Star Trek famously called Space the final frontier, referring to the explorations of the space ship Enterprise to distant galaxies and planets. But in light of the current coronavirus pandemic quarantine, any travel right now seems far-fetched.
Still, I tried to think if going forward I can’t (or won’t) travel in the foreseeable future, then: What can I revisit or see virtually. What I found is, as Dr. Seuss says, “Oh the places you will go!”
Thinking about this fell into two neat categories: The places I wanted to see again, and the places I’ve never visited (and may never visit). And in ways good and better, it is amazing what you can see online.
If you are wondering what Paris is like under quarantine, there is a beautiful and evocative film by The New Yorker. They also offer similarly poignant short videos about the streets under quarantine in New York, Rome, Seoul, and Tehran (never having been to Tehran – that was interesting).
There are 4K and virtual tours of pretty much every city you may be curious about, such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Budapest. And there are specialized videos about seeing certain cities from different perspectives, like Paris from the Bateau Mouches that travel the Seine, or a tour of the rooftops of Jerusalem.
What I discovered was this: If you have already been to a place, then the videos trigger shocks of recognition and a flood of associated memories. They can’t reproduce the taste of macarons at Carette’s in the Trocadero or the Bourekas in the Old City. But like a virtual madeleine, they bring you back to your own memories.
As for virtual travel to places you have never been or have always wanted to see: If you are looking to make a bucket list, you could do worse than watch “25 Most Amazing Ancient Ruins of the World” – or this compilation of 100 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Beyond the places you might think to put on this list, from the Acropolis to the Angor Wat, Chichen Itza to Eephesus, there are a number of sites in India, Iraq, Myannmar among many others that are remarkable.
And if you are looking for adventures, you can take a virtual tour of Mt. Everest (by helicopter!), climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or trek in Bhutan. There is are amazing videos for one to binge on from Travel & Leisure, National Geographic, and about UNESCO World Heritage sites.
It’s not the same – but the price is right, and it’s the safest way to see these places right now. So, for the time being, let’ leave at:
Stay Safe and Happy Travels!