Credit: Andy Friedman

“While on holiday in Melbourne with my husband, I often heard Aussies comparing Sydney to Los Angeles and Melbourne to New York City. Sydney has its share of glamour, but Melbourne is an urban center full of beautifully designed, progressive architecture, on the cutting edge of green development—and, as is true of New York, you can walk endlessly, right in the heart of the city.

“Anybody not walking or riding a bike in Melbourne is taking the tram. If I were there now I’d take the fifteen-minute ride from the city to St. Kilda beach, which is lined with old hotels and billiard halls in various states of disrepair—it’s very romantic and desolate. And then—if I could do this immediately, if I had a magic wand, I would—I’d take the tram back into the center of town to Movida for the best tapas I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. The chef, Frank Camorra, does incredible things with lard and pork belly. Even though it’s an exquisite dining experience, it’s also a friendly, gracious, warm place. You can’t find pretension anywhere in Melbourne—it’s all about matesmanship. It’s my idea of a perfect city.”

Eat, Pray, Love, a film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir and starring Julia Roberts, premieres August 13. The book’s sequel, Committed (Viking; $26.95), is now in bookstores.

Dining Down Under

“Try the excellent tapas at Movida ( 1 Hosier Lane; 61-3/9663-3038; dinner for two $70).”

Top Melbourne Neighborhood

“The city’s European immigrants give Lygan Street an old-world Italian feel.”

A New Hotel in Melbourne

“Book one of the twelve suites at Crown Metropol (8 Whiteman St.; 61-3/9292-6211;; doubles from $330). The rooms connect to the Isika spa via a private staircase.”

My Mexican Escape

Isla Holbox, a fishing village off of the Yucatán Peninsula, for its no-name thatched-roof bars that serve cold beers and tequila right on the water.”

Carry-On Essentials

“Earplugs, eye mask, and slippers.”