It’s my first time in Melbourne and so far I like what I see! It’s, in a lot of ways, just a city. It’s not sparkly like Sydney or Brisbane. The CBD doesn’t feel any different to Auckland’s when you’re in it, apart from the scale and the trams. The Yarra River is ugly and muddy – no match for Adelaide’s picturesque Murray. But despite all that if you were to ask me, based on my experiences, which Australian City I’d prefer to live in – it’s Melbourne hands down. Why is that? Well, just because it feels like my kind of town.
The first clue to how much I was destined to like it here was flying overhead at 8:30pm on Thursday night. Looking down from the window of our 737, dotted everywhere were sports grounds bathed in the glow of floodlights. Hundreds of them. It was starkly illustrative of what a sporting town this really is.
Then after we landed and made our way to our hotel on Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne’s Italian quarter, we got the second clue. We went for a walk at 11pm in search of Gelato and this was the first thing we found:
My three scoops of Gelato at Pidapipo (coconut, mint and white chocolate, and pistachio) were an absolute delight but the real treat was all the way there and all the way back to our hotel, as we passed restaurant after restaurant with tables out on the street, Italian was being spoken all around us. Music to my ears.
The little things make me happy here. Like not having to spell my name out to baristas and knowing they’ll get it right…
On Friday we got on the number 35 tram and did the free city circuit – highly recommended for getting your bearings – and picked out all the places we wanted to go. First priority for political junkies was the free tour of the Victorian State Parliament where I got to sit in the Premier’s chair!
Not only is that the chair once occupied by Joan Kirner, a personal political hero of mine and especially Gina’s, but it’s also the very spot from which Australia declared war in 1914 when Melbourne was the capital and this was the federal parliament.
As compensation for dragging Gina here and subjecting her to two football games and a training session, certain concessions had to be made. One of them was a trip to the musical ‘The Lion King’.
But of course the main reason for our trip is to see Roma at the MCG! Game one, vs Real Madrid, was last night of course. Roma won 7-6 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. It wasn’t a great game with neither side really giving it everything but it was still a great night out. One of the highlights was meeting these guys before the game:
It’s only the second biggest stadium in the world outside the USA!! Words can’t describe what it’s like in there. The view looks rubbish in that photo but it actually felt like we were right on top of the action.
The game might have been average but Roma showed some signs that last season’s problems could be things of the past. New signing Iago Falque was outstanding and despite my joke on Twitter that Gervinho wrote “offside” next to ‘current abode’ on his arrival card on the plane ride over, he seemed back to his electrifying best.
Totti only played half an hour but it was great to see him in the flesh again and I was happy to see Destro live before we sell him.
Then the evening was topped off with this – Elmo playing the bagpipes – what could possibly be better? You tell me, I’m all ears!
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/