Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Little Things I love about Melbourne so far

There is always a crowd of sun-soakers on the lawn of the State Library of Victoria
We have only been in Melbourne for about two months, and we're only just starting to see a change of seasons and the festivals, cultural events, and all around cool things you hear so much about in Australia are starting to fire up. It's not been an easy move thanks to bank bureaucracy, immediately jumping into grad school without a breaking-in period, and now the very real struggle to find any form of employment. There are things Tyler and I could complain about, but I am struck every day by little things I really love that reassure me we are in the right place for this place in our lives. Here are a few examples.

1. The city smells like a campfire at night. My theory is because wood burning fireplaces are still allowed in this city, unlike most cities in the States. Now that the weather is warming up, I can see that this is a condition that only applies to Melbourne in the winter, but it made the cold nights feel nice and cozy when we are out and about.

2. There are people busking on the streets. I know this is not unusual and in many cities it's considered a nuisance, but we have been devoid of public entertainment for 5 years and the buskers remind me of the singing streets of Nashville.  Maybe one day I'll grumble about the guitarist taking up half the sidewalk, but for now I'm so happy to hear a music student banging on some paint buckets or free style beatboxing while simultaneously playing his flute as I walk to class.

3. The water tastes AMAZING! It isn't just safe to drink, it tastes great and I prefer to drink it over bottled water or anything else. No lie, I had a dream the other night of me turning down other water so I could fill up my bottle from the tap.

I'm a sick pup.

4. People actually wear helmets! Biking is a big thing here, and not just for exercise. It appears lots of people bike to work or class or where ever and I have yet to see someone not wearing a helmet. Now, I don't know if that is because there is a strict helmet law here and it is heavily enforced, or if it is simply because people value their brains and like to keep them inside their skulls, but either way I'm loving the public consciousness of safety. It is very refreshing after five years in the Middle East where seat belts were optional and small children hanging out the sunroofs of speeding SUVs were an every day sight.

5. There are no subway singers. Ok, so there's not technically a subway here, but there are no performers on the trains or trams or any form of public transportation here. Again, I don't know if there is a law against it and it is strictly enforced, or if the people of Melbourne hate being forced into a morning commute with randos with a tambourine so they don't tolerate it. My commute on public transit is almost silent, and you hear no complaints from me.

Alright, New Yorkers, don't get your panties in a bunch. I know that for some of the subway performers, that is the only money they will make and that you don't have to give them anything, but I have serious guilt when I'm on the same subway car as one of those performers (or even worse when it's a GROUP!) and I end up either militantly avoiding eye contact the whole ride or guiltily giving them an appropriately large handful of whatever coins are in my purse. I HATE IT!

I also understand how this contradicts item number 2 of "things I love about Melbourne," but the difference is that I can listen to buskers on the street without feeling guilty about it because the sidewalk is wide or I can hear them from all the way across the street. Plus the buskers here are actually pretty good.

On the right: The stairs to the men's public bathroom. On the left: The escalator to the train platforms. Do not mistake the stairs on the right for a substitute for the escalator on the left.
6. There are free, [relatively] clean public toilets all around the city. The Mister and I live about 20 minutes outside the city and about 30 minutes away from our respective campuses, so when we are gone we're generally gone for the day. On days that I am running errands, or when we're on the trek home after pub trivia, a potty break is usually needed and there are few things that get Tyler more fired up than having to pay to pee. We are so happy to be in a city that has plentiful public toilets that don't require you to pay a cover charge.

Of course, as a result of not having to pay, those public toilets are often pretty gross, but they still don't rank as grossest we have ever seen (and some of those WERE pay toilets!). Frankly, you can't be too picky when you need to go on the go.

So far there are few things that the Mister and I find an issue with in this city. Y'all should all come down for a visit and add to our list of things to love.

Vicariously yours,

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