Melbourne feels a bit like Toronto and a whole lot like Vancouver (Canada), except with a ton of restaurants. We’ve never seen so many nice places to eat out in one city! Unlike the Vietnamese/Asian food drought of South America, every ethic cuisine is represented bountifully in Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria. And thanks to the strong U.S. dollar, prices were pretty reasonable too. We didn’t allot much time for Australia on JaMEA 1.0, but Melbourne surely is a must for all visitors to the land down under, as well as the nearby Great Ocean Road, which we unfortunately have to save for next time.
MOST LIVABLE CITY IN THE WORLD
For four years straight, Melbourne has ranked as the most livable city in the world, and that’s an endorsement we can stand behind (in fact, Vancouver also ranks regularly in the top three). What we saw was a very clean city with good public transportation, nice parks and lots of culture and art. It also earns high marks for healthcare, infrastructure, education and a low murder rate. Homelessness we observed very little of, but every homeless person we saw, interestingly, had an elaborate story of their life on a piece of cardboard (not just the typical, “anything helps” and “God bless”).
GOOD FOR TOURISTS TOO
Effective January 1, 2015, Melbourne has a “free tram zone,” which covers the CBD (Central Business District). It’s already a very walkable city, flat with wide roads and a grid layout, but riding the trams made it easier to explore greater distances in a shorter amount of time. Free WiFi was a bit harder to come by in hotels and cafes than in South America, but telecommunications company Telstra is piloting free WiFi hotspots at all its public pay phones. Then, of course, there’s the fact that it’s an English-speaking country, so if you can’t figure out how to get around on your own, you can always ask an Aussie!