Saturday, March 24, 2012

Playing Melbourne

Ever since I came to Australia I always wondered what's the look of Melbourne, its spirit and how would you feel living in there

And you probably wonder,

Didn't you decided Sydney from the start?
Are you planning to move to Melbourne?

The why is:
Melbourne is an interesting city of Australia (the second biggest) and curiously enough it was our first option when we first take the decision to come down under.

The Sydney decision:
Moving to Melbourne was a short lived dream because after a little research and a bit more of crunching numbers (and understanding the meaning of it) we realised Sydney was better option; it provided more jobs with equal to almost less competition, which meant quicker insertion into the work force and more metropolitan (closer to our taste) lifestyle.

Am I planning to move there?
Nope, I think it was a bit of curiosity but that alone wasn't the driving force for our trip, the real reason why we went there was to celebrate the engagement of two dear friends (it was their Aussie wedding sort of thing... difficult to explain without writing another post... and is sort of private) which allowed us to go there for two days and enjoy the city.

Please be aware, it was a weekend getaway (forced to three days thanks to bloody jetstar) which could be a complete overlook of the entire Melbourne experience. By the way, jetstar is a piece of shit; never fly with them (promotional spot was promoted by Rod’s Rage... and Colgate!).

First impressions of Melbourne

Its architecture is extremely interesting; evolving gradually replacing spaces of the old city without removing its architectural heritage as Perth has done during the last twenty something years... But if you know nothing about architecture or don't care about it, you probably will notice that is definitely cleaner than Sydney.

In my case I noticed both at the same time, causing me instant wonder and surprise.

Would you like to take a look at some of my photos of Melbourne?
Click on the slideshow and it will take you to my flickr photo sets.

Is very easy to find yourself walking on the streets, looking at a Victorian building from 1890’s near by a brand new art-deco or post-modern house with solar panels on its roof and a vintage shop at the entrance; so well done that it refreshes the old Victorian building without breaking its style neither tendency; it just plays beautifully.

Worthy to include: their general dress code.
Melbourne dress style is very European with a hint of hipster; that is, elegant yet including young elements into the mix which makes you think they are outgrown children with a keen sense of fashion (don’t hate me for saying the truth).  Obviously not everybody uses the same style but you can get the general idea with the following image.

Also worth to note on ‘first impressions’ is (with the exception of Mel CBD) the city is two stories high in every direction our eyes look upon, having as consequence zero to none point of reference while you are walking around. This is not entirely a bad thing as Melbourne adapted its flatness to its advantage building up the tram as main transportation system.

A tram gives you the possibility to move around the city easily without losing contact with the surface or the city, resulting in a more appealing, interactive and enjoyable ride towards your destination, although I found myself quite often thinking ‘every tram should be a bit bigger, I feel cramped’. If getting into the tram is not your thing and you are more sport oriented, the city is super adapted for bicycle riders and it has lots of dedicated roads for all of them.

And riding the tram, bicycle or walking around get me into another point of interest, shops and restaurants. Melbourne seems to be designed as a big shopping area with plenty of restaurants established in every corner with music (lived or recorded) to engage your senses with its aroma, texture, taste and sounds. Certainly you could find something to captivate your curiosity to drive you to one of those establishments, spending most of your time in there. In my case I was captivated initially by Flinders street and its multiple parisienne alike galleries with numerous restaurants and beautiful smells (someone told me they are called Flinders’ Hallways, no idea if that is correct) especially after starving for three hours while we were leaving our bags to then go back to Flinders Street to get something to eat.

Finally (and this is what stood up all the time) was the lack of mimes running on the streets entertaining everybody.

At this stage you probably think... WTF is he talking about? (Yes, what the FAQ...)

Everybody (from Melbourne) has told me so many times that the best way to describe Melbourne was with the word... ‘Cultural’

But what does it mean?

I am going to cite a dictionary definition of culture: ‘The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.’

Cultural as in there is lots of history in there just like Greece or Italy? Nope...

Cultural as in you will be able to find people walking down the street dressed and dancing with their own very cultural background? Again, no.

Well... Melbourne does have lots of sculptures every now and then and it does have a huge number of graffiti’s in every single wall of alleys, semi old houses, etc, etc. And the concentration of museums, theatres and public spaces where to demonstrate a play seems to be greater than Sydney... But does it qualify as cultural? I don’t know... I have seen some pretty cool art on the street of Brisbane and tons of public sculptures, drawings or paintings on the far away Perth. (Oh yeah, forgot to mention I went to Brisbane a couple of months ago...)

My expectations were set by Melburnians as if I was going to be received by cirque du soleil acrobats jumping out of hot air balloons, guided by the magical old man with a set of rolling dices in his hands telling me where to go, while legions of mimes walked down the street entertaining everybody.

Our experience was not like this, but it was pretty good.
(In case you are wondering... we could not see anyone running around with a hospital rope...)
Do you want to play Melbourne?

So, cultural is a word that will apply for every other city in the world as every city in the world as well, as it has the capability to ‘manifest human intellectual achievements’.

Certainly is a refined city, with refined taste for food as well for some fashion (I am not thrilled about the hipster thingo) and undoubtedly exposition to great architectural tendencies. Melbourne is the New York’s fifth avenue of Australia; I would dare to say (just the fifth avenue).

How about that for a first impression! Uh?

Was there anything I didn’t like?

Three things came to my head straight away.

First, the beaches; I am terribly sorry for you Melburnians... but St Kilda is anything but dreamy and any comparison to Bondi beach (which is not nearly one of the best in Sydney) will be more than unfair to Bondi’s crystalline water, soft sands and outstanding panoramic of its surroundings, and apparently surfing beaches are too far away for the discussion of this post.

