Friday, September 2, 2011

Melbourne: the Yale of Australia

Melbourne seems to have a little chip on its shoulder about Sydney. The way people talk about it is so emphatic--"Oh, I LOVE Melbourne, it's so European, it's artier"--wethinks she doth protest too much. After all, we loved Sydney, and thought while we were there that it was among the very nicest cities we'd ever been to. How would Melbourne play its hand?

When Colin got a last minute invitation to go to an Australian football game there just after checking in, it seemed like a great chance to give the city a chance to show us its best. Our college friend Mike and his two sons were the sherpas for me and C.

There is something about that much fluorescent light that excites the brain, no doubt. But Colin is simply immune to the charms of highly-paid people wearing colorful suits running around obeying inscrutable rules. And boy are these rules inscrutable.

On the Melbourne/Sydney question, Mike put it like this: Sydney looks great from the outside, but living inside it is not too special. Melbourne may not look like much on a postcard, but walk around in it and it's infinitely rich. Our first day alone bore this out. We walked for hours without ever finding an uncharming corner. So much public space: parkland, gardens, plazas, playgrounds, riverfront, memorials, elevated walkways.

Mike's wife Clare and their brood showed us around. The kids bonded like a rock band.

Sydney, Melbourne: you're both pretty. Now let's all go to the footy.

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