I’m currently in love with this city.
I realise that after having lived here for only a couple months, I don’t know much about it and what I do know is probably to be expected: the coffee’s good, public transport is convenient and generally on time (except when it isn’t), and there are lots of people who look like they’ve been up all night.
But Melburnians pride themselves on doing things differently than Sydneysiders – we’re laid back, we’re not too serious – so if any New South Welshmen or women stumble into town looking for a good time, you should go prepared. Here are some ideas:
1. Wander aimlessly around Degraves Street . It’s an upscale shopping strip, but it looks like a boozy alley in an arty Parisian quarter. People sit outside cafés and restaurants smoking cigarettes and occasionally talking about how everyone smokes cigarettes here.
2. Have breakfast at the egg bar . It’s small and unassuming, but their egg breakfasts with bacon and potato cakes are almost as good as the ones I had in Italy (and they cost less than $10). As a bonus, there is no line: go around 8:30am on any day of the week to get seated immediately!
3. Wander aimlessly around Brunswick Street . It’s scruffy in parts – some people might describe it as ‘sketchy’ – but that’s because there are hipsters everywhere. You can buy Korean fried chicken and vegan mayonnaise here, and you should because it’s the best thing in the world.
4. Go to a show at Howler . I don’t know if they do anything other than rock shows (I assume not) but everyone who plays there is really good. All three times I’ve been there I’ve heard bands with unique sounds or impressive skills; this place is very different from your typical pub with a jukebox. Sometimes punters have to pay for drinks! It’s so fresh.
5. Watch a band play at The Toff in Town . The mix of people means you might see someone get punched outside on the street, but inside bands are always playing great sets while people dance like it’s 1999. Opposite the Victorian Arts Centre (and built in 1860 – check out the photo on their website), this place has some seriously old school charm; it used to be a gambling den.
6. Go to an arthouse cinema . Melbourne is full of them, but I recommend Cinema Nova for new releases and The Astor for more alternative stuff (like French films with subtitles). And if you see something at Hoyts that looks interesting, don’t bother seeing it there – they never project properly!
7. Explore Carlton . It’s one of my favourite suburbs to wander around because everything’s so close together: you can jump from Lygon Street Italian restaurants to vegetarian cafés to vintage clothes stores.
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