The Escape

AHORIBUZZ

2013-12-29 06:34 Kommentera

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2013-12-29 06:34 Kommentera

THE HOUSE

2013-12-27 04:26 Kommentera

As you all know I usually live a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. Most of the time I find a regular change of environment thrilling but for a while during my recent travels in Australia I was longing for a more stationary existence. I didn't want to cycle and I was tired of moving around. A month ago I arrived in Christchurch on New Zealand with cravings for a new activity and more routine. It's all worked out pretty well and I'm thoroughly content with my day to day life. I've learned how to fly and for the moment I live in my own bohemian mansion overlooking Lyttelton outside Christchurch. It would be difficult to find anything to complain about.

Below: Xen, the cat.

Through the bicycle community WarmShowers.org I got in touch with Mark Watson and Hana Black. They were spending Christmas and New Year's with family in Wellington and needed someone to sit house. I'd just invested in a mobile home (more about my campervan in separate post) but couldn't resist the comfortable offer of having access to shower, kitchen and wifi. On the 23rd of December I moved in, on the 5th of January I'm suppose to leave, I'm not sure that's going to happen. I absolutely love this place!

The picturesque wooden house, located in the upper hills of Lyttelton, has a hypnotizing effect on it's visitors. You step through the gate and into the lush garden and instantly the outside world seems irrelevant. It's simple and hippy elegant, the kind of place that feels like home to anyone. There is a cozy kitchen, a comfy living room and a great music system. From the sun drenched porch the view over port, town and surrounding mountains is spectacular.

Four chickens, two cats and one flying human live in the collective at the moment. We're having a good time and we all take care of each other. I get fresh eggs every morning and from the vegetable garden I can pick herbs and fresh strawberries. As you guys might know I do not have a job but whenever weather conditions are favorable I grab my wing and harness and go flying at Taylor's Mistake which is around the corner. I got myself a work visa for New Zealand but seriously, I'd just rather be flying.

Above: View from the porch.

LYTTELTON IS PARADISE!

A bohemian house in an alternative town. For a month I've been based in Lyttelton (past week in Mark and Hana's house) which is a neat suburb to Christchurch spread out over steep hills surrounding a port and volcanic crater flooded with ocean. It's the perfect spot to settle for a while! There's a few restaurants, cafés, bars and shops and every Saturday the main street closes for traffic and opens for a farmers market. Organic, organic, organic! Forget plastic, people bring their own hemp bags and after filling them with fresh veggies they sit cross legged listening to local artists perform on the street.

For an outdoor enthusiast there is not a dull moment if based in Lyttelton (Christchurch). It might just be one of the absolutely most activity diverse areas on this planet. Surfing, kayaking, sailing, paragliding, mountain biking, fishing, kite-surfing, hiking, diving or skiing - everything on the doorstep! Where else in the world?

Above: Me, flying at Taylor's Mistake. 15 minutes by campervan from Lyttelton.

There are very few places outside Stockholm and Sweden that I personally could see myself living for a longer time period, Lyttelton is one of few. In case I ever decide to stay I'd have to bring my own hippy girl though, there is serious lack of women here. Since the 2011 earthquakes the city has been invaded by (male) construction workers. Rumors tell me there goes ten guys to every girl. Thinking of it from that perspective, it's a pretty terrible place.

/Erik

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2013-12-27 04:26 Kommentera

KIWI XMAS

2013-12-24 10:26 Kommentera

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2013-12-24 10:26 Kommentera

SOLO SOARING

2013-12-07 08:20 Kommentera

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2013-12-07 08:20 Kommentera

LEARNING TO FLY

2013-11-30 11:11 Kommentera

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2013-11-30 11:11 Kommentera

OZ RECAP

2013-11-28 11:36 Kommentera

Back to work! THE ESCAPE has due to technical problems not seen proper updates in a month. I understand from the many hostile digital letters I've received that it's been a frustrating time. The main group of loyal followers, based in north Europe, are going through a dark and somewhat depressing time of year. I'm sorry I haven't been able to tease with colorful pictures and tingling travel tales. I promise change!

