Green with envy…

So now that my school assignment for “blogging” is over, I am terribly torn as to whether or not to keep it up….the problem is, I actually rather enjoyed doing it. And come to think of it, I have tons of ideas running through my head for future posts.

Seeing as the semester is nearing to a close, perhaps it would be the smarter option to continue using my brain over the coming months rather than beating it with multiple hangovers (no doubt that will happen too).

This evening I decided that it was about time I trekked it out back to my parents place out in trendy little Northcote. I’ve been outta home for precisely one month today and I have already felt the call of the north side.

I can’t get over how green everything is over here! Mum’s garden looks incredible, whereas the few trees barely surviving out the back of my pad in
Prahran look like they’re scraping through Spring by the skin of their teeth….

So it got me thinking, which side is greener? There are so many luscious gardens and parks in the inner city which I suppose you would classify as ‘southside’. The big mama being the Botanic Gardens…..but I miss my runs along the Merri Creek. Sure the Tan is nice, but it’s always so crowded with yummy mummies and buff sports junkies that it actually makes me feel like I should just give up right now.

Albert Park just doesn’t quite cut it either (which I walked on Tuesday morning with my grumpy night-owl housemate in tow). There’s too much traffic and just not enough trees.

So, if anyone has stumbled across a magical Garden of Eden in the southside that I’m missing that is perfect for exercising without the buff freaks, please, let me know.

Northerly love….

As per my previous entry, I shared with you some of my fave spots in ‘Soho,’ and so it seems only fair to give a little love to both sides as there are some real treasures found along Brunswick st and surrounding streets north of Johnston street.

So here’s a wee selection of my tried and trusted:

Eat. Drink. Man. Woman.

For those of you that remember the dingy ‘Retro Café,’ Eat Drink Man Woman has re-invigorated a great spot on Brunni St. Breakfast till 3 pm. Sells it to me already. Awesome light-filled space with an open kitchen (you can sit along the bar face to face with the chefs as they prepare your food).  Head Chef Daniel Schelbert formerly of Movida Aqui and Hare and Grace, brings some great dishes to the table. Try the brunch dish of cured salmon, pea and ricotta pancakes and smashed avocado ($17). It’s a winner.

Scally and Trombone.

Every time I walk past this shop, I just HAVE to go in. The jewellery is beautiful, the hats are just divine and there’s just something about the shop that entices me in every time.

Black Pearl.

Just in the vicinity of ‘Nojo,’ the Black Pearl is easily one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne. Negroni’s and Espresso Martinis are unreal here. Ask the bar staff to show you their infamous calendar…

Afghan Gallery.

Many a drunken birthday has been spent at this place. The upstairs room for larger groups is the place to be. Low tables lined with cushions, you can have twenty of your closest mates for dinner in a ‘Tent Party.’ Great banquet packages and $3.50 corkage make it a great option for those watching the coin. Stick around and the wait staff will get down with you to some ‘Afghani’ beats.

Bimbo’s Deluxe.

The older cousin to southsider ‘Lucky Coq,’ Bimbo’s perhaps does it just that little bit better. Funky beats and the upstairs courtyard are the winners at this effortlessly cool venue.

Nojo and Sojo vs Noho and Soho

Upon dropping my blog casually into conversation with my dear friend Sarah whilst enjoying one of my last little caffeine hits as a northsider, she nonchalantly made reference to some new bar that she had discovered. It ended with her saying something like, ‘but of course it’s in Nojo.’

‘Where? What on earth is ‘Nojo?” I said dumbstruck.

‘North of Johnston St, and South of Johnston St, seriously Izzy, everyone’s talking about it.’

Now for those of you well to do travellers who have spent a little time in the trendy sts of Manhattan, you will all be well familiar with Noho and Soho, short for North and South of Housden St.

It appears the hipsters from the East Village are slowly infiltrating the inner north..will we soon have a mini Noho and Soho on the south side (North and South of High st if you hadn’t already guessed)?

Come to think of it, I suppose I already divide Chapel St up by High St. I rarely trek down past Commercial road, and well, the strip between High and Dandenong rd is honestly one of my favourite’s in Melbourne.

So here’s a wee little listing of my favourite’s in Soho:

Borsch, Vodka & Tears. Seriously best espresso martini’s. Period. Awesome polish food and really knowledgeable staff. Only downer is they don’t stock gin, but why would you drink gin when you can drink vodka from every corner of Russia and Poland?

Tyranny of Distance. A little trickier to find, just off Chapel st opposite the Prahran Lawn Bowls Club. It’s an old mechanic’s garage that has been converted into a café/bar. Delicous food, they make their own flat bread, and the space is wicked. Smoker’s delight, you CAN smoke inside.

