I don't know if the rest of you are like me, but whenever I travel, I like to find areas of where I'm traveling that remind me of back home. It's a good way to establish comfort as well as compare and contrast a bit.
For a long while, I loved the Wicker Park area of Chicago. It's the first area of the city I called home. I went through many ups and downs in that neighborhood, but at the end of the day, I loved the independent shops, the music scene, and the food. More recently, I've begun to love Lincoln Square and Ravenswood more. As people in Chicago put it: it's where the hipsters go to have babies.
Yesterday I spent the day in West End, which is a very hipster area of Brisbane. There's independent shops everywhere and a lot of quirkiness. Just to paint a picture for you: as I was drinking my coffee at an outdoor space at Blackstar, a woman under the influence of probably many many drugs came up to me and asked me to put her earring back in her ear. Awkward. Nonetheless, I tend to gravitate toward these hipster areas regardless of the types of people it draws!
Blackstar is known for its cold-pressed coffee. Look how beautiful that bottle of coffee is! Or maybe it's what's inside that I'm more excited about... Either way, huge fan.
While at Blackstar, I started chatting with two guys after I overheard them talking about one of their friends that traveled for 8 years straight. Then they started talking about extended traveling and where they should go and of course I piped in and said (without looking at them), "Chicago." A conversation then fully emerged and I told them all about how wonderful Chicago is and that it is America's Best Kept Secret from travelers, since everyone goes to either NYC or LA instead.
After Blackstar, I walked around a bit and popped into shops in the area. I found one really cute one that reminded me of a shop I absolutely love up in Ravenswood called Hazel. What drew me into the store was their reusable lunch bags and cloth change purses. Ha! I'm a sucker for that stuff.
Then it was on to Archive Beer Boutique to have an Australian gluten free beer. I chose Pickled Pig's Silly Yakk. It tasted like every other gluten free beer I've had, but since I've grown to love them, I enjoyed this one as well. What I really liked about Archive is that it reminded me of a mix of one of my favorite coffee shops in Chicago called Filter and a bar called Maproom. There are random couches and seats throughout and consist of a hodgepodge of "things." There was even lines and lines of bookshelves with books to take and read while drinking. Heavenly. (At Maproom there are volumes of National Geographic instead).
Overall, I had a great day exploring West End and now know where to go to get my Chicago fix. I also learned that Melbourne is essentially entirely like West End. I have a feeling I'm going to fall in love with Melbourne!