As December and the year in general come to a close, it means I’ve now been in Melbourne for three months. Over the Christmas holiday, I got to see more of Australia with the trip to Sydney. It’s been interesting observing things here for three months. I’m still learning that Australia has a different word for somethings than we do in the US. I’ve learned that a particular group of people here 1) don’t know how to walk on the correct side of the sidewalk and 2) don’t get that the seats in front of the tram are Priority Seats. I won’t call out what specific group of people, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could guess it.
Anyway, there are a number of things that I like here better than in the US. Public toilets are one of them. While the ones in train stations are about equally dirty as the ones in the US, the automatic Exeloos greatly beat out the toilets in the US. They clean themselves (graffiti excluded), and play smooth jazz while you do your business. Second thing Australia does better are libraries. I’ll be writing in detail about Melboure’s later, but the short story is they’re vastly superior to the ones in the US (that I’ve been to anyway). Third is crosswalk signals: buttons are huge and they chirp or click to tell you when the signal is changing.
Compared to Sydney, Melbourne really is stupidly easy to get around. Trams are everywhere. Sydney had trains, which were nice, but the spacing between some stops was huge. Ferries were outrageously expensive. But, I do like Opal a hell of a lot better than Myki. Even though Myki is hit-or-miss, it’s easier than tokens (I really hope NPT works well).
Coffee here is OK. I’ve yet to find anything that could come close to replacing Rival Bros, but Brunetti is pretty good, granted it comes at a price. Things in Melbourne are generally more expensive than in the US. Even Subway isn’t all that cheap. Daiso is likely the closest thing to a dollar store here, but much better.
Internet speeds for the most part are terrible. The best internet I’ve had here was the Hilton in Sydney. The free internet at the libraries is nice, but even when the library isn’t crowded, it’s very slow. That said, I’m definitely looking forward to having quality internet back in the US.
Museums are apparently hit-or-miss. The government-funded ones are generally free, and are a good way to spend the day. But, they aren’t quite museums I’d visit regularly. I definitely miss the Philadelphia Museum of Art and MoMA. Public spaces though are very nice. Federation Square has some funky building, but there’s always something going on there and it’s usually something cool. Parks have been beautiful, especially the Royal Botanic Gardens (both in Sydney and in Melbourne). Melbourne is very much a shopper’s heaven (and a wallet destroyer). There are fantastic shops hidden all over the city. Laneways are a great way to discover them (not all of the alleyways here are sketchy like Philly).
So, in short, there are some things here that I will miss back in the US (the libraries especially). Likewise, there are things in the US that I miss (namely, quality internet). I have another three months to go here, and I intend to make the best of them. However, I do fear they’ll be gone before I know it.