Oriente Station by Spanish architect/engineer/sculptor Santiago Calatrava

Speaking of train stations…I’m just about finished with a new book with some of my favorite images from my visits to Portugal. One of the last photos in the book is from Oriente Station (Gare do Oriente) just minutes before we boarded a southbound train to Lagos in the Algarve.

Unbeknownst to me, Oriente Station was designed by Spanish architect/engineer/sculptor Santiago Calatrava, the designer of the Turning Torso located a short distance from where this is being written.


Oscar’s Graduation Party

This is Oscar and Linnea Pieplow, the son and daughter of old friends Joakim Pieplow and his ex-wife Lotta Pieplow. This past Friday was Oscar’s High School graduation party and Charlotte and I had an amazing time celebrating Oscar together with his extensive family, many of which are among our oldest friends here in Malmö.


Madrid Estación de Atocha

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by train stations. It’s not necessarily the trains per se that intrigue me as much as the tracks leading in and away from the station. Not always, but often enough, the station building itself can be architecturally and/or ornamentally interesting.

This is Madrid’s Estación de Atocha, the Spanish capital’s main train station and one of my favorites. I shot this during a visit to Madrid. I had been invited to join a press event in Havana a few years ago and the PR firm that had arranged my itinerary, thought it would be a good idea to have me spend some time in Spain before flying across the Atlantic to Cuba. 


Copenhagen Photo Festival 2024

I’ve been invited to show (and hopefully sell) my new book at Copenhagen Photo Festival 2024 in Copenhagen’s Refshalevej. I’ll be having a short talk about “visually owning your neighborhood”, which my new book about Västra Hamnen represents. The image is from last year’s visit to the festival area near Copenhagen Contemporary International Art Center.


Sweden’s National Day

Malmö. Thursday. Afternoon. Sweden’s National Day. 

One of the biggest pitfalls of aging that I am most cautious about falling into, especially since I turned 60 last year, is thinking that everything was much better in the past.
It does ring true sometimes. But far less often than I hear myself muttering every now and then. With some perspective since I moved to Gothenburg a week before Midsummer 1978, I think Sweden has actually gotten a lot better.

When I look back on the 46 years since I began calling Sweden my new homeland, I am filled with both pride and gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to start a new life in this fantastically beautiful, elongated country. A nation that in many ways is still characterized by reasonable people, sound values, and sensible social norms.

Do I feel proud to be half-Swedish? 

No, actually just about as little proud as I feel about being half-American. I had nothing to do with where I was born. It just happened that way.
I am definitely glad that I was lucky enough that my mother was from Sweden. If I had stayed in the USA with my useless father, it would probably have ended badly for me.
I only feel pride when I have contributed or influenced something or someone in a positive direction. Otherwise, it’s just a check in the box – a kind of proxy-nationalism that I avoid.

Since I am, after all, one of the country’s many immigrants/migrants, my pride comes from what I have contributed to Swedish society as a citizen and small business owner.

After a quick estimate, we have together paid about 20 million kronor in various taxes since we started our little company 25 years ago (1999). That little contribution is something I actually feel proud of. Doing the “right” thing, so to speak. Being supportive and humble are more important Swedish qualities than being “lagom”. The American in me has always struggled with lagom. Maybe that’s why the word can’t really be translated.

Sweden 2024 is definitely not the Sweden I got to know in 1978. From a slightly critical perspective, I think we have adopted far too much from the USA. The unchecked consumption, junk food, entertainment frenzy, raw profiteering (greed is good!), the commercialization of important public services, and the hysterical corporatization of state/municipal companies have in many cases shown that the solution is not always capitalism.

On the other hand, today’s Sweden is paradoxically both a less homogenized and a much more equal country. This applies to men, women, and everyone in between. Pick your pronoun. But there is still much equality work left to do…

With the risk of falling into the trap I started with, I believe today’s national politicians lack political integrity and, with few exceptions, personality and presence that engage. Most of them are just meh… I can still easily see and hear the voices of Thorbjörn Fälldin, Ola Ullsten, Karin Söder, Lars Werner/CH Hermansson, Olof Palme, Gösta Bohman/Carl Bildt, etc. They were maybe not better… but definitely characters you recognized when they appeared on one of the two TV channels we had back then.

