Author Archive for: astrid

La Gomera, Valle Gran Rey – La Merica – Arure

28 Mar
March 28, 2013

«Consider the heat,» warned my newly befriended local, Dominique. Somewhat skeptical about my intention to walk from La Calera at the bottom of Valle Gran Rey, up La Merica to Arure, at about 800 m above sea level, “…it’s really blistering today”.

I had studied the map and made up my mind; I had some excess energy to dispose of, and besides, my guidebook promised a breathtaking experience in more ways than one. I told her not to worry; I would take it easy and bring water, nuts and dried fruits.

Half way up, I could have kicked myself… Read more →

La Gomera

15 Mar
March 15, 2013

Despite the fact that I had been travelling since three in the morning, sleep was not an option in my current position: My knees draped somewhere in the neighborhood of my ears, my bulging backpack in close proximity to my kidneys. From the look and feel of it, the bus taking us from Tenerife airport to the harbour in Los Cristianos, had been designed for pygmies with severe cases of inhibited growth.

The other passengers did not seem to be faring much better, so the relief was palpable throughout the vehicle when it came to an abrupt halt.

Yellow Flower

Yellow Flower

The bus driver, who clearly was not in favor of prolonged farewells, promptly disposed of passengers and luggage. He waved in the general direction of the sea, said something incoherently about a ship, and shot off.

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Ski Bum (dumb) in Åre

10 Feb
February 10, 2013

Shooting uncontrollably down the escarpment, head first, like a human snow plough, I wondered like Creep by Radiohead: “What the hell am I doing here!”  In what felt like a terribly long and much too fulfilling life time, I managed to shift my limbs into a spread eagle position. Painfully using my hands and ski boots as breaks, I was able to slow down and eventually stall my descent.

My face was so numb, I actually wondered if it had rubbed off and was now lingering somewhere further uphill, looking into space, pondering upon life, the universe and everything.

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Morning has broken

27 Jan
January 27, 2013

Morning has broken, and what a daybreak. After a long drive in the dark the previous night, I went out like a light in the comfortable cabin’s loft and slept like one of the logs neatly piled up next to the downstairs fireplace.

Sun rays now dance on my ice flower decorated window, inviting me out to play. I get out of bed, look out and realize that nature has a big do on, and if I don’t get a move on, I am going to miss the ball: The performance is rather short these days; the stage light is only working part time, putting more hours and lots more ampere in on the opposite side of the globe.

But what a glorious performance… Read more →

Tiring Business

30 Dec
December 30, 2012

“Mum, where are my winter tires..?”

Suffering from the mission-impossible-never-ending-Sisyphus-like position of logistic manager around here, my brain snapped into full alert.  The snow had been coming down in thick layers the past few days, with no regard to economic or social standing, democratically covering everything with its brand new infinite-shades-of-white coat. The roads were no exception; their by now hard packed, glazed surface having demobilized more vehicles than any ambitious arm truce.

Because the tire-owner had been abroad for half a year, he had graciously lent us his car. Provided we made the necessary change of tires once snow and ice decided to vacate the premises for a couple of months…

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Viking Wirral adVenture

21 Nov
November 21, 2012

Considering the appalling behavior shown by some of my forefathers when they were last here, I am amazed and relieved that I am not being met by drawn swords and boiling oil when I meet up with John Emmett and Peter France of Wirral History and Heritage Association who have promised to show me around the Viking Wirral.

Even though our mail exchange have been very civil, for all I know they might have planned a plot to finally get back at one of the bastards. And I would and could not have blamed them. Having been kicked out of Ireland (no doubt on account of bad manners), the Vikings about 1100 years ago roamed the area as if it were their own playground. Plundering here, burning there and in general making a bloody nuisance of themselves.

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Helsinki Rock n Roll Church

11 Nov
November 11, 2012

Where Helsinki and Uspenski Cathedrals with their multitude of tall spears seem to be longingly reaching for the heavens, the Rock Church looks like a celestial body having landed on earth, planting itself deep in the granite surface on top of a hill.

The gently curved cobber dome, glass panels and a rough rock wall promise an interesting tale, but reveal nothing of the amazing space and grace you encounter having passed through the rather inconspicuous, dark Rocky Gate.

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Brighton Revisited

31 Oct
October 31, 2012


On the train from London to Brighton I was excited, looking forward to getting reacquainted with a city I had last visited as a child. My memories were blurry, but I clearly remember the elated feeling of walking along the seafront, marveling at the way English people enjoyed a warm summer’s day lying on the beach fully clad or looking like red lobsters, obviously oblivious to the existence of a phenomenon called sun lotion.

I dropped down in a window seat, placing my oversized bag next to me and was just beginning to doze off when somebody grabbed hold of my luggage. Startled I looked up at a guy who with an intense expression explained in broken English that he needed the seat. I looked around and spotted several free ones, but as I didn’t want to make a scene I complied and let him shift my luggage to the back of the compartment. Silently praying that no one would unload it at any of the next stations.

My new travelling companion’s rare end had not even made a touch down before he started talking. Read more →


21 Oct
October 21, 2012

One might think that six down-to-sea, unkempt men on a balsa raft, alone on the same open body of water for 101 consecutive days, could be no match for e.g. spaceships in intergalactic battles when it comes to action filled entertainment.

On the surface there might not be too much going on, but down below, both in the sea and the minds of the men, the movie Kon-Tiki is packed with visual and “special” effects. Numeral encounters and occasional clashes with amazing wildlife are as spectacular as they are convincing. Depicting drama and conflict between man and beast and amongst the men themselves.

The story might well have justified oversized words, but the moviemakers don’t fall into that trap. Instead, the script is low key, simple, but with a simultaneously heartwarming and harsh humor, often revealing the strain the men were under, individually and as a team. Read more →

Taekwon-do Chaos Theory

11 Oct
October 11, 2012

It started and ended in chaos. On the first day of the competitions, queuing up outside Brighton Centre half an hour before The Taekwon-do Worldcup 2012 was about to commence, I wondered where it would all end, or rather, when would it all begin? Just a trickle of people was able to get through the door, not more than a crack in the wall that had been opened a little earlier. Most contestants, along with coaches, supporters and spectators were still waiting, shifting restlessly from one foot to the other, checking the time on their iPhone or ditto device, moving forward at an agonizingly slow pace. The tingling anticipation and the camaraderie worked their wonders, though, and one by one everybody seemed to succumb to the situation, enjoying themselves, each other and the beautiful day.

All of a sudden, as by divine intervention, several large doors swung open. Read more →