Family Summer Vacation | Biarritz & San Sebastián

20170704-2106b.jpg

This photo story is looong overdue. Considering the circumstances with our baby boy Leo arriving 3 months early I've sure had other things on my plate. During the holidays however, I've finally had some time to cuddle with Leo everyday and go through the images from our summer vacation.

We'd talked about going away together for so long time so we were all so excited for this vacay. Also, this was the first time that we'd go on a family trip, so what better place to have as a destination if not for Biarritz! If you've read my posts in the past you'd know that wifey and I are well travelled and have put in many miles together. Biarritz and San Sebastián (and Barcelona of course) are the destination that we keep coming back to. These places are kind of like our away-from-home homes :)

Since we wanted to live together, we rented a house through our friend Sophia at Biarritz Living. They provide stylish, comfortable holiday homes with character in Biarritz’s best neighbourhoods, so make sure to check them out if you're ever going there. Then for a week we just hung out and enjoyed what the Basque country has to offer; awesome vistas, beautiful beaches, world class surfing, great food & service, super friendly locals and breath taking sunsets. 

Since we were in the Basque Country we also made sure to clear a couple of night for a visit to San Sebastián. As always we love this combo, so great that these two wonderful cities are just 1 hour apart. Also lovely meeting up with my amigo Ikeya and his friend Jon. Thanx guys so much for showing us the gems of your remarkable city. We had the night of a lifetime; muchas gracias chicos, fue una pasada. Jamás lo vamos a olvidar!!


Biarritz


Donostia | San SebastiÁn

20170705-1905.jpg

The Basque Country Revisited | Biarritz

Magnificent Biarritz shot during a stormy sunset from my favourite spot up at the Lighthouse.

Finally!!...The last part of our 2016 summer vacation is ready to be published. I still have a couple "Hero Shots" to edit, but I don't wanna rush that process so I'll be updating this post later on when I've had the time and inclination to do so.

I feel that I've already praised Biarritz in so many previous posts that I'm out of adjectives to use and/or don't want to repeat myself. If you still haven't then here's the five part photo story I did as part our 2015 summer vacation. I'll just end this one by quoting myself and also...I can't wait to get back there in July this year!!

Here in La Côte des Basques, Biarritz is the last bastion of the South West bordering Spain and jostling with the Michelin stars of the culinary San Sebastián.  
Its mild climate and the beauty of its awe-inspiring scenery, its curved inlets punctuated by rocky outcrops, all those cozy boulangerie, patisserie & crêperie’s, and the great events that it hosts, make Biarritz a destination of enchantment to which we will return to over and over again!!

Later!!



Mixing Business With Pleasure | The Gothenburg Sequence

A couple weeks ago I needed to do some work from the company offices in Gothenburg. Whilst there I also managed to squeeze in some quality time on the streets with my X-Pro2.

You know it makes sense that they call this city "Little London" because the default forecast is super-windy and freaking grey and rainy weather. However, I did make a point to out-brave the dull canvas that I had at my disposal, set my film simulation to ACROS and went to town. 

Below is a 2 part sequence of what I got away with.

Hasta la próxima!


1 - IN TRANSIT


2 - THE STREETS 

País Vasco Revisado | San Sebastián

I'm gonna start trying out a couple new things in the approach to my story telling. One of them things is a new workflow which hopefully will enable me to spend less time editing and more time sharing my visual stories...and to post more frequently.

When I hopefully get my head around this new photographic voyage I've embarked on I'll make sure to let you guys know. I think it deserves it's own space and time in the dimension of my consciousness which is scribbled down on this digital diary. Until that day let's continue our summer vacation photo-story. Next stop San Sebastián or as it's called by the locals; Donostia. 

If you haven't been yet, then what the heck are you waiting for? It's awesome. The food's amazing. The people are super friendly. As the Spanish would say: "Es maravilloso. Es super guay. Es una pasada tío!!".

Over and out! 

P.S if you missed my previous photo-story about this marvelous place make sure to check it out right here


La Rumba de Barcelona

Now that we’ve got yet another Christmas and New Year in the back mirror and out our systems I’d like to continue where I left off. Where were we though? Oh yeah right, we’d just left Lofoten and were headed to Barcelona the day after.
 
You know, maybe I’m biased in this matter, but Barcelona is a great freakin’ city. I’d even venture saying that it’s one of Europe’s best ones, like in any comparison..EVER. It depends on your preferences of course but we’re not here to talk about you now are we??

