, tell us the name of the place you are choosing, and also share a special moment or memory in that place.
Please submit your answers to us using the form and we will be posting your Valentines throughout the day, both here on our blog and also by sharing some of the best ones on Twitter (scroll down this post to see the stream of your Valentines that we are updating in real-time - well, almost!) . We'll do our best to let you know as soon as yours shows up and we can't wait to hear about the kaleidoscope of colourful places all over the world that people have fallen in love with...
Scotland by Kirsten Alana
Writer & iPhoneographer behind Aviators and a Camera.
"On the Isle of Skye, during a moment alone along the Sligachan River, I fell passionately in love with Scotland. A deep tie to the country had been weaving its way around the arteries of my heart for a while but in that minute the wild beauty, the history and the serenity of the land just grabbed me in such a way that I almost fell into the icy water."
Moloka'i, Hawai'i by Pam Mandel
Ukulele enthusiast @NerdsEyeView.
"The sun was going down at the beach on the East end of the island, and my husband and I had stopped to take photos. Two local guys were fishing - they had a boom box and a cooler of beer. "Sometimes," one of them said, "you gotta get out of the big city and go fishing." The big city in question? Little Kaunakakai, with tiny cross streets that mark Moloka'i's only city. "Would you like a beer?", he said. Then he turned up the radio and Bruddah Iz filled the air with Over the Rainbow."
Bali by Lauren Kilberg
Collector of maps, passport stamps and freckles over at Double Takes.
"I've left a piece of my heart in so many cities and countries around the world, but never so much as in Bali, Indonesia. It's a place where I found I could sit with little more than a pen, paper, and pile of books and feel completely content and in love with life. My time in Bali left me feeling energized, inspired, and anew. And, like any great love, Bali was very hard to leave."
Ashland, Oregon by Geraldine DeRuiter & Rand Fishkin
Geraldine: "Deep down, I think we all want to be brilliant. I suspect that every single one of us quietly works on our novel, or practices our Oscar acceptance speech and thinks that maybe, if the stars aligned and we got a couple breaks, we could really do something wonderful. Ashland makes me feel this way. I don’t quite know what it is – it might be that everyone in town is an aspiring something-or-other: a musician or an artist or an actor. It might be that the things that everyone longs for – whether it be fame or fortune or just a really, really good bagel – don’t seem so out-of-reach there. It might be because the entire philosophy of Ashland is that nothing should hold you back. Because if a dusty little town in rural Oregon can be transformed into an artistic hub and tourist destination, there might just be hope for all of us. This is what Ashland does to me. It makes me wax poetic, it makes me fall stupid in love again, it makes me think that there is nothing more reasonable than running off there and opening up a little sweet shop called “Much Ado About Frosting”. I would name a red velvet cake after Ophelia. Life would be good."
South Luangwa, Zambia by Alex Berger
Author and Photographer @VirtualWayfarer.
"They say that it can only take a moment to fall in love. In other aspects of my life, i'm still undecided on the topic - but when it comes to destinations? We were winding down the first day of our safari deep inside South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. The golden rays of a crimson African sunset cast a golden glow across the bush, suggesting that our day was coming to an end. Then we found them: a group of five lion cubs. The cubs were relaxing, waiting for their mothers to return with dinner. They paused, looked at us, and then returned to lazing around. Many were partially laying on each other in a familiar and loving fashion. The color. The animals. The sounds. The smells. All of it. In that moment I fell in love with the African Bush and Zambia. I've never seen or experienced anything quite like it and I yearn to return."
Naxos Town, Greece by Mike Sowden
Chief Storyteller @FeveredMutterings
"I was exhausted after a difficult day of backpacking, a recent heartbreak and a brutalizing week of travel. All I wanted was to stop and watch and listen - no thinking, no talking, just *being*. I got off the ferry at Naxos Town, wandered the streets a while and found myself on the harbour at dusk. Behind me a low hum of conversation coming from bars & restaurants - before me, miles and miles of silence, broken only by the smack & gurgle of the sea, like someone worrying at a boiled sweet. It was exactly the near-silence I needed, and I sat there for hours, rediscovering why I travel."
Portland by Melissa Rachel Black
"Walking over the Ross Island Bridge, traffic whizzing past, fresh air on my face, geese flying overhead, water on both sides, Mt. Hood to the right, city buzz to the left, one foot in front of the other, Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" coming on via shuffle, taking in all this city has to offer."
