Conversation with Nancy Bachmann
Nancy Bachmann loves traveling. In fact – rather enviably – she’s made a career out of it. Among the many strings to her bow, she’s a partner in Smart Travelling, a multimedia project that creates “hand-picked” travel guides in English and German. She has also published two coffee-table books, 99 perfect Restaurants and 66 perfect Hotels. A native of Germany, she recently moved to Los Angeles where she came to meet us and ask a few questions. Naturally, we had to reciprocate.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN TRAVEL?
Nancy Bachmann: “I was born in a village of 200 people in East Germany and moved to Berlin when I was 18, but I never felt at home there. I’m very curious and like to discover new cultures, but since I was behind a wall, I was only able to go in one direction. The only possibilities at the time were Hungary and Czechoslovakia. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, I had to compensate for the time when I couldn’t travel.”
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND SMART TRAVELLING?
NB: “Smart Travelling is like getting tips from a good friend, sharing the essence of what we have discovered so people can have a good experience when they travel and they don’t have to get lost in research. We always look for places that have depth or soul.”
YOU’VE TRAVELED ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHERE DO YOU LOVE TO GO BACK TO?
NB: “I don’t have one place. I love places for different reasons and experiences. I adore magical places with spirit. I’ve just come back from Bali, which was really touching because I really connected with the culture there. The spirit of the people is so deeply rooted, and they are so warm and open-hearted. Everything is so green and luscious – I felt so connected to the source and nature. In Morocco, I love the riad life and driving out to the Atlas mountains. I also love the Austrian mountains, and Salzburg feels like it’s from a different century – it almost feels like going into a past life.”
WHAT DESTINATION HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST?
NB: “California. I’d seen it in the movies but hadn’t experienced it. Driving to Joshua Tree for the first time or waking up in Big Sur – I felt reconnected to my soul again. I felt something I’d never felt before.”
SO, IF YOU WERE INTRODUCING SOMEONE TO LOS ANGELES, WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE THEM?
NB: “I would take them to a kundalini yoga class at the Ra Ma Institute in Venice because it’s such a deep experience. I would probably take them to the restaurant Gjusta for lunch then maybe go on a hike in Topanga Canyon, which I recently discovered. I love the community there, and it’s a great location, between Venice and Malibu, but it’s so far up, somewhere else. There’s something about the canyon spirit – the warm, relaxing, creative vibe. There’s so much space – you can live in nature but be closely connected to the city.”
AT BOUTIQUEHOMES, WE BELIEVE IN SIMPLE LUXURY. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
NB: “It’s about the moments. Having the time to connect deeply with someone – this is for me a luxury. I love good design and taste. I love beautiful materials, but I love when they’re put together in a very conscious way. For me, luxury is always connected to something deeper – that has a soul.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY NEW TRENDS IN TRAVEL RECENTLY?
NB: “I feel like having an experience when you travel is becoming really important. If you stay at a beautiful vacation home, you are really looking for connecting with where you are, perhaps by making something you have no time to do when you are at home, coming home with a different experience. I’ve done a lot of yoga retreats, and I loved olive oil harvesting in Puglia. You spend a day or two on the trees, getting the olives, then you bring them to the farmer to press, and you come home with your beautiful grass-green olive oil. You’re part of the whole process. It’s not only about staying somewhere, eating somewhere, it’s about the time you have there. It’s also about getting back to our roots.”
YOU TALK ABOUT CONSCIOUS TRAVELING – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU
NB: “It’s a new way of traveling based more on experiences, well-being and deep connections. Traveling consciously means being aware, going with the flow, tuning into the energies of places and cultures, and deeply connecting with people. My work is a curated compilation of all these elements. It’s a means of seeking beauty, nourishment and connection, and celebrating life in a way that is very empowering.”
Photograph by Eva Napp