It was nice to arrive in Melbourne, a comfortably-sized modern city where we speak the language and don’t have to battle cars and motorbikes for use of the sidewalk.
Melbourne is the kind of place where you see people sitting at a sidwalk cafe sharing a bottle of wine at 3pm on a Wednesday, and there are lots of very talented street musicians playing on the main streets and at the markets. People are friendly (mostly), vegetarians are not unusual, and there is really good coffee on almost every block. It’s an easy place to like.
It’s not all perfect, though. Similar to San Francisco, just because it’s summer doesn’t mean its necessarily warm… 66°/18° feels a bit chilly coming from hot & humid Southeast Asia. And the flies are weirdly aggressive – they are determined to land on your face no matter how many times you swat them away.
We spent the first week at an AirBnB on the edge of the CBD (Central Business District), exploring the city and rejoicing in the availability of good cheese and affordable (and delicious) wine. The first 24 hours was basically a cheese & Chardonnay frenzy for me. I also got the best haircut I’ve had since leaving SF, we went to a couple art exhibits, and generally enjoyed how easy it was to just walk down the sidewalk without dodging motorbikes or gaping holes.
The German has never spent the holidays in the southern hemisphere and is totally weirded out by the mix of Christmas and warm weather. The shops have swimsuit displays combined with Christmas decor. And the gift wrapping stations are often on the sidewalk – something that could never happen in Germany as everyone involved would freeze to death and be covered in snow.
We are now stationed in a southern suburb, sharing a house with a dog named Paddy. There is a huge, lush back garden that I hope not to kill while they are away. It’s not the gorgeous, modern home we had in Singapore and the location is a bit isolated, but Paddy is a sweetheart and it’s nice to relax in the garden and listen to all the exotic birds. (We even saw a flock of Lorikeets on our morning walk.)
When this is done, we will move to catsitting in a cute row house in one of my favourite neighbourhoods, Carlton. It’s a pretty ideal situation – cool house, cute cats, great area – so we will be in Melbourne until at least Jan 20.