Paris by Anne Ditmeyer
"I'm still waiting for that special moment, but it will be in Père Lachaise. Yes, a cemetery. In high school I watched a French movie where a couple was on a date in cemetery. I thought it was so weird... until I moved to Paris, and it suddenly seemed magical. Each grave is like a work of art and it's amazing to think about the artisans who crafted them by hand. It's almost like a treasure hunt in a giant park. Many have special stories too..."
Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan by Audrey Scott
Adventurer, traveller, and storyteller @Unmarket.
"The Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan are perhaps the most remote place we've ever been. Given its location next to Afghanistan many people assume that it is dangerous. It had no tourist infrastructure when we visited so we stayed in people's homes along the way. Not only did we find the mountains and landscape in this area to be stunning, we found it to be a place where people live and breathe hospitality. We were constantly invited into people's homes for tea, bread and even to spend the night. Truly a special part of the world that I hope doesn't change."
Have a great Valentines Day! And in case you haven't already, you can sign up to Maptia here to be one the first to get on board when we launch!
08.05 (GMT) Balangan, Indonesia by Jonny Miller (@Jonnym1ller)
"I vividly remember the first time I saw Balangan with it's reef exposed in the deep orange sunset. I'd only planned to stay for a day but ended up spending a month surfing there - sleeping in a hammock under the stars. There were thatched roofs of warungs just meters from the ocean with it's perfect ruler-edge peeling waves. Dolphins would hog the sets. I remember thinking, out there in the ocean, there is nowhere else in the world I'd rather be." Check out a photo here.
09.42 (GMT) Munich, Germany by Jac Seah (@Jac_theocctrav)
"I was just there 2 months ago, and while I already miss the beer and the Christmas markets, I will always be fond of the city for reminding me that solo travel can surprise you in the most unexpected ways. it was a particularly thoughtful, slightly lonely moment when I took this shot at the Nymphenburg palace." Check out a photo here.
12.47 (GMT) Chamonix, France by Sam Phelan (@ModernDayMarco)
"As a traveler, I've often visited places and got stuck in a moment of time where everything seems exactly how it should be. You take that moment to reflect; to feel content; and to soak up all the happiness that overcomes you at that point in time. When I visited Chamonix, France a couple of years ago, I thought I was having one of these moments until it came time for me to leave and I realized that I wasn't stuck in that moment, rather that moment would be forever stuck in me. The spectacular views of the snow capped mountains surrounding me as I whipped down a ski slope or sipped homemade hot cocoa at a small cafe. It was perfect; an irrevocable memory." Check out a photo here.
14.21 (GMT) Mexico City, Mexico by Greg Velasquez (@LuxHotelier)
"Certain places pluck an ancient heartstring hidden deep inside of us; we all have such a place, the trick s to find it. Mexico City is mine. This place puts me back in touch with the things I value most about humanity: culture, history, food, the arts, social consciousness, a sense of perspective - Mexico City has it all." Check out a photo here.
14.53 (GMT) Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica by Estella Cumberford
"A gentle breeze, distant waves, and the gentle thrum of hunting dragonflies roused my dreaming brain. I listened for a moment with closed eyes, and then raised my head from the embrace of my hammock. Ario Ranch's exquisite coastline greeted me, bathed in early morning sun, and I stared, truly in awe. The verdant mountains stood, still laced with mist, and the promised dragonflies darted high above azure Pacific waters, finally meeting shoreline for the first time in many thousands of miles. I smiled and felt my heart expand as a new place became forever beloved." Check out a photo here.
15.14 (GMT) Haliburton, Ontario by Oliver Zielke
"Starry, starry night." Check out a photo here.
15.45 (GMT) Kerry Park, Seattle by Jack Thornburg (@Jacktweets2)
"I was surprised with a plane ticket to Seattle from my girlfriend, Melissa, for my birthday. The trip was amazing - perfect weather, great food/drinks, and fantastic people. I'll never forget walking to Kerry Park from our hotel downtown; it was quite the hike, but the payoff was well worth it!" Check out a photo here.
15.55 (GMT) Oxford, UK by Francis Pedraza (@FrancisPedraza)
"A picnic on the University Parks green."
