Wednesday, November 18, 2009

As cities go...

Melbourne's not bad I reckon. Living out in the boondocks of regional Western Australia you'd think I have an aversion to big cities, but that's not the case. I actually have a love/hate relationship with big cities: I love large vibrant cities with an inner city vibe and lots to do, and hate large sprawling cities where the car is king. I love New York, I'm sure I'd hate LA. I hate Perth, but I sure reckon Melbourne has something I like. As for Sydney, well that's complicated by me living there for many years : I hated the place when I left, but recent visits see me enjoying the place again. Not sure I'd live there again though...

That's the crux of the matter I suspect. Visiting a big city with lots of stuff to do and a vibrant cultural scene is really attractive when all you've got to do is enjoy it, rather than have to knuckle down to a fulltime job to pay the exorbitant accommodation costs involved in living in said city. After a while I'd probably tire of living in NYC but it wouldn't happen overnight. Whereas Perth?? Like just what has it got going for it??

Anyway, back to Melbourne. I had a short visit last weekend in an attempt to catch up on a bit of medical education and had great plans to get a few cultural fixes while I was at it. Or at least go and see a few alternative films which our local redneck cinema is unlikely to screen. I stayed in the city in a nice little apartment and ventured out daily across the river to Southbank, past Crown Casino to attend my classes. And the weather was glorious - a rarity for Melbourne at any time of year - with blue skies and temperatures in the mid 30s, lots of people enjoying alfresco coffees and numerous lycra clad cyclists riding by.

The city skyline is an interesting mix of architectural styles which I personally find not only pleasant on the eye but also thought provoking, as if the burghers in Council have deliberately decided to challenge the residents to some sort of conversation about the built environment. I find that refreshing, regardless of whether I actually like the building or not, the fact that the city allows architects to create something different from the stock standard glasswalled skyscraper is to be applauded. And then there's the older planned streets of the CBD, with their grids of streets, lanes and alleys, where the graffiti is now highly valued "street art", and the boutique shopping is second to none.

But I suffered dreadfully from jetlag, and the intensive classes tired me out, so nary a movie did I make. But I did visit the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition which was well worth the effort, though its interactive life sized models of da Vinci's inventions would bore the socks off any kid more used to the bells and whistles to be had in any Scitech installation. Those of us who can enjoy a history lesson, an art lesson, and a few gory models of dead human beings and their various organs will enjoy the experience.

I'm sure I've been seduced by the weather. Fact is, Melbourne is glorious when it's not overcast and blowing an icy wind straight off the antarctic. Think I'll stick with my beachhouse in the midwest for the time being, even if today we have yet another rainy front lashing the coastline. With all this wacky weather, for all I know in a few years time I might be changing my mind!

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