Last Updated on July 9, 2015 by Natasha Amar
Before I’d seen Melbourne, I felt that I could not really fall in love with a city. Mountains, islands, beaches yes, but not cities. The cities I’d seen were pretty much similar; crowded, busy and very fast-paced, some with impressive skylines like my very own Dubai and sometimes with a few touristy sites. What was lacking for me was a raw appeal, some likeable trait that’s very in your face. Melbourne has just that; a very cool, artsy and bohemian vibe, something that makes it unlike any other city.
One evening while searching for a performance venue tucked into one of the lanes in the Federation Square area, I chanced upon Little Collins Street and was amazed by the fantastic street art. So I went back the next day to look at the beautiful works as well as click some pictures. What can I say, I have never seen anything like this before! If you’re ever in Melbourne, I’d recommend you to seek this tiny little alley out and check out the street art, even if the smell of sewage gets quite unbearable after a while.
Coming back to the performance venue I was looking for, this place is called The Butterfly Club. There was a Burlesque Comedy event that evening and since we don’t have this kind of entertainment in Dubai, I thought it would be fun to check it out. After spending an hour looking for the venue, wandering around the maze like streets, I was standing before an old building with a sign that said ‘The Butterfly Club’. It did not look big enough to be a venue at all. So with a rather confused expression I walked in and straight ahead was the ticket office. I bought the ticket and was asked to walk up a few floors to the theatre. The place looked worn out until I was on the bar level which is decorated in a unique way, with a very kitschy feel to it, think vintage details, rag dolls and burlesque posters. The show itself made for an outrageously fun affair filled in a small theatre with song and dance and top notch comedy. By the end of it, my jaws hurt from all the non-stop laughing.
Well, a girl’s got to shop or at least window shop and so I headed to Chapel Street one afternoon. I hadn’t seen this side of town before and loved the contrast between the high end fashion brands at the South Yarra end and the pawnbrokers and stores selling old fashioned and grungy items at the Windsor end. I spent the entire day on this street, checking out shops with vintage treasures and the interesting street art. The last thing I expected to see was a Hindu goddess staring at me from one of the walls! Quite cool, I have to say.
On my last day in the city, I decided to check out Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, known for its bohemian vibe. I walked into a store called Zetta Florence and spent the next two hours in there. These guys make or source timeless, gorgeous and handmade or produced stationery and presentation products. I fell in love with their vintage prints and bought a few to frame for my walls. I also loved their black and white historical photography wall prints and notebooks and bought some to make travel notes in. Being in the store felt like being in the 1930s, I could spend an entire day just browsing through their lovely collections.
With such a distinct character, Melbourne appeals to my bohemian side like no other city I’ve been to. The street art, hipster cafés, live entertainment, delightful venues and vintage stores hidden in tiny lanes are very different from but just as amazing as the historical sites and museums, art galleries and the Federation Square area where talented buskers & performers; singers, magicians, guitarists, pianists entertain crowds of locals and tourists. The different areas such as Fitzroy, St. Kilda, South Yarra, Toorak, Richmond, Windsor and Federation Square each have a very distinct vibe, it’s almost like many small cities or towns placed side by side. A walking tour could begin in a bustling tourist area and end in Melbourne’s version of Chinatown.
This post is linked to the #WeekendWanderlust series hosted by A Brit & A Southerner