WhatSUP! It’s almost 40 degrees (104 fahrenheit) outside and there’s nowhere else I rather be but in the water, ideally with Gelato! Discovering new beaches and beautiful places in Sicily with my Stand Up Paddle Board!



I decided to drive to Scopello, I was there last year with work colleagues and remember it as one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was so excited, last year we went there by boat we rented from Castellammare del Golf and today I would take my SUP and spend all day at sea. It was suppose to take me forty minutes but with a little wrong driving here and there and my Google maps not being updated it took me around an hour.

But things don’t always get as planned and it started with the parking, that in my opinion was over priced, 7 euros (!) Which compared to Sweden is nothing for a full day but this is Sicily, where a coffee costs 1 euro and parking is free most of the year. Parked my car, packed my board and started walking the twenty minutes walk from the parking to the beach (in 40 degrees!).

When I arrived at the barriers for entry(!) to the beach, I was told that air mattresses and all kinds of inflatable mattresses, including my SUP, were not allowed. I tried to explain that I was not going to stay at the beach, that I could even inflate it some else where and go into the water where I promised not to disturb anyone, but instead I was badly treated by just a finger and an arm pointing in the direction I came from.

When I got back to parking lot they laughed at me as they were fully aware that I wouldn’t be allowed to have my SUP with me, but without saying anything let me walk 20 minutes in gusting sunshine and full packing. I gave them a little smile and disappointed shrug my shoulders and tried to laugh my disappointment away.

Packed it all back in my car and decided to find another beach, never in my whole life did I think they would charge full price (!) for the barely half hour I was parked there!!

I used Google Maps and found a beach that did not seem to be too far away and thought I’d give it a try. Actually, most of it I felt like going home, sweaty and in some way a bit humiliated, usually in Sicily everybody are so friendly and I’ve been spoiled not used to have anyone talk to me this way, obviously not their fault, they were only doing their job, but I suppose there are different ways in doing so and to run a place in such tourist popular location you loose track and the importance of treating every guest equally important.

I drove to Cala Mazzo di Sciacca five minutes away (Tripadvisor and directions here)  I was met by the world’s nicest parking host who, despite our language barrier, tried to understand when I asked if I was allowed to use my SUP, he laughed and said SI, SI in the friendliest way as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. ´It’s a beach, of course you are allowed to bring your toys´. Meanwhile, as I was inflating my SUP he walked passed gave me thumbs up, I don’t think he had ever seen an inflatable SUP and seemed rather curious about it.


As I’m writing this I’m sitting ten minutes away from the beach, balancing on a small rock in the water eager to write down my feelings for this blog, if I don’t write it down straight away I lose the emotion and it wont be as real, I always keep a `word document´open on my phone (and yes, even if my phone is water resistant I keep it in a waterproof case that my dad gave to me,  he wanted me to be able to enjoy the sea even when on reserve call at work ;)) This is also how I do with most my captions for my Instagram @pilotmaria to keep it as real as possible. 

That host, at Cala Mazzo di Sciacca friendly smile turned my whole mood to the better, the importance of a strangers smile. I have a feeling that this will be one of the best days in a long time!

I thought I paddle to Scopello, to be honest I didn’t really feel like it anymore, founding this new beach just gorgeous, but it was my original plan and I want to show them that even if they did not let me through their stupid beach barrier I can go there anyway!! Haha Rebel!!

All in all, I give a big thumbs up for Cala Mazzo di Sciacca! They have a small restaurant, bar and toilet facilities near the beach, the water is amazing and the staff super friendly. At entrance you will get a menu for the café, good business plan 😉 This is the kind of place I will definitely take my mom to the next time she visits me in Sicily, and guess what, in the end I paid two(!) Euro for a full day parking which is totally worth it, if you ask me.

My SUP is from @supboardsnorway and is of the brand Boga boards. It´s a full body workout at the same time relaxing and during the hot summer months I skip the gym and do this as exercise! www.supboards.no 

 

See full YouTube video from this day here: www.youtube.com/pilotmaria 🙂

xx Maria

I left Sicily 6.30, Thursday morning 8th June, almost 24 hours later I finally arrived at South Beach and checked into the beautiful boutique hotel Washington Park Hotel @wphsouthbeach Located just a few blocks from the ocean, free Tuc Tuc ride down to the beach for the really lazy days or free bike rental when you want to explore the city. The atmosphere when arriving a Thursday night was absolutely amazing, a crowd from all ages were having dinner and drinks at the new restaurant Employees Only I would have loved to join but I was way to tired and went straight to bed after a visit at Whole Food a few blocks from the hotel.

 

Day 1 Friday I was so excited to meet up with my friend Emilie @Emiliepix who I know from @Instasgram It felt like we’ve known each other forever and we had so much to talk about! We spent all Friday together. She took me to some of her favorite restaurants in Miami. My favorite being Lilikoi with the friendliest staff and best Organic food in South Beach!
Day 2 I met with friend and photographer www.troybflying.com @troybeflying that I have known through Instagram for more than a year. We spent the day at sea with some friends of Troys boating up Jupiter, and photographed for his new photo project, where he has influencers and models wearing his first fighter pilot helmet owned.

 

 

Day 3! My best friends @flymalin and @mariathepilot flew into Miami! Later that day, @kirstywilliams from Los Angeles and @pete_ohara from Toronto landed and the whole crew was gathered! It would come to be two crazy days ahead of us! But before all planning, shooting and running around we had dinner at SohoBeachHouse and their fish tacos was to die for, so good!!
 

