...in posting the rest of the Australia tales. Life has interfered, it seems, and is prohibiting me from getting anything written up! In the meantime, I can offer an entertaining teaser or two. (well, hopefully they're entertaining!)
One of the questions that followed me around Australia was "Which city do you like better? Sydney or Melbourne?" The proper answer was, of course, Melbourne, because the people asking me were from there and therefore heavily biased. :) There is a long-standing rivalry between these two cities--the national capital, Canberra, was created and built simply because the two cities could not agree which one of them would be the capital. To further soothe the rivalry, Canberra is situated halfway between the two cities. Melbourne, though, hosted the government until the city was finished.
These two cities did have their differences, as well. Very different moods prevailed in each place, and I walked away with distinct impressions as a result. Whether they were a result of my experiences in the city or the city itself, it's tough to tell. Anna gave an interesting description of each place over some cheese naan and wine while in Tassie....
Sydney, according to Anna, is like Paris Hilton. She's blonde, ditzy, a showman without much below the surface, popular, and everyone likes her. Sydney shamelessly flirts with you, but doesn't really want any sort of long-term relationship.
I'm not sure if this assessment is entirely fair, but I agree with a lot of it. I found Sydney to be this pretty, sunny city full of smart-looking professionals enjoying their morning tea and evening opera, as well as lots of tourists (including myself) walking around, gawking at the sites. The locals were fairly happy to shove you in the direction of whatever site you were looking for--here's the Opera, there's the Harbor Bridge, and over there is Bondi. Tourist activities were openly advertised and promoted, and gosh darn it, everyone is just so happy you're here. Though I wouldn't say that Sydney was as flighty as Paris Hilton, there were definitely a lot of similarities. The sunny personality, for instance. Everyone knew they were living in a beautiful city, surrounded by beautiful things and other beautiful people. Life was, and is, good, and they knew it.
Melbourne, according to Anna, is like Angelina Jolie. A bit darker, more complex, and oozing sex appeal. A lot higher 'cool factor', and someone that it would take time to get to know.
Several parts of Melbourne reminded me of New Orleans. This is because New Orleans is this very interesting city. People flock there to visit (or, at least they used to), and there really wasn't much there to cater to tourists. It was as if the citizens of the city said "Hey, we're glad you're here, but we've got our own thing going, and you're going to have to figure out things to do on your own." I found the same to be true in Melbourne. Of course, the hospitality was INCREDIBLE (if I spend the rest of my life thanking A-M and AD, it just might cover it), but once I ventured beyond their walls, I felt like I was very much on my own. I had to work a little bit harder to find ways to amuse myself. There wasn't much in the way of "Hey Tourist! Over here!" The rewards, though, were just as sweet as those in Sydney. Melbourne had plenty to offer, she just made you work a bit more for it, and was not going to go out of her way to shuttle tourists into a particular area. In that sense, I left feeling like I had gotten to know the city a bit more, because I had to really beat the streets (sometimes several times over) to divine what to do and where to go.
Towards the end of my stay in Melbourne, this conversation came up with AD (using initals to protect the innocent) while walking back from the Queen Vic Markets. AD's take on Anna's assessment was that Melbourne was like a geeky girl. She was a bit awkward and into nerdy sorts of things like art and such, and was the sort of city/girl you'd blow off initially, because she's not very flirty. However, if you stick around and get to know her, you find that there's a lot of substance, and that she's really quite cool and has a complex personality, and then you fall for her. In his mind, Melbourne didn't have the sex appeal of Angelina Jolie, but she had a lot of charm and personality just the same. In his mind, I think, that was worth more.
So there's your teaser. Both descriptions have given me a lot of food for thought, and I wanted to share them with everyone. I've been thinking about what sort of personality Chapel Hill and North Carolina has. I don't have an answer yet, but I'm working on one. The trees are going to start turning here in a couple of weeks, and then she'll really have the charm going---I love autumns up here--but otherwise, I just don't have a good personality for this place. I'm willing to entertain ideas, though!