Logistically it has been a nightmare, but it proves that this city is the sports capital of the world, and for a Sydneysider, as I am, to heap praise on another Australian city, takes a lot of pride swallowing. Sydney and Melbourne have, let’s just say, a healthy rivalry.
Melbourne can genuinely boast being the sports capital, and a city with the best coffee.
Which other city in the world can claim to host one of tennis’ four majors, hold a Formula One Grand Prix, showcase one of the biggest football grand finals anywhere with 90,000 attending the AFL, have the Boxing Day cricket test, hold one of the world’s most prestigious and historic horse races in the world, the Melbourne Cup and so on? And to boot has also hosted an Olympic Games.
New York, Paris, London, Rome, Tokyo, Milan, Rio … nowhere comes close or on top of that serve up great coffees.
Did I mention the coffee is good in Melbourne?
Melbourne is often voted one of the most liveable cities in the world. Sydney is vibrant with its harbour, Melbourne, which at one time in the earlier days of the nation was even the national capital, is also a city of “older money” and a bit more establishment. However, having said that, it is certainly not any sort of shy city.
The quirky cobble stoned streets and alleys where graffiti has become a tourist attraction, and other narrow lanes with boutiques. Melbourne has a European feel about it as the Yarra River weaves it way through the city centre, where people lay out on the grassy banks during lunch breaks or watch the rowers cutting through the water from the boat sheds. One is right in the middle of the CBD with the skyscraper buildings and high-rise apartments and yet the parks and gardens allow you to feel far away.
The tree lined streets highlight that feeling of being in one of the great Continental cities and one end Collins Street, one of the exclusive shopping streets, is referred to as “the Paris end”. It’s a boulevard with a tree canopy.
And then there are the iconic Melbourne trams that criss-cross the city and is by far the easiest mode of transport around the city. They can take you from the heart of the business and shopping districts to the outer suburbs to the most incredible sporting precinct, Melbourne Park where you would find the Rod Laver Arena, football grounds and the famed MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground which can seat 90,000 and was the centre piece for the 1956 Olympic Games.
Wonderful restaurants serving every conceivable type of food, supported by cafes serving the most delectable pastries and, oh yes… coffee.
Melbourne used to be referred to as a “cemetery with lights”; there was hardly much excitement, needless to say it was a Sydneysider who gave it that nickname, but it’s a nickname that is definitely no longer relevant.
There is such passion for sport from the people of this city that even this year when things will be so different, the people of Melbourne will have their arms open to welcome the world of tennis once again and make the six events in one week, including the terrific ATP Cup and then the Australian Open itself, three weeks to remember.
Latte? Espresso? Cappuccino? Long black? Mocha? And tennis anyone?