Seriously Hidden Hearts: At Home and Abroad

Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, Florida USA

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! For the past 5 years we’ve been traveling and hunting for hearts with our cameras.

We search for hearts in unusual architecture, charming sculptures, controversial street art, avant-garde fashion, funky foodsgorgeous gates, people’s front yards, and even some unmentionable places – basically nothing is off limits.

A few of this year’s offerings are easy to spot – perfect for beginners. So if you’re new here, these will give you a taste of the fun.


Nothing says love like donning your €200 lederhosen, hoisting a beer, and munching on some pretzels with your sweetheart at Munich’s Oktoberfest … that is, unless you came to surf!


An early Roman vase was the perfect place for some heart-shaped leaves at the Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne, Germany.


At the Raichle Palace in Subotica, Serbia, this leafy, blue heart on the front of this Art Nouveau treasure was a standout.


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC was an absolute treasure trove of stunning mosaics. This Immaculate Heart Piece is a classic and one of our faves.

Now you’ll have to look a bit closer.


Do you see the heart? In Skopje, Macedonia, we discovered some delectable, heart-shaped fish lips (Do fish have lips?) on their colorful crockery.


And their hand-crafted cradles share the heart-felt message of love. Now you’re getting the hang of it.


In Kotor, Montenegro we found this elegant wrought iron stairway of lacy hearts.


Not to be outdone, the Cats of Kotor shop got in on the act, too. Do you see it?


The shopping bag proclaims, “I ❤ Kotor.” We did too!

But most often when we’re snapping photos, we’re intent on capturing a fascinating image, totally oblivious that there’s a heart in the picture.


For example, in Nuremberg, Germany we were so gobsmacked to see this leather-clad, Medieval cupid strolling down Main Street with his bow and arrows, that we totally missed the heart in the shop window.

Now for the real Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt. It will take a keen eye to spot some of  these hearts in the next 4 shots. The Answer Key is at the bottom in the collage. Here goes:

mustafa-pasha-mosque-ceiling-1-skopje-macedonia1. The elegant ceiling of the Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje, Macedonia.


2. Fun street art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


3. Impressive architecture at the Conrad-Calder House in Louisville, Kentucky.


4. And finally, the Munich Residenz is the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs and the largest city palace in Germany. Our favorite spot in the Residenz is the Grotto, but this stained glass window also caught our eye.


So how did you do? We can assure you that we saw none of these hearts when we were taking the photos. How about you – have you taken any Hidden Hearts photos?

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Terri & James


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

65 thoughts

    1. That’s so funny you said that, Peggy! When I wrote that line James said, “Do fish really have lips?” – which started a whole hilarious conversation. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and John ❤ Terri

    1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it Dina. It’s an annual scavenger hunt that James and I love to do – we always turn up some unexpected hearts. Happy Valentine’s Day ❤ Terri

  1. Imagine that! Surrounded by hearts and discovered in your photos. What’s better than a nice surprise.
    These are all gorgeous. I cannot pick just one. I must go back and have another languid tour of your photos. ❤ Thank you for sharing. Happy Valentines.

    1. Thanks so much, Tess. We never know where those little (and sometimes NOT so little) hearts are going to be hiding. We’re always surprised. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day ❤ Terri

      1. So sorry Kathy – that’s no fun. Hope you’re finding something to give you some relief so you can hit the road when you’re ready again. Take care of yourself. ~T

      2. Thanks! Am organizing some physical therapy, my excellent chiropractor is too far away for biweekly visits. Have some hopes of the UK in May, we’ll see. Are you likely to hit the road this year?

    1. Many thanks, Rusha. “Fish Lips” just sounds so goofy, bur I couldn’t think of a better word. James certainly got a chuckle out of it. I hope you and Bert have a lovely Valentine’s Day. ❤ Terri

      1. Same to you, Terri! And glad to see your posts in my inbox again. We’re headed to Hilton Head — not far from where you used to live — for a bit or R&R and warmer weather next week.

      2. That’s interesting, Rusha. We’ve pretty much been posting every week the past year. Are you saying that normally our posts don’t come through to your mailbox. I ask because I wonder if there’s something we need to tweak on our end. And Hilton Head – how wonderful! ~Terri

      3. I haven’t seen a post from you in a while. They used to come into my Inbox. I saw another comment that said something to this effect, ” So glad to see you guys posting again.” So maybe something isn’t working correctly. Anyway, I’m glad you’re back!!!!

      4. Well there’s a mystery, Rusha. Thanks for the info. I just use the WordPress reader, so I don’t know how WordPress handles the whole email situation. I’ll look into it. Must be the ghost in the machine. 🙂

    1. So glad that you enjoyed the heart pics and stories, Anita. We’re always surprised how many we find when we look closely. I see that you two have been spending some time in Cordoba – what a wonderful place. And your photos are gorgeous! I hope that you and Richard have a lovely Valentine’s Day. ❤ Terri

  2. The perfect theme today! I “heart” how you manage to take so many hearts on your travels, accidentally or not. Makes me wonder whether we should pick a theme that we resonate with and try to shoot collections of them everywhere in the world! Nice challenge. 🙂

      1. No ideas yet. I’m thinking I’ll keep photographing the things that stand out to me, like ruins and blue skies and a theme might emerge automatically, like funky trees or something like that. 🙂

  3. I have always enjoyed your Valentines posts. I will say I was 0/4 in finding the hearts. Thanks for adding the answers. So obvious when you know. Happy Valentines Day to you both. Xo

    1. Thank you, Sue. That’s too funny about your 0/4 result because that’s what James said, too, when he looked at it. Well actually he said, “Sheesh! I can’t find them and I took the %#@* photos!” 🙂 Anyway, so glad that you enjoyed it. Hope that you and Dave had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. ❤ Terri

    1. Thanks Marilyn. We continue to be amazed at how many hearts show up in our photos. Interestingly, there were an amazing number in the market in San Miguel de Allende – lots of great ceramics. ~James

    1. Ummm … bike sculptures. Now that you mention it Juliann, we run into quite a few bikes as well. I may just have the nick this idea at some point. But no worries, I’ll give you credit for the inspiration. ~James

    1. Happy Anniversary Darlene! After this series of posts we look for hearts, but it’s amazing how many show up by accident. But, we’ve traveled quite a lot in Asia and hearts don’t show up anywhere. From our experience, it seems to be a western phenomenon – not sure why. ~James

      1. Thanks for the anniversary wishes. That is interesting that there are no hearts in Asia. I believe the Scandinavians have the most hearts everywhere.

    1. Thanks Ginette. These posts are fun to put together, and it’s amazing how frequently we see hearts. And BTW, don’t worry about the typo. I try to do my best, but the very second I see a typo in a comment is the second after I hit the send button. ~James

    1. Thanks Nicole! It’s great to hear from you. How’s winter been treating you up there? Given your collection of excellent photography, I bet you have a few hidden hearts, too, 🙂 Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day.~Terri

    1. No problem Cathy. Terri pulls these posts together and they are great fun. When we look, it’s amazing how much the heart image shows up. Terri has developed quite an eye for it. ~ James

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