Valentine’s Day Destinations for the Desperately Alone

No sweetheart in your life? Tired of feeling rejected and confused? Maybe you need a vacation. Luckily for you, the world is full of places that were made for wallowing.

The love affair began when he found Mount Hopeless. In 2015, Damien Rudd, an Australian artist based in Amsterdam, was researching an ill-fated 1860 expedition by two Europeans trying to traverse the Australian continent on foot when he came across a description of the mountain. Despite the fact that a previous colonizer had named it “Hopeless” and aborted his expedition, these later explorers pressed onward … and died en route.

Thus began Rudd’s obsession with melancholy place names. Using Google Maps, Rudd rounds up places like Crying Child Island, Road to Nowhere, and Stupid Lake, and posts screenshots of the locales to his Instagram account, @sadtopographies. The account now has over 100,000 followers, and in 2017 he published a book under the same name. “I think the real reason this project works is because it appeals to our postmodern sensibilities: the self-deprecating, nihilistic irony that currently dominates pop culture,“ says Rudd.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we scoured Sad Topographies for the loneliest, heart-achiest destinations on earth and looked into how they got their names, for a travel guide only the truly alienated could love. Sometimes you need to get lost in order to find yourself; sometimes, everybody just wants you to get lost.

Disappointment Island, New Zealand

Like baby names, island names, too, have enjoyed cycles of popularity. The missionary Captain James Wilson dubbed an island in the central Pacific “Disappointment” in 1797, noting forlornly that it had “not the appearance of great fertility.” In 1843, a pair of explorers named the barren island of the Great Salt Lake “Disappointment.” (The moniker didn’t stick; today it’s called Fremont, after one of those underwhelmed explorers.) New Zealand’s Disappointment Island—with a total area of less than 1.5 square miles—was also saddled with its name for bumming out sailors. Shockingly, it is uninhabited.

Bowl of Tears, Colorado

The Mount of the Holy Cross earned its name from the way snow collects in its grooves, etching out the image of a thin, towering cross with a vertical axis of 1,500 feet. Nestled at its foot is the Bowl of Tears, a small, deep lake where religious pilgrims were baptized; handkerchiefs dipped in said “tears” were thought to have healing properties. Sadly, no one seems to feel the same way about yours.

Divorce Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The turquoise waters are calm and the snorkeling is good at Lover’s Beach in Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of Baja California. But a wrong turn could land you at its counterpart, Divorce Beach, where the ocean becomes treacherous, with a mean undertow. Nonetheless, the view is divine. A perfect place to watch the sun go down on all your hopes and dreams.

Broke, Australia

Nineteenth-century English colonist Sir Thomas Mitchell grudgingly acknowledged in an 1838 book that Aboriginal place names could, in theory, be useful for ... somebody. But, he clarified, this didn’t mean white explorers shouldn’t smear the continent with new names when they had a really good reason to do so. That’s why he took the liberty of naming a village in New South Wales “Broke” after his friend Sir Charles Broke Vere, who fought at Waterloo and definitely had nothing to do with Australia.

Alone, Italy

In Italian, alone means “halo” or “shroud.” Nonetheless, an 1898 account of this municipality in Lombardy described it as, appropriately, “solitary but picturesque.” With its most recent population count hovering at 140, the possibility for vicious small-town gossip is such that if you lived there, you might wish you were, in fact, alone (in the English sense of the word).

Broken Heart Street

In the unincorporated town of Sunrise Manor—part of the Clark County sprawl that also encompasses Las Vegas—lies a cluster of love-themed little streets, with names like Blushing Hearts Road and Lonely Heart Court. But this little slice of real-estate marketing folly did get one thing right: one wrong turn from Hearts Desire Avenue, and you’ll find yourself on Broken Heart Street.

Map data courtesy of Google, DigitalGlobe.

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