After the weekend on Gotland, I’ve spent some time sifting through my vast collection of photos from just shy of 30 years of visiting the island and neighboring Fårö. I remember being awestruck by how beautiful the landscape was and totally seduced by Visby those first few days back in 1990.
I had moved to Visby after being accepted to Gotland’s Konstskola (art school) and had somehow managed to rent a small house just inside the north gate of the town’s medieval ring wall. The house wasn’t fancy by any means, but it did have a kitchen, bathroom, a small living room and another room where I set up my easel, paints and brushes. It was an idyllic time where my art and photography developed and thrived.
It’s been a little more than a year since I was on Gotland – and judging from today’s brisk cold wind, it feels almost like it’s February – which was when the last visit took place. It’s no secret that I’ve had a long love affair with this island. I love shooting here and writing travel stories about why a visit should be on everyone’s bucket lists.
We arrived late afternoon and had just enough time to check in at the hotel and freshen up before it was time to head over to Munkkällaren, or, in localese, “Munken” where a huge celebration of my old buddy Timmy Skinner’s 50th birthday was about to commence. Met a lot of ancient friends at the party, most I’d not seen in many, many years. I probably missed a few cause I couldn’t recognize them or them me. The one constant here is the thousand year old ring wall which I got a few good shots of today – despite the cold weather.
Looks as if most of Easter 2019 will be celebrated in Malmö – or, at least in the general vicinity. We’ve spent several Easters in Vejbystrand over the years with plenty of egg hunting, egg throwing and egg eating to last me a while. I was in a new grocery store yesterday and they had a long row of knee deep containers full of various kinds of colorful Easter candy. Like the raspberry chews above.
While I was walking down the aisle, looking at all the sugarcoated candy got me thinking that there has had to have been at least a few scientists, perhaps some with PhDs in chemistry involved in deciding how sweet, sour, salty or bitter a particular candy was going to be. Not to mention discerning the exact color, texture and how chewy a gummy bear or wriggly snake would turn out.
I mean, there’s has to be several laboratories around the world where serious, well-educated men and women in white coats spend most of their workday mixing chemicals to make candy products that the marketing departments and product managers for successful candy companies like
#Haribo, #Malaco and #Fazer have decided will sell well in grocery stores like the one I visited yesterday.
About a year ago, Charlotte and I visited The Norrmans Bed & Breakfast about an hour south of Copenhagen. Lars and Anna took great care of us (as they did with their other guests) and though we only stayed a night, we we’re overwhelmed by how different the atmosphere was from just about any other overnight place we’d ever been to in Scandinavia.
It was as if the two of us had discovered a whole new category of accommodations. I mean, after decades of staying at large and small hotels all around the world – with varying levels of service, comfort and noteworthy dining encounters, what the Norrmans were offering was something totally different. I guess I’d characterize it as an intensely personal guest house experience set in a beautiful Danish homestead milieu.
From what I’ve gathered from their Instagram posts, the couple haven’t exactly been resting on their laurels. On contraire, The Normmans seem busy as can be with new ventures – including a shop full of quirky, cool stuff in one of the farm’s barns. Not sure if we’ll have time for a visit this year, but you never know! Yup, that’s me standing in the dirt on the parkiing lot.
Rummaging through one of my archives today, I stumbled across several photos of Okondja, the cute and wild Affenpinscher I shot in my old studio a few years back. As friendly as she was, I can’t see myself ever owning a dog that small. They’re just too twitchy and skittish. But cute, very cute. Sadly, I’ve heard that Okondja sometime after moving to South Africa passed away. More of my dog photos from around the world can be viewed here.
From yesterday’s morning shoot at Kockum Fritid with model and former competitive swimmer, Gustav Åberg Lejdström. The Butterfly stroke, or, the “Fly” as it’s called among competitive swimmers, is something I never even attempted as a young member of the West Hollywood Park Swim Team in the late 1970s or during my short time at S02 in Göteborg in the early 1980s.
Back in the day, I swam the Crawl/Freestyle and won a few swim meets as a sprinter in the 100 yard distance. I think the Butterfly stroke is really interesting as it mimics both a dolphin’s tail movement and the wing flap of a butterfly. During peak speed, the Butterfly stroke is apparently the fastest of all styles. Which I saw some proof of yesterday while trying to capture the above shot. Took me a good 100 tries before I got it right.
The “bridge” as locals usually call it, is a symbol of traveling for me. But not so much on the way home as when thinking ahead about a forthcoming trip. Which I do a lot of. Might have started off a little slow, but I’m reasonably sure 2019 will turn out to be one of the most intense travel years so far.
I can’t back this up factually, but I’m hoping my carbon footprint will be somewhat offset by the fact that I haven’t eaten meat or poultry for four years and that we don’t own a car or use one regularly. And though the rest of the family still shops clothes regularly, I take great pleasure in not having replenished my wardrobe much for the last couple of years.
