by Suli Adams
I always wanted to travel, but did not have much opportunity while I was working and raising my son. The only trip outside Canada was to Egypt in 2006. Retired, the world was open to me, limited only by my finances. I traveled to China, Portugal, South Africa and Peru. I was about to leave for Iceland when the worldwide pandemic screeched that to a halt!!
Having had a taste of travel, I was not ready to stop. The pandemic opened up new opportunities. Just as many dance studios went online, so did travel. Tour guides and travel agents took their work online in creative ways. There were walking tours, video tours, lectures, drones and other creative ways to travel and learn.
Throughout pandemic I travelled virtually with Marah Walsh of Girl travel tours. The live tours are on zoom and the opportunity to ask questions is available. This was particularly useful when I travelled virtually to Iceland and was able to get better prepared for my rescheduled trip to Iceland post pandemic, having all my masking requirements & other Covid related travel questions answered. In my experience, such tours provide useful information in deciding where to go, what time of year to go, what to see, where to eat, currency requirements, safety, transportation and other relevant items in planning trips. Post pandemic, the travel agents are available to travel with in person, as are the tour guides, with an advantage that you are familiar with them and how they operate. Many tours are recorded and available on YouTube. This particular site continues to do virtual tours as well as in person tours.
More recently, my interests have developed in learning about historic sites, ancient history and arts & culture. World virtual tours have guides that are licensed tour guides but may also be qualified in history, culture, archaeology, Egyptology and other professions. I attended a virtual trip to Egypt to learn about Hatshepsut. In an article I had written for the September 2022 issue of Fanoos, I questioned the possibility of the Pharaoh’s being black. I posed this question of Hatshepsut being black to the Egyptologist guide; without hesitation, he replied that all the pharaohs were black.
The artwork of Salvador Dali has not appealed much to me in the past. I have not understood the melting clock and other items of his art. Recently, I attended a tour of his work in jewelry, which at first, I did not appreciate. However, learning about his life challenges and life concepts, I now appreciate his jewelry. I look forward to a tour of his paintings and am hopeful that I will understand the concept behind the melting clock and his concept of time. I have admired the details in the paintings of Michelangelo, but having attended a tour of his works, I now understand how he has demonstrated his anger and frustration in his paintings. Now that I understand him better, I not only appreciate the artwork, but feel the strong emotions expressed in his paintings, and am reminded of his challenges in life.
Born in Kenya, I have enjoyed going on a virtual safari in Nairobi, Kenya while having breakfast. It’s always interesting, a safari is not predictable, never know what you will see. Once a white Rhino crossed the road in front of the safari vehicle. It was so exciting! Today there are only 2 northern white rhinos alive in the world, both are female, and both are in Nairobi national park. With today’s technology, when a lion is spotted, the guide can zoom in and get a great visual. Once on a walking safari, the guide had a 3 yr old giraffe come up behind him, then walked beside him, accompanying us on the tour for a time.
I attended a carnival in Venice, which this year, 2023 was February 4 to 21. As Dancers you would appreciate the elaborate costumes worth $1-6K each! Most participants bring 5 or 6 costumes for the event. They stroll around in their costumes and masks by the picturesque waterfront with gondolas in the background, or in the square by the elaborate architectural buildings. The participants are mainly from France, Germany and Britain.
Halloween is best spent at a party in a castle in Transylvania. Highly recommended, the costumes, the food, the atmosphere! Where else would you want to be at Halloween if not with Frankenstein! Virtually you may not be able to taste the food and drinks, but its worth watching how others live. It has been rumored that Elon Musk invites his billionaire friends to Romania for Halloween party at Dracula’s castle.
I am not a Christian, but I travelled virtually to Bethlehem and saw the site where Jesus was born, and the manger, the West Bank wall and learned about the lives of the Israelis and Palestinians. The narrow streets with spices, garments, trinkets and street foods have a unique atmosphere. There are the Jewish, Christian and Muslim areas and there are restrictions as to who can go where and when, it was amazing to learn how they all live together in harmony, whilst political conflicts surround them.
There are many available tour sites with different emphasis. Perhaps you like wine tours, or gourmet cooking in different countries. Whatever interest you, google will lead you there, Eventbrite is another good source. I encourage you to explore virtual travel, to prepare for an in-person trip, to learn culture or history or art or for entertainment.
Some considerations from my learning. Time zones and internet connections in some countries are not always accommodating. Recently, with the political situation in Peru, I had a tour postponed for a month, as the site was closed, and another that was a walking tour ended up as a recorded version due to the political situation. Technology enabled seeing sites via drones. One ancient tour was particularly interesting as it consisted of seeing ruins as they are today, and reconstructed in color as it would have been in that time period including people dressed in the costumes of that era. Technology also allows 3D visuals of pillars and statues and buildings, which provided visuals that in person would not be available.
Travelling opens you up to new experiences, develop communication skills, appreciate the beauty of this planet, provide different perspectives, cultures, cuisines and lifestyles. Travelling opens our minds to differences and makes us more appreciative, tolerant and compassionate. In person travelling is the best, but also costly and may have its challenges, virtual has its advantages and is affordable. Some sites require a fee, some are donation or tip based. I recommend a Live Virtual travel to prepare for an in-person travel. Travel virtually in the comfort of your home, it is affordable, no complications, no travel visa requirements, no getting lost in an unfamiliar area, no line ups …….try it, you might like it.