Nov 19

I love Brisbane!

Whenever I travel I think about whether I would like living in a city that I’m visiting.  When I was in Brisbane, the answer was a resounding yes! While I liked Sydney and Melbourne, there was something special about Brisbane.

For those of you who don’t know much about Brisbane, it’s located between the Sunshine and Gold Coasts of Australia and from an outsider seems like the northern most “metropolitan” type of city in Australia.  Granted, I only went as far north as Cairns, but it’s my impression, wrong or right.
As my guide (who grew up in Brisbane) explained, Brisbane had pretty much been a small town until the 1982 Commonwealth Games and 1988 World Exposition, since then it has grown into a one of the bigger cities in Australia.

I spent 2 and a half days there, including a walking tour and some advance tips on things to do and places to go.

The feeling I got of the city was that it is was both a city and also a small town, it very much had a community atmosphere that is rare for a city.

Streets Beach, located along the Brisbane River, is on the surface just a manmade beach, but it felt like much more. It felt more like a community pool you would visit in the suburbs, but way cooler since it’s designed like a beach.

There are several shopping districts in Brisbane, and they seemed to cater to both the locals and tourists, perhaps because it’s a smaller a city, but it really seems to work.  It gives both types of shops a more authentic feel. Neither over run by busy locals or relaxed tourists.  I think the pace of this more low key city allows both types to blend together nicely.

Some of the logistics of the city make it a good location too.  Did I mention it’s between the gold and sunshine coasts? There is an international airport (it was actually my gateway to Australia), trains in all directions to a variety of destinations. I took the train from the Gold Coast up to Brisbane on a Sunday and it was an easy trip.

The weather seams ideal to a New Yorker who is sick of cold and snow! In reality the humidity would probably get to me, but the climate is pretty temperate.  I visited in late November, which is late Spring and although it could get hot there, it didn’t seem oppressively hot while I was there.  The winter temperatures also don’t get too cold and there doesn’t seem to be a threat of snow there either.  Checks all my boxes!

Last but not least, it does offer many of the things you want from a city – opportunities for theatrical performances, museums, businesses and industry.  But without the intense pace that sometimes overtakes a city.

So, if anyone wants to offer me a job in Brisbane, I’ll start packing my bags.

Jan 29

Melbourne vs Sydney

Even before I went to Australia I had heard of the rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, each trying to one up the other and be the biggest and best city in Australia.  Heck, the rivalry is so bad that they had to pretty much create a city to set the capital in.  But which did I like better?  The answer isn’t clear cut, and really depends on what I’m looking for in a city at a particular time.

Weather:

Ironically the weather was better in Melbourne for my trip. There was a touch of rain and some chilly temperatures.  But I got stuck with several days of terrible rain when I was in Sydney.  The Blue Mountains were actually just gray fog.  If I’m being objective, the weather should go to Sydney because it’s normally warmer and more consistent.  But I know what I saw so I’m a bit on the fence.  Fine, I’ll still give this to Sydney.

Transportation:

In Melbourne I felt like I didn’t need transportation as much, which is a big plus for the city.  When I did though, it was a positive experience and it wasn’t too expensive.  They also have a free trolly.  One down side is that the airport/hotel shuttle service did not have as extensive hours as you would find in other cities.  The transportation in Sydney though was expensive!  Depending on where you lived, it could be quite slow too.  I had heard some negative things about Sydney’s transportation system, and I suspect it was right.  I’ll give this category to Melbourne.

Sights Within The City:

I have to give this to Sydney, there is so much to do there from art galleries to history museums (Sydney had a richer history too.) Climbing bridges, towers, all sorts of cruises and ferries, the list goes on and on!

Sydney

Beaches:

Since there isn’t really much in the way of beaches in Melbourne and Sydney has heaps of them…

Sights Outside the City:

I’ll admit this isn’t fair to Sydney, but since the Blue Mountains were fogged out they lost.  But Melbourne does have the Great Ocean Road, which is FABULOUS! And the Phillip Island Penguins.  I’m not sure Sydney had a chance at this and I didn’t even get to the wineries.

Melbourne

Cost:

Neither, they’re both fecking expensive.

Food:

I’m giving this to Melbourne since I seemed to have a couple better meals there and it seemed like their was a wider variety.  But I was also sick and lacking an appetite for part of my time in Sydney.

Sports:

Hands down this goes to Melbourne, I think the only sport in Sydney was surfing.

City Feel:

They both felt like cities, but I felt a bigger impact in Sydney from the people who commuted into the city to work.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.  Melbourne had a more natural relationship with it’s workers coming into and out of the city.

Shopping:

It was too expensive in both cities!  But, Sydney felt a bit more like walking into any fancy mall in NY or Las Vegas.  Melbourne felt a little more local and a more middle class, instead of big expensive stores designed to make an impression.  I hope that makes sense.

So which is my favorite city? Honesty, if I had to choose a place to live, it would be Brisbane.  It was more reasonably priced, the size was more manageable and although it was a city, it had more of a small town feel to it.  If I was going back to visit, I could find stuff to do for a few days in each city. I think I liked the vibe in Melbourne a bit better, but wouldn’t mind a couple days at the beach in Sydney either.

Brisbane