the wonderful service …. after many years you almost become immune to the poor service in the UK. It is noticeably better in Australia (something I had forgotten) … warm and genuine but without being over the top like the states…. everybody says enjoy the rest of your day … is there anything else I can do to help .. or something along those lines, without it feeling forced.
Melbourne has changed a lot in the years I have been away, all in a great way, hats off to those that have designed, developed and continue to build this extraordinary city, and hats off to the folks that live here especially those that have moved from abroad to make this such a wonderful multi-cultural place.....
So … what are the rest of my initial thoughts? Okay … settle in, there are quite a few …Architecture, I mentioned earlier hats off to those that have developed and designed this great city, especially in the last few years, the design is exceptional, as is the mix of old and new, what you really notice is the colour used. Melbourne feels bright .. it used to and still does remind me a bit of Barcelona, close to the water, a tonne of art, brilliant design, latte lifestyle. (click here to check out the brilliant and clever design of buildings)
Coffee … oh my I had forgotten how great Melbourne coffee was, Italy you have truly been relegated to second place. There are soooo many great new little cafes, coffee houses that have opened in the laneways, all striving to serve great coffee, and boy they do, and with the coffee army regularly reviewing and rating all the local places everyone is always trying to improve and enhance, I used to be a 10 day a cup kinda’ girl and had significantly cut down to a cup every few days (especially after giving up the ciggies) … I can just about guarantee that coffee habit will be coming back …
I did just mention the new little cafes, they are everywhere, every laneway, alley, little street has been completely transformed, before where there was very little, there are now the cutest land most quirky little eateries, some even only seating 4 … business meetings in cafes, I had forgotten about this, no-one meets inside, everyone goes to their local café for a cuppa and a meeting, unless of course there are tonnes of folk that need to attend. So much better than being cooped up in a room. It is funny that a lot of these cafes are in streets and laneways that I used to think were so small, and now they seem soooo wide, as I am now obviously used to the very narrow streets in Europe… (check out the cute little cafes by clicking here) …
Street art, everywhere, sculptures, statues, colour, music, restaurants, graffiti I have spent hours just wandering looking for new finds. (pics of street art here ..)
Folk:- height, men are noticeably much taller here, (glad), I remember one place I worked in the UK and I had mainly all guys as direct reports, who were all shorter than me ! as I result I used to find myself stooping, and have seemed to almost sub-consciously have kept this up, resulting in hideous posture, at 5’7 I am not that tall, look much shorter due to stooping, yet being back I find myself walking tall again. (I looked up heights of men worldwide and have since discovered Aussie blokes (also very very on average noticeably good looking) are the second tallest behind the Dutch (who I also love) Ooh I should mention the accents, I do find them very very very strong … Julia G .. (prime minister) accent is so
strong bad, it hurts my ears, to the point when I hear her on the radio I have to switch her off. (sorry Jules) folk seem more accepting of all, and humour is dry, the place is politically correct but without being over the top and really embracing of all .. as an example there is a great ad on TV of two men in a bakery kneading bread to ‘righteous brothers’ copying the Demi Moore / Patrick Swayze pottery scene in Ghost. Lots of the models in magazines and telly are normal sized, and the model with the most covers and features last year was actually a transsexual. Oooh I need to mention Unisex loos. I lived in Sydney for about 3 years, in Darling Harbour, where most restaurants, bars, clubs had unisex loos, it was nice to come back to this in Melbourne. I like those unisex loos.
Multi-culturism is embraced, Sandridge Bridge that links the CBD to Southbank, has glass panels representing every country, it then states how many people have migrated and have origins from each country that now live in Melbourne and Australia, the waves of immigration and reasons and languages spoken. I have seen a lot of amazing sites in the world, and I rank this as one of the best. I was soooo proud it moved me to tears. I noticed that there is a news channel that dedicates itself to a lot of Asian foreign news, Korean, Chinese etc .. there is even Come Dine with me in Greek, with English subtitles. Melbourne as a city does have the second largest greek population in the world outside of Athens, hey we even have a whole street dedicated to Greek restaurants.
The newspapers are positive and I think this reflects on the mindset, and perhaps why Aussies are seen as relatively positive folk. As an example, there have been hideous floods recently with homes destroyed.. but rather than focussing on ‘johnny lost his home and the insurance would not pay in full and the govt has not done enough’ aka UK … the stories focus on the volunteers that have come from all over the State to pitch in and help, and how people have been touched as a result. They talk about the success of things, and obviously focus largely on sport and sporting acheivements, there is far more advertising for the Olympics here than there is in the UK, which is odd given London is hosting.
The sky … everyone used to laugh when I used to say the sky is different downunder .. but it is .. it is much bigger, and brighter down here … and ever changing, the sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking, the clouds move fast, you see the ‘weather coming in’ .. and you see stars … hundreds and hundreds of them …. And the blue is soooo bright …. (pics of the changing sky from my apartment)
Healthy living .. anyone working in the CBD of Melbourne within 10 minutes can be in massive parks, cycle lanes, Olympic swimming pools, the beach etc … as a result you see people out and about exercising everywhere, most folk in suits are in trainers as they walk to and from work and at lunchtime, the govt is so supportive of healthy living that they are now offering free pilates, tai chi classes in different parks and spaces across the city … foods have long been MSG free and have to declare it, and now all meat is graded by meat standards, and no BSG is being promoted. Natural medicine is heavily promoted as is things like shiatsu etc .. it is sooo embraced these things are even supported and covered by health funds. The food is noticeably fresher and things that are bad for your health are taxed at a higher rate than those that are not … encouragement to eat healthier …
Economy is still relatively strong, given everything going on in the world … it has been almost 25 years since Australia officially had a recession, mining dominates, but Australia, as it has always done, continues to promote buy Australian made, before anything else. As a country that focusses on export much more than import, that can produce its own energy and that has a population with a relatively large disposable income (despite the fact that I noticed things are getting freakin’ expensive – a cocktail was $4 when I left it is $20 now) the economy has remained relatively strong. Australians still pay extra against their mortgage payments than most folk across the world.
Forgotten things, there are a tonne of things I have missed and had forgotten about, in Australia the checkout chicks and guys do not sit down, they stand all day and they pack your groceries for you. Tampons (sorry if that is too much info) Australia definitely leads the world here …(trust me on that one), Wagon wheels, Nutri grain, Solo, Tim-Tams, Weet-bix .. NOT weet-a-bix,Lamingtons, tap water feels so fresh, Milk (the cows are different) the big changing and fast moving sky, stars everywhere, fly screens, fruit especially Aussie bananas (ba-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na make those bodies sing, make those bodies sing) and avocados, twisties, burger rings, slightly politically incorrect ads … breakfasts …at old favourite cafes …. (just some of the things I remember)
These are just a few of my favourite things
See you soon - x