Ever planned a ten-mile bike ride when your lover was thinking Cartoon Network marathon? Or been dragged to a champagne and black-tie celebration when you felt like Chinese takeout and cuddling?
Plenty of couples have conflicting ideas of how to spend their time off, and it can get ugly wrangling over the details in a cramped hotel room.
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The solution: Figure out ahead of time what you each want from a trip and pick a destination right for both of you. These four composite couples helped pinpoint some ideal vacation spots for mismatched travelers.
BEACH BUM VS. ACTION ADDICT
Thomas and Katy, Chicago, Illinois
Thomas works hard in his finance job, and when he takes a vacation, he wants a real vacation. No stress—hell, he doesn't even want movement. His ideal revolves around white beaches, the sound of waves lapping the shore, and an anonymous person serving Mai Tais. Sleeping in is mandatory. At dinnertime, Thomas would rather saunter into a nearby restaurant than hunt down a venue serving great regional food. His favorite destination: A resort in Jamaica.
Katy understands that Thomas wants to relax, but she can't handle lying around on a beach for more than a day. In all honesty, she can't even sit through a two hour movie without fidgeting. The feeling of doing nothing frustrates her. Sand and sun are fine, but couldn't she and Thomas also climb behind a waterfall, go snorkeling, and canvass a neighboring town for vintage shops? For Katy, leisurely exploration leads to spiritual rejuvenation.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
A chain of barrier islands off North Carolina's shore, he Outer Banks offer sandy beaches, plenty of history, and southern hospitality.
Unpack your bags at the Tranquil House Inn, nestled on the waterfront of Manteo, and test out the four-poster bed before heading to the boardwalk. The beaches are made for lounging, but there's also plenty of opportunity for windsurfing, fishing, and clamming. Bone up on American history by visiting Roanoke Island,where a group of early settlers mysteriously disappeared, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, dedicated to the 1,000 ships that have sunk off the coast. Dine at the inn or head to Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar for steamed shrimp and tender steak. Be sure to pop by Mama Kwan's Grill & Tiki Bar for a drink. For fun, try climbing into the 1970 Volkswagen bus sticking out of the wall, and see if they kick you out.
Cape Town, South Africa
Dig your toes into the sand of Cape Town's fine beachfronts and heave a sigh of relaxation. Where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the continent's tip, South Africa has a wealth of national parks, vegetation, and, of course, a phenomenal coastline. Book a room at Floreal House, a bed-andbreakfast built into the side of Table Mountain. The stunning 1,086-meter peak (ripe for climbing, but only with a guide) provides an amazing view from its top, and those too lazy to walk can ride up in a cable car. Another day, visit Stellenbosch vineyards, in the pastoral region where South Africa's best wine is grown, and taste a few heady shirazes.
The country's apartheid past still casts a lengthy shadow; you can learn more about it by touring Robben Island Museum,where freedom fighter and president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Afterward,wander down to the neighboring fishing community, Fish Hoek, choose any seaside restaurant, and enjoy the fresh fare.
EXPLORER VS. HOMEBODY
Sarah and Patrick, St. Louis, Missouri
Sarah likes trying out new restaurants— Thai one week, Tunisian the next—and she rarely orders the same dish twice. She's adventuresome and outgoing, makes new friends easily, and can be ounted on to go salsa dancing or to jump off a cliff into a running river. When it comes to vacationing, her list of "things to do" includes windsurfing in southern France, going on an African safari, and learning how to make Tandoori chicken—in India.
Patrick prefers hamburgers, medium rare, served with onion rings. He's known most of his friends since kindergarten, and they still meet every Thursday to drink a few beers and throw darts. The idea of traveling abroad doesn't cross Pat's mind. A holiday should be relaxing, and he tenses up just picturing himself in a foreign country struggling with the language and eating bizarre food. Most years he vacations in Chicago and takes in a Cubs game.
New Orleans, Louisiana
You won't need a passport to go to New Orleans, but the city may as well be in a foreign country.
The Cajun cooking, steamy weather, and French colonial history blend together to create a party atmosphere with a southern twang. Live zydeco and jazz, played in Bourbon Street bars, can pacify even the crankiest of travelers. And while much local food can only be described as American creole, at La Petite Grocery the art of mixing local spices with French cooking has been perfected. To get an intimate feel in this bustling city, stay at the Hubbard Mansion, an inn with a wraparound porch. Stroll down the French Quarter's cobblestone streets,walk past the Garden District mansions, and, for a fright, take a voodoo and cemetery tour. Sports fans can check out the horse races.
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