Welcome to “Travel Tuesdays,” a resource for those whose plans have been deferred and a distraction for people who enjoy armchair travel. Each week we’ll suggest a virtual destination for you to visit.
All of these ideas are curated and brought to you by Lorraine Rubinacci!
The first is a “Train Journey to the Norwegian Arctic Circle” on the Nordland rail line. Savor the beautiful countryside, small villages, and snow-covered evergreens -- from the unimpeded view of the train’s cab.
If you’re not fond of snow, try an adventure on the Ferrocarril Central Andino, the world’s second highest railway, running from Lima into the central Andes. This 19th century engineering marvel offers tunnels, bridges, deep river gorges, sheer cliffs, and thrills. There’s a station at 15,673 feet above sea level, and, according to a Fodor’s review, oxygen is available for passengers with elevation sickness!
The videographer split the adventure into four sessions, each running less than one hour. Part 3 ends with this scene.
I was particularly taken with A Glimpse Inside the Secluded World of A Georgian Convent, which vividly portrays an unfamiliar place and set of people. Set on a stark, high-elevation plateau, the Phoka Nunnery looks like an archaeological site. Yet it houses a small group of determined women whose hard work is benefiting the local Armenian population. Both highly-educated and down-to-earth, they have restored the church, started a school, created a cheese-making business, and revived local handicrafts. The photographer’s fine black-and-white images are otherworldly.
And, then, there is Reveling in the Enigmatic Beauty of Easter Island which portrays the moai, the ancient statues for which the island is famous. The photojournalist, to his credit, also observes the local population and the impacts of tourism.
Here’s a link to five more essays in the series.
Or, for pure over-the-top extravagance, visit Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai where Islamic architectural motifs meet theme park entertainment. Here you will find waterslides, palm trees, light shows, ziplining, celebrity chefs, and underwater suites!
Like any good explorer, you will need to poke around: click on the “bubble” symbols to move to the next topic, click on the circular “speaker” to hear the narration, and don’t skip the extra photos and video clips available for your pleasure. Like other Google Earth experiences, this tour provides a 360-degree view simply by dragging your cursor. Now that’s not nearly as strenuous as donning a harness and descending by rope!
Then, watch this very atmospheric short on The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island. This preserve for tropical plants began as a restoration project undertaken by one determined man with vision. Savor his “garden in a valley on the ocean.” Who can resist a tree fern?
This week’s Travel Tuesday suggestion requires thought: yes, let’s keep those brain cells working! GeoGuessr is a game that tests your knowledge of geography and your memory. For each round of play, you are shown a “street view” of a particular location. Your job is to discern where this location is and to pin a map with your guess. The closer your guess is to the correct answer, the more points you earn. It’s not easy.
One can choose to play “World,” “US,” “Famous Places,” “Ghost Towns,” “Where’s that McDonald’s?” and many more.
You do need “sign up” for a free account which lets you play one five-question round per day. If this doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, you can purchase the “Pro” option for $2/month.
For years, I’ve played my own version of this game: guess the location of scenic calendar photos. GeoGuessr is more challenging and really interesting because it requires very close observation. This ability to notice small details will make all future travel more rewarding when we can, once again, explore the world.
Their new fynbos exhibit highlights these endangered (and very cute) birds that live south of Capetown. They are active and gregarious which makes for lively viewing. The zoo’s website provides good information in the “learn more about” section.
Next, take a virtual safari at Tembe Elephant Park, a wildlife reserve near the border of Mozambique. This morning, an elephant, giraffe, and birds were at the watering hole. And, the camera rolls day and night. Just remember to account for the time difference.
This time let’s try some indoor entertainment: visiting some of the world’s best museums. Start with “10 Top Museums You Can Explore Right Here Right Now.”
With the help of Google street view, savor Dutch masterpieces at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Or see this dazzling installation at Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art:
Or, perhaps, visit the Sao Paulo Museum of Art, whose distinctive building floats above ground and whose prestigious collection appears to hover in mid air:
And, if that’s not enough to quench your thirst for fine art, Google Arts & Culture provides tours of 1,200 other international museums -- slide shows, interpreted exhibits, and more.
‘Til next week, happy travels!
Check out the photos below of Wind Cave National Park, courtesy of our own intrepid traveler, Lorraine Rubinacci.
‘Til next week, happy travels!