An interesting thing that has remained since my early days in Sweden is the Russian bear, which has never been more present or threatening. And since we recently joined NATO and I am still both an American and Swedish citizen, Putin now has double reasons to target me.

Two of my brothers lived many years in Sweden but moved back to the USA as adults. I stayed. I absolutely do not regret it. My life has been fantastic here and many times better than I could ever have imagined that difficult summer of 1978 when my mother suddenly died and I was about to start a new chapter with the help of Aunt Lillemor in Göteborg.

Over the years, I have had the privilege to see and experience much of the country of Sweden. From Bohuslän to Lappland and from Gotland to Skåne. And there will be more of Sweden this summer.

Happy National Day!


The Eiffel Tower in Paris

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I have no plans to visit during the Olympic Games but later this fall, when things go back to “nomral” in the French capital, would be a great time to revisit Paris.


Live: Eric Gadd & Friends

I’m not a huge consumer of Swedish music, but there are a few exceptions. One of them is Eric Gadd, whom I’ve seen three or four times over the course of his career. My first live experience was at a venue near Visby on the island of Gotland during the time I was attending the art college there. Last night’s concert with Eric Gadd was great and certified that he is one of the most talented singer-songwriters in Sweden.

Before last night’s gig at Malmö’s Folkets Park, the best show with Eric was an unplugged, indoor performance at the seaside resort Nösund with his wife. That dinner and the show took place on my birthday and was a present from my wife, Charlotte.

That evening’s club feeling reminded me of a tiny room concert I saw with Abe Laboriel’s band Koinonia in North Hollywood at The Baked Potato when Al Jarreau showed up and sang a few tunes.

I was also reminded of when Michael Ruff had a gig in Göteborg and Greg Phillinganes and a few other members of Michael Jackson’s band showed up (after their concert earlier that same day) and jammed for an extended second set.


Sounds of Summer

Today we’re going to spend the afternoon and evening with a few of my all-time favorite Swedish musicians. I bought the tickets back in January and at the time, June 1st seemed incomprehensibly far off and part of a vague, distant future. As someone who prefers listening to soul, jazz, and funk, today’s Sounds of Summer Festival is going to provide a lot of “ear candy” under what looks like a most beautiful Scandinavian sun.


Another Book Signing

I’m having another book signing today at ICA MAXI, our local supermarket.


Book Signing

The first of this week’s two book signings is today at the shopping mall Hansa here in Malmö between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm. I had a signing there several years ago, but I don’t remember which book it was for.


Clouds & Choices
Shot this the other evening. Feels like summer is finally here. We’ve been having clusters of amazing cloud formations these past couple of days. They remind me of similar scenes I’ve captured on islands in Seychelles, the Maldives, and most recently, Okinawa.

Creating the cover art for the aging book has been quite the process, but I think it could be finalized today or tomorrow. Can’t wait to have it published so I can free up more space for the next book.

It’s interesting that as I age, I’m either very unwavering or very ambiguous about creative decisions I routinely need to make. I was kind of hoping that the lingering hesitancy would subside with the combo of knowledge and experience that I’ve accumulated over the years (aka wisdom?). But no, some days, I almost feel like it’s increasing.

Maybe I’ve reached a point in life where the insecurity I experience is actually a “spidey sense” in disguise telling me what to prioritize and what I should skip or ignore.


Kayaking

Henry Arvidsson captured this shot while we were somewhere between two islands in Stockholm on Saturday evening. After a couple of days of extensive walking around the Swedish capital, it was wonderful to let my fatigued legs rest and use mostly arm power to propel the rickety vessel forward.


Back from Stockholm

Back again in Malmö from what turned out to be a splendid weekend in Stockholm. One of the highlights was a two-hour kayaking tour with buddy Henry around the island where the converted prison we were staying at was located.

