Friday, June 27, 2014

It's my last month in Melbourne and this city is sending me off in the best way possible.  So many good things going on, amazing people out there and great coffee to drink.  It's always when you buy the ticket to leave a place that you start having second thoughts and want to stay.  But I'm always a fan of leaving on a high note and not overstaying in one place.  It'll have been 6 months in Melbourne when I leave and while it would have been longer, it's been a wicked time and will leave me wanting to return as soon as possible.

Here's just a snippet of the last days:

Thursday:   Free performance of Peter & the Wolf (reliving my childhood with storytelling, music and a ton of kids clapping), exploring the outdoor markets of Melbourne (coming away with 8 avocados left behind the stall because they were too ripe), drinking coffee at some of the best places around, attending a boutique shop's opening party (full on tasting of olive oils, vinegars, dips and an open bar), staying up til 4am watching the US lose to Germany and still go on to the next round of the World Cup

Friday:    Watching the NBA Draft in the morning, getting paid to "mystery shop" and visit an amazing tea shop, where I got a full tasting ceremony and then bought a minted mate tea (all of which was paid back to me after), did some more of that bikram yoga sweating, and then had numerous friends over for a six pack party where everyone brought along new beers for everyone to try.  Great times, great beers and lots of laughter.

Today:    The sun is shining (and the cold wind blowing of course), but it's still time for a run, some yoga, some coffee, some French Toast and chilling before working the hostel overnight.  Life is good!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bikram Yoga

As I entered through the door, it definitely seemed like I was in the midst of a cult.  Half-naked people lay with their heads pointing towards a long wall filled with mirrors, with a steamy half lit atmosphere that was filled with the sound of breathing.  The heat hit me within the first few steps in the room.  It's wintertime here in Australia (yes, it does get a bit cold in the South Pacific) and yet, in the room, sweat was already coming off the bodies, with an uncomfortable stale smell of old sweat and heat attacking the nostrils.

Yes, I was about to do my first bikram yoga class.  I'd heard it was hot, but this hot was HOT!  The kind of hot that towards the end of the first class, you feel like you're choking and can't breathe hot.  The kind where the body is numb, tingling all over, telling you not to move or you're going to pass out hot.

For some reason, I decided to attend the 6pm class, which turned out to be the one packed full of everyone just off of work.  Probably about 50 people were in the room ready to get to it.  I stuck to the back, so I could watch and learn.  Overall, it was similar to a standard yoga class, apart from the fact that when you tried to grab your foot with your hand, it kept slipping out.  Sweat was everywhere.  Puddles were forming below certain people.  The towel underneath me got thoroughly soaked.  I sweated in places I didn't know was possible.  There was no hope of trying to dry my palms on my shorts after 20 minutes, as my shorts became wetter than a swimsuit in the ocean.

The highlight of the first class is a tie between the water breaks and feeling very loose and flexible.  Some of the positions just didn't seem natural, but the body definitely could move in new ways unlike before.  After 90 minutes of movement, sweating and attempting to balance while looking straight ahead, it was time to lie on the ground and let the body recover.  I don't know if recover is the right word, since just lying there with my heartbeat racing, the body thoroughly whooped, my hands could not remain open.  Just kept cramping up as I searched for normal breathing.  10 minutes later I slowly worked my way up to start the mission of returning to a normal human being.  Quite the experience, of which I ended probably 3-4 pounds lighter, wearing a pair of extremely wet shorts and a sweated soaked towel.  On my walk home, a sense of euphoria him me, with the body feeling tip top and alive.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day in, day out

Sorry for the lack of posts everyone.  Life is golden in Melbourne and it's been a busy fun time of working, kicking it with friends, exploring the city and catching up on a few movies and books during the Australian winter.  Here are a few things I've been up to:

  • Continued giving walking tours of the city, showing backpackers the hidden cafes and bars tucked away down the many laneways of Melbourne.  Melbourne is made up of so many places that you need time to just wander around, and check them out.  It's not Sydney, which is full of the sights (Opera House, Harbor Bridge, etc), it's a city that is all about the experience, the people, and most of all the coffee.  Having become over the last decade, a cup (or more) of coffee a day guy, this place is a caffeinated paradise.  The love that goes into each cup is unbelievable as it is ground fresh and made just for you.  None of this brewed an hour ago like in the US, this is the real deal: fresh, aromatic, full bodied and strong.  

  • I flew out west to visit friends in Fremantle, Western Australia.  I lived there in 2005 and this was my second time visiting since then.  Fremantle was such an amazing place to live back then, and yet, the city has somehow gotten even better (unlike my English grammar through the travels).  New shops, cafes and still that good weather.  It was wicked to catch up with friends (some of the best in the world) and eat/drink at the favorite places.  Since I was there on a weekend, there was also the Sunday run and swim at Cottesloe Beach.  It is winter, but swimming in the Indian Ocean was just as amazing as it is in the summertime.  In the last year, I've been swimming in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian.  Love me some beach!

  • I finally sold my Moroccan rugs through an auction house.  If you recall, I was talked into buying two amazing rugs in Morocco with the thought to sell them here in Australia. It turned out to be a bit more difficult than I had thought, but last Saturday morning, I went and watched the auction where the rugs were sold.  It was a fun excursion, watching the people bid on everything from 1700s silverware sets, to a 1785 candlestick (sold for over $1500), to paintings.  A statues of an ancient Chinese warrior went for $4200.  Quite impressive what people were paying and the auction moved along at a quick pace and wasn't as stereotypical as I thought it would be from all the movies.  My two rugs were sold separately and several people in the audience were going for them, including the person next to me, and a phone bidder.  My heart was beating faster with anticipation of the sale.  It felt good to know they were being passed off, a weight off my shoulders (literally as I carried them around the world with me through 4 airports and 4 houses in Melbourne).  Business mission: success.  Making money: not worth it.  Story: priceless.