Peter M Howard ::

Melbourne, Je t’aime

13Mar2008 [myth]

In which I fall in love with another city

I love the streets, complete with their quirky (big)/little naming convention, and that you only need to know half a dozen main street names — everything being near a cross street anyway. I love the laneways and the arcades, from the grand old Block Arcade, to the GPO — its shops demarcated as little glass boxes, to the tacky Melbourne Central Arcade that still somehow works, built around an old brick building.

I love the cafés and bars carved out of holes in walls and sides of buildings. I love that even lowly pizza-and-kebab places are licensed to serve alcohol, and that you can decide whether you're having coffee or wine after you reach a café, rather than before. And I love that bad coffee is the exception, rather than the norm.

I love the cafés where the walls are broken and patched over with posters, where the furniture doesn't match and the crockery isn't far behind, where the walls are lined with the owner's personal collections — of photos, posters or wine bottles, where they're always looking for staff and they can't predict how many people will turn up on any given night.

I love that I can get around in long sleeves even in ridiculously hot weather. I love the river, the bridges, the length of the day in summer, and the quickening in the air in winter.

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