 

Day 4 How to film a whole commercial one day and forget all what sleep is! I will post the result on my Instagram Tuesday 27th of June, hope you will like it, I can´t wait to see the finished result, Pete is editing it right now, so excited! In the evening we had fitting for tomorrow’s shoot with elle.com @elleus together with Carreraworld.com @Carrera

 

 

Day 5 Elle shoot in collaboration with Carrera sunglasses! What an experience, 12:00 Tuesday the 13th we met at execuflight.com hangar at Fort Lauderdale airport. A team of fifteen, producers, art directors, photographers, make up, hair –  it felt completely surreal, but what an experience! Both Malin, Maria and I had so much fun! Obviously we are all new at this and are no models, but the crew was so professional and nice and made us all feel comfortable in our new position. I can not say or show more from this day yet, but I promise to let you know soon as it is published on elle.com

 

Day 6, last day with the crew. Everyone took different flights back home, besides me who was stuck with an ear infections and a no-fly order from the doctors. There are worst places to be stuck in than Miami …. 😉 For breakfast that day we went to juiceandjavasouthbeach.com I had a Salmon – Avocado burger, fruit smoothie and a coffee, it was dream!! So good that I came back the very next day!

 

 

I said goodbye to Malin and Maria and the next day I met up with Dustin @aircrewlife and yet again I thank Instagram for connecting! Left Miami a week later with unforgettable memories and new friendships for life.

 

 

Last, but definitely not least, Thank You knowroaming.com for keeping me connected with the world though my whole stay in Miami! You´re the best!

 

xx Maria
Thank you Kirsty 🙂 @kirstywilliams

Through my Instagram account @pilotmaria, I often times make it look like the sky is always blue, roses are red, and the sun is always shining. That has not always been the truth. Here is my honest journey about the pilot profession and how I came to fly 737 as my first commercial jet with 189 passengers on board.

 

 

Flying an airplane requires dedication, patience and sacrifice. During the time I studied to become pilot, I met no one and my social life took a hard hit. Today, I have a handful of close friends, who have always been there for me, even if it sometimes takes months or even years between seeing each other, we know we’re always there for each other. As a pilot you can be away days or even weeks depending on company schedule, long or short haul etc.

 

 

I took my final exam for my ATPL in April 2010 and I was ready to take the aviation market by storm! Nothing could stop me at this point. But there was nothing but echo, I sent out job applications to what felt like every airline company out there, for God’s sake I would even offer myself to work for free, only to get flying hours! It’s expensive to fly privately and after paying 60k Euro for my pilot training, it was not just the stress that I did not get a job but also the stress that the bank wanted to get back the money I took a loan out for. Even after flying commercially for three years the bank still takes 1500 euros from me every month to pay back what I owe them.

 

 

I was lucky, for me it took “only” two years to get a job. I have friends who it took over ten years before they got their first job as a pilot! And then September 11, 2001 happened… Boeing and Airbus orders were canceled and airlines had to furlough their employees. It was an incredibly difficult time for the aviation industry and it took years for things to normalize. Some might say the industry still may not be back to where it once was.

 

 

During the two years applying for pilot jobs, I committed  myself to staying current and focused in aviation… Networking was one thing, but I figured any foot in the aviation door was a step in the right direction… So I worked as airport security, TSA in my home country, Sweden for one year, and as a crew planner, where I handled administrative duties for another airline. Planned monthly schedules, holidays, and day off requests from pilots. Every week when we released the new schedule, my inbox filled with at least 200 emails from pilots who were not happy with the routes they received or times they worked. Quiet to myself, I used to think: “but you have a job as a pilot, stop complaining I would do what you do for nothing…” Never did I think I too one day would complain to someone else when I don’t get the days off I requested.

 

 

I have to pinch my arm and think back on the days when I sat in the office and dreamed of sitting where the pilots sat. The world’s most beautiful office, 38,000 feet a coffee in my hand and the whole world at my feet.

It’s a perfect job and I could not imagine myself doing anything else, but for those who dream of becoming a pilot and believe that you will explore the whole world and have screaming girls, like Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Catch me if you can’ after you as soon as you put the stripes on, you’ll have to think again. It’s not like that anymore and you will have to work hard for it! Most of the times when you land for a layover you are too tired to do anything. The 12 hours you have in Bogota, New York or any other dream destination you will most likely go back to your hotel room and sleep, order room service and watch tv.

 


The trips I make, the movies I share on Instagram are not filmed during a 24 hour layover in a paradise resort. Most trips I do, I do on my free time. It is thanks to Instagram and my social channels I can afford to do so, not thanks to free airline tickets and a juicy pilot salary. The pilot salary for the company I work for is definitely not bad, but I’m a contracted pilot which means I’m not employed by the company but rather hired for a service. They give me a salary every month and from that salary I have to put away money for my pension, pay healthcare, insurance, loss of license and everything from my own meals aboard to my uniform. I wouldn’t change a thing, I’m quite okay taking my own responsibility but it might not be something that suits everyone.

 

 

I hope my story inspires you because even though it takes a lot of work, I wouldn’t change it for anything– let’s be honest though, pilots are the best people at complaining. You will always find someone saying “it’s not what it used to be” and although that might be true since things change, at the end of the day, it’s still the best gig around in my opinion and I just want to share that with you and bring more positivity to aviation. While of course I would never share anything that could jeopardize safety, I want to show you all what’s behind that secret door that nowadays has to be closed, locked and bullet proof. It´s not a secret how you start an engine, you can learn that from a computer game. And I hope for some of you that are scared of flying that it might help to see someone being healthy, positive and happy about their job, aviation has already had too many hits, it’s about time we show why it’s the safest way to go from A to B and never the less the prettiest way – that view from 38.000 feet.

xx Maria

 

Thank you Dustin @aircrewlife and Emilie @emiliepix for inspiration, feedback and correcting my grammar 😉 

@bobbyksa @pete_ohara @tonyedgar @flymalin @mariathepilot @pilotmaria

 

xx Maria