During our three-night stay at this nicely refurbished, perfectly located prison, I pondered the history of pain and suffering that must have occurred within its cell rooms and other parts of the correctional facility. It made me consider the ethical implications of repurposing such institutions. In two hundred years, would it be acceptable to transform Auschwitz or any other concentration camp into a resort?

In its heyday, the Colosseum in Rome, aka The Flavian Amphitheatre, was an arena of severe brutality, showcasing among other spectacles, gladiatorial fights for the sheer enjoyment of Roman citizens until the early 5th century AD. Though not currently a hotel or resort, the Colosseum stands as one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing over 7 million visitors annually.

 


Stockholm

Back in a seductively beautiful early summer Stockholm. As usual, when I visit the city this time of year, I want nothing more than to move here. It’s been like this for decades. Not so much during the winter months, though. My masochism doesn’t extend that far anymore.

Yesterday’s 32,100 steps got me from the old prison Långholmen past Slussen to Fotografiska, then across to Skeppsholmen and Moderna (where I took the opportunity to vote in the EU election).

Then through Kungsan and via Söder Mälarstrand back to the prison and after a much-needed shower and change of clothes straight back to Mosebacke before a pitstop at the bar on top of the new Gondola restaurant. Finally, my buddy Henry and I had dinner at Brasserie Süd near Mariatorget. It was an all-around superb Friday in the capital.


Varvsstaden

Spent the better part of yesterday afternoon riding around the old industrial shipyard area now called Varvsstaden. It was too windy for aerial photos but I found a rooftop that sufficed nicely. My main focus was on the new red bridge across one of the harbor inlets. A version of this image will definitely make into the book about this area.


New Book: Male Aging
About eight months ago, while staying here at Levante which is one of the very best hotels I’ve ever been a guest at (seriously, it’s really that good!), I started a new project. I had turned 60 a few months before but was still struggling to come to grips with being that old and accepting how all the more or less subtle changes in my body and mind – which I’d certainly been aware of for a few years – were all part of a perfectly natural conspiracy known as “Andropause”, or male Menopause.

So, while I was at this amazing Mediterranean sports hotel again early last fall, eating well, and working out at least three hours a day, I decided to start writing about how I was experiencing the new, strange phase I was going through and in detail describe the various ways it was impacting different aspects of my life, physically, mentally, sexually and emotionally.

Eventually, the project evolved. I realized that I not only wanted to write for myself but also for other men my age who might read the book and feel some comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone in tackling this aging thing.

I’m no stranger to embarking on colossal creative journeys. That’s kinda been my MO: taking on challenges that are way above my pay grade and range of ability is what has kept my career so interesting and invigorating. The “I can do that!” mentality has been my motto for as long as I can remember. That said, this has by far been the toughest project of my career.

I’m extremely competitive with myself and get easily bored when I have too much repetitive work that doesn’t provide me with an adequate amount of “imposter syndrome” and “failure anxiety”.

Earlier today, from the very same spot where I wrote the book’s outline in September 2023, I sent the 250-page, 11-chapter manuscript to David Pahmp, my trusty Swedish book designer, Art Director, and fellow Visual Artist – someone I’ve worked with for more than a decade on at least a dozen book projects.

When the layout and cover art are finalized, hopefully sometime next week, I’m going to self-publish my new book on Amazon’s bookstore. And since a couple of iconic Swedish publishers have shown interest in the project when it’s available in Swedish, my ambition is to have it translated within the next few months.

ειρήνη (peace)

WarGames

Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic and just need a hit of something comfortingly familiar, I usually end up pulling out an old movie. One of the few perks of getting older is that over the years, I’ve forgotten enough details about films from my youth that rewatching them still offers entertainment value.

The screenshot above is from a recent rewatch – the 1983 film WarGames where actor Matthew Broderick hacks his way into the mainframe of a NORAD computer called “WOPR” from his bedroom. While full of plot holes and a typical over-the-top Hollywood finale, it’s still kind of crazy how a film from the ’80s can capture so much of today’s global tensions, armed conflicts, unprovoked aggression, you name it.


