Hi guys! I'm very excited to play hostess to the wonderful Ellen Gregory, a writer from Melbourne, Australia. Ellen and I are taking a class together and we totally bonded over the fact that I recognized she was on email or Facebook or something in the middle of the night, Melbourne time. Heh. Like minds think alike, I guess. Now, Seattle's no slouch in the 'liveable city' department, but Melbourne is one of my favorite cities in the world. I'm going to step aside and let Ellen convince you of what a great place it is.
This will be a slight change of pace on the Liv Rancourt blog… because I’m here to talk about what it’s like to live in the world’s most livable city—Melbourne. I know you might have tuned in to hear about something more literary in nature, but if you’ve never been to Australia, perhaps I can entice you to visit. (For the record, I too am a writer, working on my first novel.)
Now to the world’s most livable city. First of all, this is not an idle claim. Apparently Melbourne was indeed nominated by The Economist as the world’s most livable city for 2011. Yes, OK, it’s very subjective, but it’s not the first time we’ve made it to the top of the list, despite Vancouver having held the mantle for the last decade. Melbourne is indeed a great place to live.
One of my favorite aspects of Melbourne is the café – and coffee – culture. It isn’t until you travel to other parts of the world that you realize how something you take for granted is indeed unique. It’s not the presence of the cafes, it’s the style and the vibe. For the most part they are independently owned, as opposed to chains or franchises. Starbucks has failed here. There is simply too much awesome competition – cafés with quirky and unique décor, innovative cuisine, individual character...
To get a ‘coffee’ in a Melbourne café means without fail an espresso with or without milk – unless you’re somewhere really fancy that offers coffee prepared in a gazillion different ways like one of my locals. My standard order is a ‘Large Skinny Flat White’ – which means two shots of coffee in a large cup or mug with steamed skim milk. There is no drip filter coffee to be found in a café anywhere (at least, not that I’ve seen). Our coffee is strong and smooth and aromatic and flavorsome. On a recent trip to San Diego, I worked out that I needed to ask for an extra shot of coffee in my Starbucks, for it to taste more like ‘Melbourne coffee’.
Mmmm, I think I’d better go make myself a coffee with my nifty Nespresso machine… (The George Clooney adverts worked!)
The good cafés in Melbourne offer all-day breakfasts (brekkies), and this is my absolutely favorite thing. I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a host of fabulous cafes, and a friend and I share ourselves among them from week to week. Most Saturday mornings will find us at one of four or five places, always ordering a Large Skinny Flat White and usually ordering some concoction of eggs. I tend to go for scrambled or poached, with sides of mushrooms, spinach or tomatoes… or French toast. I love French toast! One of our favorite brekkies is called ‘The Olive Bread Brekky’, which has bacon and avocado and fresh tomato slices and poached eggs on toasted olive bread… Yummy.
Around a year ago I travelled a bit in Europe – France, Spain, the UK and Germany – and was greatly fascinated by the differences in coffee/café culture. In each country, working out the best way to take my coffee was a new adventure.
But I digress… and I seem to have spent a lot of time talking about coffee and cafés. Oops. It’s because I’m a writer of course. Which reminds me of something I haven’t mentioned, which is my love of writing in my local cafés! Sometimes I just need a change of scene, a 15 minute walk, a spot of lunch (eggs!), and I toss my baby netbook into my satchel and hike off to the local for a few hours. (I also have a penchant for meeting fellow writers for pub sessions, which is another story entirely…)
There are lots of other great aspects of Melbourne that I’ve run out of space to cover. But I am fairly certain that our cafés and our coffee must be directly responsible for us being nominated the world’s most livable city. Don’t you think?
But just in case you’re not convinced, I’m willing to take questions. What else would you like to know?
To hear more from Ellen about Melbourne and many other subjects, leave questions in the 'comments' or check her out on her blog, http://ellenvgregory.com/.