During these far too “interesting” times, anyone who loves to travel is faced with the need to stay tucked in, cozy and healthy, at home. That’s been especially emphasized for those of us over the age of 60.
Today’s astonishing communications age is what makes working and learning at home possible. And, without our electronics, our entertainment at home might be the card games, word games, musicales, jigsaw puzzles, books, and other entertainments that used to occupy families in the not-so-long-ago.
And although all of those are still truly fun, today much of our entertainment at home comes from the computer, the phone, the tablet, and television. There was never a better time to embrace the wonder of how these, either separately or in tandem, can take your imagination all over the world while you stay home.
My favorite “trip” during our let’s-stay-healthy time at home was provided by Google’s Arts and Culture site. Wonder of wonders, you can do free virtual tours of the British Museum, the Van Gogh, and the Musée D’Orsay, special favorites among many offering such a delight. The Arts and Culture home page even offered a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal — wow! They’ve worked with museums and attractions throughout the world to bring them to you on your small screens. It’s easy. Simply go to artsandculture.google.com and search your favorite artist or museum — you’ll be amazed at how much is available. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art offers projects and tours for all ages on their website at www.metmuseum.org.
If, like us, you support a few arts endeavors, your emails may be full of news of newly available entertainments. Our local museum, Guild Hall, is offering Live from Guild Hall, and it’s a gateway to revisit their special events—plus you can access it from anywhere in the world. We’ve discovered it can lead to countless YouTube videos of stellar musical performances, if that’s your cup of tea. Check your own local museum—chances are they’ll offer something similar. And the Metropolitan Opera, www.metopera.org, is doing free streaming of many of their glorious past performances from their website.
If live theater is your thing, have a look at BroadwayHD.com. It isn’t free, but a year’s subscription will set you back far less than two Broadway tickets. Their offerings included classic plays and musicals that I would love to see—take a look at their website and be amazed at how much is available.
On a simpler note, PBS Nature recently took us on a special up-close-and-personal trip through the grandeur of Yosemite, with insights about its future. We contribute to PBS, which means we can stream all sorts of public television through Passport. In these days of social distancing, imagine using Passport to plan a night of ethnic food preparation, then following dinner with a travelogue on the place where the recipes originated. That could be fun, social distancing or not! You and some friends could even decide to do this on the same night, then compare notes on your successes.
Spring is here, and gardening is part of what we’re doing during this enforced time at home. No garden? If you go online, search “virtual garden tours” — a number of publications have gathered together visits to some of the world’s most glorious gardens. House Beautiful’s guide to the eight best included three we’ve actually visited: Monet’s Giverny, Kew Gardens, and the US Botanic Gardens in DC. Now we can see five more from home.
Of course, much of this assumes you are streaming. Most TVs being sold these days are smart TVs, and adding Roku or Apple TV to an old TV is not difficult. And streaming can open up so much. No smart TV? Don’t want to add anything right now? Everything can also be seen on computers, tablets, and smart phones with the help of the Internet. And the myriad games available online mean you can connect with others at your leisure even though you may be sheltering by yourself.
But the Internet aside, don’t forget that almost all cable channels offer movies on demand. And most cable providers are set up to charge right to your cable bill, so all you have to do is push a button to select that film you really wanted to see. You may have missed it at the movie theater, but chances are you can watch it from home. And you can make your own popcorn!
In these days of IM’ing and Facebooking and tweets, maybe the best idea of all is to pick up your phone and spend some of this forced extra time simply catching up with friends and family. In these distanced times, the personal becomes more important than ever. And we’re probably not too busy to talk.
Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy!
Text and photos by Vay David and John Laudando