Travel Confessions: SF developer Mat Camp
This week we’ve been living vicariously through Mat Camp, a fellow Student Flights online guru living and working in the United Kingdom. Having been in London for over a year now, Mat lives in Fulham, best know for its antipodean population, Craven Cottage football stadium and close proximity to the rich kids playground - the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington. Between travelling as much as he can, Mat likes to spend his days ogling the amazing food at Borough Market, enjoying street-side shisha in Soho and pub crawling through Covent Garden. Oh and telling us all about his travels and making us extremely jealous!
Prior to leaving Australia, I had travelled to Australia, New Zealand and Japan, so, not a whole great deal of countries. But in the past 12 months I have travelled to the UK (London & Edinburgh), Denmark, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland!
When I visited Copenhagen at Christmas in 2011 to catch up with a good friend, I fell in love with the city and its ridiculous amount of bikes, beautiful lakes, walkways and the awesome Tivoli amusement park which is well worth a visit if you're there.
Switzerland was pretty damn cool too - my partner and I went to Zurich and then to Lucerne. It may have been snowing the whole time (which made things look a bit too cool). We went to the top of Mount Rigi in sneakers, couldn't see a thing and came close to turning to ice! I also found out that I have a weird compulsion to take photos of snowy trees - seriously - I took like 100 photos of trees just because they were snowy. Antipodeans and snow hey?
Another favourite trip would have to be going to Spain for Running of the Bulls. It started in Barcelona in the peak of summer and after laying out on a beach for 5 hours, we were baked to a crisp - which made a nice change from the pale ghost white that London has been so kind to bestow upon me! The Saturday night we watched the European Soccer champions final where Spain was playing Ireland. Spoiler alert - Spain won. And holy guacamole do they know how to celebrate! We went out to Las Ramblas and saw people hanging from traffic lights, the noise was immense and the vibe was electric.
After Barcelona we headed to San Sebastian which is this stunning coastal town in the north east of Spain near Bilbao and the French border. It’s the ultimate chill destination with amazing tapas, very very cheap beer that proved to be a little bit on the deathly hangover side and also a miniature version of Christ the Redeemer - what else could you want? On to the Running of the Bulls and no I didn't run unfortunately, I lined up, I stood where we thought we were all good and then the police came along and pushed us out - gutted!
Quick tip: if you want to run, keep closer to the Town Hall which is a wee bit scary considering you'll be the first to be gored but at least you'll get to run! I never realised it was such an exacting science where to stand. If you get too close to the Town Hall, you won't make it in the arena, if you make it too close to the stadium, you might get kicked out before it even starts! Suffice to say I managed to find a vantage spot and saw the bulls run past - good times were had!
The whole two weeks of my Contiki trip was the craziest travel experience I've had! Before I went on a Contiki I was sceptical of the idea of a pre-planned itinerary and sitting on a bus all round Europe but I tell you what, if you get a good group of people, it's amazing. I had never consumed as much alcohol as I did in those two weeks. So many cities, so many drinks, so little sleep. But I wouldn't change a thing!
My messiest travel experience was when I went to Munich for Oktoberfest last year. The morning of the day we were flying back to London, we called into the Hofbrau Haus to say goodbye to friends but were begged (honestly!) to stay for a beer. One beer turned into a few and when they're a litre a pop, well, the outcome is usually a bit messy. I realised at 3pm that my train to Nuremburg was soon to depart, so I raced to the train station, got on the train = job done. About 30 minutes later I realised I had got on a suburban train and not the express which was due to arrive in Nuremburg 10 minutes before my flight took off. Luckily for me my flight was delayed, I arrived at the airport at the time my flight was scheduled to take off, had to plead with the counter staff to let me check in, then plead again with security to let me through and I made it… just. I also got saturated in some weird thunderstorm that hit as we were boarding so yeah. I had a mad sweat on from running through the airport to get to the plane as well as being drenched from the rain - what a combo! The best part was when I went to put my suitcase in the overhead locker, there was some water stuck in the fold of my jumper and as I reached up it emptied out onto some poor guys lap. He was horrified.
I would describe my travel style as easy going heading towards active. I'm not very good at sitting around and "relaxing" because I just want to get out and see everything. I like going out for a drink and enjoying the nightlife of a city but then it's also good to be able to see everything while you're there rather than having to nurse a hangover for the entire trip. My approach is usually give it a crack and see what happens! Plus I think you have to be open to new experiences and attempt to try as much as you can and get outside your comfort zone.
This year I'm planning on going on a driving holiday down the South Coast of England, a weekend in Stockholm, a week in Marrakech, a weekend in Dresden and Prague and then maybe Paris for a weekend but the major highlight is going to be Glastonbury!!! I can't wait to get down and muddy in the middle of nowhere, plus it's kind of the granddaddy of festivals and I've been waiting to go to it for so long. I'm well excited. That said, I'm pretty stoked about the prospect of riding a camel in the Sahara when in Morocco. Should be a good experience.