From Ithaki Greece to Victoria Australia - An ithacagreece.com trip
November and December 2006


Up and Away

Ithaca Society

IPS Lunch

City Central

The Shop Drop




Country Victoria




City Central - Melbourne
Melbourne has great restaurants and an underground culture not easily noticed until you get under the covers a little with the city. Compared to Athens, it resembles a big country town...usually, but with Christmas just around the corner, it's easy to believe that city central is a buzzing and busy agora all year round. Wide streets, organized parking, city entertainment, museums and galleries. Cinemas, traffic police and pedestrian crossings and giant billboards. Babble in the aussie twang coming from every crevice, Flinders Street Station with hordes spilling from its mouth, Federation Square, music in the park and Gelati dribbling from the chin. Bridges across the river and Southgate along the Yarra. The city was in full swing. When coming from Ithaki, Melbourne could be New York. Everything seems big from the small side of life. The streets are a kaleidoscope of diffused colour and sound with so much variety it makes your head spin.

Horse and carriage tours around the city center, through tree-lined avenues and shopping plazas give the tourist a taste of the colonial mixed with consumer heaven. High rise office buildings cover Collins Street in cool shade on a hot and sweaty day, but in the parks, the sun stings even under the shade of a Koolabah tree. There are people everywhere. The yellow taxi punctuates the grey concrete thoroughfares with moving colour and the cafe society sips Latte while mum and dad Australia finish their Christmas shopping for little Oz.
Summer in the city
Since 2001, there have been significant changes in the city skyline. There seems to be a building boom with high rise apartments going up around the most picturesque areas of the city. Federation Square, the community meeting place and arena for music in the city, has been a long time to completion, but now finished, has injected some life into the city center. Southgate, the strip along the Yarra river from Swanson Street to the Casino, is a little underdeveloped, creatively speaking. Everyone seems to head down there, but there's little to do other than get on a tour ferry and sit at a rather ordinary, but overpriced cafe or bar. The occasional busker there is usually good fun.


On the Yarra River, there are ferry tours, floating restaurants and canoeing.

Burke Street Mall is the shopping hub of town. It's the home of Myers and David Jones, the Christmas shop windows and it's the 'car-free' zone where shoppers can j-walk without consequence. Creative and modern lounge seating, styled in stainless steel, have replaced the wooden city bench. It looks cool, it's comfortable and makes Burke street stand out in the crowd of city streets.
Buskers bring out the child in everyone
At night, even ugly cities can look beautiful, but beautiful cities can look spectacular. Yes, Melbourne is a good looking city. There are a few remaining old buildings saved from rubble during the building mayhem of the 70s, when Melbournians went berserk, demolishing the old to bring in the new. They punctuate the city with some style. Grand examples of Australian (British) architecture, but too few. You'd think a country with such a young culture and history would keep a little reminder of their Victorian days, if only to remind them of how far they've come from the idea of Melbourne to the reality. Melbourne is an easy city to find your way around. It's well set out and well sign posted. People are friendly and helpful wherever you go. It seems everyone has completed a hospitality course and passed the exam.
There has been progression and regression. The facade continues to head into the future, but the roots dig deep back into the dark ages. Politically and socially, Melbourne, with a population of the world, has embraced USAs enemy as their own, and the fear mongers have succeeded in scaring the Shiatsu out of those already fearful of change and difference. After 5 years, there's a palatable difference in the psyche of Melbourne, and the seemingly tolerated disdain towards certain community groups, can make the churning underbelly of this city, a little frightening.
Melbourne at night
We leave the city of Melbourne to expand and improve. More highrise, better toll ways, more bridges and underpasses, more stuff and better stuff. There's so much choice it's hard to choose, there's so much variety, the cherry gets lost in the marketplace. It's called progress and Melbourne, like other major cities of the world, falls in line with the procession into the future.
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