Preseason Greece

Back in Greece again to do a story about how wonderful this island is to visit during preseason – before it gets too hot and too crowded. Charlotte and I are staying at the lovely Levante, a four-star sports hotel in Afandou, Rhodes where I’ve been twice before and adore for its delicious Greek food, friendly staff, and a plethora of group and solo training options.


Mother’s Day with The Blue Angel

This seems like a fitting post for Mother’s Day. Yesterday, while doing some research for a new book project, I found one of the few films my mother, Swedish actress Solveig “Ina Anders” Andersson acted in. She only has a couple of scenes in the 1959 remake of “The Blue Angel” starring fellow Swede May Britt Wilkens, but she plays them rather well, I think.

May Britt was married to Sammy Davis Jr and according to stories my mother told me as a child, back in the day, both were frequent guests at my parent’s parties when we lived on Alfred Street in West Hollywood

For several reasons, some due to really bad choices, some beyond her control, and some genetically embedded within her, my mother was a horrible parent. But as I get older and understand how complicated life often is, I feel less and less angry about how badly she screwed mine and up my brother Tyko’s life.


Long Run with Kevin & Casey

I woke up at 5:00 am this morning, which isn’t unusual per se. If I’m heading to the gym, which opens at 06:00 am (Mon-Fri), I typically get out of bed around then. However, it’s Saturday, so the gym doesn’t open its doors until 09:00 am, so I went for a long jog instead. It was my first 10k jog of the year, so I took it slow and easy. No records were broken, but neither did I break any bones. I’m slightly sore in my sixty-year-old hips, though.

I ran to a beautiful Scandinavian sunrise along the beach, all the while listening to what might have been the simultaneously funniest and most interesting episode of Kevin Roose’s and Casey Newton’s excellent show, Hardfork, since I started listening about a year ago.

The podcast version is here and the YouTube variant is here.


Colorful China

This is from the Li River near the city of Guilin in China’s southern province of Guangxi Zhuang. Several years ago, Charlotte and I spent a couple of weeks in the region to produce a comprehensive travel guide commissioned by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet’s travel section. Interestingly, the guide is still online here.

When domestic tourists visit places in China (and elsewhere in Asia), they often dress up in costumes that reflect local culture and heritage – as well as provide themselves with nice selfie opportunities.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting China five or six times and enjoyed each visit. It might be time to return.


CAR WASH NOSTALGIA
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by old school car washes where once the car has gone through the wash and dry part of the tunnel – via an automatic conveyer belt – a crew of uniformed men took over.
The car wash closest to where I lived as a child on Alfred Street was down the steep hill from my old school Saint Victor’s on Holloway Drive.

I preferred taking the shorter route home via the Bowling Alley on Santa Monica and La Cienega, but once in a while, I’d walk by the Santa Palm Car Wash on Santa Monica Boulevard.While two guys polished the car’s headlights and cleaned its windshield and rearview mirrors, two others vacuumed the car’s floor and then used large blue rags to clean the interior windows, seats, side panels, dashboard, and steering wheel

There was always a radio playing loudly and the men working there seemed synchronized. I’m sure the physically exhausting work was made just a little bit easier to endure with some good tunes.

This short video is from a fully automated but still visually intriguing car wash we visited just a few days ago here in Malmö.


The Hopper Prompt

I wrote the following “creative brief” (prompt) to the artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT4/DALL·E the other day to see what it would come up with:

Create a photorealistic image of a 1950s-style American diner/sandwich shop with hungry guests served by staff in classic waiter/waitress uniforms. Most people are sitting at a bar eating their sandwiches with huge smiles on their faces. There’s a jukebox and several pieces of Americana on the walls. Use Edward Hopper’s classic painting “Nighthawks” as a visual reference.

