One of my favorite podcasts is BBC Desert Island disks, where guests have to chose 8 songs they would take with them if cast away on a desert island, songs that carry special meaning for them and/or define different stages of their life.
Between 2010 and 2019, I worked in Doha, Qatar, during which time I was lucky enough to do an enormous amount of travel, both for work and pleasure. In the spirit of Desert Island disks, I have set myself the challenge of choosing nine photos from those nine years that carry special meaning to me. It wasn’t an easy choice, given that I have over 10000 photos in my iTunes library! So without further ado….
New York, New York, New York, New York
I went to New York four years in a row with the explicit aim of doing the New York marathon. Though due injury (2011 and 2013) and Hurricane Sandy (2012), I only managed to do it once, in 2014. A few things soon became staples on my visits – a chocolate and peanut butter cookie from Levain bakery, hot, fresh bagels from Absolute Bagels, a cocktail from Saxon and Parol, coffee from Irving Farm, visits to the Union Square markets and of course (cliche warning), morning walks and runs in Central Park. I can feel the cold, crisp morning air every time I look at this photo.
The young sellers of Jabel Shams
One of my few regrets in the nine years I spent in the Middle East is that I didn’t spend more time in Oman, a country of such spectacular natural beauty and interesting culture. A framed version of this photo sits proudly in my kitchen. Like so many others in Jebel Shams, these two boys were selling colorful wristbands/bracelets to tourists, though I got the distinct impression that there was a thousand other things they wanted to be doing (for an excellent insight into the history and culture of Oman, check out the late Anthony Bourdain’s feature on Oman. Also, for ultra runners out there, check out one of my favorite off-road races, the Wadi Beh).
I have been lucky enough to travel to Majorca a couple of times, once to attend a sports nutrition conference, the other purely for pleasure. The southwest part of the island holds the greatest appeal, especially the town of Deia, where I stayed on my second visit. This photo was taken in either Soller or Valldemossa, also on the west coast. It’s appeal lies in the fact that it captures a vision of the person I want to be when I grow old – hanging out in a beautiful small village, walking to the local grocer or farmers market in clothes that don’t quite fit/match and not caring anything about it.
A summers day in Paris
Hanging out in cafes, either alone with a book or with friends over a glass of wine or coffee, is one of my favorite past times. It’s even better when you can do it soaking up the sun and watching the world go by. Therein lies the appeal of this picture, taken late on a late summers day in the heart of Paris. Every time I look at it, I speculate about the topics of conversation and global issues being discussed and resolved.
A Tuscan moment
My wife and I love Italy, which is one of the main reasons we decided to get married in Volterra, a small Tuscan town ~ 1 hour from Florence (the other reason being that Italy is “sorta almost half way” between Canada, where my wife is from, and Australia, where I was born and raised). Our wedding day was filled with lots of laughs, a few tears and an abundance of beautiful food and wine shared with family and friends. This photo, that takes in the rolling green hills for which Tuscany is famous, serves as beautiful reminder of our perfect day.
Of the grid in Nepal
I could have easily chosen all nine photos from my two trips to Nepal, such is the awe inspiring beauty of the place. This shot of the Annapurna mountain range was taken from Muldhai viewpoint. The night before I had had a terrible nights sleep and seriously contemplated not getting out of bed to do the 60 minute climb in the cold and dark up to the viewpoint. I’m really glad that I did.
The day before visiting Petra, my wife and I did the Dead Sea ultra marathon, much of which is downhill – suffice to say, just making it down the stairs at our accommodation the next morning was an accomplishment in itself. That said, the six hours we spent wandering around the ruins of Petra was worth every step. Like most other tourists, we were offered multiple donkey rides through the ruins which we always stubbornly declined. Every time I look at this photo I imagine a young man contemplating a trip on horseback into the sunset across the great unknown – not one on the hunt for tourists looking to rest their weary legs.
The last time I had visited Australia’s smallest State was to row a pair at the 1997 Australian Rowing Championships on the stunningly beautiful Lake Barrington, an experience that I have done well to eliminate almost completely from memory. The want to visit Tassie again was to explore and enjoy the the food, wine and beautiful natural environment that the island is becoming increasingly well known for. It did not disappoint – our days were filled with long walks in the wilderness, wine tastings and beautiful food. This photo was taken on an early morning walk in Binalong Bay, one of the many highlights of the trip.
My new island home
I moved to Newfoundland in late 2019. An island of such an immense natural beauty, it offers up endless opportunities to embrace the outdoors, whether that be in a kayak, on foot, bike, skis or snow shows. This photo was taken at the KOA campground near Norris Point, on the West Coast of the island. Early in the day my wife and I had done the stunningly beautiful but challenging Gros Morne Mountain trail. We ended the day around a campfire enjoying a BBQ and bottle of red while soaking up this beautiful sunset. Take me back there now!
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Beautiful photos Steve!
I would love to go back to Majorca, not sure when that (or any travel) will be possible again.
Some amazing memories