Second and this one could be highly related to a very bad coincidence... but in two days I saw no less than seven drugs consumers, sharing or consuming drugs on the street; leading me to think one of two things: Melbourne has big drug traffic or Melburnians are not discrete at all! For instance, on two and half years in Sydney I have seen two drugs users, definitely not cool.

Third and last thing I did not like, the Yarra River and I think is heavy attributed to my mental image of what a river should look like. Its water is anything but clear; in fact it has a brown turbulent muddy colour giving you the impression of being dirty all day long. At the end of the day, my dislike is more related to its appearance more than anything; can’t complain about bad smell (because I couldn’t get any odour) but there was no connection what so ever to the river.

How do I compare Sydney to Melbourne?

There is no comparison what so ever. Both cities are so bloody different to try to establish a comparison.

Australian cities are so different between each other, so diverse and (at the same time) so into their own fashion and lifestyle that any comparison between each other will be unfair and disproportionate to both.
Melbourne offers an interesting mixture of fashion, gastronomy and architecture compensating a lot its uninteresting beaches, few slopes (or very poor elevation, I should just say lack of panoramic views) or extremely bad weather.

Unfair comments between Sydney and/or Melbourne

I have heard comments from different sources about what to expect from Melburnians or Sydneysiders and I can tell you... there are some nasties in the bag. I will try to show two of them and my counter argument.

Comment #1
"People from Melbourne is friendlier and less interested on how much money or what type of stuff you have. Sydneysiders are d-bags on this aspect" - Shared by some fellow Melburnians.

Dear people from Melbourne, what type of people have you met in Sydney?
Sydneysiders are not classist or segregationist as far as I can tell. On my two and something years of life down under I have bumped with pretty cool people with little pretensions or preconceptions at the time of socialising with somebody. In fact, our conversations will focus on many things but money, class or social  level you're in; they try to avoid it as much as possible!

Now, I know I can't speak in absolutes and it is possible that I have been blessed to be in a circle without awful social activities such as discriminating people because of their monetary/financial status or type of education, but as far as I have seen, that behaviour does not apply here.

Comment #2
"Melburnians are ice cold with everybody other than themselves... a bit boring but definitely cold people... like Europeans." - Shared by a fellow Sydneysider

I have to say, on those two days of my visit to Melbourne and the day at the airport, everyone was kind and curious of our origins; sharing a laugh while we were browsing or walking around.

Those are comments that I have to add to the 'list of things to never apy attention to', I really don't know why people express things like those.

In conclusion

If you are taking into consideration living in Melbourne I think is a pretty good choice. Even though there are things that I don’t like, it offers really nice options when it comes to food (the city is packed with restaurants), nice transport system (trams and trains) and liveable standards.


Andre_Vzla said...

aaay que cosa tan buena leerte -debo aceptar que hay cosas que no entiendo aun-, pero es muy entretenido, gracias por compartir tus experiencias!!, siempre logras hacerme reír con tus anécdotas, fue un paseo entretenido pero entendí (jijiji) nada que ver con Sydney!!! XD
pero a pesar de ser llamados de una forma muy sutil, mal vestidos como decimos en Caracas, no nos hablaste de la gente, como son o es exactamente igual en todas partes?
aaah y gracias por el dato de jetstar ya fue anotado en mi lista negra ;)

Rod said...

--- Spanish response ---
Hola Andreina,
Me alegra encuentres entretenidas mis anecdotas :) Intento lo mas posible de escribirlas de una forma amena para exponer algunas de las locuras de mi cabeza.

Creo me mal exprese si di a entender que Melbourne se encuentra por debajo de Sydney. Me parece que es un sitio muy bueno para vivir, es interesante y en general me parece que la gente se viste de una forma super chevere, porque es un poco loca pero elegante.

La gente de Melbourne es definitivamente mas amable que el Sydneysider en general (por lo menos en las primeras impresiones) pero eso lo he notado en todas partes donde hay menos turista.

Por cierto, si estas teniendo problemas con el ingles, una de las mejores formas de mejorarlo es expresarte en ingles (suena loco, pero es cierto). Asi que aca va mi respuesta en ingles para la gente que lee mi blog y no sabe español.


--- English response ---
Hi Andreina,
I am glad you find entertaining my anecdotes :) I try as much as possible to express myself into a funny way, posing the wackiness in my head.

Maybe I exposed my intent incorrectly about Melbourne not getting the Sydney standards. I believe is a great/interesting place to live in and the way people dress up is great, casual yet elegant.

Melburnians are easier going in comparison to the Sydneysider (at least that was my first impression), but I have noticed that before of areas with lot less tourism (people being more friendly).

By the way, you should write English. Will improve the way you express yourself and your general understanding of it; hence this response.


Gaby said...

Hmmmmm.... so Melbourne was your first choice!!!!...
... and NOW you're telling people that is a nice place to live....
hmmmmmmm.... ok!!!!!! (Y)

Jajajaja.... anyway... really nice post ;)

Rod said...

Yes, was as in: I was going to die if I did not get out of the building on fire in time... It WAS as in not anymore.

But in any case, it was a very nice surprise.

Claire Sage said...

Salut tout le monde,

J'apprécie vraiment œuvres d'art et vous avez vraiment me surprendre sur votre écran de votre chef-d'œuvre. cheers!

Rod said...

Merci Claire, je ne sais pas vraiment ce que tu veux dire avec mon art, mais je vous remercie.