Despite that I did not specify that the composition should be based on an actual scene from the 1950s, OpenAI’s LLM (Large Language Model) and generative image creator did just that. Hence the lack of ethnic diversity. As an African American friend pointed out, in those days when Jim Crow laws were still widely (and often brutally) enforced, only white people would be allowed in a diner like the one above. My buddy’s comment prompted me to look up when those segregation laws were rescinded. It was as late as 1968 when I was 5 years old. I’m more shocked by that fact than I am impressed by the AI-generated image.

The US certainly has a shameful past and I am not convinced that the country’s future is looking a whole lot brighter.



Book Signing Yesterday

This is from yesterday’s book signing. The event went well and it was nice meeting so many people who follow my work on I Love Västra Hamnen and then signing a book or two for them.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who came by yesterday and bought my new book, “Västra Hamnen, Mosaic of Memories: Moments to Remember, to Love.”. Thanks also to Kent Haglund and his great team at ICA Maxi Västra Hamnen for another fun collaboration. The book is available in the store and feel free to contact me if you would like to have it signed!

Wishing everyone a beautiful May Day!

Photo: Charlotte Raboff & Anders Hallbeck.


New Book: Västra Hamnen 2004-2024

So this new book has been on my mind for nearly a decade. My last book about the area where we live in Malmö, Västra Hamnen, was published way back in 2015. While we were in Asia last fall, and even more so once we got back, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Lightroom catalog called Västra Hamnen where over 4000 RAW images are stored.

Hope you enjoy the short video above. Want to watch the Swedish language version? Check it out here.

You can order the new book from these two online stores:

BOKUS

ADLIBRIS

AKADEMIBOKHANDELN


Dead Moose & Grandma Agnes

I don’t think much of it, but once in a while, when I have time to take a deep dive into my photo archive, I realize that I do have a fairly well-rounded body of work. Not even sure if I can call it a career, but if I did, I’d say that the best part of it has been that I’ve been able to visit and experience so many places and meet and get to know so many interesting people.

But I’ve also been privileged to encounter some truly magnificent animals. Like this majestic moose that I saw chilling somewhere in a thick forest of southeast Sweden.

My grandfather Eskil was an avid hunter and spent much of his autumns hunting in the mountains of Halleberg and Hunneberg near Vänersborg in southwestern Sweden. I remember one afternoon in the late fall of 1973 or 1974 during a prolonged visit to Sweden, when I saw the bloody carcass of an enormous moose lying on old newspapers on my grandparents’ cold, cellar floor.

The dead moose was cut in half, and my Grandmother Agnes was bent over the front end of the animal’s body, cutting and slicing it with surprising precision and strength. She was like a master butcher, and her enthusiasm was a little scary. Agnes was wearing an old fur hat, yellow gloves, grey, knee-high boots, and an old wool coat. The coat was buttoned down, but its lapels stood upright and probably provided some protection from all the blood and fluids from the cuts and tears she was accomplishing with Grandpa’s sharp hunting knife.

Now and then, the knife’s blade would sparkle in the bright light from the cellar’s naked lightbulb.

Even though I was completely captivated by my grandmother’s remarkable strength and determination, I just had to leave the basement and the smell of death that stifled the room.

I ran upstairs where I opened a window and breathed in the crisp autumn air coming in from Örtagårdsvägen, the peaceful suburban street where my grandparents lived just outside of Trollhättan.

None of my friends on the street below knew what was happening right then in Grandpa and Grandma’s basement, and even though I had made it up to the second floor, I could still clearly hear Grandma’s chopping and puffing as she worked her way through the dead moose.

That the half-corpse in the cellar was Grandpa’s share of the moose he and his hunting buddies had shot was obvious to me. But I wondered if it was my Grandpa who had fired the fatal bullet(s) that killed the moose.

I’m guessing that there’s considerably more meat on the back half of a moose, so maybe Grandpa Eskil wanted the head as a trophy and let his pals take the rest.A few days later, my Grandmother asked me to fetch a bucket of ice cream from their giant freezer in the cellar. The smell of death was almost gone by then. When I pried open the freezer’s wide lid, I saw several neatly wrapped white packages of what I assumed were meat cuts from the dead moose.

