Travel Blog

Where in the World is Cameron San Diego? Melbourne

8.14.17 Mighty Ducks, Mighty Pucks

There has been some gap between the last update and I apologize for that, but I’m back! Hopefully I will find a more regular routine. There are big plans ramping up so let’s dive right in: Next week’s agenda includes a trip to Perth with a drive up the coast of WA to Exmouth/Ningaloo Reef to swim with WHALE SHARKS. Yes, I capitalized that because it deserves a heavy mention; this is one of my bucket list items to check off, so with good fortune, my tour group will see one, and I will able to swim in relatively close proximity to one of the largest animals on the planet. GoPro rental is happening, shots will be fired (only from a camera of course), and I’ll do my best to document the week that promises to include many adventures!

Now for a quick recap of what’s been on since I last updated the World Wide Web on my shenanigans: in a city, there are funny interactions everywhere. Some of which you are a part of, and some you observe. A few of my favorites: guy singing 80’s love songs on the bus late at night to the rest of the passengers, passersby, single moms, married moms, whoever will listen really; a little girl in a gallery/museum who reminds me a lot of the little ones in my family --“Oh my gosh, apparently you can’t touch ANYTHING in here!” And I finally saw a guy playing an actual didgeridoo! One might call him a didgeridude, didgeridoer, didgeri-despacito? Too much, I know. It’s almost like the Australian Chris Angel I saw on the street one day in his boxer shorts tied from tip to tail hopping and bantering in the middle of a crowd on his boy band/Britney Spears/Sham-Wow headset microphone. I’m sad to report I didn’t stay to see him escape or cut out of the ropes after falling and breaking his face (this is all conjecture, so why not imagine a potential viral video scenario, we all know we need them).

The best story I saved for last: it was the time I tried to be a barista in my own flat (apartment) with a percolator coffee maker. The grounds sit inside a funnel shaped piece of metal and get compressed when the water steams through it, making a pseudo coffee puck (Mighty Ducks references withheld…just kidding, knuckle puck!). The cool trick to do with that is flip the funnel upside down and blow into the spout to fly the knuckle puck into the goal, I mean bin; as I tried to do this, I held my hand close to the puck to make sure it didn’t go in the floor. You may have keyed into the fact that this is my first time attempting such a dangerous feat, and it was not the well-oiled machine I imagined. As I blew into the spout, the puck disintegrated, grounds flew to and fro, and it just so happens that “to” was in the floor and “fro” was directly into my eye--a raging success. Thankfully my tear ducts were still working so I managed to get the grounds out of my eye before my roommates saw, but I told them about it anyways. Now you know how NOT to empty a percolator puck: let it fall on the floor and bin; it’s less painful that way. Or better yet, call your nearest hockey playing barista.

Another major disaster my time in the southern hemisphere blessed me with was when our washing machine (supposedly installed by a professional) spit its drain hose out of the flimsy receptacle in which it was placed and poured water slowly onto the floor as my roommate and I were making dinner. Thankfully my Spidey-senses were tingling, I found the problem, and fixed it before we had a penthouse pool for the bargain price of “damage to all of the belongings you brought with you to Australia on your ‘super fun really great wonderful working holiday down undah.’” And in case you were wondering, you can’t guess which hemisphere you’re in when the water drains onto the floor. I imagine you now know the next load of laundry we did were all of our towels.

Aside from THAT, Melbourne is still exciting, fun, and expensive as ever. I believe I’ll be waiting tables to meet some new people and stock some cash to make my time here a bit less biting on my savings. However, I’m working with several models in town and working on scheduling lots of shoots, so look out for those to come in the near future! And in the mean time, I’ll upload pictures of whale sharks next week! TTYL, CUL, TTFN, IDK my BFF Jill…Oh yea, I’m still eating lots of coffee and ramen.

7.13.17 - Beach, Ramen, City, Ramen, Mountains, Ramen...

Welcome back to the stereotypical American’s moderately boring but hopefully slightly clever travel blog; here’s to one month in Melbourne proper! The biggest difference I see from America is most certainly the trolleys (shopping carts); they have swiveling wheels on ALL four wheels. This is a game changer in the grocery store (and on the street). How do I know this? Because my roommate and I did a massive stocking run of supplies (including a disassembled bike) to IKEA, Kmart, and Coles the grocery store (no relation to Kohl’s) though my ears kept telling me the department store, and I was continuously confused when I heard my roommate mentioning purchasing our groceries there. These trolleys are like driving a drift car around the store/street--as if I needed more of a reason to do silly things with a trolley, so America: stop worrying about all your other problems and get these trolleys! Side note: I was lucky enough to see a fully grown adult male (mid 40s) throw a temper tantrum in a grocery store by yelling at the customer service representative because they "never had anything he wanted on the shelves." Yelling continued from him and eventually the CSR, so obviously the next logical step is to THROW HIS GROCERIES AT THE REP and storm out. AMAZING!

Jokes aside I love the daily life in Melbourne. The Melbourne scene is one focused on coffee and food. Everything revolves around these two staples. There are over 500 cafes scattered around Melbourne, and their offerings are more unique than you'd expect. There are unlimited blends and origins of coffee, and menus range from American to Asian to Italian and every imaginable variance in between. Vegemite is a staple here among natural born Australians and transplants alike, though not for me. And the country apparently doesn’t have a “national dish,” but legend has it if I go to the chain hardware store, Bunnings, I can line up for what is called a Snag. This is simply a hot dog on a piece of bread, a meal I’ve definitely had before, but only when I was a poor young adult who ran out of hot dog buns and had to improvise. I have not had the pleasure of trying one of these yet but am looking forward to the nostalgia it is sure to provide.

