The Comfort Pursuit

Melbourne, Victoria

It has been over a month now since we were in Melbourne. I am skeptical of city rankings and have heard a lot about areas of Melbourne that are not that nice, but the city did leave some good impressions.

City trams

One of the things that fascinated me the most in Melbourne was its trams, not only the fact that they exist and are functional, but its history. Melbourne has today the largest tram network on the planet, and trams have operated continuously in the city since 1884. This is a great example of how good leadership can end up in great outcomes. I cannot imagine how many mayors were under pressure in times of Mr Henry Ford! In fact, judging by our experience with a taxi driver, those mayors still can’t make everyone happy. One night the tram line we wanted was under repair and we (four people) took a ride with a very angry taxi driver who thinks all trams should disappear and open space for cars… Well… That old story all over again, still ingrained in some minds.

Federation Square

We stayed central and could do all we wanted and needed on foot or tram. The city centre has alive streets, and Federation Square is truly a meeting point, although it doesn’t seem to be loved by all. We were lucky and everyday was sunny, so museums weren’t priority, which is good but a shame at the same time, considering Van Gogh’s work was in town. We visited Fitzroy and its hipsters, the Yarra River and its sunny southbank and interesting buildings, including the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

I am not a big sports fan (although I like to watch soccer every now and then), and not always agree with the placement of stadiums in central cities, however Melbourne seems to have got this equation right: not too close that it kills its surroundings, not too far that you can still walk. It somehow seems safe to say that arts, sports, and city lovers can all be content there.

Majorca Building, 1930

For years now I have been hearing comments about how Australia and New Zealand don’t have much history as they are ‘too young’. But Melbourne feels different. It reminded me of Porto Alegre and some other cities in Brazil, which are significantly younger than the old continent indeed, but still proud of their history.

This was just a first impression and there is plenty still to see, but for now what I have seen is on the photoblog on the links: streets and lanes, architecture, beaches.

Anyone out there have experiences in well-ranked ‘liveable cities’ to share? What makes it liveable?

 

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