As that winter transitioned into spring, there were fewer and fewer packages in the freezer. I checked almost daily, even when ice cream wasn’t on Grandmother’s mind or menu.

I don’t remember that we ate a whole lot of meat that winter. Then again, maybe I’ve just suppressed the memories of too many moose meals. But I’ll never forget the slaughter in the celler and my grandmother Agnes unmistakable carnivorous demeanor.


Printing a new Book

If all goes as planned and promised, 500 copies of my latest book will arrive from a Latvian printing company later this week. For several previous book projects, I’ve flown to Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius to approve the first pages that come off the Heidelberg printing presses prior to the main print run. Not this time.

Though I took a semester of “printshop,” an elective at Bancroft Jr High in 1977, I have next to zero knowledge about offset printing.

About the above photo:

One afternoon, while serendipitously walking along Calle Neptuno, a busy, non-tourist street in the historic neighborhood of Havana, I came across a wonderful print shop.

Sadly, I wasn’t mindful enough to capture footage of this place, so you’ll just have to imagine the cacophonous sounds coming from all the old printing presses, street traffic, and chatter between the men and women working the shop’s antiquated machines.


Gothenburg

Back in Göteborg for a short visit, mostly helping Charlotte’s parents but also spending some time with friends. This is our third visit in almost as many months and I’m sure we’ll be back soon again. It’s a bit of a cliché, but there is definitely a uniquely tangible upbeat vibe and positive attitude in Göteborg that I don’t know exists anywhere else in Sweden.

Shot the above view from on top of my old neighborhood “Johanneberg”, a couple of years ago.


Sunset Season

Sunset season is definitely upon us and hopefully, we’ll also get to enjoy some warmer temperatures soon. In about a week, my new book covering Västra Hamnen 2004-2024 is arriving from the printer in Lithuania. Looking forward to seeing how it turned out.


Love of Italy

Monday. Evening. Random Italy.

Arrivederci, Italia. We’ve once again had a blast. Sure, I love Portugal, France, and Spain, too. But only Italy can simultaneously provide all my senses with so much intense pleasure. But like with any passionate relationship, it tends to get a little overindulgent.

I first fell in love with Italy way back in 1983 when I traveled like a hobo from north to south courtesy of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, the then famously unreliable, state-owned railway system. Even though very few Italians I interacted with in those days spoke English, communicating wasn’t that hard. Hand gestures, some stick drawings, and a lot of smiling were yesteryear’s translation apps. They worked slowly but flawlessly.

Some thirty years later I have yet to visit a country that offers as much to life’s great delights as Italy. Food, wine, art, music, design, architecture, fashion, geography, history – Italy really has it all. Yet this wonderful country of Medici, Caravaggio, Galilei, Bocelli, Armani, Fellini, and Ferrari, not to mention Modigliani, DaVinci, or Rocco Siffredi, the country’s notorious erotic star stud, is still ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the Eurozone. A haven of nepotism, bribery, and ties between public officials and Cosa Nostra, the mafia, the mob, the made men.

But maybe that’s just it. Maybe it’s the country’s rebellious character and unwillingness to trust or be subservient to authority that brings forth these amazing creative talents and extraordinary passions they so fully embody. Even some of the men and at least one woman who captained the vaporettos we took between Venetian islands had larger-than-life personalities. Watching how restaurant hierarchies work, even at simple trattorias, could be like having front-row seats at an opera. Drama queens everywhere.

Within almost every Italian man lives a Berlusconi and a Mario Andretti. In every woman resides a Maria Montessori and a Gina Lollobrigida.

Since my very first visit at the beginning of the 1980s, Italy has had 30 governments. Thirty. Yet the country is also one of the continent’s largest economies and produces some of the world’s most well-respected brands and goods. Go figure.

Just think of the fact that when Rome was in its peak era, pagan tribes in what is now Sweden were still forging their blunt Iron Age tools.

