Day 12: Free day in Melbourne!
I wanted to do a bike tour of the port area today, but I had 2 problems. First, helmet use is mandatory in Victoria, and while I found plenty of bike share bikes, I had trouble finding a helmet. They sell them for $5 at 7-11s (and you can return them and get $3 back), but the one I went to was sold out. Secondly, it rained. So I decided maybe it was better to stay in the city area, where I could go from building to building, instead of being out in the rain on a bike.
As it turns out, it was Open House Day in Melbourne that day, so I visited a few of the buildings on that list: The Old Treasury Building, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the German Lutheran Trinity Church.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral. It was not open for Open House Day, probably because of this:
I also visited the Immigration Museum, which was really well done and enjoyable. Had coffee. Wandered around. Took pictures. All in all, a lovely (but tiring!) day. In the late afternoon, the sun started to come out through the rain, and there was this amazing rainbow over the city. You could see the entire arc—it was beautiful! Everyone was stopping on the street, oohing and ahhing, and taking pictures with cameras and phones. Very cool.
I liked Melbourne much better than Sydney. It felt a lot more cultural and historic, much less corporate. Someone compared Sydney to New York and Melbourne to Boston, and that is a pretty good comparison, but to me, Sydney felt more like an American city, whereas Melbourne felt more European.
Overall, the trip was great. The Australian people, in general, seemed very friendly, welcoming, and laid-back. I learned a lot about Australian culture and cultural values (including that laid-back, easygoing attitude, the willingness to try new things, environmental consciousness, valuing exercise/outdoors activities, equality, humor, and respect for skilled trade occupations). I was interested to learn that the “Barbie on the Beach” stereotype definitely has some basis in fact– where US beaches and parks have picnic tables and sometimes grills, there were literally barbeques everywhere, for public use. I liked all the places I visited, although Sydney not as much as Melbourne, but none of the places I visited cracked my top cities list. I really enjoyed Australia overall, though– the people and the culture really made my trip enjoyable.