At 2 AM last Tuesday, Damjan and I flew into Tullamarine Airport. Home! Home, for the first time in over a year. Perhaps annual trips home will be the normal pattern of things.
Previously, I had made a list of distinctively UK features. I am now seeing Melbourne as if I am a newcomer, and here are some of my observations.
As soon as I walked out of the airport, I smelled Melbourne. Melbourne smells like vegetation and rain. London never smells like that, even though it rains a lot and there a big parks about.
Despite my first week here being cloudy and rainy, when the sunlight appears it is as white and bright as I remembered.
There is much less advertising in Melbourne compared to London. It is refreshing to take public transport without being bombarded by ads. I love sitting in my suburban train to the city facing a shiny white wall. However, Melbourne trams are as ad-heavy as London buses.
Only about one in ten people on the train are wearing headphones. In London, 90% of people use headphones! There are also relatively few people talking on their mobile phones. In the UK, more than half the people I see on public transport and walking on the street are on the phone (if they’re not wearing headphones).
It’s easy to slip back into car use, both as a passenger and a driver. Melbourne is so car friendly that car feels like the natural mode of transport. London is so car unfriendly that even short car commutes have made me feel ill and stressed.
The kids from my high school look puny.