I arrived, fresh on the inaugural Tiger flight from Alice to Melbourne, to find Jackie and Shannon waiting for me at the airport. I hopped in the car and we were off to the house, my final destination in Australia.
I’ve probably talked about this before on this blog, but I feel its my duty to finally suss out my feelings about Melbourne and Sydney. Melburnians and Sydneysiders have serious issues with each other. There’s a level of pride there I haven’t seen many other places in the world. So let me say this. I love Melbourne. It is a city full of alternative, cool people, with many alternative, cool places. The music scene is thriving. The parks are beautiful, the downtown is spotless and its many laneways and secret passages invoke a real sense of adventure. I love the city’s tenacity for sports. Aussie Rules baby, all the way. The thing with Melbourne is that it is difficult. Its surface does not reveal its true personality. It is a city that takes time to discover, and I think that is the appeal for so many Melburnians. However, I didn’t have enough time — I took places for what they were on the surface, as many travelers have to. I got a taste — it was amazing — but if I were to go back, I’d have to choose Sydney. (But I love you Jackie!!!!)
One of Melbourne’s many laneways.
As a New Yorker, the concept of Sydney is just astounding. There’s not one beach to frequent, there are many, many, many. There’s posh Manly, the uber-relaxing golden-brown Northern Beaches, laid-back Coogee, teeny Tamarama, surf-heaven Bronte and of course party-town Bondi. And more. You can hop on a bus or a ferry (a gorgeous, gorgeous $6 ferry ride) and in 15-20 minutes reach all of these places. City to paradise in 20 minutes or less.
I loved that Sydney was on the surface. Bustling George street packed with backpacker bars, posh pubs at the Rocks, hipsters in Paddington & Bourke Street, beach party at Bondi, yuppie restaurants and swanky bars in Surry Hills and total chaos dance party mayhem in the Cross. You knew to go to the Cross after the pubs closed. You knew to go to Harbour Bridge and Bondi for New Years. You just knew. You didn’t have to be “in the know” of the latest secret bar opening on an unmarked street. It was easy to learn. And the Harbour. Every time I saw the Opera House I felt Australia. I felt the distance from home and I loved it.
All this makes me think I’d like San Francisco/Oakland. Maybe someday. Everytime you see that big red bridge, right?
But still, Melbourne Melbourne Melbourne. I tried my best that last week to penetrate the city’s outer shell, and I feel like I did. We went for amazing cocktails at Polly, a seemingly divey bar on the outside, really red, plush and fabulous on the inside. We went to a dance show at the casino and had an amazing last dinner there as well, and Jax and I got cocktails with Shannon at a secret-y garden roof patio bar.
Jax and I at the cocktail bar.
George and I went on runs around the park every day and I watched A LOT of So You Can Think You Can Dance Australia. I bought a lot of souvenirs. I yearned for these shoes every day.
$250. Anyone want to buy for me?
And the Victorian beaches. Sydney may have beautiful beaches, but drive an hour or so outside Melbourne and you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. Pure blue ocean. Not a person in site. Sheer, natural beauty.
I left Australia with that vision in my head. Clear, blue clean Australia. I tried to sleep. I couldn’t. Not when I was going to the exact opposite.