I said I’m biased before because Spain is kinda my third home – with Iran and Sweden being number uno and dos in hat little reference there. Anyhoot, I lived in Spain for about 3 years, of which I spent over a year in Barcelona. But it’s not for nothin’ that this city top’s at least one list of “The best European destinations” or some such ever year, every year people, on a lot of lists of a lot of magazines and tourist guides.

I mean what there not to like!? You’ve got the mild Mediterranean climate, great shopping, amazing club scene, outstanding restaurants and taperías, awesome ice cream, hell of an arts and culture scene, a world leading football team, kilometer-long beaches close to the city center, aaand the list goes on…

As my man Donnie Brasco would say “Fucking forget about it!!”.

"Forget about it" is like, if you agree with someone, you know, like "Raquel Welch is one great piece of ass, forget about it." But then, if you disagree, like "A Lincoln is better than a Cadillac? Forget about it!" you know? But then, it's also like if something's the greatest thing in the world, like minga those peppers, "forget about it." But it's also like saying "Go to hell!" too. Like, you know, like "Hey Paulie, you got a one inch pecker!" and Paulie says "Forget about it!" And then, sometimes it just means forget about it."  
– Donnie Brasco

Speaking of all good things, if I had only one day in this marvelous city, I’d do as my wife and I do every time we’re in town and make sure to visit our favourite neighborhood Born and go have dinner at our favourite restaurant Casa Lolea.

This place isn’t like any other restaurant we’ve been to, and trust me we’ve been to a lot of “restaurantes”. The staff is AMAZING, the food AMAZEBALLS and their own produced sangría is out of this world. If you’re ever in town, you HAVE to go there and try it. You’ll come out happier that you’ve been in a long time, I guaranty that and many laughs!

"Spain has always been a country with a passion for joyful conversations and encounters. Combine this story with our simple locale and a lot of ambiance where many small plates of amazing food and sangría serve to invite your senses to a nightlong fiesta. Welcome to Casa Lolea!"
– casalolea.com

¡Hasta la proxima!


The Untamed Islands | Lofoten, Norway

We returned from our lovely Italy voyage on a Thursday and the plan was to head back out on the road again two days later. There in between we made time for a couple washing machine batches, changes of outfits from summer to winter clothes and most importantly spent time with the Englund family whom we always miss dearly whilst away from home.

On the Saturday we flew from Stockholm to Kiruna, got the rental car, made a run for a whole lot of groceries and drove towards Lofoten. 8 hours later we had arrived at our final destination Reine.

We spent a week in Lofoten with our base in Reine visiting the surrounding locations such as Sakrisøya, Hamnøy, Henningsvær, Uttakleiv Beach and Rambergstranda. We loved every minute of being at this rare wilderness outpost!!

The Lofoten Islands are draped across the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle and offer an unlimited landscape of majestic mountains, deep fjords, squawking seabird colonies and long, surf-swept beaches.

If you are seeking unforgettable nature experiences, Lofoten will definitely not let you down. Due to the area’s diverse landscape, you can go hiking, skiing, fishing, ocean rafting or scuba diving. Lofoten is also one of Norway’s best sites for surfing, and one of the world’s northernmost.

Fishing has been, and still is, to a degree, the reason why people have lived here and the region is known for its many small fishing villages. Here, you can as we did stay in a Rorbu – an old fishermen’s cabin.

The rapidly changing weather and magnificent light conditions have inspired artists and drawn them to this area for several decades, which is an absolute dream for any landscape photographer as myself.

This trip is by far the most adventurous vacation we’ve done so far and experiences we gathered are unparalleled for us. If I may quote my good friend Arnie, I’ll (most definitely will, many, many at times) be back!! 


Italy Part III - Elba

After the hustle and bustle of Cinque Terre and Florence we were looking forward to get some down time at our next destination Elba. 

We found ourselves following a nice little daily routine during our five days there. With the exception of me sneaking away with my gear before sunrise the rest of the day was spent together, as husband and wife and around sunset as photographer and assistant in charge wifey.

Yes I'm getting off topic, our daily routine; it started with breakfast at the hotel, followed by a veeery short promenade to the end of the quaint waterfront, our feet then steered us a few meters more all the way to the small white pebbly beach called "Bagni Capo Nord". There we'd rent two sun-loungers and hang out most of the day viewing over beautiful turquoise crystal clear water at the foot of the green slopes of Mount Capanne.  

