The "other" city
12.20.2006 - 12.25.2006 70 °F
We had heard “Sydney is like LA and Melbourne is like Seattle” enough that we were a little predisposed to the analogy. It wasn’t far off. We arrived in Melbourne to temperatures in the 90s, and as we cabbed our way to our hotel in the Central Business District, it was apparent that this city wasn’t used to the temperature. While Sydney would be wearing mainly short pants and flip flops to cope with the heat, Melbourne was wearing suits, dresses, long pants and dripping sweat. The next day, it rained all day with temps in the 70s. The analogy was fitting. Melbourne was very different from Sydney. It had a very cosmopolitan feel to it, more so than Sydney, but didn't feel like an international city. Sydney felt like an ethnic melting pot, where languages from all over could be heard just in our hotel lobby, while Melbourne seemed very Australian with most folks sounding and looking quite Australian.
We enjoyed Melbourne for different reasons than Sydney - primarily the shopping and the food. The shopping was great, and there were streets specifically for different types of shopping. Jewelry on one street, outdoor stuff on another street, vintage clothing on another, skateboard and surf gear on another. And the quality of the shops was about as good as we’ve ever seen. There was fabulous selectoin and sizes to fit everyone. There was a great walking street, (Bourke Street), in the center of town with little alleys that offered great shopping and lunch that was hard to believe. Sure, I’ll have mussels for lunch if they’re available and delicious. They were. One thing that we noticed was that Australian’s shop and they BUY. I know that Americans get pegged as the world’s biggest spenders, but holy cow, the Australian’s really know how to lay down the cash for goods. We were surprised to see so many folks shopping and holding bags stuffed to the top. Maybe it had to do with Christmas being around the corner…
The dining was fantastic and there were little alleyways filled with outdoor restaurants again with different themes. One alley was Italian, one Chinese, one continental, etc.... The Italian alley was right near our hotel and we took full advantage. Combine the shopping with the food, and for us, that kind of captured what Melbourne seemed to be about. It was an active and athletic city by most American comparisons, but it didn’t feel like life rotated around athletic endeavors the way Sydney did. The architecture was pretty cool in Melbourne as well, counter positioning very modern art against older buildings.
We took a trip about 100km outside of Melbourne down to Bells Beach, home of the Rip Curl pro surfing event and we visited Torquey, which is the corporate home of Rip Curl, and the Australian surfing museum. We intended to make it out to Philip Island on the Ferry to watch the penguins at sunset, but unfortunately we missed the Ferry by about 5 minutes. In Melbourne proper, we did find a nice skate park by the river (Riverslide) and the boys frequented the park after completing their homework, getting there and back on their own most of the time. The boys ran into Louis Marnell, one of their favorite skaters from the “Let’s Live” Volcom video. Griffin and Parker both chatted him up and got an autograph.
There seems to be a pretty fun but serious rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne with folks landing on both sides of the fence arguing which is better. They are so different it's really hard to make an apples to apples comparison. Both are awesome and we could frankly live in either place if it came down to it, but for our family, Sydney was tops – making this a pretty short Blog entry.