Hello World! Great big wonderful world full of exciting and interesting things! Places to go! Things to see!
And thanks to the internet, we can see a lot of it even if we can’t go home.
Armchair travel has always been possible. You read about other people’s travels, you listen to their stories, you read about the places you want to go to, you get books with pictures, you use your imagination.
But the internet adds a dimension. Because you can get more information, more stories, more pictures.
HOW MY VIRTUAL TRAVEL CAME ABOUT
In 2008, my sister Chris and I really needed a vacation. We saw an ad for a cruise in the eastern Mediterranean and said how cool it would be if we could take that cruise. It went to the Greek Islands, with stops in Egypt, Israel, and Turkey. There were excursions from Port Said to Cairo, and from Ashdod to Jerusalem!
But we couldn’t get away.
Oh, if only!
Well, let’s do an imaginary trip.
We copied down the itinerary. We started reading travel books. “We could eat at this restaurant and go to this historic site.”
Then we looked on the internet and found tons of information! And pictures!
We “went” to Knossos — it’s so much more real if you have pictures! Some of the pictures were from photo-sharing websites, pictures from real people’s vacations, so they weren’t always professional quality photos, some of them looked like the ones that I take with my inexpensive little digital camera.
And since there were people in those photos, we made up stories about them.
Some photos from ruins on one of the islands had a dark-haired teenage boy in them. The captions were in Spanish, so our story was that he hung around with us because he wanted to practice his English. I speak Spanish (I really do!) so it was kind of fun to use both languages, and I added to my vocabulary.
We had a picture of a guy about my son’s age who was probably way too cool to hang around with us in reality but, see, he was a friend of Chris’ son. When he was studying engineering — he was Greek, but he studied in the U.S. — he lived off campus in the same building as her son and they became friends. So, on the first day, they kept looking at each other like “I know you” and finally figured out why.
That was so much fun! And then I printed out some the pictures for a photo album/scrapbook and wrote captions like I would if it were from a real trip. “That’s Bob lying in that rock-cut tomb. He said he was dead tired. We all groaned.” A picture of the pyramids has a very tiny figure of a woman with brown hair and wearing red pants, and since I have both brown hair and red pants, I drew an arrow to her and wrote, “This is me!”
Brown hair, red pants. In reality, I wear red pants. In reality, when I travel, I don’t buy lots of souvenirs, I come back with pictures and stories.
We kept it based in our reality. Chris is divorced so we made up a shipboard romance for her (and created a pretty detailed backstory for the guy). I’m married so there was no shipboard romance for me. Instead, I was obsessed about finding internet connections so I could email my husband. Because I’m really like that.
Most of the people who have seen the album think it is from a real trip. (The funny thing is that I wrote under the photos the web address of where I got them!)