I shot this from a sailboat a few summers back during one of few really nice evenings. Many more bridge photos can be enjoyed here.
This is Felicia Nilsson, a talented figure skater from Malmö that I’ve had the privilege of working with on a few occasions while working on an advertising assignment for our local sports center, Kockum Fritid.
I shot this with the Fuji Fujinon 56mm f1,2 at ISO400 and though not visible in the monochrome version above, shooting in an ice skating rink is really asking for as much color trouble as possible. Not only are there several competing color temperatures involved, the innumeral amount of crossing vertical and horizontal lines and shapes make composing a shot of a fast moving subject extremely difficult. Despite or maybe thanks to all the disstractions, I still found shooting Felecia and colleague Nicole both fun and creatively challenging.
For many years I lived a tangled life. Then came the AirPods and I felt as if a huge weight was lifted from my…ears. I used my pair of white wireless earbuds extensively. Probably as much as 3-4 hours a day – including when I fell a sleep listening to a podcast.
Finally, after about two years of daily use and waking up with one or both often lodged somewhere in the skin folds of my back or stomach after a night of sleep, the microphone and then the batteries started to give up. I could still use them, but the charge wouldn’t hold for more than an hour or so.
I ordered a pair of AirPods 2.0 just as soon as they were announced. I actually placed my order while lying on a bed overlooking the Indian Ocean in Goa without a nanosecond of hesitation. That’s how good I think this Apple product is and how dependent I am to using them to listen and talk via the iPhone. Love this little film Apple produced for the Airpods. And The New York Times has a good albeit somewhat crticial take on the new Airpod version.
It’s cold but beautiful today in Malmö. I’m going through my images from Goa and the contrasts between here and there make the photos seem as if they were all part of a vivid dream or an elaborately detailed hallucination. The change of temperature, humidity and above all, shift from a cacophony of scents and smells to a bouquet of… nothing is a little bewildering.
Met this sweet woman at her spice shop along the north end of Agonda’s main village road. After about a week of enjoying Indian and Nepalese food, I was getting used to the mix of essential spices found in the local Masala dishes, including tumeric, cumin, and the indispesible and irreplaceable coriander.
I’m writing this from a really busy lounge at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. l managed to grab what the Raboff family calls the “poker seat” when I arrived a couple of hours ago. In this case, It’s a reasonably comfortable armchair placed in the far back corner of this dimly lit lounge. From here, no one can walk behind me or intentionally or accidentally peer into my computer screen (hence the poker reference).
Most everybody in here is either busy talking on their phones, chatting with colleagues, working on spreadsheets or clicking their way through presentations on small, plastic laptops. Not all, but most are clad in pretty strict business attire and look as if they spend a great deal of time in lounges and shuttling from airport to airport and meeting to meeting.
Coming from an eight day travel assignment about a nearly obscure village in southern India, I could not feel further removed from the corporate world then right now.
I’m going to miss India. It has once again been a real pleasure thawing out and meeting so many interesting and friendly people. I love the slow-paced beach-life in Agonda. After two visits in as many years, I totally get the attraction and feel fairly confident I’ll be back.
The food shot above is from my very last dinner at Simrose, one of the best beach hotels I’ve ever stayed at – full stop. Aside from the splendid location, the great beachfront room I rented during my stay, I also thoroughly appreciated how at home the staff made me feel throughout my stay.
Have I mentioned how good the food is at Simrose? Despite having dozens of other eating options along the beach, I still ate every single meal at the hotel. Now, to be fair, I don’t honestly think that the difference in taste, price or presentation would have been huge had I varied my choice of dining location. I just got really lazy and couldn’t be bothered to venture out. This and the fact that it was smoother adding all my food and drink to the room bill.The Simrose is not the cheapest of hotels in Agonda. Not by a long stretch. Yet when I paid for eight days of breakfasts, lunches and dinners (including beverages), the cost was about what I’m used to paying when Charlotte, Elle and I go out to for a simple dinner in Malmö, Sweden – or, roughly about SEK 1000. At an equivalent beach hotel in Thailand, I’m fairly sure the price would have been at least twice that. For reasons unbeknownst to me, most of the kitchen and restaurant staff are from Nepal. So, for my very last meal at Simrose, I specifically asked for a typical dish from Nepal. Can’t remember the name, though. But boy, was it tasty – and all vegetarian, too!
#simrose #food #nepal #nepales #agpmda beach #india
When I saw this steamroller crushing gravel that had been carried and then emptied from the workers baskets earlier today, I was transfixed. How far from my existens was this? Lightyears.
