- being within walking distance of about 1,500 restaurants/cafes/bars etc so as you will see from our restaurant reviews we are never short of choice
- the ease of getting tickets for major events. To name a few we have been to the Ashes, Aussie Open Tennis, Aussie Grand Prix, various AFL games and a Kylie concert without too many difficulties in getting tickets for any.
- most aspects of AFL including being able to support the Tigers. Highlights to date have included watching Richmond beat Essendon at the MCG as part of a crowd of 83,500. Also the fact that each club has a song which is played immediately after the final hooter if the team wins and which the team then sings in the locker room. Although it has not been heard too often this season it is widely agreed that RIchmond has the best song.....Click here for the Tigers theme song
- being able to drive for over an hour down the coast and still being able to see the building we live in
- the weather. Although it is true that Melbourne gets four seasons in a day it is difficult to complain when it is still 19 degrees on the shortest day of the year. And for any Aussies reading 19 degrees is not cold enough to require a scarf and gloves!
- the fact that we are an hours drive from the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsular, two good wine producing areas so we can just pop down for a tasting on a Saturday afternoon and the knock-on effect on the choice of wines in bars/restaurants
- the Friday drinks trolley which delivers wine and beer to MInda's desk at about 4.30 every Friday
- generally how easy it is to get to places. We live 25 minutes walk from the major sporting stadiums and 10 minues from the CBD, we have never really struggled to get a cab and the public transport system works well to get from one place to another (but see later for a gripe about paying)
- the fact that there is no 'requirement' to tip everytime you eat, drink, get a cab, have your haircut etc.
- 'Living away from home allowance' - basically good tax breaks for foreign nationals who are working in Australia but who are not intending on staying here permanently.
- markets like Queen Victoria and South Melbourne and the quality of fresh produce that you can get there
- internal flights. It is as simple as boarding a bus and you really only need to arrive at the airport 30 minutes before departure
- being able to sit in Federation Square in mid-December in blazing sunshine and mid-30s temperatures, drinking beer, eating sushi, watching england hammer the Aussies in the Ashes on a big screen with a choir singing Christmas carols in the background.
We don't like:
- the price of books meaning that an average paperback fiction book costs about 30 dollars
- the price of beer. There are none of the loss-leading buy two crates of beer for 20 quid favoured by English supermarkets
- the fact that you can't get a proper pint of ale. The Australian brewing industry's view of ale is that it is apparently a slightly darker lager, is still gassy and is still served highly chilled.
- the number of ad-breaks on TV meaning that it takes about 90 minutes to show a programme that would last 45-60 minutes in the UK.
- the fact that pedestrians have no concept of what is going on around them. I'm sure it can't be a Melbourne thing but the number of times we have had to take evasive action because people just stop in the middle of the pavement is most annoying or they walk in a row of three or more blocking the way
- taxis smell here (according to Minda)
- the quality of driving, particularly amongst the smelly taxi drivers (see above) is sometimes poor and often dangerous
- Australian chocolate - it just isn't as good as the chocolate at home
- always needing to prove your identity. Best example so far - needing to produce a passport to post a parcel to the UK
- the quality of the football. Being a Hull City fan means that I do not have particularly high standards but even against those some of the play that you see in the A-league is almost laughable (a goal being scored from a free-kick because the keeper had put the wall in completely the wrong place.)
We don't understand:
- the wide-spectrum of buskers. Admittedly there are some very good perfomers. However you can apparently get a buskers licence to be an opera singer that sounds more like a cat being run over by a lawnmower or to look like a tramp and sit crossed-legged on the pavement shouting into a microphone.
- driving on Australian motorways. There is simply no concept of staying to the left unless you are overtaking and a huge number of drivers join the motorway at a juction, pull immediately over to the right hand land and then cruise there at a couple of miles an hour below the speed limit. As a result undertaking is a common occurence which, having never really experienced it in the UK, is pretty dangerous as you have to remember cars might be there.
- a tram system which, whilst efficient and effective when getting around, is designed in such a way that pretty much the entire population of melbourne fare-dodge on a daily basis.
- the fact that avocados are an accompaniment to any meal.
- the medical system in that there is no such thing as free health care and you have to have insurance to cover it and apparently without that insurance you are not allowed to call an ambulance.
I am sure that there are more things that don't leap immediately to mind but these were just a few thoughts at this stage of our stay. Let's see whether things stay in the same categories or whether things are added as we move towards the end of our first year here.....