I watched the movie “The Bling Ring” by Sofia Coppola the other day. The film is based on actual the facts about a group of teenagers in Hollywood who were stocking their own wardrobes and wallets with clothes, handbags and bling stolen from homes of famous Hollywood stars; over fifty homes were reportedly targeted for potential burglary. Paris Hilton’s house was broken into several times and the movie was partially shot at her house. A cool film, showing the shallowness of the teenagers in combination with the excessive style of living of the rich and famous. To see Paris Hilton’s house from the inside was interesting in a weird kinda way; what would she think of my apartment? Would she go “OMG! This is like so small! And where’s all the gold? And the crystals?

And where’s Anna-Clara’s walk-in shoe closet?!” (I don’t have enough shoes for a closet. And, needless to say, not enough room for any kind of walk-in closet either.) If Paris’ house looks like this – where does she go on vacation? What kind of glitzy hotels does she like? Do all her favorite hotels have infinity pools and cute little dressed up dogs in the foyer?

Travel styles can be so very different. Hostels, five-star resorts, farm stays, camping, glamping, airbnb, couch surfing, luxury private jets, hitchhiking, biking, interrail. There are numerous ways of experiencing a country, a culture and its people.

Will Paris miss out if she loads up her private, probably jewel encrusted jet with LV bags, stays at a glitzy hotel and parties with the in-crowd (and never with the out-crowd)? Does a backpacker miss out, spending only a minimal amount of money and desperately trying to stay clear of the tourist path?

The experience will be totally different, but is one lesser than the other? Is there a way to see a country the wrong way – if there is then what’s the right way? How do you experience the “real Italy”? Partying on Capri? A farm stay in Umbria? There’s no answer to this question – every country is real in a thousand ways, authenticity is multifaceted. Traveling makes it possible for us to experience different aspects of culture rather than just one single national culture: because there is none. Everything and everyone is authentic because if not, it’s not part of reality.

This is what makes traveling great. And this is why you’ll want to go back to a place again and again. Because your not done; you keep on experiencing and discovering the world. To travel is to live and try a different kind of life – be it on a yacht together with Paris feasting on low-carb oysters or on the night train to Jaipur eating curry out of a tinny tiffin box.      image

Hugs and bling, Anna-Clara