This is my friendly cleaning lady. I’ve kept a fairly neat ship, so I only need her help every other day. I’ve heard her hum what is probably a well-known Indian tune when she’s sweet my patio.
The headline “Meine Reinemachefrau” is German for My Cleaning Lady and is a reference to the brilliant, deadpan comedy, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” starring Steve Martin. I don’t know why I thought of that right now. Maybe because so many German guests have checked into the hotel over the last couple of days.
I deactivated my Facebook account this morning and I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Once again I found myself caught in a crossfire between having unreasonably high expectations of appreciation from what I often spent a lot of time creating and posting – and a really weird sense of resentfulness when people posting what I thought was meaninglessness were receiving a ridiculous amount of attention
– Life is not online. It’s happening every second you look beyond the screen. The only likes and comments that really count, are those you give and receive from people you interact with in real-time.
I’ve deactivated my account before and after a five year hiatus, I decided to give it a shot and see if the algorithm had changed for the better – or, if I had changed my attitude. Sadly, the answer is neither. It’s still an eco-system where everyone – whether they are aware of it or not – strive to achieve popularity and celebrity status among their friends and followers. It’s a dark place where the currency is valued in the number of Likes, Comments and Shares you collect. It’s an unhealthy place to spend even a few minutes a day. Let alone hours.
Traveling on your own is nothing short of liberating as it provides a level of freedom group trips inherently don’t. Not that I can’t appreciate when the family and I are on an exciting escapade, I totally do. But ever since my very first backpacking adventure across western and southern Europe, way back in 1983, I’ve just loved heading out in the world on my lonesome.
A solo trip doesn’t necessarily have to be as far as India (where these words are being typed), though a bit of distance from home usually makes for more interesting experiences.
In addition to having plenty of time to reflect on life and relish in the temporary abandonment of daily chores, obligations and routines, being on your own means inviting a wealth of opportunities to see how other humans live their lives and to cross paths and maybe even interact with locals – as well as meet other travelers.
I met this gentle buffalo herder the other day on a pasture above the village of Agonda in southern Goa. It was laundry day for me and I was wearing just about the only clean clothes I had left; a white pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. It would be a gross understatement to say I stood out in the lush green environment. I made several careful attempts to get close to the heard, but each time I got within a few feet, they skedaddled.
Sedatja, my trusted rickshaw driver for two years straight now, translated the herders explanation for why the buffalo kept running away from me;
“They are very, very frightened of white color”.
Later that day, walking on my own along a twisty road that eventually leads to the main beach road and still wearing my “whites”, I came across three full-grown male buffalos with really impressive horns. They were quietly munching away in an overgrown garden at the front end of an abandoned house.
Once one of them got a glimpse of me in my shining armor, the other two looked up and within a second or two, all three were staring in disbelief, as if they’d seen the Grim Reaper and envision that I was coming to take them to buffalo purgatory.
As soon as the small herd found their footing (hoofing?), the mighty beasts jolted and then galloped towards the thicket towards the backend of the garden.
Interestingly, I didn’t get similar reactions from any of the many cows I met along the road that day. Maybe cows aren’t as superstitious. After all, they are sacred.
I’ll be heading out again today, wearing green shorts and a pink tee. We’ll see how that plays out among the Agonda buffalo population.
One of the perks of traveling is meeting people from all walks of life. Even when it’s only a ephemeral encounter – as with the sweet couple above that I met at a bar on the main village road here in Agonda, it adds great value to life and a visual memory to the trip. Shot with the Fujifilm XT-3 and a Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2.
From yesterday’s adventure in the beautiful rural hills above Agonda in south Goa, India. I used a suction cup on the windshield of the rickshaw to connect a Gopro Hero 7 Black to see if the hypersmoth stabilization was as good as proclaimed. And it was. I’m fairly sure that it films in 4k and then uses the higher resolution to stabilize the footage in realtime and then downsample and render it to a still impressive 2.7k.
Once I’ve discovered or located something that “fits the glove” snuggly, I’m inclined to stick with it. At least for a while or until something more appealing shows up. Such is the case with the English breakfast they serve here and that I make a very tasty open-face sandwich of. Firstly, I butter the toast, then cover each slice generously with baked beans and finally top this culinary concoction off with the fried eggs. Back when I ate meat, I might have also added a fistful of bacon to the recipe. But the thought almost disgusts me now. I don’t touch the ketchup, but I’ll eat the hashbrown potato cake thingy between the two sandwiches.
If you didn’t check out the video in the previous post (below) here’s what I looked like when the staff and fellow guests had smeared color all over me during the Holi Spring Festival.
I’ve since handed in my t-shirt and shorts to the laundry lady, visited a local barber and had an Ayurvedic massage.
From just after surfing late yesterday afternoon, the Holi celebration before that and then a random yoga poser I saw while walking along the beach afterwards.