February 21, 2004

Top Ten Great Things About Melbourne

10. The Design
Melbourne is one of those rare cities that has lots of interesting old buildings and lots of interesting new buildings. For example, across from the colourful and domed old train station are the new and funky glass and steel Federation Square buildings (leftmost picture below).


There are also a lot of (old and new) statues and public art. Makes for an interesting walk around town.

9. The Festivals
Besides the usual summer festivals that lots of cities have, like a jazz festival, Melbourne also has the Sustainable Living Festival and the St. Kilda Festival (they close off all the streets in St. Kilda neighbourhood, and there's tons of bands, food stands, and games by the beach). 40,000 people came out to the Sustainable Living Festival, and 300,000 in one day to the St. Kilda Festival. There are also a lot of events you can go to in Melbourne's many parks, like outdoor movies, astronomy lessons, Latin dancing, possum gazing, and orchestra concerts.


8. The River
Melbourne also has a nice ocean beach, but it's a bit isolated from the rest of Melbourne. The Yarra River, though, goes right through downtown. It has grassy banks for sitting around, cafes, activity centres for kids, rowing teams, and funky footbridges going across.


7. The Trams
Melbourne is a great city for walking around, but it also has excellent public transit. To get around the city you take trams (kind of like streetcars in Toronto, but faster) and to get to the suburbs you take trains. I know it's kind of geeky to be into public transit, but it can really make or break a city. One of Melbourne's trams is even free - it goes in a circle around the city during the day (mainly for tourists, but anyone can take it).

6. The Food
Not only is the food really good, but there's also a lot of diversity. We haven't yet eaten much Nepalese, Argentinian, Indonesian, or "mod-Oz", but we're working on it.

5. The Parks.
Last week, Anatole and I thought we were very clever because he signed up for a tennis class and I signed up for a volleyball game in the same park. How convenient, we thought! Unfortunately, after getting off the tram and wandering around for a while, we realized that this park was about the size of downtown Melbourne. This is not because Melbourne's downtown is small, but because this park was HUGE! It even had a big lake in the middle of it. The thing is, Melbourne has a lot of parks like that - maybe about 6 enormous parks in the inner part of the city. (In case you're wondering, I made my volleyball game but Anatole missed his tennis class. Nice park though.) Besides the parks, there's lots of other public space like Federation Square and the boardwalks next to the Yarra River.

4. The Market
Queen Victoria Market is a huge, permanent outdoor market (7 hectares or roughly the size of 14 football fields) that sells fruits and vegetables, take-out food, clothes, and tons of other random things like hammocks and alpaca seat covers. Once a week in the summer they have a big party in the market at night with live music, drinks, and even more take-out food. Of course they also make a huge patio cafe for everyone to sit at. (And this is only one of at least four outdoor markets in Melbourne.)

3. The Neighbourhoods
Melbourne is one of those cities that has lots of different neighbourhoods with their own main streets. Each one has a distinct personality, so there's a good variety when you want to go out! St. Kilda (below) is beachy, Carlton is trendy, Fitzroy is hippie, South Yarra is yuppie. That kind of thing.


2. The Cafes
On the main drags of all of Melbourne's neighbourhoods, the streets are lined with patios, packed with people eating and drinking. In fact, going and sitting at cafes seems to be one of the main activities here. This is one of the reasons why people are always describing Melbourne as European. It's such a cafe culture that even McDonald's has a cafe (called - no joke - McCafe) where you can sip cappuccinos on their patio. I haven't ventured to try out the McCafe, but all the other cafes I've been to are great.

1. The Nightlife.
I just found out that the cafe I'm writing this at stays open 24 hours!

Posted by miriam at February 21, 2004 02:42 PM

"I know it's kind of geeky to be into public transit"


Posted by: Madhava at February 25, 2004 01:35 AM

Don't worry, Madhava. Fortunately I don't consider "geeky" to be an insult! I'll even give you their website to look at: www.movingmelbourne.com.au

Posted by: miriam at February 25, 2004 09:17 AM

#9 - possum gazing? Is that the same kind of event as being stalked by squirrels in Queen's park? =)

Posted by: mike at February 25, 2004 09:57 PM