Monday, July 02, 2012

I didn’t know what to expect of Melbourne -- which is the “bigger” city, Melbourne or Sydney? Which one is more popular? I don’t know.

I was thinking about the differences in cities in Australia, in comparison to the differences in cities in the United States. To me, U.S. cities on the whole differ greatly in terms of culture and sights. But is that true for non-Americans? Do they see what I see? Perth to me was small, sorta rundown, but not that different from Sydney. Melbourne … well, I don’t know.

It reminded me of a lot of cities all at once. I’ve found that the more I travel, the more places look the same to me (I think I’ve mentioned this before). There seem to be common threads across cultures and ethnicities and languages. How much of it is borrowed and how much of it is innate, I don’t know, but it’s interesting.

Melbourne reminds me of New York City, of Boston, of London … it’s definitely more cosmopolitan than Sydney, which I wasn’t expecting. Although I still don’t feel as if I’ve seen enough of Sydney to be able to make that sort of judgment.

Sydney, though supposedly more “uptight” and “stressed” than most other Australian cities, is much more of a beach city than Melbourne is. Melbourne reminds me of East Coast cities in the U.S., cool in architecture and color. But the people I came across were surprisingly warm.

Flinders Street Station

Sovereign Hill at Ballarat, a historical theme park (sort of) ... 
about the Gold Rush in the 1800s in Australia

The town of Ballarat

Candle-making shop

Everywhere we went on the Saturday night we arrived was a party. But not the snooty Manhattan type, where everyone’s dressed up like they could see someone or be seen at any moment … people were dressed in jeans and hoodies, dancing to Usher and Rihanna, not caring that they could be seen from the street. Many of the dance clubs in Melbourne were floor-to-ceiling glass, all around. I was shocked. It was like one big college party.

Outside, along the river, two guys in a band were playing covers to songs I hadn’t heard since I was in my early teens. My friends and I stood in front of them, happy for the walk down memory lane and entranced by how good they were … and a guy sitting just behind the guitarist inside a lounge stuck his head and hand out the window and grooved along, drunk or just happy -- does it really matter?

Melbourne seems like a much more laidback city to me, happier, despite being aesthetically cooler (and art -- industrial, contemporary -- is woven into the city environs). And more spread out than Sydney, with a larger downtown area. Surprise, surprise. I could see myself living here.

St. Kilda Beach

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