It’s been tiring but very productive two days – I’m in Melbourne on my own, attending AMSRS National Conference (I will write more about the issues that were discussed in the conference in my newly-resurrected View from the 80th Floor business blog. I didn’t attend all of the sessions today as my brain couldn’t absorb any more information at around 3.00pm, so I stepped out and had good chats with fellow market research enthusiasts. Since the previous day was pretty much spent in the conference venue and the hotel, I thought I would use the late afternoon and the evening to re-explore the city. I took the free tram to Docklands and stopped by Harbour Town to visit Springfield store. I’ve grown to “love” (close your eyes, all Ehrenbergian scholars!) the brand ever since I worked in Singapore in the early 2000’s. Afterwards I went back to the hotel and had a bit of a snooze – I was so tired!
After I got up, I walked along Little Collins Street towards Bourke Street Mall and Swanston Walk – tracing back my first ever trip to Melbourne. I soaked in the buzz of the city, passing locals with their footy team scarves outside the city pubs. I walked alongside partygoers dressing to the nines to usher in the weekend. I thought about going to a cafe for dinner, but I ended up going to a hotdog outlet on Swanston Street – Lord of the Fries. Catchy name. Having my fries with some kind of flavoured mayo sauce on top, along with my hotdog made me reminisce about eating frites in Amsterdam …
The first time I was in Melbourne was in 1993 – I was a student with limited budget (wait, I am a student with limited budget as well now … haha). I remember staying at a backpacker’s near Bourke Street Mall, my first ever experience sharing a room with three other travellers, and walking around the city, equipped with a city map and taking photos with a Canon camera (with film, of course). How things have changed in twenty years! I remember walking along the streets, rushing to the Southern Cross Train Station on Spencer Street – still a dingy station then. I made it just in time to take my train back to Adelaide.
So many things have changed in the 20 years. Now, I rely on my iPhone to show me where I am, the route that I should take to my destination – and any tips of the things that I should see near where I am. I don’t even bring my camera along with me anymore. I use my iPhone to take my photos. Melbourne has undergone a lot of changes too. Of course I have been back to Melbourne several times – I visited Melbourne again when I was an undergraduate student in the 1990’s, I also came over to Melbourne for a conference and to monitor a focus group in mid-2000’s as a middle manager in Adelaide Bank. I also returned to Melbourne around three years ago to meet a client in my function as an Senior Research Analyst/Account Manager. However, understandably I never got the chance to explore the city when I went to Melbourne during those business trips. Arguably, this is some kind of business trip as well – as I am here to attend a conference, but I thought since the uni is not paying for my cost and that I’m shouldering the travel and accommodation cost, I should give myself the luxury of a wee relaxation. I would’ve loved to ask Yani to come along, but I would’ve had to leave her pretty much alone for two days – not a good way to have a holiday! We would come to Melbourne soon to have our mini excursion, I hope.
So back to Southern Cross Station – it’s no longer drab nor dingy – it’s a modern looking station that wouldn’t look out of place in London. It’s clean and modern – and it’s sad to think that the interstate train station in Adelaide actually hasn’t changed at all in the last twenty years. Pretty sad, indeed. I flew in to Melbourne on Wednesday evening and took the SkyBus to Southern Cross Station – the hotel is just across the road from the station, so I thought I should save some money rather than taking a taxi to the city.
Melbourne City itself is still the same dynamic and yet beautiful city as ever – I love the vibe of the city compared to the tired-yuppie feeling of Sydney. I love the grand old buildings nestled between towering office blocks and hidden laneways and alleys connecting Melbourne’s many streets. I’m also spoilt for choice for great cafes that I can visit for a decent cuppa. I honestly wouldn’t mind moving to Melbourne – especially since it does have that European feeling about it. Tomorrow morning, I plan to visit Brunetti, one of my favourite spots in Melbourne – an Italian café with a wide assortment of cookies and treats – before I fly back to good ol’ Adelaide. Yummo.
Melbourne is almost like my linen shirt: classy yet casual – confident but not too cocky. I used to personify Melbourne to be a suave and sophisticated 50 year old (kinda like George Clooney). With all the modernisation and all the hip places in Melbourne, I would bring the age down to 40.
Of course I love Adelaide – I call the city my hometown now. However, as I have mentioned before in my blog, Adelaide is like my favourite nightshirt. It has holes and it’s looking pretty tired – unless you wear it (i.e. you live in it), you wouldn’t understand why I love my nightshirt so much. It’s just so friggin’ comfortable. That’s how Adelaide feels to me – it’s very comfortable. However, you wouldn’t wear your nightshirt when you are with your mates or go out in it – that’s also the case with Adelaide. For real excitement (or business opportunities and real career advancements), you may need to get out of the city and visit other places. Sometimes I wish Adelaide were livelier and more dynamic. Heck, I still remember when Adelaide had its first underpass (the South Road and Anzac Highway intersection) in 2009. The opening was “so exciting” for us Adelaideans that there was even a party at the underpass!