Before full focus on current and upcoming adventures, a quick summation from the past month in Australia. After getting HUMPED in THE KINGDOM of Tonga I got back to my bicycle which was parked in Brisbane. I set off southward and it took me less than a week to hitch-cycle to Sydney. Plenty of helpful characters picked me up and as always when waving thumb you end up with great stories.

Right: Simon!

Above left: View from Simon's apartment in Manly.

In Sydney I met my good old travel bud Simon who I met in South Africa in early 2008. Tired of constant motion and the leather saddle I was happy to invade his couch and beautiful apartment in Manly for more than two weeks. I found a local café where I spent most weekdays drinking long blacks and gazing at working people passing by in an unhealthy pace. A few afternoons were spent with Agnes, a good friend from Stockholm studying in Sydney. On weekends when Simon was off work we had BBQ's, plenty of beer and watched movies. Passive good times. After two slightly inactive weeks in Sydney I rented a car and drove the coastal road to Melbourne (bicycle in the trunk). I picked up a hitch-hiker, stopped for a chat with a touring cyclist and enjoyed speeds never reached on bicycle!

Right: Tara!

OZ ------> NZ

In Melbourne I stayed for a week with Tara and her two roomies Adele and Jessie. They live in a beautiful house in Richmond, not far from the city centre. Simon, who is a common friend of me and Tara flew down from Sydney to hangout over the weekend. Once again, BBQ and beers! Two days ago I left Australia for New Zealand. All in all I spent three months down under, cycling two out of four thousand kilometers from Cairns to Melbourne. Disregarding the travel fatigue I've been suffering from the trip in Queensland, NSW and Victoria has been good. I met a bunch of new (and old) friends and I've seen great nature.

At the moment I'm in Lyttelton just outside Christchurch. My beloved bicycle is still with me but cycling will not be my main focus for the next few months. There's going to be a serious change of activity! I'll tell you guys more about it in a separate post. Make sure not to miss any updates by following THE ESCAPE on Facebook.

Oh, one last thing: This happened one year ago yesterday.

/Erik

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2013-11-28 11:36 Kommentera

GRANDMA

2013-11-25 06:26 Kommentera

While on Tonga a couple of weeks ago I sadly learned that my grandmother passed away. She was 85 years old when she peacefully fell asleep in her home. Plenty of hammock time in the South Pacific gave me chance to reflect but it's still difficult to comprehend when so far away. I'd like to tell you guys about a pretty fantastic character who in the many stories of relatives and friends will continue to live on.

Photo above: Me and Anna, summer of 2013.

Anna Norström has for more than twenty years been me and my brother Axel's only remaining grandparent. Before a pretty serious stroke ten years ago Anna was always very active. My childhood summers outside Hunnebostrand on the west coast of Sweden have a certain place in my heart, I remember them as absolutely golden. Anna lived in a yellow house on an old farm. There was a massive barn and two other buildings on the property, all painted in traditional red. I recall the garden as spotless, big trees with cherry, apple and plum, a neatly cut lawn, deep red roses, summer flowers, bumble bees and a garden with carrots, fresh potatoes and different herbs. We often had homemade flatbread with butter and plenty of delicious local honey. She baked the bread in a wood-fired stone oven.

Above: Grandma's strawberry birthday cake!

During school holidays our family always escaped city for countryside and visiting Anna was always eventful. Me and Axel were somewhat intense and evil kids and were always up to something, usually it involved killing, collecting, destroying, chasing, catching or throwing. Our mischiefs and pranks kept both our grandmother and parents busy but I like to think that we all had pretty fun. Anna was often in the kitchen cooking or outside picking weeds in the garden.

A stroke paralyzed half her body and during the last decade she's been in a wheelchair. At first it was slightly depressing but it didn't take her long to recover and find joy in life again. She could never fully walk but her mind was clear. The big yellow house was adjusted for her handicap and she stayed until 2007. Most of the time she sat in the kitchen doing crosswords, watching birds and chatting to the odd friend dropping by. My grandmother always had gossip or funny stories to tell. She started watching more and more TV but she could never learn to use the remote control so the volume was very often at dangerous decibel levels.

