Monday, November 29, 2010

The bourne identity

Spent the weekend evading the raindrops in Melbourne, trying to get a sense for the city that isn't Sydney. Sydney is bigger and bolder. In Sydney the waves crash; in Melbourne fairy penguins waddle to the shore. Sydney is Bondi! Melbourne is the gentle bay known as St. Kilda. Melbourne is famous for shopping; I'm not sure if that's because the shops are better (doubt it), the stores are better laid out (possibly) or there really isn't much else to do (can you tell it was raining). I couldn't find anything iconic in Melbourne, it all seems a bit artsy and understated. Ten people told me something about Melbourne before I arrived and each person mentioned the word "cafe" in the first couple of sentences - I think that was a clue. The Melbourne skyline is unpretentious, no one building dominates your gaze, each simply takes up its own space and no more, it wouldn't think to impose. Of course there is evidence of peculiarity in the town, the locals are ordered to make right turns from the left lane (doesn't that sound safe) and then there are the rickety old trams that creak through the streets, which I assume are designed to lend a certain charm but really just render the already jammed avenues all but impassable.

Apparently we owe the presence of Canberra to the epic rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. Not much of a fight if you ask me, Sydney would throw a left and Melbourne would roll over with a dreadful case of bedhead around 11:00 a.m. sipping a Latte and win. Actually I felt that Melbourne would make a great Capital City, it's got a cool name and just enough style to pull it off. On a return trip I'm actually looking forward to checking out the Cricket Grounds, perhaps I'll even stop by to watch one of those games that goes on for five days, where it is never clear who is winning and when it's all said and done, it usually ends in a stalemate. Yes, I think cricket and Melbourne go hand in glove.

So I guess I'll leave it at this, if I have to spend one night in a place I'll pick Sydney but if I need to stretch out for a week or two, I'll go with Melbourne.