16.10 (GMT) Sochi, Russia by Colin Fain
"A Special Moment in that Place: A year of eyeopening experiences. Some good some bad, but at the end of the day Sochi has an attraction that you cant escape from." Check out a photo here.
16.41 (GMT) Iceland by Natasha Kelly (@tashada)
"My husband and I went to Iceland for our honeymoon last October and fell in love with the land, culture, people and breathtaking views. It's the most majestic and surreal place we've ever visited. In this particular spot, we stopped on the side of the road to silently take in the view of the Sólheimajökull glacier. We stood there alone admiring the ice realizing that this view is "ours" to remember forever." Check out a photo here.
16.41 (GMT) Santa Monica by Abby Whitford (@Abbiedazzle)
"Sunset on Santa Monica Pier is absolutely beautiful. The auroa of the sun, sand, and people coming together makes it paradise!"
17.03 (GMT) Taghazout, Morocco by @Ken Keiter (@KenKeiter)
"I haven't had any special moments there yet (as I haven't left yet), but getting ready for it has already made me fall in love with it -- plus, I'll be heading there to see some of my favorite people (the Maptia team), which makes it all the more special." Check out a photo here.
17.03 (GMT) The Namib Rand, Namibia by Kymri Wilt (@kymri)
"Like a first kiss, I was swept off my feet and weak at the knees ballooning over the rich red sand dunes by day and sleeping under a thick blanket of stars by night. Few places makes me love and appreciate our planet more." Check out a photo here.
17.09 (GMT) Venice, Italy by Courtney Scott (@Courtscott)
"A late morning downpour had the potential to spoil the trip, as Venice in the rain means high tide and immediately flooded streets. But what began as a gloomy Monday morning, blossomed into a magically foggy afternoon and it couldn`t have been a more perfect backdrop for Venezia. My first impression was one of complete awe. I did a slow 360 twirl with my eyes perched upward at the incredible balconies and green painted shutters above me, then became affixed with a small motor taxi that zipped in front of me, a gondola that glided behind me. Next was San Marco. It humbled me. I experienced a rare moment of bliss when I stood right in the center of the nearly empty square surrounded by hundreds of glowing white lights. I closed my eyes as the bell tower chimed five times. Each time the hair on my neck rose slightly higher. When I opened my eyes I realized that I had a huge grin on my face. It stayed there the rest of the afternoon." Check out a photo here.
17.30 (GMT) New York, NY by Marivic Guevara (@Marivicgirl)
"No matter how much I leave NY for business or family visits and vacations, it always manages to draw me back. I've had a 7-year affair with this city and wouldn't have it any other way."
17.45 (GMT) Barcelona by Wesley George (@worldsfaire)
"As the sun set over the grid-patterned city streets, all you can see for miles were street and house lights slowly glowing in the coming night. It was my last day here, and I just wanted to drink this in as much as possible." Check out a photo here.
18.47 (GMT) Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica by M M
"In the middle of a thunderous downpour, in the middle of the waves of the Pacific, he said "I love you". It felt like the first time I had ever heard those words before."
18.58 (GMT) Cabo Polonio, Uruguay by Jen Peck (@Looglalearning)
"No roads, no electricity... just stars, candlelight and a lonely old lighthouse brightening the night. Beaches made of crushed, colorful shells and the warm, clean air full of the sounds of sea lions at play. This place is magic." Check out a photo here.
18.59 (GMT) Beirut, Lebanon by Lauren Abda (@LaurenAbda)
"Home away from home."
19.12 (GMT) Tel Avi, Israel by Jaclyn Smith
"When I lived in Tel Aviv I felt more love than I have ever felt in my life. I fell in love with a boy, I fell in love with friends, I fell in love with a country, a language, a culture, and finally, I fell in love with myself."
19.15 (GMT) Montreal by Aislin Alexandra
"This city gave me a new start, I was free to be me. It helped me fall in love with the world and life."
19.27 (GMT) Northern Nepal by Kathryn Cooper (@Antitourist)
"While working in India, I randomly found a traveler and together we flew to Nepal, where adventure awaited us. After getting permission from the Tibetan embassy in Kathmandu, we drove 7 hours to the north and stayed in a Tibetan refugee settlement. One of our new Tibetan friend's sisters, a nomad, invited us to hike up into the Himalayas with her. That trek, along with 16 cows, a yak, and 4 porters, is probably my most unique memory from my travels in 2012." Check out a photo here.
