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Growing up in Melbourne’s western suburbs meant that a) people thought I was part of a gang, and b) travelling to the other side of the bay for high school was pretty much a given.* As much as I regret the 180-minute daily round trip, travelling for school meant that I got my head around the city and the inner suburbs which is something I really appreciate now. The wonders of education: you won’t remember what an enzyme does but you will know where to get coffee.

Lately I’ve been getting to know all my favourite teenage spots again. They’ve changed, for better and for worse — so have I, I guess. It’s so good to see them through new eyes and also above the drinking age. Hence: Chapel str, which I remember as having the best vintage going, is suddenly a wonderful playground of elaborately/joyfully named bars and eateries.

If you can’t quite make it out that’s Borscht, Vodka and Tears and it’s as fine as it sounds. I took The Drink With No Name (not pictured because it disappeared very quickly) and found a new love in chili vodka. Still, you’ve gotta shop.

In this case it meant an incense burner shaped like a little pueblo because life wasn’t absurd enough at that moment. Pictured on my unnecessarily elaborate bedspread

And then to my best city/CBD/downtown. The wonderful Victorian-era Block Arcade which is populated by the kind of shops that only seems to exist in Victorian-era arcades: merino wool outfitters and photo restoration services. It’s caught in a sort of web of narrow alleyways and though I’ve been going there as long as I can remember I’m never quite sure which way the exits and entries will take me.

It also houses the Hopetoun Tea Rooms, which always have the longest queue but I know one day must be conquered due to its fully-restored, late 19th century realness. Maybe I’ll have to engineer a special occasion, I don’t know. Any ideas?

Finally the Nicholas Building, home to creatives of all kinds. All the shops I remember in the arcade have been replaced (with equally lovely things) but upstairs is still mostly the same; all fish-scale tiles and an unnerving elevator. Around the corner is L’uccello, which is a crafter’s dream and still heavenly for people who don’t understand how sewing works. Everything is lovely but they have piles of antique ribbon that I just feel I need, for some reason. Admiration, I think.


*For Catholic school, mind. Although it was the sort that let us watch Shrek in religion classes.


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