11 July 2010
There is apparently a massive cross-country rivalry that exists between Sydney and Melbourne. Melbourne says Sydney has no class. Melbourne says Sydney is rubbish at sports. Melbourne says Sydney has bad restaurants. The list goes on. What is Sydney’s reply? WHATEVER. Though that response seems to sum up the laid back beach attitude that is at the heart of Sydney culture. It’s a sort of “we’ve got the Opera House, the harbour, and Bondi. Whatever.”
Indeed, Sydney is San Fran and Melbourne is Brooklyn (with a splash of Manhattan here and there). The first noticeable difference was the lack of an ocean, well-replaced by a charming little river. The first noticeable similarity is the lack of a definitive city center. Yes, there’s the traditional Central Business District (CBD) but there’s also Federation Square and Brunswick Street and Parliament House and another half-a-dozen landmarks that could potentially be classified as the town center.
We spent our days doing what I enjoy best in a city - just wandering around. There was a stop at the main street market and a peek into a few government buildings, but no committed focus on “sites.” The city was our site; every tiny lane, every corner restaurant, and every quirky vintage shop that lined the uber-trendy, uber-park slope Brunswick Street area (complete with its own co-op grocery store!).
We whiled away over coffee and dumplings while reading every single story in the weekend paper. We rode a bumpy replacement bus to a distant beach for panoramic views of the city. We cruised the downtown on Melbourne’s delightfully efficient and wildly eco-friendly trams. Then at night, we sampled the city’s nightlife. It was the perfect leisurely holiday in a wildly livable city. One more thing it shares with Sydney: Top-notch quality of life. No wonder Australians are so darn happy. Now if we had only flown a real airline to get there...