See here for Part 1.
4. The Melting Pot
Melbourne is still the most multicultural city I’ve ever been to. Though I’m told cities like New York and London may have a larger ethnic population, there’s no city I’ve visited in which everyone blends together so well. I’m not saying it’s a paradigm for tolerance, but even in late 2005, when Sydney exploded and Australia made the news internationally for all the wrong reasons, Melbourne just carried on carrying on.
Freiburg was strange. I don’t want to get too far into this here, as it’s a complex issue and really deserves more than a couple of hundred words. I’ll sum up with a little example. A friend of mine whose parents were born in Hong Kong, yet had lived nearly her entire life in Vancouver, was asked from time to time where she was from. She’d respond ‘Canada’, to which a typical response would be to shake one’s head and insist that she couldn’t be from Canada. Let’s not get too high and mighty though, as that does happen here.
So what will I miss? The mix of people. Not knowing what someone identifies as, how they see themselves, how they see you. The idea of being German is very different to our idea of being Australian, and much less open to interpretation. Cultural diversity just makes social interactions more interesting.
But at least Germany isn’t run by Tony Abbott.
Germans do very much live in their own little shell when it comes to other beers. At times, I can’t even recommend Belgian brands for fear of being thrown out of the bar. I offered a guy from Bamberg a sip of a Russian Imperial Stout from Dieu du Ciel the other day and he just shrugged, insisting that it was really just the same as Schlenkerla, except worse (yes, I’m something of a beer snob nowadays, and this nonchalant ignorance really irritated me). But I can’t blame them. German beer is incredible.
However, I am a huge fan of ales, stouts, and anything that’s a bit different, and you simply can’t get that sort of stuff in Germany. There are amazing microbrews and craft beer venues peppered all over Melbourne, which I take great pleasure in frequenting after a bit of overtime each week. I’ve discovered some absolute pearlers, things you wouldn’t dream of walking into a German supermarket and asking for.
Maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough. I’m looking forward to trying this place though.
So that’s it. They’re the big five. Take-home messages? If you’re on the way over here, don’t have high expectations for food, unless you like it salty and pork. Don’t touch anything more sophisticated than Carlton Draught, buy some orthotics, and kick any remnant caffeine habits.
Don’t sweat it though, there’s plenty to look forward to…
(Minus 7 points for obvious lead-on to later blog)