Destination: Laptop

It’s no surprise that travel addicts are frustrated with 2020. It also shouldn’t be a surprise that those who rely upon us travel addicts are also hurting.

Airlines, hotels, convention centers, restaurants, and anyone globally who has a stake in the travel industry has been impacted by people not traveling. Some have switched to other industries in the short term; others have adapted to offer services online.

Recently we traveled to Napoli and The Philippines for the weekend, enjoying two separate evenings as both a group and a private experience. We discovered these events on Airbnb.  Their Online Experiences button allows hosts to continue doing what they love.

Wine in Naples

Our “trip” to Napoli was hosted by Italian archeologist Ricardo. He normally gives tours of Naples and nearby Pompeii, but now offers a very unique experience online. Pairing his appreciation for history and wine, he starts with a 30 minute lesson of the region’s history in wine from Caesar’s time through the Renaissance. We learned through items unearthed at Pompeii how wine was made, how it was priced, and what elements were used to flavor it. The last half of the class we created our own versions of these historic recipes. Using spices like cloves, pepper and cinnamon we mixed four versions starting with a simple Italian Pinot Grigio and Chianti. The concoctions sat overnight for our taste test the next day, then we strained them before drinking.

Three recipes were deduced from archeological findings, but the fourth recipe was actually deciphered from a Renaissance-era wedding. That was definitely our favorite, though it had lots of flavor. Normally I don’t like wine with that much activity but it was like a sangria or cocktail; more about enjoying the overall taste than deciphering notes.

The flavored wines were definitely interesting and unique. While not something we would do on a regular basis, we decided they would be fun to recreate for a special occasion or a wine tasting evening with friends (once that’s allowed again).

Many Airbnb experiences have room for multiple people. We created wine with four other couples from California, New Jersey and Atlanta. Muting our microphone was rather important, especially as we were scrambling for items we hadn’t prepared ahead of time. It’s helpful to have everything at hand, and be prepared to need more than is listed.¬†Some things (like a rubber band and paper napkin) weren’t on the shopping list but were needed to cover the jar of wine and ingredients. We planned to use mason jars and a metal lid but were told that glass can shatter if the lid isn’t porous.

Cooking in The Philippines

The next night we traveled to The Philippines where married chefs Sebastian and Michelle taught us to prepare Lumpia and Adobo from their kitchen. We’ve watched plenty of episodes of House Hunters International, and have seen the same type of outdoor kitchens our new friends were using. It wasn’t exactly as good as being there but certainly the next best thing. We could hear birds chirping, dogs barking, and children playing with a serene background of green foliage. They described the beach only five minutes away. For 90 minutes it was as close to an escape as we could expect.

Of course the food was a nice bonus. The Adobo required marinating overnight, so we watched Sebastian finish the dish and took notes to ensure we would be able to replicate his steps.

Then we prepared spring rolls, made much easier by watching the preparation in real time. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known we purchased the wrong type of spring roll wrapper. Sebastian quickly gave us instructions for using the rice variety and saved our meal.

In retrospect we probably should have eaten before each experience. It was awkward eating in front of strangers for the wine lesson, and we were kept so busy cooking in The Philippines we hardly had time for snacking.

While it was fine being part of a group for the wine experience, having the private lesson was more helpful while cooking a larger meal. We received instruction to adapt the recipe to our ingredients and were able to easily clarify certain steps. Plus we felt that we bonded more with Sebastian and Michelle as a result.

They sent a picture of their nearby beach soon after our session. It was bedtime for us but just the start of day for them. The picture certainly reignited my desire to travel again. In the meantime I’ll just enjoy leftover Lumpia with a glass of spiced wine and dream of future voyages.

An amazing beach in The Philippines

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