Virtually escape

I virtually joined my mother for a train ride through the Canadian Rockies and later a jaunt through Zion National Park. Whether your state has strict rules on travel this summer or you’ve decided to stay home until there’s a coronavirus vaccine, there are ways to virtually escape without leaving the comfort of your couch. 

“I was in Spain this morning,” my mom cheerfully said to me the other day. Only that’s not actually possible since travel is so limited in the age of the coronavirus. What my mother later explained was that with the use of her BFF during lockdown Alexa, she has been visiting a new destination every single morning. And upon her urging, I virtually joined my mother for a train ride through the Canadian Rockies and later a jaunt through Zion National Park. Whether your state has strict rules on travel this summer or you’ve decided to stay home until there’s a coronavirus vaccine, there are ways to virtually escape without leaving the comfort of your couch. 

1. A virtual taste-a-thon: Most state fairs were canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the noms. Just in time for National Ice Cream Day month, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams debuted their newest collection: The State Fair Collection. Fanciful flavors include Orange Blossom Chiffon which tastes like a classic orange creamsicle if said orange creamsicle was created by unicorns. Trying to eat more healthfully? Farmer’s Fridge recently launched a collaboration series with leading chefs including Andrew Zimmern, Missy Robbins, Andrew Carmellini, James Kent, Paul Kahan, Sarah Grueneberg, Lee Wolen, so you can eat trendy even if you’re not eating out. I wish I had more space to rave about the salad goodness of Farmer’s Fridge, but you know all those articles with photographs of beaming women eating salad? Now I understand why they’re so happy all the time. (Limited to New York and Chicago, more locations coming soon). If wine is more your thing, Acker Wines, America’s oldest wine shop hosted a series of virtual vintage tasting series with some of the top wine producers from around the world including Paul Roberts, MS, COO of Colgin Cellars,  Etienne de Montille of Domaine de Montille and  Martine Saunier. More great guests will be announced in the coming weeks.

2. Explore exotic cultures: “I created Explore Jewish India heritage tours in 2014, a combination of the best of India’s magnificent sites and immersion into its intriguing and little-known Jewish communities, each with their own history,” explained Rahel Musleah, Founder and Tour Leader of Explore Jewish India. When COVID-19 shut down travel, Musleah wanted to try to “replicate the delightful and emotional experience of being in India.” For her, that meant “meeting its people, enjoying its cuisine, exploring its cultural tapestry, and touring its sacred spaces.” To that end, Musleah launched NamaStay at Home, which she explained “plays on the traditional, respectful, no-contact Indian greeting with a new twist.” The series incorporates not only amazing sites in India but also delves into cooking, cocktails, culture, yoga, history, architecture, music, spirituality, and more.  Or binge past episodes of PBS’s sumptuous Beecham House a different type of costume drama that takes place in Delhi prior to British rule.

3. Skip happy hour, try puppy hour: Wags and Walks are a non-profit in Los Angeles supported by rescue advocates including Sir Patrick Stewart. They’re also working with companies to add a bit of cuteness to your day. For a $100.00 donation, Wags and Walks will host a virtual puppy party where they’ll guide you through the basics of fostering while offering adoption advice. Or you can just sit around and get all mushy looking at the adorable adoptable puppies. 

4. Work out around the world: iFit Global Workouts are shot on location in more than 40 countries and seven continents. Bike through the Swiss Alps or explore the pyramids of Egypt on your treadmill. If you choose the Egypt adventure, you’ll stroll through Egypt with world-renowned Egyptologist, Ramy Romany, who will take you to the Great Pyramids, Luxor Temple, and other sites. You can also use the iFit Google Maps feature to trace a route anywhere in the world and run that route watching street view images. That means you can trace world famous marathons such as the Tokyo Marathon or the Boston Marathon. Try it for 30-days for free by downloading the iFit app in the Google Play or Apple Store.

5. Relive your favorite vacation: Some people subscribe to the idea of fragrance flashbacks, wherein you smell something and immediately find yourself remembering a specific time or place. Demeter Fragrance created the Destination Collection to bridge the gap between scent and place. They’ll either remind you of a favorite place or tide you over until we can all safely travel again. Topping my list of dream destinations distilled to fragrance are Cuba, Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand. Along those lines, Siblings launched their Summer Scent as an ode to the classic California summer. The scent combines lime zest, coconut, and driftwood and is meant to bring to mind long days at the beach and margaritas all night long.

6. Watch the most escapist movie ever: Ready to completely suspend all disbelief and grin like an idiot? Then please stop everything you’re doing to watch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. If you’re unfamiliar with Eurovision, it’s a kitschy annual international singing competition that launched in 1956 and is grand-daddy of shows like American Idol and The Voice. It also attracts huge audiences of hundreds of millions of people each year and can launch a singer’s career- both ABBA and Celine Dione won the competition in 1974 and 1988, respectively. The movie takes on the idea of an unlikely duo from Iceland played by Will Ferrell who hammed it up while Rachel McAdams gave a beautifully nuanced performance considering the film is such broad farce. Most noteworthy was Dan Stevens as Russian singer Alexander Lemtov in a campy yet bittersweet performance where he’s almost unrecognizable as the guy who played Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey. It’s an overly silly film and often goes for the easy jokes, but it is the perfect escapist move for a pandemic. Go for the laughs, stay for the exquisite scenery…also the elves.

7. Create a visual time capsule: This year is definitely one for the books, but why rely on others to recount your history? Chatbooks is an easy-to-use photo printing app that just launched 2020 covers meant to represent the year we’re all living through. You can collaborate on a customizable photo book with your best friend or long-distance love and then document your experiences in a book that combines your together apart experiences.

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