A New City

I imagine that the comparison of Sydney as LA to Melbourne’s NY has been made before.  In Sydney, I could sleep with the doors to my balcony wide open, the breezes blowing in the endless sound of the surf.  In Melbourne, hotel windows are sealed shut, but still the squeals of trains from the marvelous Flinders Street Station pierce through.

Sydney is actually a delightful combination of LA (cars, beach, zing), New Orleans (gardens, wrought iron, Mardi Gras), and Seattle (water visible every time you come over a hill, god coffee, and great sailing).  Melbourne feels like a combination of NY (culture abounds), Montreal (a city of the young and tattooed, unusual architecture to the point of self-consciousness), and Pittsburgh (sports mad, and a river runs through it).  I can see three stadia across the Yarra from my window, one of which is a series of conjoined geodesic domes – fun!

In Sydney, people seem to be just walking.  In Melbourne, people are walking somewhere.  The seminar audience in Sydney was jokey and sportive; here they are seriously trying to break the records.  I had good food in Sydney, but here it is a point of pride – and I have not been disappointed yet.  Both places are easygoing compared to American or European cities, but Melbourne has more in common with Europe than my city comparison would suggest.  You can see that it’s first rise and expansion was during the Edwardian Era – the Victorian station, heavy monuments, and British-designed bridges – with the new wave of twisty skyscrapers coming in the last twenty years.

I have been trying to transliterate the Australian pronunciation of Melbourne.  If you say it as written, you will sound as touristy as saying ‘Eddinburg’ when you visit ‘Ed’nburra’.  It’s somewhere between ‘Mao-bun’ and ‘Mew-bin’.  My course is at the ‘Uni’ where students gather outside for a ‘smoko’ before going upstairs for a ‘rego’ – meaning registering in for a course.  Like the Japanese, they prefer a vowel ending.  Unlike the Japanese, they don’t take themselves too seriously, except maybe in this sports thing.

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