Virtual Travel: Introduction

Virtually (meaning on your computer) flying over or visiting interesting places

It is much easier, and cheaper, to travel virtually than really. I do it all the time. If a place is mentioned in the news or a TV documentary, and it catches my interest, I often take just a minute or two and go there virtually, for a quick look, via the wonderful web: for this, of course, I use Google maps satellite or street view.

Places we can visit

It is important to understand that the places worth looking at, and so available to be selected and linked in the small sample in the Index here, are limited by what is available in the visual images at Google maps. For a few countries, there are some places with wonderful, close views of some neighbourhoods with great buildings, even though all the other places in that country have only distant views from high up, often with no real 3D perspective. For other countries, there is nothing to get a close aerial view of, anywhere.

For example, in Britain you can fly low over much of London and some other cities, but not anywhere else; and yet the street views are very complete. However, in Germany (for example), street views may be non-existent for legal (based on cultural) reasons.

Obviously, the success of Google maps shows that millions of people have discovered the fun of virtual travel. It is much quicker and cheaper than physical travel, and indeed safer! Possibly among the most famous virtual travellers (I myself know of no other) is a lady called Jacqui Kenny who made news as the Agoraphobic Traveller. For just one of many pages about her see this Daily Mail Online page.

The sample in the Index here offers just a selection of aerial views that let you virtually hover in the air above a place, and a very few street views from the possibly billions that now exist of many places round the world. But always remember that virtual aerial travel is not possible to many places: the satellite view is too high up and often the 3D version of it is just the 2D version with a slight edge on the buildings, not a real 3D photo by any means. For example (and this is written in October 2017), look at the aerial view of Arundel Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, or the Palace of Westminster in London. Then try to view Windsor Castle or Bodiam Castle in Sussex and get a view like that. They just do not exist. The same is true for:

... no credible close aerial view. I put those links here, but not in the index which offers just some places that do work.

Similarly, street view simply does not exist for plenty of entire countries, and even for certain parts of otherwise well covered countries. For example, if you wanted to go and look at the house of the late Sir Edward Heath near the cathedral in Salisbury, there is simply no usable close 3D satellite, and no street view either, on Google maps.

Key to the Index

In the following links to my randomly chosen few suggestions, the following indications are used:
Πmeans an aerial view and means a street level view. They open in a special browser window, all in the same one but not this one (unless you reloaded this page in the window which it opened).

Note that each one of these aerial or street level 360 degree views can take some time to load. They may appear quickly but with fuzzy details. Wait a minute for the photographic details to arrive!

Moving around in each virtual place

If you have never used Google maps, please note that these links are not to static photographs!

() In the street views, it is as though you were there on the street or (if I add any of them) in a room or a larger space in a building. In these views, you can look all around you, and up and down. Just pull at the image in the browser window with the mouse, holding the button down as you drag just as you do anything in your computer desktop. In views where the shot is on a path in Google maps, you can also move along a road or a path by clicking when an arrow on the ground appears pointing in a particular direction. In general, anywhere on a street you can move along the street. Like that, you can walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End virtually. Be careful walking on the motorways, though.

(Œ) In the aerial views, you can move the view to another adjacent place in the same direction by dragging with the mouse. However even more wonderfully you can zoom in or out using the wheel on the mouse; and you can turn round, and look up or down, by holding down the Ctrl key on your PC keyboard and dragging with the mouse. You may have to try it, to learn exactly how to do this.