Only a few things can make you feel better during lockdown. Talk to a loved one, watch a movie, listen to music, read a book, take a drive in New York or Madrid or Melbourne, while you listen to local radio stations. Wait, what?
By Nikos Papanikolaou
“Bro, do you know what lockdown means? Also, do you know that we don’t own a car and that we’re not in Melbourne, or New York, or Madrid?” you may ask. Luckily for me – and you – I’m still sane, meaning that I do know all the above.
But this little thing called the internet has not only boring personality quizzes and gazillions of recipes to make bread out of recycled newspapers, but also some hidden treasures like Drive & Listen.
Drive & Listen is a website where you can choose a city from its list, and you automatically transfer to a virtual car which drives around the city you chose, while you can choose one of the local radio stations to listen to. You can also activate street sounds, so you’ll get the full experience of the city – such as honks, drills, etc.
In a time where we can’t go any further than our neighbourhoods, the creator of Drive & Listen is giving us a chance to truly experience some of the biggest – and fanciest – cities of the world. If you really like the ride, you can share it on Twitter, or you can buy him a coffee (literally). The radio stations change, and it’s quite magical to hear music from Havana, Hawaii, Berlin, New York, or even Wuhan (no pun intended, just fun).
The website was developed by student Erkam Şeker. According to Lonely Planet, Şeker originally thought of the app as a reaction to feeling homesick, but it also serves as a way for antsy travellers to enjoy the feeling of going abroad or just to provide a new way to explore a city you’ve never been to. Şeker uses YouTube and dashcam footage to create the drives, while he’s adding new cities every day in the existing 38 available cities from the list.
“I was missing riding around my city, even the traffic and the fuss of daily life, so I found myself watching videos of Istanbul,” Şeker told Lonely Planet. “It was so fun to see my city but I thought why not listen to some radio in the background to get the whole riding in cars experience? I realised that other people around the world must be missing that same experience of being on the road.”
The magic in this website is that the cars are not necessarily driving on the most famous or the most commercial streets, and that gives a sense of authenticity. Obviously, London is not only Oxford Street, and Paris is not only the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, so riding on less popular streets is where the magic is.
You become a part of New York’s daily life, while you’re home, wearing pyjamas, having a cuppa. So, instead of binge-watching Netflix, you can see some fantastic views, listen to different music, and transfer yourself there. Under the sunny weather of Hawaii, or the magic of Paris, or the craziness of London. Whatever your travel mood is, just hit a city from the list and get there!