Learn new skills and explore the world with Airbnb’s virtual experiences

Photo by Peter Ksinan via 123RF.
Photo by Peter Ksinan via 123RF.

Learn new skills and explore the world with Airbnb’s virtual experiences

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Traveler at heart? We understand just how much you’re missing exploring new cities and countries because, trust us, we’re sharing your pain! Fortunately, in this day and age of internet connectivity, there are things we can do to mitigate this temporary clipping of our wings. Tour guides and creative types around the world are embracing technology to share the beauty of their home towns as well as a number of skills, from playing a musical instrument to producing a gourmet meal. Airbnb is just one platform through which tourists, travelers and other curious types can hook up with virtual hosts from around the world until such time as they’re once again able to meet up in person.

Visitors to the Airbnb website have long had the possibility to browse places to stay in private homes or tours led by local guides, but it’s the site’s newest category of “online experiences” we’ll be taking a look at today. In keeping with our focus on Europe, we’ll be examining the possibilities offered by hosts based there; however, as the platform allows you to connect with people around the world, experiences rooted anywhere from Australia to the Amazon could just as easily be yours. An internet connection and Zoom installed on your phone or computer is generally all you’ll need to tap into countless unique experiences destined to take you away, at least in spirit. Another bonus? Friends and family back home in the states can simultaneously tap into the very same experience, giving all involved a way to feel together through these trying times of having to remain physically apart.

Here’s a look at three Airbnb hosts and their current virtual offerings:

Irish Village, History, Culture & Craic

Host Mark of Dublin, Ireland hosts an hour-long experience connecting armchair travelers with the beauty of Ireland, the warmth of its people and all the craic you’d expect to encounter in an Irish pub. High definition, 360° videos transport viewers through time and space, from rugged coastlines to deep forests in which you could believe the fairies reside. Alongside his faithful dog Missy, Mark shares stories, cracks jokes, poses questions and conveys the spirit and optimism of the Irish, who know that luck is always just around the corner. In addition to hosting individuals dialing in for the standard experience at a cost of 12 euros, Mark can also host special events from private birthday parties to corporate morale or team-building activities.

Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague

Hosts Lucie and David from Prague in the Czech Republic invite you to step back into time and virtually experience the empty streets of Prague much as they might have looked during the Black Death and other outbreaks of centuries past. Professionally shot video footage allows guests to follow in the footsteps of one Alexander Schamsky, a little known Czech doctor who helped battle the plague back in 1713. The video is augmented by a “live” journey led by one of five hosts, who’ll lead you over such landmarks as the Charles Bridge, through the Old Town Square or into the Jewish Quarter. The tour finishes with stops at the old St. Francis hospital and St. Agnes convent. A single booking at a cost of 16 euros is good for all residents of a single household tuned into the same device. The hosts can make special arrangements upon request.

Cook Spanish Paella with a Top Chef

From her base in Barcelona, Spain, host Helina guides participants through a 1.5 hour experience in creating a delicious paella. Up to ten guests at a time can follow Helina’s guidance in making the quintessential Spanish rice dish in accordance with an old family recipe. All the ingredients needed to make a seafood, meat, mixed or vegetarian paella are posted online, thus ensuring you won’t be missing a thing when it comes time to cook. Banter about Barcelona and Spanish food and culture in general rounds out the experience, as would the glass of wine or other beverage of choice participants are encouraged to enjoy as they cook. As do all previously mentioned hosts, Helina too offers sessions specifically tailored to workplaces and/or private groups. The experience costs 17 euros per person.

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