Melbourne is a very comfortable city to get around in—the founders wisely designed the CBD (Central Business District) in a grid system so it’s easy to find one’s way around; it has wide sidewalks and is not too hilly; there is an amazing public transportation system of trams, buses, light rail, and trains—all centrally-located and dependable. The trams, which are free within the CBD, run every 7-10 minutes.
Although a large city of over 4.5 million, it has the feel of a much smaller one. People are friendly and courteous–every time we’ve boarded a tram, we’ve been immediately offered seats if it’s crowded. We’re often asked where we’re from (not many with our “accent” around) and folks always smile when we say San Francisco–if they haven’t already been there, then it’s someplace they want to go someday.
Interestingly, there was a gold rush there in the 1850s, much like the one in California. That brought great wealth to the City; in the late 19th century it was called “The Jewel of the Empire” and was considered to be one of the richest cities in the world. We’re told that San Francisco is a sister city–certainly there are lots of similarities between the two.
The architecture reflects those riches—beautiful buildings abound throughout. There is a constant juxtaposition of the gracious old with the glitzy new—mid-19th century buildings side-by-side with very modern architecture. Many buildings are adorned with colors and textures that transform them into urban art.
Even the post office has a very colorful canopy over the sidewalk…
The Weather: We were told prior to our visit that Melbourne can experience four seasons in one day; someone else called the weather “bipolar”—neither are exaggerations. The dress of the day is the layered look, and carrying an umbrella is part of the accouterment. The weather can go from hot and humid to downpouring rain to cool to hot again within a day. One day the high will be in the 90s, the next it might be in the high 60s. We carried a backpack with light jackets, an umbrella, a hand fan, and a change of shoes (for me) most everywhere we went—along with our cameras, of course.
Clothing: Clothing prices are almost as high as they are in Sydney—even with post-holiday sales. Women’s styles run across all spectrums, from retro to casual to couture. A lot of women wear dresses or skirts, and they come in all lengths from maxi to mini-mini; shoes are all over the place also, from high-heeled platforms to flip-flops. Men’s clothes are not quite so interesting, though there are a lot of pinks and purples.
I will continue to post observations in future journals as the days go by, along with interesting photographs.
NOTE: It’s actually 17 January and we are at the Turtle Beach Resort in Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast. Obviously I’m not spending all my time writing but, rather, enjoying reminiscing as I post events after the fact.