We are off to Cadaques in Spain made famous by Salvador Dali. We’re going to the real one. Not the official recreation that is being built in China for holidaymakers looking for a 'taste’ of Europe and not the unofficial real estate development, Cadaques Caribe, a reconstruction in the Dominican Republic.
“How surreal” I thought when I read about all those fake Cadaqueses in the Guardian newspaper but how fitting. As one of the most forged artists in the world, aided by the habit of signing and selling off blank sheets of paper, Dali would most likely have enjoyed the whole thing. But it does raise an interesting question about authentic versus fake experiences, and whether we should or can embrace 'the real deal'.
On one end of the spectrum is Las Vegas. According to the website Without Baggage, it’s the fakest place on earth with a fake Rome, Venice, Paris and even a fake Treasure Island – a fake of a fake. OK, Las Vegas is an obvious and in some ways funny if not a bit ridiculous example but what about Colonial Williamsburg. I LOVE Williamsburg and it too is a complete reconstruction, perhaps a worthier reconstruction, but a fake just the same.
So what makes a travel experience authentic? A trickier question than it first appears. Mark Jones a travel writer and frequent contributor on the BA Highlife website answers it this way:
“My definition is this: authentic places are those which are comfortable in their own skin. An authentic travel experience is when you get under the skin of that place. An authentic tourist is someone who is changed by a place and doesn’t seek to change it. Let’s celebrate them.”
A pretty good definition. You can read the entire article here and check out BA Highlife’s list of the 50 most authentic places on earth here.
The No Crowds definition, which borrows heavily from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart regarding obscenity, is this:
Authentic? I know it when I see it, and the recreation of Cadaques on the coast of main land China is definitely not that.
So what’s your definition?