365 Days of Chaos in 13 Photos
As one could probably expect, my 2017 ambitions to only do work with positive impact, learn French, pay off my student loan, develop new communication skills, and and and and led to chaotic times.
Especially when life had other plans.
It goes without saying that my resolution to stay put failed, given that the year was spread across 14 countries.
But it was a blast.
2018 started off equally amusingly, in Transylvania, and is progressing in a most-promising fashion.
I don’t just yet want to go into details about what’s cooking — well, actually, I do, but I’ll wait until March to explain more…
First things first: Renewing my visa, once again, and finishing off a massive editorial project with our freelance collective (and yes, we know it’s Berlin, but no, we’re not available to DJ at your party).
Until then, check out the digital format of the annual Christmas calendar I make for my immediate family — with bonus, extended-version captions to explain the 13 snapshots taken amidst 365 days of largely happy chaos.
This is Mclean Falls, in a blustery corner of New Zealand called The Catlins. Gorgeous forest, wind, dramatic coastlines, wind, and a dusty road trip with a good buddy of mine, Gabi.
This photo looks out over the beaches and bays of Tonsai and Railay, in Thailand’s Krabi region. See those massive karst cliff formations? I’m standing on top of one, with baby spider monkeys crashing about in the foliage overhead — and I also climbed them with my flatmate, Lu.
These Katara Pigeon Towers in Doha, Qatar, contrast sweetly with the cranes constructing yet another monstrous office or hotel tower in the background. My experience of visiting Qatar: the three-hour free tour of Doha provided by Qatar Airlines during my stopover on the way to Berlin. Although it’s a whistlestop experience, the fact that Doha is based almost entirely on new money means that you’re not actually missing out on too much by only taking the free tour.
The Sint Janskathedraal, Den Bosch, The Netherlands. I peeked in here while visiting my friends Tony and Jo in this tiny, picture-perfect Dutch city (otherwise known by the unpronounceable name of ’s-Hertogenbosch), as part of a part-work part-pleasure trip to Amsterdam.
Pinhão, The Douro Valley, Portugal. We should have really checked the weather forecast before setting out from Porto, as the temperature topped 40 while we slogged up the hills to look out over this area, which grows the grapes responsible for delicious port wines. We ended up here as a wee side trip while in Porto for the wonderful NOS Primavera Sound music festival, which, featured two of my bucket list bands — Bon Iver and Justice!
Casa de la Concha — the house of shells — in Salamanca, Spain. This 1500’s palace turned modern library is covered with stone clam shells representing the Santiago Order (see: The Camino Santiago trail). I stumbled across this place while CouchSurfing with a local fellow who, funnily enough, is a programmer for the New Zealand/ Kim Dotcom company MEGA.
Summer came with the true enjoyment of having to leave our apartment during renovations, so leaving the stress, sawing and constant drilling behind, I headed for the Polish mountains. They were absolutely packed, so I instead walked across the border into Slovakia, exploring the Bielovodska Valley in the High Tatra Mountains. I found breathtaking scenery and few other hikers on the trail, as opposed to the hundreds of people visiting Morskie Oko in the next valley.
While hangin around in Krakow, waiting for our renovations to finish, I found myself in church yet again. This time, it was The Chapel of St. Kinga, 101 metres below sea level in Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Going to the other extreme, my buddy Steven treated me to an ear-popping ride up the Niesen Funicular in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland Alps. At moments like these, you really appreciate how good Swiss engineering is. Otherwise, that’s a long rollercoaster ride down into the Karner Valley, from 2363 metres above sea level. Another surprise — meeting a Thai forest monk on the top of the mountain.
Loket Castle crowns the hilltop town of Loket (Elbow, in English) in the Czech Republic, a tiny place all but enclosed by a looping river not far from the spa town of Karlovy Vary/Karlsbad. A true surprise — we set out for a short walk and, following a tiny map, ended up stumbling across this place hours later, only just getting out on the last bus, which was full of very friendly locals tipsy from that day’s fresh wine festival.
Following a friend’s graduation in Geneva, I popped over the border into Châtel, France, to see Tess, another Kiwi buddy, who lives and works in this neat little ski resort. Powered by kilogrammes of cheese, we hiked up to get this view of the Swiss-Franco Alps.
Happy days — I was invited to cover the Web Summit tech conference in one of my favourite cities, Lisbon, and this Martiz Monim streetscape is taken from my hotel room.
Endnote: As you can probably tell, I’m easily tempted by nature and old cities with a distinctive charm. So if you have any top tips for ‘secret spots’ in NZ, Europe, or anywhere in between, please share!
Cathedral Caves, The Catlins, New Zealand