Living in a new country is always an opportunity to open your mind, living and discovering a new culture, or at least that’s what everyone says. When we arrived in Melbourne, 8 months ago, we expected to find a completely different city and atmosphere compared to the one we were used to. Instead, in the darkness of the night, and tired by 20 hours of flight, everything resembled our home country.
What struck us was the cold. Yes, in the country of the almighty sun, the land where the sun always shines, we were freezing. Alright, we were coming from a super hot Italian summer, but that wasn’t the only reason!
And here comes the first surprising thing you will discover about Melbourne.
1. YOU’LL NEVER FEEL AS COLD AS IN YOUR MELBOURNE’S HOUSE
No matter where you come from, if the house you rented is old and it’s winter, the first thing you’ll do is to buy a heater. And if you are questioning how is it possible, the answer is in our number 2 list.
2. THE HOUSES IN AUSTRALIA ARE BUILT DIFFERENTLY (No judgement implied!)
But let’s come back at our first week in Melbourne, when we decided to go for the first time to a supermarket.
“Coles” was the nearest, and it took almost one month for us to pronounce correctly the other big one, “Woolworths”.
Going for the first time in a supermarket where everything has unknown brands is already a nightmare, but it’s even worse if every time you look at the price of something you feel like your grandmother when the Euro was introduced in Europe. It’s like if someone almost doubled the price of everything overnight. Five dollars for a loaf of bread? No way!
But, even if we were overwhelmed by the new things around us, we quickly understood something:
3.WEET-BIX IS THE BEST DEAL YOU CAN FIND IN AUSTRALIA
Only four dollars for more than a kilo of cereals that literally never end. Never. You pick a bunch of bricks from the box, stash them in your cup, and the box still looks like nothing happened.
And they are healthy too! Yes! Because in Australia many products are health-rated. Weet-Bix? 5 stars out of 5! Unbelievable! Only problem being they taste of nothing, but more than bran. Bran really is the absolute zero of taste.
We could spend one entire day talking about the things we’ve learnt in the Australian supermarkets, but that’s upcoming (did you subscribe?).
In the land of the most poisonous and dangerous animals in the world, spotting someone walking around the city barefoot will sound like a joke. It isn’t.
4. MORE THAN A FEW AUSTRALIANS WALK BAREFOOT EVERYWHERE
What about spiders? What if I step on a shard of glass, or a rusty nail? Seeing people walking around barefoot made us questioning about our early upbringing, with teachers advising us against the dangers of being without shoes.
In defense of this practice, we should add that the streets are very clean and every 100 meters you can find huge parks and…
5. ALL MELBOURNE’S PUBLIC PARKS ARE MORE GROOMED THEN A ROYAL PROPERTY
This was our favorite, Albert Park. With a small lake in the middle, there you can take a relaxing walk with a beautiful sight of the CBD skyline in front of you. The Royal botanical garden also warrants a mention.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a barbecue in these parks? Actually, you can!
6. ELECTRIC PUBLIC BBQ’s ARE EVERYWHERE
They’re free, clean and it isn’t hard to find one available. Yes: you just show up at the local park with a bunch of beers and some chops of meat right out of a supermarket, and there you go!
We can’t finish this article without mentioning the two big Australian loves:
7. ALCHOOL AND AFL
A dangerous and, at the same time, funny mix!
Especially if you live in Richmond during the day of the finals (which by the way is a bank holiday), and Richmond is one of the finalists. During such an event, it could happen that while you are curiously watching the match (without understanding the rules), a weird sound from your backyard grabs your attention. And when you check, you find a completely drunk stranger emerging from the broken roof of the dog’s kennel. The dog not being chewing him only because today he’s out of the house for the special occasion, too. Just because his AFL ball dropped into our garden and he didn’t want to ring the bell, the man thought it was wiser to climb over the wall and jump!
At least, Richmond won!
Anyway, if Melbourne has been elected the most livable city in the world, there is a reason. All the streets have cycling paths (cyclists in Melbourne can be very competitive, taking over as soon as they can, shouting “passing”). One can find some astonishing spots by biking around.
The air is clean and the perceived safety level is very high, door locks are a joke compared to the jail bars and safe doors we have on our houses in Milan.
More than a big bustling city, going just outside the CBD, Melbourne seems like a big town where you can still find everything you want.
It can rain at any time. Melbourne is known as the city of “4 Seasons in one day”.
Public transport is expensive and not so efficient.
If you can, just book a flight and try living in Melbourne for a few months.
Even if at the beginning it appeared similar to an European city, in the end we’ve learnt that there actually a lot of differences.