2011, a year of strong emotions. Friendship and love but also sadness and loneliness. Hectic and fun, yet also hard.
It started on a balcony in Cape Town, looking at the stars and the Table Mountain while sipping on New Years-Champagne and brandy & coke together with my friend Anders a.k.a. Bonen. I was out on a world-spanning journey after moving from Amsterdam and met up with Anders in Cape Town. The following days we freedived with seven-gilled sharks, cage-dived with great white sharks, visited vineyards with a vintage sidecar motorcycle and in general had lots of fun.
Later on, we travelled to Mozambique, checking out the nightlife in Maputo and the diving and beach-life in Tofo. Fun and very relaxing.
I returned to Cape Town and spent some more time there in February, then flew to Sweden and decided that I once again should live in my hometown Malmö. This coincided with me being offered the job as Editor-in-Chief at the Swedish diving magazine DYK. I found myself a temporary flat while looking for something more permanent, and thoroughly enjoyed being back in Sweden with friends and family close at hand.
March was busy with work, meetings in Copenhagen and Stockholm and a quick trip back to Amsterdam and Haarlem.
April ended up being a lovely month, starting with an assignment where I was forced to try out all the best pizzerias in Naples, Italy, the hometown of pizzas. Delicious. From Naples I took the train north to Tuscany, picked up a beautiful Vespa and then proceeded to drive around on the Tuscan countryside, visiting cute villages, small vineyards and delicatessen shops. A long-standing dream come true.
Back in Scandinavia for a great weekend in Copenhagen, then off again to Croatia and the Kvarner islands, also a rather agreeable job.
Now we are writing May and I had the great pleasure of going sailing in the Cyclades archipelago of Greece together with a bunch of Swedish and Dutch friends. When they flew home I stayed on for another article, this time about the quaint and quiet island of Anafi. I like Greece, especially the islands, although I was close to overdosing on Greek salads and calamari.
Back in Sweden I bought myself a car (named Brödrosten, the toaster, by a female friend). I would rather live without a car but need it for the diving and paragliding. And I have to admit it is handy, especially when you are moving and creating a new home from scratch.
The start of June came with a paragliding competition in Åre, Sweden where I managed to come second, beating many of Sweden’s best pilots. OK, so it was only one heat, which means there is a certain element of luck, but anyway J. I did this on a brand new glider, a Nova Mentor 2 (which is an EN B almost novice wing).
I had some more meetings in Stockholm, then flew to Lisbon for a bit of work. In the end of June, the Nordic and Swedish Championships in paragliding was flown in Northern Portugal, I was there and managed to win the class above my own!
1st of July I drove from Portugal to central Spain to witness and write about the World Championships of paragliding in the little town of Piedrahita. Sadly the competition was stopped after only a few days due to two tragic fatal accidents the same day.
Back in Sweden I repacked, this time for a week of diving on a dive cruise ship in the Egyptian Red Sea. This was also my debut as an underwater still photographer with my new professional equipment. Challenging but also lots of fun.
In the very end of July I got the keys to my new and very own flat in Central Malmö! What a relief to have your own place again and to unpack your stuff after living in a suitcase for almost a year.
August, and I had lots of office-based work producing magazines, but managed to squeeze in a weekend in Madrid, writing a bunch of stories in the company of two old friends. To say that we thoroughly researched the nightlife is an understatement, but we also enjoyed several of the world-class art museums this city boasts with.
I also attended the Swedish Championships in underwater photography in Hamburgsund on the Swedish West Coast, not as a competitor but as a jury member and to write about it. It was nice to be back in beautiful Bohuslän and to go diving in Sweden again.
September was another office-based Month, but I did throw a big house-warming party with almost 50 friends from six countries joining the fun. Having so many friends close by really touched me and confirmed that moving back to Malmö was the right thing to do.
In the end of September I flew down to Krakow to visit Polish friends and produce a short story. I really like this old city and was made very welcome by my local friends.
October starts with a wonderful work-weekend in beautiful Pisa together with a friend. I passed through this little ancient Italian city on my way home from the Vespa trip and decided to go back later on. So I did.
Another wonderful trip was my pilgrimage to the beer-brewing trappist monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands together with Swedish and Dutch friends. These monasteries are very much alive and populated with Cistercian Monks, and truly beautiful and serene places. That the beer is divine goes without saying.
The rest of the autumn was rather tough emotionally, but I did visit Marseilles in the end of October (passing Brussels for lunch with a friend) and Berlin in the beginning of November. End of November saw me migrate south to South Africa for three weeks of well-earned holiday, including two weeks of paragliding. First a training camp then an international competition, where I won my class and the photo competition. I really needed this break and it did wonders for my well-being.
2011 showed me the value of friendship and family. I already new about the beauty – and pain – with love but life gave me a few extra lessons for free just in case. Still, I am a very fortunate man having health, security and freedom. It is important to remind yourself about that now and then.
Celebrating Christmas and New Year in Malmö, I end the year on an up note, having regained my usual happy-go-lucky composture. Now I look forward to a successful and exciting 2012!
And wherever you are, and whatever you do, I wish you a peaceful year filled of happiness and sweetness. Take care of yourselves and the ones you love. And be gentle and kind to everyone else (or at least try your best).
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!