Insert delicious Tuscan cuisine for lunch and dinner somewhere there in between including the mandatory cooling Prosecco on the former occasion and local white on the latter. Furthermore add to this regimen many, many, many scoops of heavenly creamy gelato (for him aka. boo) and nutella pancakes (for her a.k.a. bae). Well there you have it, that was our day! 

Elba is an Island best described as a green and blue oasis in the Tuscan Archipelago. It's an island of endless horizons and golden beaches overlooking crystal clear water. The sought after breeze tells stories of people through history blessed by the sun while passing by caressingly. 

This little heaven on earth rewards you in a variety of aspects, typically sensed all at ones; its beaches and its cliffs, its wind, its land, its perfume, its flavors, its hard working people, its hillside villages and its terraces facing the sea are all but the start of a journey where you discover an island that will never disappoint you. 

Sea, land, wind, and ancient traditions. Go there and experience it yourself!!


Italy Part II - Florence

I was originally set on sharing photos from Florence & Elba combined in the same post.
But as I was working on it last night I realized that it would be a huge article with loads of photos.
That's why I changed my mind and decided to do it as two separate stories. So, this post is the second part of our summer vacation series which consists of:

  • Italy Part I - Cinque Terre & Portofino
  • Italy Part II - Florence
  • Italy Part III - Elba
  • Lofoten, Norway
  • Barcelona
  • San Sebastian
  • Biarritz 

Whenever we're out travelling our preferred means of transportation is definitely by train.
It's such an enjoyable way of getting around. We usually just relax and enjoy the view, catch up on some reading and/or get some shut eye.

We had one day that we'd planned to visit Florence and we were of course not going there by any other means of transportation. A train ride from La Spezia Centrale to Pisa and another from Pisa to Firenze Santa Maria Novella took us about 2:20h with the regional train company Trenitalia.

We'd finally arrived to Florence!! This is the capital of the Tuscany region, the birthplace of the Renaissance and the city of lilies. You can imagine what high expectations we hade for this place.

At the end of the day, after an entire day on foot exploring, sightseeing, eating pasta and having to many scoops of gelato - I think we'd walked for about 7-8 hours - both my wife and I felt the same way. We were delighted but at the same time sad. Sad because we had to catch the last train back towards Pisa but delighted that Florence had categorically lived up to our expectations!!

Next time we're gonna be staying for a whole lot longer, Firenze ci vediamo presto!


Italy Part I - Cinque Terre & Portofino

We've had a real busy summer packed with a 5 week itinerary including trips to Italy, Norway and  a do-over of last years' Barcelona-San Sebastian-Biarritz combo. We truly feel grateful & humble being able to travel & explore so many wonderful locations during 5 weeks straight.

So what's been going on since summer you make ask and where the heck are the photos?
Well, I've sure been buys. Except for a new day job and new photo projects I've been keeping myself occupied sorting through & post processing all the images in my catalog. 

This post is the first part of our summer vacation series which I probably will be sharing in the following order:

  • Italy Part I - Cinque Terre & Portofino
  • Italy Part || - Florence
  • Italy Part III - Elba
  • Lofoten, Norway
  • Barcelona
  • San Sebastian
  • Biarritz 

Ever since I got serious about photography, Cinque Terre has been on my photo bucket list. 
Ever since I got serious about eating delicious food, Italy has been on my radar. 
Ever since I tasted my first ice cream as a kid, the search for scoops of that heavenly creamy gelato has been my mission...I don't think any further explanation is needed to justify the reason for choosing Italy as one of the destinations of our summer vacation.

How was it? We loved it, it was great! We're definitely set on visiting Italy more in the future.
 
We had time to explore the following locations in Cinque Terre; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia & Manarola. Also we made a day trip out to the luxurious Portofino and another day trip to Florence before spending 5 days in Elba. But more about Florence and Elba in the next post. 

Here are my favourite memories from our time in Cinque Terre and Portofino.


Sweet Summer Memories | Sailing in the Archipelago

As the days go by and the darkness lingers longer every day I try to find energy for that loss of B vitamin somewhere else. A walk during lunch time when those precious rays of light still shine upon ones face is an efficient way for instance. Another source of vigor for me in the constant darkness is looking through photos of those sweet summer days.

If even just for a moment putting yourself back into a scene where the gentle summer breeze caresses your skin while you without a care in the world keep sipping on that frozen strawberry margarita and enjoying the good company of friends and family.

This short journey down memory lane is some sort of conscious mirage that enables me to find that something extra when the wind howls outside and there ain’t nottin’ but rain according to the weather forecast.

