I’m in love, or at least deeply infatuation at first sight with this city. For the past few days I’ve walked countless blocks in and around Melbourne‘s central business district (CBD) and it’s such an interesting city. There’s a sense of a city within in a city, with lane ways hidden between each main street and a plethora of shops, restaurants and coffee shops it’s easy to get lost wandering up and down each one. I find myself stopping at random coffee shops sitting down with a delicious flat white or long black while people watching as the time flows by each day.
I’d have a hard time classifying the city as it’s got a grand mixture between a modern large North American city and the charm and historical feeling of some European cities. The coffee culture seems to be a way of life with small patios spotted along the sidewalks of most blocks and a genuine pride in the quality of the coffee similar to Seattle, Portland or Kona. There’s no watered down drip coffee that I was raised on, no greyish puddle water Tim Hortons but each cup is made by hand with care and well you definitely pay for it.
There’s also a great fashion sense in the city that I wasn’t expecting, I see a lot more interesting outfits that seem more fashion forward then you’d seen in most cities. With my hours of people watching all around Melbourne I’ve seen a wide range of styles ranging from your average everyday people to the hippest hipsters that would blend right in anywhere from Williamsberg to Silverlake or even West Queen West. I have to fight myself every time I walk by a clothing store since I haven’t added to my wardrobe in almost a year and a half and would love to go crazy and buy all new clothing. When I originally left Toronto some 14 months ago, I decided to leave behind a materialistic existence and focus all my money towards traveling instead of buying the latest and greatest new threads. Now arriving in a new city with just one bag of clothes that I’ve been wearing over and over again for the last year, it’s really difficult not to replace it all.
The next part of the last few days has left me with two minds, the food, it’s been nothing but amazing until I receive the bill. I heard multiple times before arriving how expensive Australia is and thought I had prepared myself for this but still the sticker shock each time I sit down with a menu leaves me a bit queazy. After my time in Fiji with subpar food I think anything would have been a welcome change but pretty much everything I’ve had here has been excellent. From a delicious Pad See Ew ($15.90) that was the best Thai I’ve had since LA to the grilled fish and chips ($13.5) at BluFish in the Centre Pl lane way, which was only second to the fresh caught fish and chips I had in Hawaii. The average coffee runs between 3-5 dollars and beers from 7.5 to 11 from the few places I’ve been so far so it’s not completely absurd but definitely higher than most places I’ve been, especially on a travellers budget.
Getting around Melbourne has been pretty straightforward and completely walkable from where I was staying at first but now it’s about a 10-15 minute train ride out to my new place. The transit system looks pretty good to me so far, with a simple rechargeable card to tap on and off of all the services (train, tram and bus) so no need for tokens or exact change like back in Toronto. It’s a bit more expensive per ride but you do have two hours to go around on one fair as far as I understand. I’ve yet to try the tram system out but it seems like it’ll be a good way to get to some of the other areas of the city I want to explore this week. The one unfortunate thing about the system here is that’s not integrated with google maps for directions, which I’ve relied heavily upon while traveling around North America.
There seems to be a lot of culture in this city as well that I still need to explore but from reading the local rags there’s a lively music and arts scene here. Also the summer in Australia is stacked full of festivals but they do seem to be a bit expensive. I’m guessing that the shows for local artists are a bit cheaper but any of the international acts seem to be really expensive. For example, Mumford & Sons are playing here and tickets are $90 AUD but their show in LA is $35-55 USD so I may not get to see as many shows here as I might like but I understand why they cost that much more after paying for my flight over here.
I’ve popped into a few art galleries around the Melbourne CBD but I haven’t made it to some of the other areas where the arts scene is much bigger, hopefully tomorrow or the next day I’ll make it over to St. Kilda and wander around some more. This week I plan on checking out different areas of the city each day and will report back with some of my favourite places and what’s going on with each one.
* I was playing with a new visual styling on these photos, while it was overcast this day the city isn’t really grey, I just liked the way this looked.