Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020

How to explore the world from the comfort of your home

The Armchair Traveller reveals how to explore the world from home: See the sights of Europe on Kirsten Dunst’s grand tour and recreate a luxury spa experience

  • Kirsten Dunst tours Europe in movie thriller The Two Faces Of January
  • MarBella Collection hotels in Greece has launched online beauty tutorials 
  • Head to VisitFinland.com for glorious photos and inspiration for a future trip

From travelogues to films and even webcams, Neil Simpson reveals how you can still explore the world from your own home during the lockdown.

Seeing the sights of Europe was a far more glamorous affair in the early 1960s, so take a step back into that golden age in the sun-drenched movie thriller The Two Faces Of January. A couple of wealthy American tourists, played by Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst, drift from one glorious setting to another, including the Acropolis in Athens, clifftop ruins in Crete, and the minarets and markets of Istanbul.

The 2014 film is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, so there’s darkness amid the sun. But like the adaptation of her better-known The Talented Mr Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, the real stars here are the scenery and the sparkling sea.

Golden age: Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst tour Europe in The Two Faces Of January

For a travelogue with a much lighter touch, turn to a very different American author: Bill Bryson. His classic book Notes From A Big Country from the 1990s (first published as columns in The Mail on Sunday) still paints a perfect picture of his homeland.

His description of cheap American motels, where he says that it feels perfectly normal to be woken at 3am by a female voice screaming ‘Honey, put down the gun and give me the baby’, is a joy. It’s now available as a paperback, e-book or audiobook.

Keep smiling as you explore the stunning landscapes and wide- open spaces of Finland online. The country’s tourist board sprinkles plenty of humour amid the glorious photographs that are on display at visitfinland.com.

The ‘Find The Finn In You’ section generates your Finnish name (I’m now Sampo Sammalkorpi) and tells you what the words mean. Scroll on to read all about Santa Claus, saunas and the ‘six steps to be happy like a Finn’ before researching the perfect igloo, ice-hotel, treehouse or cottage for a future trip.

A desert island might feel like the ideal place to ride out the storm of lockdown – and the BBC Sounds app offers The Food Programme: Stranded! How To Eat On A Desert Island.

Research the perfect igloo, ice-hotel, treehouse or cottage to stay in for a future trip to Finland at VisitFinland.com 

It reveals that we needn’t go hungry while we’re there. From seaweed (‘nature’s original multi-vitamin’) to sea kale, the show explains ‘the restaurant is always open on the beach’.

Apparently, there are just three ingredients are needed to recreate the spa experience of a five-star hotel at home. The group of MarBella Collection hotels in Greece has put together a series of simple (if potentially rather messy) face-mask recipes using some honey, bananas and orange juice. Find the recipes, alongside many other Mediterranean-inspired activities, by searching #Athomewithmarbella online.

If those beauty treatments have got you ready for a Zoom close-up with friends, you need to dress the part to stay in the holiday mood. Click on the fashion section of travel gift shop airportag.com for ideas. It’s an American site but products can be priced in pounds and sent to the UK. Favourite slogans on T-shirts include Do I Look Like I Fly Economy? and Jet Lag Made Me Do It. Alternatively, pick a shirt that says what most travel-fans are thinking this spring: I’d Rather Be Flying.

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