Felicity Long
Felicity Long

On April 15, the U.S. flag was projected onto the Matterhorn, Switzerland's most famous mountain, illuminating the stars and stripes against the night sky. The event was livestreamed, but you can still see it on Switzerland's Facebook page

The sight was a comforting reminder that the phrase, "We are all in this together," which is being drilled into our brains on a daily basis here at home, is actually true, and on a global scale.

It's also brought home that while many of us are thinking fondly of Europe -- once so easily accessible and now so unfathomably far away -- Europe is also thinking of us.

How, then, to keep the flame alive when we all have so much on our minds, much of it far more dire than leisure travel?

Although the light show was more about concern for our health and safety than about tourism, the illuminated Matterhorn images you can now see on Facebook are part of Switzerland Tourism's www.myswitzerland.com Dream Now -- Travel Later campaign.

This virtual travel trend is one I'm increasingly seeing in my inbox as the weeks of home confinement drag on.

The shift from hotels promoting specials for the summer, on the assumption that this will all be over by then, to a quiet admission that we don't know when this will be over has spawned some beautiful travel videos designed to remind us of why we love Europe in the first place.

There are far too many to share them all here -- with themes ranging from food, music and art --but the following is just a sampling, most from various European tourist offices:

Missing London? VisitBritain's Facebook page offers a virtual Royal London in 360-degree tour. That is just one of the ways the tourist office is keeping the destination top of mind.

Crave warmer climes and a dose of antiquity? Enjoy Greece From Home, a collaboration between Greece's Ministry of Tourism and Agapi Sbokou, the CEO and owner of Crete's Phaea Resorts and the vice president of Marketing Greece.

Maybe you've never been to Monaco but always meant to visit. Get inspired by the Miss You campaign, created by the Monaco Government Tourist Office, which shows that there is so much more to this destination than casinos and Formula One race cars.

The Czech Republic wants to remind you of its rich Unesco-caliber heritage via a series of video galleries, including a beautiful virtual tour of Prague as seen today without the crowds.

This was supposed to be a big year for Germany tourism, partly because of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. But music lovers can still celebrate in their imaginations via the German National Tourist Office's virtual tour, or they can experience the country as a whole via the tourist office's YouTube channel.

Southwest Germany has launched its own Dream Now, Visit Later virtual travel portal, showcasing the region's eclectic attractions, including its whopping 77 Michelin-starred restaurants and 46 Unesco World Heritage Sites.

You can also destination hop in Bavaria on topics that range from dining to ski.

Or check out the chateaux in France's famed Loire Valley region, which marked 500 years since the death of Leonardo DaVinci and the construction of the Chateau of Chambordi in 2019 with fanfare and special events.

How about a virtual culinary tour of Galway, one of Ireland's most beautiful regions and one that helped spearhead the destination's emergence into culinary stardom. Or delve into the "Game of Thrones" legacy, which caused a boom in film location tours in Northern Ireland.

Add Malta, the 2018 European Capital of Culture, to your wish list via virtual heritage tours designed by Visit Malta's See Malta Now, Visit Later campaign.

Wondering why Portugal has been on the hot list the past few years? Take a virtual tour to learn about the destination's beauty, history and much-touted wine region.

Or how about dipping into Arctic Sweden via Virtually Visiting, which is offering a free, online, four-day holiday designed to unfold a day at a time.

This global crisis is inspiring some of us to turn inward and explore our spiritual natures, and to that end, a virtual journey of Spain's Camino de Santiago is available via Facebook. The Virtual Camino project was created in partnership with Duperier's Authentic Journeys and filmmaker Annie O'Neil.

And since this column started with Switzerland, here you can stroll through some of the destination's most beautiful cities and towns.


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