1. The service in Melbourne bars is miles better than in the the UK. Last Friday night I went to meet a friend in a city centre bar after work and found it absolutely packed – outside. But inside was merely very busy. My heart sank, thinking I’d be waiting 20 mins to get served at an understaffed bar, but there I was in under a minute holding a drink. I found a similar pattern in the (many) other bars we visited that night. Even when packed, you get served. I think the difference is Australian bars are staffed properly, i.e. they have enough people working. In the UK, they try to keep costs down by employing 2 people to cover 20m of bar space with 1 other person operating the dishwasher, leaving customers in a ruck 3 people deep and very thirsty. Australians appear to have figured out the best way to get customers’ money out of their pockets and into the till is to serve them drinks as quickly as possible. This is good.
2. Aussies are a friendly bunch. Everyone you encounter seems to be happy to see you, or at least say hello. A cheerful lot, Australians.
3. The food in Melbourne is brilliant, at least in terms of variety. I’m the wrong bloke to judge food quality, but it’s good enough for me and you can get whatever you want within 5 minutes of the hotel.
4. There are a lot of Asians in Melbourne, and it comes as an initial surprise to hear them speaking with thick Australian accents (obviously being second or third generation). I’m guessing hearing London’s Indians speaking in cockney accents for the first time sounds odd at first, too.
5. They are absolutely bananas about Australian rules football in Melbourne, with either the players or the games dominating the back half of the papers. To be fair, I did know this before I came, but did not appreciate the extent to which it is true.
6. Speaking of Aussie rules, not a day goes by without a player having to apologise over some incident or other in a bar or club the previous weekend.
7. What’s with the pimped up, lowered ‘utes? They look seriously naff.
8. Melbourne is very nice, but parts of it aren’t. King Street on a Saturday night resembles Glasgow at much the same time.
9. Wild Turkey is very popular here, being a lot of people’s bourbon of choice. I’ve even seen advertisements for it, which I’ve not seen elsewhere.
10. Bourbon is not the same as whiskey in Australia.
11. The main casino in Melbourne (and I believe they have similar ones in the other Australian cities) is enormous. You don’t see casinos of this size in the UK, and unlike the one in Manchester, Melbourne’s wasn’t filled with Chinese men in shell suits.
12. The Tan running track is fantastic!! It’s a gravel track in a 3.8km circuit around the botanical gardens made especially for running and walking. I ran it last weekend for what I’m sure will be the first of many times, it was great.
13. I appear to know more about the Australian cricket team than most Australians. Three years of being in Nigeria glued to Supersports TV can explain that one.
14. The internet is seriously crap by European or Asian standards. It is slow and expensive, and free wi-fi is very hard to find (in Tallinn they have free wi-fi in the parks). I have heard different explanations for this, ranging from the geographic isolation of Australia (only 1 connection in and out) to the lack of competition between providers.
15. A year living here will be one hell of a lot of fun!