As relatively slow-paced and laid-back as Italian life is in places like Pienza, Cortina, Capri, Siena, and the villages of Cinque Terra, I’ve found that it’s in the cities where the full-throttled Italian experience is best observed, absorbed and enjoyed. Naples, Milan, Rome, and to a lesser degree Florence all offer a level of edginess that keeps the blood flowing and pulse beating.

Staying on the Venetian island of Giudecca, right across Canale della Giudecca from Dorsoduro, turned out to be another one of Charlotte’s brilliant location strategies. Giudecca is as calm and local as San Marco is bustling and touristy. But you got to have a little of both.

The last time we visited Venice, about 15 years ago, was also in April but not nearly as hot and crowded as this time around.

According to a few locals I spoke with, temperatures as well as the amount of tourists will soon almost double. Yikes!
Flying less than two hours from Copenhagen down to Venice and then taking a comfortable bus to Cortina in the Dolomites (Italian Alps) was easy-peasy and a great way to combine skiing and hiking with a few days of amazing Venetian canal culture.

The days when a delicious meal cost 5000 ($4) lire are long gone. A pizza in Venice (or Cortina) is on par with what they charge in Malmö. But then there’s the taste factor…


Venice: La Giudecca

Our Italian spring-themed travel story culminates in La Giudecca, the quiet island located just across the Venetian Lagoon with spectacular views of Old Town and where mostly locals live. The combo Cortina-Venice is really quite unbeatable. Coincidentally, the very last episode of the brilliant new Netflix black and white mini-series “Ripley” which is based on the author Patricia Highsmith’s book series, is played out right here in Venice. And though there is no footage from Cortina, the exquisite resort town has a fairly important role among the show’s many locations.


Spring Ski in Cortina d’Ampezzo

I’m wonderfully exhausted. As an integral part of our travel story about what makes legendary Italian ski resort Cortina a destination worth visiting in the spring shoulder season, I spent four glorious hours skiing the pistes of Faloria Cristallo today. Since the winter season here in the Dolomites is more or less over, the remaining lifts will close in a couple of weeks, there were no crowds on the hills and no lines to get back up to the top chairlift station, which was terrific as it allowed me to get in a ton of runs before the spring sun melted the snow to slush.


Charlotte’s Birthday

Today is my greatest love Charlotte’s 59th birthday and as per tradition, we’re celebrating in Italy. This time we’re in the Queen Of The Dolomites’, Cortina d’Ampezzo to produce a story about this storied destination.


Across the Öresund Bridge

I moved to Malmö in 1998 and Charlotte the year before. The Öresund Bridge above was completed and opened in 2000. With the exception of 2005 and 2014, we’ve lived in Malmö for nearly 26 years. That’s longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in the world, including Göteborg, and almost twice as many years as Los Angeles. Time flies…

Before the bridge was built, we’d have to take a ferry to Copenhagen Airport (CPH) and on a few occasions, a helicopter shuttle from a heliport located not too far from where this was typed.

Aside from having the always inspiring Copenhagen so close by, for folks that travel as much as we do, the Öresund Bridge has brought with it so much convenience. Without it, I’m not sure we would still be living here. While not the most spectacular bridge in the world, its logistical worth makes it absolutely invaluable.


Elephant on Koh Chang

I came across this photo while looking for something totally different and it got me thinking.

I had hired this beautiful creature and his mahout for the cover photo of a travel guide we had been commissioned to produce by a Swedish newspaper. In addition to the elephant, I’d also hired a local Thai girl wearing traditional garb to ride on his back. Everything went well and the cover is still available to view here.

The above scene comes from after the shoot when the female elephant was taking a well-deserved bath in the sea off the coast of Koh Chang (aka Elephant Island, named for the island’s shape, not the popular Thai beer).

If memory serves, at the time, the elephant was a teenager and even if more than 20 years have passed since our collaboration, she might still be alive. Hopefully in a peaceful sanctuary.