Virtual World Tour: part 3
You may have picked up from previous posts that I began a virtual World Tour when most countries were putting their citizens under ‘house arrest’, and now that it is autumn (my favourite season for boxing up the bike and taking it to some far-flung corner of the planet), the migratory instinct in me begins to stir once again.
This time last year I was crossing 8 nations on my tour of the Baltic and Eastern Europe when, such was my disappointment at not being able to return home by train from Vienna because of lack of bike space, the seeds of owning a folding bike were sown. My attempt to take my new Tern Verge folder on a three week sortie along the French and Spanish Mediterranean was cut short by the pandemic in February so, rather than cry into my bedtime cocoa, I decided to continue riding throughout the period of confinement, but always within a 30km of my home. ‘Boring’ you might say, but you’d be surprised how many hundreds of kilometres of roads that comprises, and I’ve learned never to fall into the trap of thinking I know my own patch like the proverbial back of my hand, because I didn’t then, and I don’t now. It has been a veritable journey of discovery the whole way.
To add to the intrigue, I’ve been converting my daily rides into a virtual tour of the world, and doing what I would normally do on a long ride, which is to stop in places of interest and discover things by happenstance. Like an indoor spinning machine, which doesn’t exactly replicate a ride in the great outdoors, ‘virtual happenstance’ via the internet cannot replicate an authentic ride across a country or continent, but they are both pretty good substitutes in time of need. So my virtual World Tour, which began in Paris, has taken me through places like Cologne, Nuremberg, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul, and Tehran, and in each place I have used the internet to learn of the history, geography, cuisine and outstanding monuments of each city. Every country has its heroes, so discovering the ‘movers and shakers’ in each country has added another dimension.
After more than 7,000km, I now find myself in Karachi, Pakistan, a huge cosmopolitan city which, despite being the largest city in Pakistan and the seventh largest in the world, ceded its position as capital of the country to the newly-built Islamabad back in 1957, some ten years after partition. The Partition, in fact (when Pakistan was created as an independent nation) saw the biggest migration of people the world had ever seen, when Hindus made their way to India and Muslims to the new Pakistan. Up to that point, Karachi had had a majority of Sindh speakers, but after partition, when the city had tripled in size with a huge influx of Indian Muslims, the demographic changed completely, promoting Urdu as the most spoken language, and ultimately as its official language.
Whatever virtual world you have created to keep yourself doing the things you want to do, I wish you bon voyage!
Please do share thoughts on how you have survived these months of constraint in the Comments below.