Becoming an Armchair Traveller wasn't on anyone's bucket list for 2020 but that's where we find ourselves. With travel choices whittled down to a trip to say, the bottleshop, or the backyard, there's arguably more time than ever before to explore the world.
One day, however, borders will reopen (hi, Jacinda!), passports will be stamped and by the time we have the green light there will be no excuses for not having researched our destination from top to bottom. In the meantime, here's a handful of the myriad travel experiences to be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.
I WANT A POLAR EXPEDITION
In this age of social distancing we should all be ready for the "1.3 million square miles of loneliness" (to quote Hurtigruten expedition leader Karin Strand) that is Greenland. Strand, from her kayak, takes us around the stunning island that contains the world's biggest fiord system containing sculptural icebergs, the world's largest national park with less than 500 visitors a year and the hundreds of thermal pools some of which you can bathe in. After this, I'm feeling a little more isolated, but also inspired. The company is also hosting a series of weekly webinars. See www.hurtigruten.com.au
I WANT TO EAT AND DRINK
Finally, a Zoom meeting you will want to be present for. Make gnocchi under the expert guidance of Katrina Pizzini of cooking school A Tavola! followed by dinner and a wine tasting, join Bridge Road Brewers' Trevor Giacomelli and winemaker Adrian Rodda for tastings of barrel-aged beer and the A.Rodda 2019 pre-release chardonnay tasting before its official launch or have Friday night cocktails with Reed and Co Distillery. For spa lovers self-care in the truest sense - you're the therapist - with a foot treatment using oils, soaks and scrubs. Provisions are sent before the event and your group experience is private. See www.victoriashighcountry.com.au/
I WANT A HEALTH RETREAT
Being the best version of you right now might involve track pants and pasta on high-rotation. No judgement. But if you are wanting to ratchet it up, spas such as the Chiva-Som Hua Hin, on the Gulf of Thailand, are offering a taste of what's behind their (closed) doors. While we'd all rather be striking a pose under a banyan tree on the property's grounds, one-on-one yoga and meditation sessions or a naturopathic consultation with a focus on food as medicine can be booked via Zoom. See www.chivasom.com
I WANT NATURE
If you can bear to look past the luxurious cocoons of the Wild Coast Tented Lodge in south Sri Lanka - and the fact that you can't stay there - the Jungle Chronicles has some fun, and educational, nature videos with rangers showing the animals of Yala National Park in their habitat. What's not to love about watching a troupe of Gray Langur monkeys scratching their pot-bellied tummies and baby elephants dust bathing. See www.resplendentceylon.com
I WANT A WALKING TOUR
On a walking tour of Florence led by local guide Stefano Paris I see the hotel where I'll be staying where I'll be treated like family and a bar next door for my morning coffee, the best place to get Florentine leather and the exact spot at the central market for panini and chianti. Paris takes me past "wine windows" where locals once sold from and the Medici Chapel where Michelangelo, hiding in a secret room, decorated the walls and graffiti. Virtual walking tours can also be taken in Buenos Aires, Antigua and Cape Town. See gadventures.com