Friedjof Feye is a skateboard photographer. But actually a teacher. But actually he's always on the go somewhere with his camera. Together we were in San Francisco, surfing in Denmark or at Maxi Schaible in the Black Forest. Last year he decided to take a sabbatical year and use it mainly for travelling. Some of them already appeared in Solo, like the trip to the Lofoten Islands or the trip to Beirut, which ended with a Hezbollah interrogation... Some of them had less to do with skateboarding, but were not less exciting. Or does a trip with the Trans-Siberian Railway, a bicycle tour across Germany or a trip on a container ship sound boring?
To be honest, I've been dreaming of a sabbatical year long before I started working. In the end, it was a slow process that made me apply for leave. I like my job at school, but after six years it was time to bring some variety into my life.
Oh, I wasn't too interested in checking countries off the bucket list. I was much more interested in spending as much free time as possible with my friends, taking pictures and doing things you don't usually find time for or have always dreamed about. For example, I wanted to drive to the top of Europe by car, explore the endless expanses of the East with the Trans-Siberian Railway, cycle across Germany by bike or spend days on the high seas with a container ship.
These were not conscious decisions. Some things are just better if you do them alone, with your girlfriend or with friends. If you are travelling for a long time, you have to be aware that you are probably more likely to be alone because normally nobody finds the time to take such a long holiday. Since most of my friends skate with me, trips together automatically become skatetrips.
Granted, it was pretty bizarre to begin with. But you quickly get used to the different languages of the crew members, the many technical terms or the constant rocking of the ship. What is also absurd is the idea that one is constantly surrounded by several thousand containers and the water under one's feet is several hundred metres deep. By the way, there are three warm meals a day. Afterwards, one could always go for long digestive walks. I mean, such a container ship is comparable to a floating small city.
Probably this would have been more uncomfortable for me a few years ago, but I used to pass photogenic people for years and couldn't photograph them so spontaneously because I always had cameras with manual focus. Maybe I subconsciously feel a desire for revenge for all the snapshots I missed and that's why I've been walking around with a snapshot camera while travelling for some time now. But I often ask people for portraits. It always depends on the situation.
That depends entirely on yourself. The hotspot is certainly the on-board restaurant, where you can have simple meals and also alcoholic drinks. The rest happens by itself, because the seats are limited and the duration of the journey is endless. With a little luck/pitch you will be involved in a conversation and try to communicate in a mixture of Russian, English and sign language. So it can happen that "Sergej" is sitting opposite you and you have to drink a few rounds of vodka with him.
Yes, such a trip is definitely recommendable. I was mostly lucky with the weather and could meet some friends and acquaintances on the way. All in all I was in ten federal states and made a kind of round trip along some cities and rivers. But I avoided mountains. [laughs] All in all I rode about 1800km in three weeks and only had to switch to a short train journey three times because the bike was broken or there was monsoon-like rain.
Oh, I can think of several small things, actually. I guess you just have to have experienced them yourself. Once there was a corrupt cop in Mexico who put our bribe money right into his cap and then put it on. Somewhere in Lapland a fox grabbed my half-full beer can and disappeared with it in the bush. I won't forget the Hezbollah interrogation in Lebanon anytime soon. Generally speaking, it was and still is nice to be detached from the daily routine and to be occupied with other things besides working, shopping and eating. I bought this freedom by the sabbatical year and was worth every cent until about March. Now, as you know, the situation has changed somewhat.
I would probably have taken a longer trip with my old motorhome, probably gone to Tanzania or Kenya and probably had a road trip to the USA. But the crisis had something good for me as well. People are starting to reduce their costs and part with things. So this week I was able to fulfill my little dream of a log cabin at the lake and I will probably work on it for the next weeks. So as long as the DIY stores stay open, I'm taken care of. Maybe at least a little trip with the motorhome in summer will work out. That would certainly be a successful conclusion to an eventful year.