19.34 (GMT) Nam Pua Pattana, Thailand by KM C (A Vacation Day)
"I was teaching in the mountains of Thailand with a Thai friend I'd met years before. He led me on hikes all over the region, and having been the first foreigner ever to step foot there, I'd have to say the experience was pretty incredible." Check out a photo here.
21.24 (GMT) Greece by Jackie Pucci (@jsindrich)
"I haven't been there yet, but my husband and I going on our honeymoon in May. His mother is from the island of Ikaria, and she is helping me learn Greek."
22.14 (GMT) Eagle, ID by Roger Walters
"Just a simple, fun, geeky way to say 'Be Mine' with your SmartRotor." Check out the photo of that moment here.
22.18 (GMT) California by Amy Rigby (@WhereverWriter)
"For years I felt California calling to me, though I could never say exactly why. Now that I'm finally here, I understand. Abundant sunshine, mountains, forests, deserts, beaches, vegans, hippies, artists, engineers--California is a land rich with diversity." Check out a photo here.
23.35 (GMT) Lapland, Finland by Kelli Sullivan (@knsulli)
"Visiting Lapland in December revealed that there is in fact a "top of the world" and I had landed. Maybe the sun only visited for a couple of hours daily, but that was part of the thick, quiet magic; the world of bright white snow compensated. To visit a place so serene tells so much about a person alone with awe-- as good love should." Check out a photo here.
23.58 (GMT) Bulgaria by Tsvetelina Minkova (@smokinriba)
"This is my home... I don't live there now, but my heart belongs and always will be there! It's а godless paradise - with its sublime high mountains, marvelous virgin beaches, spacious plains and kind hospitable people, who grow clean organic food! I've been traveling around the world and still believe it's most incredible place on Earth... Love and miss it bad!"Check out a video here.
23.59 (GMT) The Empire State Building by John Barrow (@artboy11211)
"As a native NYer, nothing is more iconic and evokes the spirit of NYC than the Empire State Building. She stands a testament to time and human endurance even in the wake of the event of 9/11 and is a place within a place, a place I call home, a place that belongs to everyone she's ever touched, a place called New York City."Check out a photo here.
20.08 (GMT) Valencia, Spain by Tiffany Stahlbaum (@tifany74)
"It began with attraction and ended with a broken heart the day I moved away. For two years Valencia wooed me and won. I lived there and learned, surprised and delighted daily by the people, the culture, and rise of the mountains, and the sounds of the sea. The flavors of the food, the noise of fireworks, and the smell of gunpowder... it's an intoxicating combination that does not wear off. I've lived and traveled. I've been sad before, but Valencia truly stole my heart and I think I'm better for it." Check out a photo here.
10.51 (GMT) Berlin by Adam Groffman (@travelsofadam)
"I love Berlin because it's such a vibrant, exciting place—never boring and always full of life. Summer nights are especially amazing because there are so many people who hang out on the streets, the u-bahn, the parks—everyone so full of happiness! It's hard not to be in love with a place full of interesting people." Check out a photo here.
14.03 (GMT) Pokhara, Nepal by Pamela Chua
"We were oh so tired from all that uphill climb. But we looked up, and saw the majestic mountain peaks egging us on, only to find new energy to reach the peak. Once there, the sun setting against the neighbouring peaks just dragged me into a love story very much willingly." Check out a photo here.
22.10 (GMT) Florence, Italy by Jessi Lynn Fowler
"Pasta, piazzas, and one charming, brilliant, curly haired Italian boy who taught me how to love both Florence and him." Check out a photo here
03.57 (GMT) Big Island, Hawaii, Tory Johnson
"This was the place I came the first time I visited Hawaii when I was 7. It is where I became Scuba certified 10 years later, and where I fell in love with marine biology and decided to make it my career. Now, 16 years since my first visit, I call it home. So much magic and aloha that I will never forget that it is my valentine now and forever."
21.33 (GMT) Topanga Canyon, California by Jesse Weinberg (@globalyodel)
"Golden California sun shines through oak trees. Dusty Topanga Canyon at sunset is like no other place. " Check out a photo here