Old Dogs New Trips: Virtual travel in the age of coronavirus

Old Dogs, No Trips?

During these far too “interesting” times, anyone who loves to travel is faced with the need to stay tucked in, cozy and healthy, at home. Even The Independent staff is working from home these days.

Today’s astonishing communications age is what makes work and learning at home possible. And, without our electronics, our entertainment at home might be the card games, word games, musicales, jigsaw puzzles, books, and other activities that used to occupy families in the not-so-long-ago.

And although all of those are still truly fun, today much of our entertainment at home comes from the computer, the phone, the tablet, and television. There was never a better time to embrace the wonder of how these, either separately or in tandem, can take your imagination all over the world while you stay home.

My favorite “trip” thus far was provided by Google’s Arts and Culture site. Wonder of wonders, you can do free virtual tours of the Van Gogh Museum and Musée D’Orsay, two favorites among many offering such a delight. The Arts and Culture home page even offered a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal — wow! They’ve worked with museums and attractions throughout the world to bring them to you on your small screens. It’s easy. Simply go to artsandculture.google.com and search your favorite artist or museum — you’ll be amazed at how much is available.

If, like us, you support a few arts endeavors, your emails may be full of news of newly available entertainments. Locally, Live from Guild Hall at www.guildhall.org/events/live/ is a gateway to revisit special museum events, which can lead you further to countless YouTube videos of stellar musical performances, if that’s your cup of tea. And the Metropolitan Opera, www.metopera.org, is doing free streaming of many of its glorious past performances from their website.

If live theater is your thing, have a look at BroadwayHD.com. It isn’t free, but a year’s subscription will set you back far less than two Broadway tickets. Its offerings included history-making plays and musicals that I would love to see, and that’s just a brief sample.

Last week, PBS Nature took us on a special up-close-and-personal trip through the grandeur of Yosemite, with insights about its future. We contribute to PBS, which means we can stream all sorts of public television through Passport. In these days of social distancing, imagine using Passport to plan a night of ethnic food preparation, then following dinner with a travelogue on the place where the recipes originated. That could be fun, social distancing or not!

Of course, this is all assuming you are streaming. Most TVs being sold these days are smart TVs, and adding Roku or Apple TV to an old TV is not difficult. And streaming can open up so much. No smart TV? Everything can also be seen on computers, tablets, and smartphones.

But how about those of you stuck at home with just an old TV and cable? Remember that almost all cable channels offer movies on demand. And they’re set up to charge right to your cable bill, so all you have to do is push a button to select that film you really wanted to see but missed at the movie theater. And you can make your own popcorn!

In these days of IMing and Facebooking and tweets, maybe the best idea of all is to pick up your phone and spend some of this forced extra time simply catching up with friends and family. In these distanced times, the personal becomes more important than ever. And, probably, we’re not too busy to talk.

Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy!

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