Illustration by Susanne Gold, Text by Aenne Barnard
I’ve been to Rome before
Well, I mean really, with hours of travelling, dust on your shoes and staying in a hotel. A stupid idea, because in Rome there are only dead old stones. The Colosseum, a place for big events and fun for the people, just a picture of decay from crumbling granite, broken columns and crooked stairs. But I love travelling – with Virtu-Trav, quickly authentic and more real than real. I have already sailed around Cap Horn, climbed Kilimanjaro and observed penguins in Antarctica.
Today we are going to Rome, with Virtu-Trav
The Virtu Trav viewer comes on the eyes, really a fancy piece if you consider how stupid VR glasses from the last century still looked. The acoustic-surround-as-around component puts me in the mood for the year 80 A.D. with soft sounds. Smooth the real-haptics-gloves on your fingers and there I am: This is Rome, the real Rome!
I sit in the Colosseum, and feel the sun-warmed stones of the seats
The huge theater is undamaged and full of people. Romans in Sunday toga sit around me, laughing, talking, eating and looking forward to a fight that is about to begin. Not far to his left stands the Emperor. The red stripe of his ruler’s toga shines conspicuously, and the label of a well-known clothing company is also clearly visible. Okay, sometimes commercials are stupid on virtu-trav. I didn’t believe that penguins eat ice cream and fish fingers either, but somehow everything has to be paid for, so a few inaccuracies don’t matter, do they?
Now two gladiators enter the dusty arena
They hold themselves upright, but in their eyes there is fear, roaring fear. They turn to the emperor and shout: “Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant”. “Huh?” I ask, baffled. “Greetings Emperor, those who are about to die greet you” appears before my eyes. Virtu Trav is really great.
It gets quiet, everyone stares at a small gate, behind which it rumbles
The gladiators look down, the emperor gives a sign, a trumpet fanfare sounds and the gate opens. An obviously irritated billy goat falls out.
A billy goat? Am I on a trip to Rome for children?
Enervated, I take off the Virtu Trav viewer. My foot! I get up and go to the balcony. Outside a light wind blows a petal into my hand.
Maybe it’s spring, I’m not sure. Thoughtfully I look at the sheet. It is pink and about as big as my smallest fingernail, it has a brown spot on the side. “Real and not perfect,” I mumble and drop it disgusted.