A few years after the stroke she left the house and moved to an apartment in Hunnebostrand where she was assisted on a daily basis by care takers. Her highlight was always when she had visitors. Kristina, my mother, is a teacher and on almost all her school holidays she made sure to travel the 500 kilometers from Stockholm to spend time with Anna. They were very close and I know it hurts my mother that her mother is no longer with us. Kristina has the biggest of hearts and I know Anna appreciated her company and help thoroughly.

When me and Axel made the trip from east to west coast, usually during summers, we had a blast. We'd always take grandma out for daytrips. We'd enjoy fresh seafood and cold wine at fancy seaside restaurants and we'd quite often race her around in the wheelchair to surprised bystanders joy. Since half her face was affected by the stroke she only smiled with the unaffected half. She always had that unique and heartwarming smile when me and Axel pushed her fast in the wheelchair, doing donuts in the gravel or driving on the back wheels. She also had an electric wheelchair with an orange flag that she used from time to time. On the orange flag we'd written "SUPER GRANDMA". She was never really good at controlling the speed of the electric chair and she'd either drive super slow or way too fast. She would hit curbs and bump into aisles of food at the supermarket which many times was more than amusing.

At one occasion we were out racing with the hand pushed wheelchair when she told me to stop. On the sidewalk in front of us; a big pile of dog poo. She suggested that we wait until someone walks in it and then she started giggling. She was maybe 80 at the time. There's a lesson there. I'm fortunate to have so many great memories of my grandmother. It comforts me that she left without prolonged suffering in a lonely hospital bed. I'm happy that she lived a joyful and long life, you really can't ask for much more.

Photo above: Fall sunset over Hunnebostrand, Sweden.

/Erik

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2013-11-25 06:26 Kommentera

HUMPED

2013-11-04 13:11 Kommentera

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2013-11-04 13:11 Kommentera

THE KINGDOM

2013-10-27 14:34 Kommentera

I've spent the past weeks on the islands of Tongatapu, Eua, Lifuka and Uoleva in the Kingdom of Tonga. A classic and typical postcard holiday in the South Pacific; an abundance of coconut palms, super empty beaches and perfectly blue ocean. Far away from the world I combined long hammock sessions with the odd swim or waterfront stroll. I consumed plenty of literature, chilled beers and tropical bananas. I did a handful dives, ventured with ocean kayak and snorkeled with a family of humpbacks. I gazed at remarkable sunsets and our magnificent cosmos. I did all these things but at the same time it feels like I didn't do anything at all.

So I hear winter is approaching in the Kingdom of Sweden?

A vacation to Tonga is not only defined but what you do but also by what you're not doing. On the 176 islands scattered in the South Pacific there is thankfully a serious lack of online communication, traffic, intelligent phones and fast food chains. Tonga is a different world, a nation with it's own pace, without stress, a Kingdom of Chill. Here's a generous bunch of photos that if viewed from the northern hemisphere will tickle travel nerves.

Did you ever dream of a deserted island adventure? Tonga is your destination.

Photo above: A traditional Sunday feast.

A NEW CHANGE

I left Australia and took a break in the journey on two wheels with the intention of curing road fatigue and boosting my energy for adventure. On Tonga I had a significant amount of time to reflect on my travel situation and I've come to the conclusion that I want a change. I'm longing for a more stationary existence. The original plan was to spend another three months in Australia, cycling New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. As much as I like the idea of it, it's not going to happen. As mentioned in previous post I haven't been enjoying cycling as much as I usually do and there is obviously no point in prolonging a situation in which I struggle to keep myself motivated.

Photo above: Kayaking off the island of Eua in South Tonga.

I'll stay in Australia another month, spending most of the time in Sydney and Melbourne visiting Simon and Tara, friends I met in Africa in 2008. From Brisbane I'm hitch-cycling south and in the end of November I leave Melbourne for Christchurch on New Zealand. For several reasons that I will not yet give away I intend to spend four or five months on New Zealand's beautiful South Island. In a not so distant future I'll share further details on my change of activity and travel agenda.