The past week was filled with fun adventures in food, train/bus/tram rides to the mountains, the beach, and even ice skating! I have quickly become the guy who always has a camera and always wants ramen, so naturally I went to many ramen shops this week slurping my way to momentary bliss (favorites listed later, don’t worry). My trip to the mountains (Mt. Dandenong 1.75 hrs East of Melbourne via public transit) was fresh (brisk in Australia) but beautiful. My final bus ride through the forests of the Dandenong range was as inspiring as the destination itself since the trees loomed up to 50m overhead! It’s a splendid contrast to the city, where our skyscrapers are only copying this nearby nature. Once I reached the “summit” (~600m elevation) I took in the expansive views of Melbourne, the coast, and deeper inland Victoria. After I felt I had examined enough with my eyes/camera (and crept into an inordinate amount of strangers’ selfies), I roamed the grounds that featured gardens, trail walks/hikes, and even a maze! I elected to pass on the maze and wait for my friends to come back with me so I’m not the lone ranger scaring children walking through the hedges, although that sounds enticing.

Brighton Beach (where the famous beach boxes reside) was a must see part of my time in Melbourne, and while beaches never make the top of any to-do list (and the chilly air didn’t spur any desire to go into the water), standing in the same place as countless pictures I’ve seen was invigorating. This area made me feel most like a tourist since I landed in Melbourne; I can’t count taking pictures of everything because I do that everywhere--it’s what I do. The colors and designs on the beach boxes pop out of the sand and demand to dominate your selfie or photojournalistic snapshots. And as they say here you can get four seasons in one day (similar to Colorado) I went ice-skating in the same week as the beach trip! The crew was as unpredictable as the weather: from “Talented Canadian” to “Almost Decent American” (me) to “Supreme Newbie Brazilian,” we all had fun at different speeds (see pics).

The innumerable shops and stores throughout the city are mind-boggling. If I were to spend my life here, I couldn’t go to all of them even if I had no job and no task other than this. Some of my favorites: nearly everything in Fitzroy, Two Birds Café, Cookie, Mr. Ramen San, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, Shujinko Ramen, Spread Eagle Hotel, Garden State Hotel, NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), and many more miniature one-off places selling the work of local artists. This grand expanse of commerce is simultaneously exciting, overwhelming, and sad because I will never experience all that I want to see in this big wide world of ours. With that in mind, however, I will do my best to keep exploring every day! Stay tuned for more.

6.13.17 - A long flight over the South Pacific

First: Moving to Australia, initial destination-Melbourne

I left my fourth city of Telluride, Colorado after a whirlwind weekend at Telluride's Mountain Film Festival where I was able to see many fun shorts and several great films about adventuring people and how mankind affects our Earth. It was a weekend capped off with a burn party (like mini-Burning Man, click Deep Creek Mine below to see their work) where I was graciously given the opportunity to DJ for a few hours during the after party which was mental, too much fun! After a warm round of final dinners and hugs, I took off for home where I spent a week in the hospital visiting my dad through a little scare we had with him. I was going to stay providing his condition didn't improve, but he recovered quickly and urged me to continue with my adventures to Australia.

Thus begins the craziness that is now my life living in another country on the opposite hemisphere on this ENORMOUS planet on which we live. I flew from Cincinnati to LA, spent twenty hours hanging with friends I knew from college and doing an impromptu photoshoot where I was the model for a change. I somehow only manage to spend entirely too little time in Los Angeles every time I go, but the city with be there when I return to attack it head on with a select few of my favorite people. The Australian accent is part of the draw for me to come to this country, and upon boarding my flight on Virgin Australia from LA, I was almost entirely surrounded by it, and that made me quite giddy. You can imagine my continued joy when I landed in Melbourne after flying over the dark South Pacific for fourteen hours only to be greeted by more of this pleasing intonation-exactly as I had planned it.

Once I finally collected my baggage, I breezed through customs (surprisingly) and boarded a bus to the CBD (central business district). All of this still happened in the dark because I landed in "tomorrowland" at 5am, fourteen hours ahead of my typical EST. Once I reached CBD, I had then to purchase a Myki (pronounced like Mikey) card to galavant around the myriad trams and trains that interweave all the boroughs, neighborhoods, and the outskirts of Melbourne. The first place for me to visit: food, coffee, and my great friend Trang from Telluride who moved here seven months ago, fell in love, and still lives the dream. I was graciously welcomed by Trang and the staff with delicious food, coffee, and the tiny task of setting up their Sonos system (something I thought I left in America, but I'll leverage my skills when I can). I proceeded to take a nap since I didn't sleep for any extended period on the plane and then ventured around the city with my fellow Telluridian and had more stellar food (noticing a trend?), people, and beautiful views of my new city.

The most notable differences from the country I flew from (other than the road system being flipped) is that tax and tips are included in the pricing, which is nice to know ahead of time. It also ensures people working in the service industry are paid much more fairly/consistently than in the States; they have an extremely rich and serious coffee culture here, so being a barista isn't a lowly title. Overall, people seem to be more casual and fun, especially in stuffy situations like customer service interactions and on massive publications; slang abounds and it's wonderful. I am embracing it wholeheartedly without trying to sound like a hoaky American butchering the culture of another country. All else aside, Melbourne is a beautiful city, and I'm loving all the tiny bits of it left unexplored by most of the residents here (and marking them on my GPS for photoshoots) as well as the must-see attractions around the metropolis. It is a bit expensive, though, to live an extended period without holding a job, so I must get on that. Until next time!