The photos from our two day sailing trip in the Stockholm Archipelago are a good example of where I’d like to go back in my imaginary time machine.

Jenny & Tobbe invited us to tag along with them on their boat during a weekend in august. We loved every minute of that experience and it’s mostly thanks to the good company of our captain and co-pilot. Thank you so much guys, it was a real treat!!


The Getaway Trip With 2 Cherries on Top | Barcelona

Our summer tour in Biarritz, San Sebastián & Bilbao was coming to an end and it was time for us to head back to Stockholm.

During our last day in Bilbao, my wifey was doing what she does best while I was chilling on the armchair. That is texting her sister on WhatsApp, checking the weather forecast back home, asking me what she should wear to the upcoming wedding party while singing along to Adele on Spotify...Suddenly the singing stops, her face turns all disappointed and she’s like “Vad faaan?!?” (In English that would be something like “Oh Nooo!?!”).

It turns out that the weather back home was looking more like autumn during the coming last weeks of our vacation. So we did what any Swede probably was doing in that same moment; we started looking for a flight to somewhere more sunlit.

We decided to come back to Spain again, but this time to a location that we’d visited on several occasions before. A flight ticket to Barcelona was our way out of the grayish & rainy abyss that awaited us in Sweden.

We flew home on a Thursday, did a whole lot of laundry, repacked the suitcases, headed off to the wedding in Uppsala on Saturday and off to the airport on Sunday. And before we knew it, the sun was shining on our faces again while laying on our beach towels on the lovely Barceloneta and mannerly declining the “Cooca Coola, Fanta, Cerveeeza?!?” offer’s.

Also, it turned out that our friends Raber & Sara decided to go to Barcelona just a couple of days after our arrival. We had couple of awesome days together enjoying the nice weather on the beach, strolling around the city and of course wining & dining at our favourite restaurants in El Born and Rival.

I gotta say that having the company of the Shoshtari-Goniband-Amin’s really was the cherry on top for our getaway summer vacation. Thank you guys, it was a blast!!


The Art Of Pintxos | San Sebastián

On the bus ride from Biarritz to our next destination both my wife and I were so amazed by this place that we felt anything else would fade in comparison. Biarritz had definitely raised the bar.

However, our next destination San Sebastián did not disappoint at all!

 It is said that it’s impossible to lay eyes on San Sebastián and not fall madly in love. This is indeed true, especially if you are as serious an eater as we are.

San Sebastián is cool, charming and well-mannered by day, graceful and flirtatious by night.

It’s a city that loves to indulge and has a food culture that’s unmatched anywhere else in Spain. There’s a reason why Donostia as it’s called in Basque frequently tops lists of the world's best places to eat.

In this region of Spain, the chefs have created their own cheeky version of tapas. They call it pintxos and this cheerful little morsel of Basque cuisine has been refined to an art form. The perfect pintxo should have exquisite taste, texture and appearance and it should be savoured in two elegant bites.

But just as good as the food, is the summer fun in the sun. For its setting, form and attitude, Playa de la Concha is the equal of any city beach in Europe. Then there’s Playa de la Zurriola, with its surfers and sultry beach-goers.

As the sun sets after yet another gentle summer’s day, you’ll find yourself jostling next to locals and tourists alike outside of bar Nestor.

Whilst enjoying the starter; a simple yet marvelous plate of Pimientos Verdes, you can’t wait to taste that first bite of the chuletón that’s prepared to perfection. You take a sip of that heavenly Ribera del Duero and realize that, yes, you too are in love with San Sebastián.


The Mic Drop | Biarritz Part V

This is the last part of my Biarritz photo story quintette in which I’ll try to wrap things up.

I kind of wanted to round off the whole story by including photos that didn’t really fit in the previous posts. Also, I usually try to incorporate a funny story in the posts from my everyday life. Fortunately for you, I don’t have any tales to tail for today’s episode.

In conclusion I just want to emphasize that my super-secret agent of wifey and I really had an amazing time at this beautiful location.

Lastly, in an attempt of “Dropping the Mic”, I’d like to go back to the first post and quote myself;

"Here in La Côte des Basques, Biarritz is the last bastion of the South West bordering Spain and jostling with the Michelin stars of the culinary San Sebastián. 

Its mild climate and the beauty of its awe-inspiring scenery, its curved inlets punctuated by rocky outcrops, all those cozy boulangerie, patisserie & crêperie’s, and the great events that it hosts, make Biarritz a destination of enchantment to which we will return to over and over again!!"


La Grande Finale