Wednesday, January 4, 2012

6 Reasons Why I Still Love Melbourne

Until a few hours ago, it had been six months since I last stood on Melbourne soil, and now that I'm back, it feels just like we never said goodbye. Hello, again.

The third miracle of 2012? Not exactly. I had no doubt that my love affair with Melbourne would pick up right where it left off. In fact, I think I might be even more enamored of Melbourne the third time around (the commencement of which, by the way, happens to be exactly 10 months after the start of Jeremy & Melbourne: Round 2). Here's why.

1. Immigration Immigration Immigration After location location location (and mine, at 572 St. Kilda Road, is exactly what it was when I was last here), does anything contribute more to a great first impression of a country than a positive Immigration experience? I've always entered Australia via Sydney, so I wasn't expecting the madhouse that was waiting for me in Tullamarine's Immigration area. No matter. My Jetstar business-class ticket got me into the express line, and the woman who checked my landing card and passport was as sweet as the blueberry cheesecake that I came thisclose to having last night at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. She barely looked at either of them before stamping my passport and sending me on my way.

2. No luggage search! After I picked up my two bags, which, magically, were coming around on the conveyor belt just as I approached Baggage Claim 4, it was off to Customs, equally bustling. The woman at the end of the line appeared to be considering sending me to have my luggage checked, then she apparently had a change of heart. Maybe it was the grin I had plastered on my face. "No, go ahead this way," she said, pointing to the exit and smiling back. Welcome to Melbourne!

3. People who love people Nothing against Thais, who couldn't possibly be more friendly, but I'd forgotten how gracious Melburnians can be. In the crowded Immigration area, they were even handing out complimentary bottled water to the waiting passengers. I mean, who does that?!

4. Sun comes up, it's Wednesday morning. Although I wouldn't mind if the temperature were a few degrees higher (I hear I just missed a wave of heat), the Melbourne sky must be the bluest one I've seen since... well, since I left Melbourne last July.

5. I now can return to my regularly scheduled Oscar-season viewing -- in the theater. It was great finding all of those Oscar-contender DVDs on sale for 80 baht (under $3) in Bangkok's Silom Road night market, but on my way home, when I saw a tram passing by with a poster for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I felt a surge of excitement. (Bangkok -- and Southeast Asia, in general -- always seem to be a few months behind the rest of the world when it comes to new releases, and good luck ever finding Melancholia in the multiplex.) I can't wait to see Daniel Craig the way God intended -- larger than life!

6. Here comes the run! It's been six months since I've jogged on a surface that didn't move. (Treadmills serve their purpose, but it's so much more motivating when you're moving through gorgeous scenery.) I can't wait to hit the "Tan" and Albert Lake for a lap or two. I'm jet lagged as hell, but I can sleep when I'm dead -- or after I've worked off those last few thousand Thai calories, whichever comes first!
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