Does it seem as though you’ve had virtually no fun this summer? No flights to exotic locales? No luxuriating aboard a cruise ship? Are you sick and tired of your own backyard?
Take heart. With an electronic device and a little imagination, you can take a virtual trip to almost anywhere in the world from the safety of your own home. Castles or cruise ships. Train rides or tigers at the zoo. The Great Wall or a glass art museum.
It may take some time to sort through the myriad choices available. In coming up with a few examples, I passed over videos with too much chatter, too much commercial promotion and some that just took too much time to get rolling.
A virtual trip to the Eiffel Tower spent minutes focusing on crowds and walking up to the tower. A trip to one European castle featured several minutes of the backsides of horses pulling a cart which, I assume, eventually arrived at the castle. A visit to the Louvre spent too much time on crowd shots, followed by silent glimpses of art. (“Hmmm. I wonder what that is?”) I almost included a kids’ photo safari in South Africa, until the final scene featured a spitting contest with (I sincerely hope) sterilized animal droppings. In short, before you view a virtual tour with others, you might want to preview it!
Of the options available, you’ll find varying quality and length. Some are elaborate with sweeping aerial shots and glorious interiors. Others are basic, requiring you to click or touch arrows to follow a path through a site. You may want to skip past ads from sponsors.
Ditto sites which include “cookies” or registration.
Here are a few selections to begin your virtual travels. To help locate the tours, you may need to add the words “virtual tour” when you search, and then compare the length of choices listed to the following:
The Great Wall of China.
There are numerous virtual tours for this famous site. “China Tours — The Great Wall of China” (World Spree) on YouTube is a concise, three-minute overview, with a short history, aerial views and closeup shots. “The Great Wall of China Walking Tour” on YouTube is a 30-minute, up-close and personal walk which almost made me feel as though I was there.
The videographer says nothing, merely walks along showing what you would actually see on the Wall. You pass by other tourists, look out over the wall to surrounding hillsides, climb staircases and enter watchtowers. As the tour progresses, you can hear the more labored breathing of the videographer and I actually began to have the sense of, “Oh no, not another staircase!”
Cruise Ships and Ports.
Many cruise ship tours are blatant ads for cruise companies.
However, I did find one 16-minute tour that combines a look at liners from numerous companies, along with various Caribbean ports. “Cruise From Home — 6 Cruise Ships and 5 Ports” (Talking Cruise) on YouTube wanders through ships from Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival, MSC and Princess lines.
Designed perhaps for a younger, trendier crowd, there are glimpses of elaborate onboard atria, stage shows, pools, water slides, putting greens and an occasional zip line — plus one juggling bartender. No cabins, dining rooms or libraries in evidence. Onshore settings are primarily private islands owned by cruise companies, with a heavy emphasis on surf and sand.
Of the many castles of the world, Germany’s Neuschwanstein is sometimes described as the most beautiful. This fairytale-like structure was reportedly the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. A nine-minute “World Sites Guide.com Neuschwanstein Germany” virtual tour includes historical commentary, with aerial and closeup outdoor shots, plus a few inside views. Another nine-and-a half-minute “Schloss Neuschwanstein (Germany) Vacation Travel Video Guide” also includes history, and exterior shots of the castle, plus extensive indoor shots of ornate gold detail, mosaics, wall paintings, wood carvings and angel images.
Inside shots tend to be dark. Yet another, three-and-a half-minute “Neuschwanstein Castle GERMANY” condensed virtual tour shows both sweeping aerial views and a few interiors. (Note: Tours may include a brief glimpse of mural figures in limited attire.)
The Orient Express.
Have you ever wondered what a ride on this famous train would be like? Two YouTube offerings offer very different perspectives.
“Venice Simplon Orient Express Full Experience from Venice to London” is a 30-minute tour, beginning with canal travel in Venice through boarding the train and travel on to England. You can view private compartments, white-linen table service in dining cars, grand piano music in a lounge, and then tea service on a Pullman train transfer from Calais. This offers a taste of what actual travel on the Orient Express would be like.
A more commercialized two-and-a-half minute YouTube summary, “Luxury Trains — The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express,” includes still photos of the interior of the train plus a few landscapes, all with a musical backdrop.
San Diego Zoo.
The whole family can enjoy the YouTube “San Diego Zoo — American Treasure Earth Day 2020.” Here, you’ll have a quick, 10-minute glimpse of pink flamingos, a cute koala, hippos, peacock, monkeys, camel, giraffes, bears and big cats. You may want to mute the sound to eliminate crowd noise and comments, and just focus on the animals.
Chihuly Glass Art.
Want to travel in the Northwest instead? Take a virtual tour through some of glass artist Dale Chihuly’s latest designs. In YouTube’s “Chihuly Garden and Glass — Seattle, Washington” by David Ellis, viewers take a stroll past both indoor and outdoor glass creations, many with a botanical theme, all set under a backdrop of the Seattle Space Needle.
Pyramids of Giza.
Take a virtual walk through the sands of Egypt to visit thegreat pyramids on the YouTube “Pyramids of Giza Walking Tour” (Prowalk Tours). This is a no-frills walk, complete with the sound of crunching sand, that lets you know what such a walk would really be like (minus the heat and sore muscles).
Although the entire video runs about an hour and a half, you can jump in on the parts that interest you most, selecting a certain pyramid, for example. A companion piece, “The Sphinx at 8 a.m. Walking Tour” (Prowalk Tours), only lasts about 23 minutes and offers a much better view of the sphinx.
This eclectic assortment barely scratches the surface of possibilities. So, where in the world would you like to go?