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How to Cure Your Travel Bug


    I’m standing in the middle of the Red Square, looking up at the majestic Kremlin, gazing at the intricate patterns and architecture of the nearby Saint Basil's Cathedral, and the long expanse of the Moskva River.


    Then, COVID-19 happened. Just like that, my dream of going to Russia for my 50th birthday vanished into thin air — faster than how the coronavirus travels.


    For more than 20 years now, even before we got married, my husband and I always made it a point to travel during this time of year – the perfect time to go on a holiday in most parts of the world. It also offers us our much-deserved “creative break” after chasing deadlines that usually start after the New Year.


    As 2020 will be my “golden year” on Earth, I was eagerly planning our Russian trip as early as December last year. I usually buy tickets and book hotels 3-4 months ahead of the trip to snag the best airfare and accommodations. But upon learning the we couldn’t apply for a Russian e-visa yet, I put off our travel booking.


    The global pandemic that was announced in mid-March 2020 upended all our plans.


    At first, my excitement turned into panic. What do we do if we can’t even go out of our home during the community quarantine?  


    And then, a sigh of relief. Good thing we haven’t booked our tickets and hotel yet!


    Three months into quarantine, however, “cabin fever” started to kick in. From setting foot on Russian soil, my dream was reduced to setting foot on Russia Street — a block away from our house; also where the nearest beauty salon that can dye my silver hair is.


    I’ve been obediently staying safe at home, but the travel bug just keeps on biting. So, how do I find the vaccine for it? I don’t know if there’s one, but here are some band-aid solutions:

    1. Travel the world with your plate

    I must confess: experiencing new food in new places is what draws me to travel. I have gigabytes of photos to show for it. Since I couldn’t go on a gastronomic trip, I thought why not bring the cuisine to my plate? Except for the beluga caviar, I thought of teaching myself to cook Russian dishes. Pelmeni, the national dish of Russia, looked simple enough. These pastry dumplings filled with minced meat are like our pork siomai anyway, except they’re slathered in butter and topped with sour cream. Since the liquor ban had already been lifted in our city, I could even pair it with some vodka!

    2. Bring the scene to your screen

    Another confession: I’m a film addict and a couch potato. I love watching foreign films with subtitles because I love hearing how the words sound. I also learn a lot about foreign culture that guide books don’t capture. Even before the lockdown, I was already binge watching a Russian drama on Netflix to get into the mindset and the culture when we travel to Moscow. My favorite is Kurt Seyit & Sura, a period drama ala-Romeo and Juliet about a dashing Turkish lieutenant and the daughter of Russian nobility. Like many, I’m also hooked to K-drama, but a pretty late bloomer at that.

    3. Get your tongue twisted

    Time to give Google Translate a rest by learning a new language. Set aside 20 minutes a day so by the time you can travel, you can already confidently hail a cab or bargain for souvenirs in the native tongue of your destination

    4. Go museum hopping with a click

    If you’re the type of traveler who can’t go home without indulging your senses in arts, culture, and history of museums, no need to sulk when you’re stuck at home. Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours and online exhibits. The collection includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and hundreds of places you can visit without getting up from your couch.

    5. Get creative

    The whole concept of “staycation” is to do something different while at home, as if it’s like you have gone somewhere else. If you have the luxury of a backyard garden or a wide space outside your house, you can pitch a tent, cook using your camping utensils, and gaze at the moonlit sky and endless banks of stars at night. If you’re stuck in a small condo unit like me, you can turn your room into a spa, download relaxing and soothing music on Spotify, get your essential oils wafting in the air, and rest your mind. There’s no excuse not to have a “me” time now that you’re at home and the traffic snarls, the toxicity of the commute, and the stress of the daily grind out of your system.

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