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Practical Techie: Virtual tours in pandemic times

Now that the 2020 elections are over and the votes are more or less counted, tabulated and assigned, it’s back to the humdrum of pandemic routines and lingering at home to keep a prudent social distance.

With practically more than half of the world off limits for travel, entertainment and sometimes even our workspaces, virtuality is the way to go.  

We must remember that nothing or any place in the world wide web is out of bounds. 

TRAVEL – These times require voluntary reclusion but high technology in virtual travel allow us to peek into faraway places that in reality might have been too untimely or expensive to visit.  

A click on The China Guide will lead us on a virtual hike to the Wall of China. Or, visit this page to walk around and learn the history of the pyramids at Giza. Maybe the Frida Kahlo Casa Azul museum in Mexico City, or the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. This site will help you get to these virtual places.

GOOGLE EARTH — There are thousands of such virtual travel pages on the web, but the best way to journey digitally is on board Google Earth. This application covers every spot on planet Earth and its free to use. Best of all, the cybernaut can create their own walking tour in any place of the planet with Google’s 360 degrees street view technology.

This option has been around since 2005, yet not enough people know about its more intricate charms, such historic retrospective imagery and descriptions, night, day, sunrise or sunset of a particular spot on the globe, aerial views, measure of distances from one corner of an attraction to the next, ecology of the place, three-dimensional views of buildings, and many more.

Even guided tours at no cost or need to tip. For example, if you like street art but can’t hit the pavement right now in real time, this website will provide great leisure and entertainment.

LIVE STREAM — If virtual views are not you pleasure, try travelling to different places in real time through live stream technology. See what’s happening at any given time in Manhattan, Paris, the Panama Canal, Venetia… Most major spots on Earth through live webcams by using this website.

With this other website on youtube.com see what’s going on live in major places around the globe and also get the weather conditions in each location

And this one is even more adventurous, A live feed from outer space of Earth, directly from the International Space Station. Or tap into the Exoplanet Travel Bureau for a true out-of-this world experience.

MUSEUMS — The super cool tech of virtual reality also allows for visits to the best museums anywhere in the world without having to wait in long lines or pay entrance fees. The only thing missing are smells, sounds and taste.

Someday in future, maybe.

Over 2,500 world class museums offer virtual tours, including the vast collection at the Smithsonian, in Washington DC.

Other are the British Museum in London, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican in Rome, most of which are self-guided or have narrated tours in different languages. One of the best features in these web pages is that the visitor can see exhibits that are no longer active in real life but have digitally archived.

If self-quarantine has not curated your hopeless romanticism and the romance of travel is not enough, visit this unique museum about broken love relationships. It’s an exhibition from 20 different nations of love gone bad. Try not to weep.

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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