Oh yeah, I mentioned I snorkeled with a family of humpback whales. A surreal and utterly unique experience which obviously deserves it's own separate post. Tomorrow or perhaps the day after that, my friends - I'm still chilling like on Tonga. Like THE ESCAPE on Facebook to be sure to keep yourself posted on the more and more irregular updates from Oceania.

/Erik

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2013-10-27 14:34 Kommentera

TAILWINDS?

2013-10-07 14:36 Kommentera

More than a month has passed in Australia and two days ago I arrived to Brisbane, which marks the finish line of the first stretch along the East Coast. I've mentioned before that solo cycling can work like therapy. Well, I've discovered that therapy can be seriously challenging. All is not always rainbows, unicorns, tailwinds and laughter on the road. Since I returned from Sweden to my daily life in motion in early August I've suffered from mild to severe road fatigue. For a while (in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore) I thought the return to bicycle touring would be the injection of travel energy needed but most of the time I've annoyingly not been enjoying it like I usually do. The trip from Cairns to Brisbane has been far more psychological than physical and for a long time I've been struggling to keep myself motivated.

I believe recent CHANGES and the transition from duo to solo travels has been unexpectedly difficult. I no longer have a proper goal and finish line (like SINGAPORE) and my bicycle drift is far more random than before. I've lived as a nomad since the beginning of 2012 and for a while I've been craving a more stationary existence. I've been feeling lonely in a bad sense and many mornings I've woken with an unusual and negative gut feeling. My lack of motivation leads to a lack of inspiration, which is directly connected with the post infrequency on this usually pretty well-updated part of the Internet.

A week ago I was ready to give up on cycling and seriously considered the radical option of buying a car. I decided not to rush my decision and kept pedaling. It might've been a good choice, things have started to turn around! At hostels in both Gladstone and Agnes Water I met encouraging and positive people and the past few days have once again been enjoyable. It feels like I'm on my way to recovery and the urge for adventure and travel is slowly building up. I'm ridiculous to be complaining, enough pessimism!

Above: A big but unfortunately way too rare smile the past month.

To the left: In Gladstone I took a day off and went fishing with Einar from Estonia.

The highlighted part on the map below shows the area I've been messing around in the past month or so. From Cairns to Brisbane it's around 1.700 kilometers. I'm a cheating cyclist and I haven't covered more than around 1.200 kilometers with own strength, when I've felt like it (especially during nature monotone stretches) I've hitch-cycled with pick-ups and trucks. The most scenic areas of Queensland were the Tablelands west of Cairns.

A HUMPBACK BOOST

If my mind is not a peace at the moment things should be fully sorted out after three weeks in the South Pacific. On Wednesday I fly to the Kingdom of Tonga! In order to stick to my initial travel plan in Australia I need to do a visa run, I figured Tonga could be a decent destination. It's the middle of humpback-season and Tonga is one of few places on this planet where you can free-dive and snorkel with them. In September and October the whales travel from Antarctica to the tranquil waters of Tonga to breed and calf. If I'm excited? Hmm.

Map below: The Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, almost halfway to South America...

In Sandgate, a northern suburb to Brisbane I'm hosted by Adrian who I got in touch with through Konrad in Mareeba. Adrian is nice enough to let me leave bicycle and gear in his garage for a couple of weeks during my trip to Tonga. If I don't get stuck in the postcard paradise of Tonga you'll hear from me again in the end of October. Adios for a while! Oh yeah - there are photos not yet shared through posts uploaded to the GALLERY. Make sure to like THE ESCAPE on Facebook!

/E

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2013-10-07 14:36 Kommentera

Anonym 2130871827

Välkommen till THE ESCAPE. Det här är en buffé av adrenalin, äventyr och glädje från resor världen över. Följ min flykt från en förutsägbar vardag till ett liv som äventyrande cyklist och upptäcktssökande nomad. Inspireras av tyst ensamhet, vacker natur, episka äventyr och sann frihet. Följ THE ESCAPE och mitt kommande projekt, en cykelresa på 1700 mil genom 18 länder från Stockholm till Singapore och därefter ett drygt år ovan och under ytan i Indonesien och Papua Nya Guinea.

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