Pandora’s Box. Perhaps the more sophisticated younger sibling of Windsor institution Orange, Pandora’s Box offers up some delicous European Spanish influenced tapas. Head chef Matt brings to the table some great starters. Try the Scotch Quail Egg with Cod ($6).

Windsor Castle. One of the best beer gardens in Melbourne. Sunny Sunday afternoons bring in a very trendy crowd.

Lucky Coq. Smack bang on the corner of Chapel and High. $4 pizzas. What more can I say?

Red Door. Best dumplings (and cheap!) The restaurant doubles as an antique store. Eat your dumplings in bed whilst enjoying the wine you bought down the street (corkage $5).

My divided friends…

So last week I interrogated my friends about their views about the other side of town. Boy did I get some interesting responses! So I thought I’d share with you what they had to say…..

“There’s no beach in Thornbury.”

“southside!! Walking distance to the beach :).”

“The girls are much prettier north side I find…”

Girls might be pretty north side, but they’re stunning south side, haha.”

“One’s all imagination and eating paint and shit, and the other’s vampires on coke.”

“The difference between north side and south side is the difference between the lost boys in ‘hook’ and the lost boys with Keifer Sutherland.”

“A lot of liberal votes on the south side, this leads me to question the intellectual ability of potential south side neighbours. Food is often a lot less interesting and a lot more expensive. Housing is generally more expensive and public transport and cycling infrastructure is not as good. On top of these many philosophical, psychological, political, ideological, cultural and practical obstacles, I am very happy in Brunswick, would only move to be in Footscray and just generally dislike Prahran and the majority of inhabitants. It’s just a little bit boring down there! Do like the beach and something about the architecture in suburbs down there. It is fundamentally a lib hangout though. Ask me again after the next state election.”

“South, north, east, west! It’s all in cool to me. As long as it’s Melbourne.  Love it from the junkies in Foota to the wankers in Brighton.”

“I don’t cross the river, unless it’s for Revs.”

the melbourne divide and what makes me tick…

 

Of all things that sprang to mind when I decided to write about the many differences that divide the inner city of Melbourne between the north and south, was how many times I’d tiredly listened to my friends say “I don’t go north/south of the river.” Period. End of conversation. They weren’t gonna make it to said party/exhibition opening, even dear friend’s birthday dinner.

Why is it that us Melburnian’s feel so strongly about this when really it’s a mere hop skip and a jump to both? So many of us identify ourselves by either side of the river. This dictates the clothes we wear, the places we hang, the parties we attend, the lifestyle’s we lead, modes of transport, it even extends to our political opinions. Seriously, it’s a sub Melbourne-Sydney rivalry.

So a bit about me. I’m 23 and in my first year of PR. I’ve worked full time in hospo for several years now, travelled to America, Europe, South East Asia and India and even had a brief stint studying Journalism (we didn’t get along too well). Having grown up in the north and also lived in the south I have a love for both, and when I’m sick of one, I just run away to the other.

Despite living on the north for the first eighteen years of my life, I always seemed to be crossing the river. School was in the south and so said ‘18th’s’ year 12 formals and what not were always on the other side. I was becoming one of those rare Melbourne breeds, ‘the fence sitter.’ An appreciation for what both had to offer began to blossom, and so it wasn’t long before I started to migrate south.

Richmond seemed like a good place to start for the first of many moves out of my parents’ house (I’m praying the latest is the third and final!) More watering holes than people made it a pretty appealing stomping ground. Close to both sides and next to the city. That lasted six months before I found myself back on the North.

Two months later, I was a devout Southsider, living above a shop on Greville Street. I love the buzz around Chapel Street, the excessive nightlife, the boutique shops lining Windsor and the southside lifestyle that comes with it. And the beach. How could I forget the beach? Perhaps the shining star of the south, beers along the St Kilda Esplanade at The StokeHouse, sitting outside the St Kilda Sea Baths, or rooftop at the St Kilda Yacht Club are hard to pass up on a beautiful summer’s day. I often think perhaps if you combined the north and the beach you’d have a winning combination.

After two years, the north called again and I found myself back home for the second time. I didn’t even recognise High street this time, two years and the place was like a foreign country to me. But I loved it, I had a whole new area to explore. I love the grunge of the north, dirty pubs like The Tote and The Evelyn are old favourites. And it’s so much more culturally diverse than the south. There’s deli’s a plenty, fruit and veg shops run by Italians and Greeks that don’t speak English, the Halal Butcher, and Sydney Rd Coburg feels like you’re delving into Aladdin’s Cave searching for hidden treasures.

However a year and half later, I’m back on the south, living above the shop directly opposite my old hood on Greville street, ready to give the south a crack for the second time.

So I’m putting the word out to all my friends and you readers, who do you love more? What are the best of both sides? And what does it take to make you cross to the other side?

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