Australia Part I: Melbourne

Melbourne is easily one of the most livable cities I have ever been to. The place is clean, green, and prosperous. The people are friendly and polite with just enough hip to keep the place from feeling provincial or square. Neighborhoods are beautiful, well connected, and chock a block with cafes, bookstores, and small shops. The central business district is lively, the river front is lined with arts, entertainment, food, shopping, and recreation, and the Docklands area is coming to life with glossy offices, condos, and restaurants. And there is not a Gap or Banana Republic in sight.

The city is like an amalgam of the best of the best of North America and Europe. A lot that is shiny and new integrated with a lot that is quaint and old. But it has its own distinctive style. The language, cultural references, flora and fauna, and temporal and geographic isolation from North America and Europe make it seem like some odd, wonderful, parallel universe. Things seem very familiar yet very different at the same time.

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