Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sydney vs. Melbourne

To an outsider, it seems that there is a pretty strong rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. Residents I met in both towns enjoyed slagging off the other city. I'm not sure there is a similar tension in the US between LA and NYC. To clear the air for those of you who have never even set foot on the great southern land, here are my unbiased observations. Please note I have spent a combined total of 14 weeks in Sydney while only 3 days in Melbourne.

Overall, Aussies are quite laidback, very west coast without much of the flakiness. Sydney definitely seems exciting yet chill (SoCal) while Melbourne was more cool and bustling (European?) People seemed to move around a bit faster in the main business district, akin to what I'm used to in New York, whereas Sydney's CBD can be crowded but still not as fast-paced.

Four seasons in one day in Melbourne? Sydney wins this hands-down, although the weather until around the time I left was pretty bleak for the time of year. I also much preferred the beaches in Sydney to the one I trekked to in Melbourne (St. Kilda).

This one is a tough call. One of the major points of contention between residents of these two locales is whose chow is better. I have eaten at tons of restaurants in Sydney, but much fewer in Melbourne, so it's hard for me to compare. Coffee is superb in both places, it kicks the ass of any Starbucks. No wonder they are all shuttering throughout Oz.

Melbourne takes this one. Besides the fact that most of the people I talked to in Sydney reminisced about theatergoing in Melbourne, the street art is amazing. You can wander the laneways and find great surprises around every corner. A fave of mine is in what I think is Union Alley, where above the grafitti are a series of chimes that ring at random depending on the wind. Sydney is too spiffy to pull that off.

I knew you were going to ask. The views are great in both cities. To be brutally honest, men in Sydney are all talk and no walk and my hunting expeditions for two-legged animals left me very disappointed. Melbournians, on the other hand, seemed much better at delivering the goods.

In short? I'd visit both cities again, for different reasons. My first Australian love is Sydney, and nothing beats being thisclose to some of the best beaches and outdoor activities in the world. Melbourne is still unexplored territory for me, and I'd love to go back and uncover more of its rich heritage (and maybe some of the locals).

I'm really going to miss this place :'(