Or more specifically, in our new neighborhood (aka suburb), Brunswick! When Justin told one of his co-workers where we are living, he responded, “Have you seen the show Portlandia? The dream of the ’90s is alivein Brunswick!” (For those of you who’ve heard of Portlandia but have never watched the show, take 3 minutes out of your day and click on the dream of the ’90s link. It’s worth it). This wasn’t why we chose this neighborhood, and it isn’t obvious, at least to an Oz newbie, that Brunswick embodies the Portlandia ethic. Sure, there are plenty of people with tattoos, girls with glasses, local bands (there is even a large library display for locally produced CDs!), record stores, bicycles, and skateboards. But Melbourne is a creative city, and none of these seem unique to this suburb. Perhaps after a few more weeks here, I will start sleeping until 11am and decide to go to clown school (just kidding, Mom!).
So why did we choose this neighborhood? After apartment hunting non-stop for nearly two weeks, I was growing weary. Searching for an apartment in Melbourne is a bit different from the other places we have lived. Real estate agencies hold 15-minute open houses. That’s right, you (and everyone else) have a 15-minute window to check out an apartment and pick-up an application. And many of the nicer places seem to only have one open house. We didn’t know much about Brunswick when we decided to submit an application for our new apartment, but it met our six requirements (in no particular order): 1. Plenty of natural light and preferably hardwood floors (known as floorboards in Oz); 2. Walking distance to a grocery store and other amenities; 3. Reasonable commuting distance from Justin’s work; 4. Good public transit access; 5. Safe; 6. Within our budget. Fortunately, we were the first to apply, and we officially moved in on Monday!
I grow more impressed with Brunswick every day. If you have seen the Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode about Australia, you have already gotten a taste of our new home. Anthony consumed three meals (kebabs, Lebanese pizza, and an amazing meal at Rumi) within walking distance of us.
There’s such a variety of good food in our neighborhood because our neighborhood is amazingly diverse. And diversity is delicious! In fact, Brunswick is one of Melbourne’s most diverse suburbs. According to the 2006 Census, over 40 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home.
If this weren’t indication enough that we are living in a food lover’s paradise, there is the Mediterranean Wholesalers, a supermarket the size of an urban Whole Foods that services Melbourne’s long-established Italian population. The store has an entire aisle (both sides!) devoted to pasta and multiple refrigerators full of Parmigiano-Reggiano alone! And olive oils, wine, cured meats, fresh cannolis, cakes, special blended coffee…I could go on and on.
Perhaps this week we will venture beyond the grocery stores, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. We could lawn bowl (barefoot no less), play tennis, or watch a professional Footy (aka Australian rules football) practice (Go Carlton!); explore some of Sydney Road’s boutiques and book stores; listen to some local, live music; or just ride our bicycles.
Google makes it amazingly easy to take a stroll through Brunswick. This link will take you straight to the intersection of Michael Street and Sydney Road – what we see when we walk out our front door. Click on the arrows to ‘walk’ in a direction and use the compass in the top left corner to window shop.