CBD Love

I’ve never lived in the city before.  I’m a suburban girl through and through.  But when I moved to Melbourne, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  I wanted to be on the doorstep to everything.

I have just about reached the end of my first week here, and so far, that’s exactly where I seem to be.  Great coffee?  Three minute walk.  Live music?  One minute walk out the back door.  Podiatrist?  Ten minute walk down the street.  Tram?  Out the front door.  Hairdresser?  Ten minute walk down the road.  Art galleries? Five to ten minutes out the door.

There’s something to be said for having everything you need at your fingertips.  In the long run, is it going to make me go to the dentist more often?  Or buy my Christmas presents earlier?  I’m not sure.  But at first glance it seems all the things I never had time for back in Perth (apart from my job taking up my whole life), because living in the suburbs these things simply weren’t in my face.

I can’t describe the feeling of thinking to yourself ‘what cuisine do I feel like indulging in today?’ and having it be so close at hand.  It’s brilliant to be able to choose from more than just Hungry Jacks or Chinese.  Within a five minute walk from my new home, I have Peruvian (actually I don’t even have to leave the building for that one!), meatballs, Sushi, Italian, Indian, pub fare, coffee, sandwiches, salad, new yawk bagels, Greek or Asian.  That’s just in one block.

And it’s just as well, because for the first time since I acquired the skills to drive a car, I am without one.  I was panicking at first – lack of control staring me in the face – but really there is no need to have one.  I have three trams right out the door (including the free city one) and two feet.  Of course it takes some getting used to, not being able to load up your car at the shops and then conveniently unload it in your own private driveway, but it also makes you think about what you need to buy and whether you really, really need it.  Because let’s face it – at the end of the day, do you really want to carry it home?

I do find myself heading in and out of my apartment all day long to pick up bits and pieces, but I’m lucky I can (and think of all that incidental exercise!).  And there is a range of businesses out there that cater for this and provide delivery services – you just have to be prepared to wait around for deliveries.

Back home, you were limited to the number of places even playing good live music, and to be honest, it was a bit of a pain in the rear end trying to work out how to get there and back if you wanted a few drinks (and being a female by herself late at night if you couldn’t manage to drag someone out with you).  And it’s not just a being in the suburbs vs city thing either.  Perth on the weekend or after hours (unless you are talking Friday arvo drinks) is very quiet.  Shoot a gun down St George’s Terrace quiet.  Melbourne CBD certainly has its quiet spots and days (Melbourne Cup), but generally speaking there is always something on.

However, there is no substitute for being able to just pop out the door and down the road to see live music.  And for me, that’s what it’s about.  Ultimately, it’s all about the music.

More Prospects

I’m flying out tonight, but before I do, I have two more apartments to see, both in the same building in Collins Street.  I know I’ve already silently started to discount them in my head, so I give myself a bit of a talking to and set out.

There’s time to walk around the city for a while, which is a shorter while than I bargain for because the real estate agent calls to say she can’t open any of the documents attached to my rental application e-mail.  Oh no!  I race back to the hotel, grab my luggage out of storage (having already checked out), open up my lap top and go searching for how to download a free pdf writer to convert them.  Slowly, every so slowly, it works and I am able to re-send them through, phoning her to confirm.  The approval takes a day, but I know there are also inspections of the apartment scheduled for today and tomorrow.  Oh please, please, let me get it.

Now did you know that the humble dim sim had its beginnings in Melbourne?  True story.  They were created by Chinese chef William Wing Young for his restaurant “Wing Lee” around 1945.  However, everyone seems to recall that the best dim sims were made and sold by Ken (Kuen) Cheng at the South Melbourne Market.  Unfortunately since Ken’s death in 2006, the dim sims have not tasted as good and another shop maintains they are selling authentic South Melbourne dimmies, cashing in on the famous reputation by calling them Cheng family’s crispy dim sims.  However, Ken would be rolling in his grave if he know that these dim sims were fried.

Anyway, no time to sit and chat, I take my lap top with me this time, just in case and head off to my next viewings.  The apartments look quite lovely on the internet – wooden floors, large open windows and modern appliances.  One even has gas thrown in!

We I arrive though, one lift isn’t working.  Not a great sign in what I’m feeling already to be a pretty old dingy building.  No gym.  No pool.  But I haven’t seen the inside of the apartment yet, so I hold my thoughts.

Until I walk in the front door.  Yuk.  I can tell someone has smoked in here at one point – the smell reminds me of my grandparents house.  When we moved my Pop out, the wall was a totally different colour where we removed the wall clock because of all the tobacco staining over the years.  No, no, no and no.  Not this one.  Plus it’s got bits and pieces falling apart.  Free gas or not, it’s a no.

And the second one isn’t much better.  It smells like cooking food.  And its tenanted, so their mattresses and bedding are all over the floor.  Junk and mess everywhere.  Stuff overflowing out of every cupboard.  No as well.

I must admit I feel a little disappointed, thinking that this trip hasn’t yielded as much in the way of inspections as I had hoped, but I guess at the very least it has been good to walk the streets and see where I do and don’t want to be in relation to everything else.  It’s one thing to look at a map and on google, but quite another to be in the location and feel the vibe.  Plus I’ve certainly got to enjoy some beautiful sunshine, which is something we don’t have in Perth right now.

The AFL grand final hits town this week, and in anticipation, the hoards have also lobbed in on the Melbourne CBD.  There are all sorts of activities going on in Federation Square, and its a little crowded so I decide to head underneath Fed Square to the restaurant I noticed on yesterdays boatride.  The Riverland Bar stretches along the riverbank, occupying the old vault buildings.  Constructed for the Melbourne City Council in 1890, the 19 heritage listed vaults were part of works undertaken on the south side of Yarra Bank Road, which was realigned following completion of the new Princes Bridge in 1888.  The vaults are located under the road’s retaining wall and the barrel-vaulted cells are approximately 5 m deep.  Some of the vaults were used as council storerooms and others rented to tenants including the Victorian Motor Boat Club, the river police, confectioners, restaurants, hobby shops, the Cream Top motor hire service and a range of marine trades including boat-builders, motor boat proprietors and marine engineers.  In 2003, were transferred to the State Government-owned company Federation Square Management and they now house river cruise companies, bicycle hire and restaurants.  The food at Riverland is really nice, and they also have what over the last couple of days has become quite a favourite of mine the Cape Schanck Bay Pinot Grigio, from Victoria’s very own Mornington Peninsula.  This is definitely one to bring future visitors to.  And it’s so close to my new apartment.  Hang on – don’t want to get ahead of myself here!

Before leaving the Riverland, I do get a message from one of my personal references to say he’d received a call from the agents enquiring about me, to which he gave a right royal reference!  Much appreciated JH.  If anyone can sway them into giving me an apartment, it’s you.  I’m really hoping I get a call from the estate agent about my rent application before I get back to Perth, but the hours are dwindling quickly.  Que sera, sera.  I should let it be, because if it’s meant to be, it will.