Metropolis Bookshop

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I did not take this photo. I may have borrowed it from the web.

A long time ago, my sister-out-law took me to this incredible bookshop. At the time, I didn’t know Melbourne and the location of this store did not register in my relocated brain. We walked there, stepped into the building, walked up three flights of stairs, browsed for an hour, paid for our purchases, walked out,  down the stairs, out of the building, and I had no idea where this bookshop was, no idea where I was. I only barely remembered the book store’s name. However, I was certain I loved it and I made a mental note to ask my sister-out-law about the location, but I kept forgetting. Recently, I made a point to return to Metropolis Bookshop. Armed with the Google Maps on my iPhone, I easily made my way there.

Metropolis is that shop that has books you didn’t know you wanted – quirky children’s books, pop culture casebooks, creative artsy-fartsy hipster stuff, and serious volumes of fashion, photography, art, architecture, advertising, and design. Metropolis also carries humorous postcards and beloved Moleskin journals. It’s that store where you buy stunning coffee table books that you give as gifts with tremendous regret because you secretly want them for yourself and if only your friends were as good and thoughtful at giving presents as you are.

Metropolis Bookshop is tucked away on the third floor of Curtin House on Swanston St. It has a strict no-mobile policy and an open floor plan that makes browsing easy, but they kindly request you don’t take more than a couple of books off the shelves at a time. Many of them are large, heavy, and pricey so it’s understandable.

Metropolis Bookshop is one of my favourite book shops in Melbourne. I always spend more there than I intended. I went there with the intention of buying one thing, just a Moleskin notebook, but I couldn’t help myself.

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Do you have a favourite book store?

The BIBA Experience

Biba

Biba

When you move to another country, you need a lot of things. You need a new place to live, a new job, new appliances, perhaps a new car, or new clothes for a different climate. Thinking about all those big things you need, you might forget that you need some new services too such as a new accountant or a new hair stylist.

I have curly hair. The first problem with curly hair is that, when it grows out, it takes on the shape of a pyramid – flat at the top and wider towards the ends. The second problem is that many stylists will say they know how to cut curly hair, but they don’t. Then they will proceed to ask you if you would like to straighten it. That’s a good time to go look for another stylist.

I did what any social media junkie would do and crowdsourced. That is, I asked my Facebook friends and total strangers on Twitter for some recommendations. I found a stylist named Neel working out of Cherry Bomb Hair in Collingwood. Unfortunately, like Westpac, they never answered their phone and never returned my call despite multiple voicemail messages.

My sister outlaw recommended BIBA Academy in Fitzroy, which I’d also seen mentioned around the web as a good option. BIBA has 13 hair salons and two training academies. Expats often complain about how expensive Melbourne is and getting good hair styling is no exception. At Cherry Bomb Hair, a new cut begins at $110. At BIBA Academies, it’s $25. All you have to do is be a guinea pig. I’m cool with that.

A few minutes after I arrived and was greeted and sat, I was approached by a woman with fabulous curly hair and I felt much more at ease about being there. She turned out to be the head colorist and asked if I wanted color. Sure, why not? It’s just hair. The worse that could happen was I’d hate it and re-color it at home. If the haircut was bad, well, it’s just hair; it will grow back. I could easily hate a $100+ hair cut too.  This kind of attitude is important at a place where students are working on your hair. If you’re really fussy about your hair, as the woman next to me was, BIBA Academies may not be for you. Also, if you’re in a hurry, it may not be for you. Again, these are students in training. They work slowly and they pause often for their instructors to review.

Cosette 11/13I got a great haircut and fantastic color with the balayage effect. Listening to the instructor and the students, I learned that the young man cut my hair in a different way than he would straight hair, which is good. A stylist that treats curly hair like straight hair doesn’t know what s/he’s doing; get out of there fast.

Here’s a photo of me that I quickly snapped with my iPhone that afternoon. It was a rainy day so it looks a bit frizzy, but I’m super happy with the cut and color, and I will definitely be returning to BIBA.

 

Shopping Trolleys: Granny Chic

About the featured image: A row of shopping carts by Jim.

Image: A row of shopping carts by Jim.

Last month, Diane over at Oui in France wrote a piece about shopping carts, or trolleys, as they’re called in Australia. It occurred to me that this has become part of normal living here in Melbourne, but it’s something I never did until I came here.

We’re not talking about the kind of shopping cart provided by supermarkets and large stores such as Target and Kmart that you use to hold your items until you check out. Diane and I are talking about a smaller, personal trolley that is commonly used in Paris and here in Melbourne as well. In cities where walking is commonplace, both men and women use these to carry their groceries home. When I first saw them, I reacted just as Diane, and asked the very same important question she posed, “Are these shopping trolleys granny chic or just granny?”

Shopping Trolleys

When I was living in Miami, I went to the supermarket every Sunday morning with my sister and our mother. We used the supermarket’s big shopping cart to hold our items. At the check-out, these were transferred into bags, which were then carried into the car, and driven home. But here in Melbourne, I don’t have a car. Sometimes, Theo drives us both the market and we do the shopping together. Other times, I do it alone. So, I use a shopping trolley.

There are two ways in which I see people using their trolleys. One is to use the trolley for the shopping as well as carrying your groceries home. People load the groceries right in, out for check-out, and back in again, sans bags. I don’t like this method. I prefer the wire type of trolley, like the blue one pictured above, which flattens, and I can place it in a larger supermarket trolley. I like my groceries bagged and then I place them in my trolley.

I do feel a bit like an ole lady when I drag my shopping trolley behind me, but this is a practical item, and it sure beats carrying heavy bags with cans and meats. I draw the line at taking it to the mall, however.  I see some women using them at the mall to carry their clothing purchases. Practical, I know, but still granny.

Melbourne Shopping Guide

I’ve written before about some great shopping spots in Melbourne, but there’s a difference between shopping like a tourist and shopping like someone who has just moved to a new city.

Once you’ve got your souvenirs and gifts out of the way, you might be wondering where to buy shampoo, a new mobile phone, new camping gear, or what kind of store Bunnings is. It takes time to learn, but here’s what I’ve worked out so far.

Groceries

Many Aussies shop at food markets. Just about every major suburb has one – Box Hill, Camberwell, Footscray, Prahran, Preston, South Melbourne, and of course the Queen Victoria Market. These are not like large American supermarkets where products are neatly organized into aisles. Instead, you get one independently-owned stall after another of fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, butchers and fishmongers, as well as spices and nuts. You may also find household goods, clothing, accessories, and some services.

Some points to remember about markets:

  • They are not typically open every day and business hours may vary. For example, Preston Market is open until 3pm Wednesdays and Saturdays, until 6pm on Thursdays, and until 8pm on Fridays.
  • You’re dealing with different traders. You’ll pay Joe the butcher for his meats, Dmitri for his spices, and Samita for her vegetables.
  • Expect to pay for most of your purchases in cash.
  • Unlike at a supermarket, you may not have shopping carts (here called trolleys) available to you. It’s a good idea to bring your own. They are widely available for purchase.
  • Prices fluctuate. For example, Preston Market is open Wednesday through Saturday. Wednesday is often the most expensive day to shop. You can find amazing bargains on a Saturday afternoon, but the place gets increasingly chaotic as closing time approaches.

If you prefer supermarket shopping, you have a few options.

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10 Great Shopping Spots in Melbourne

I’m either a brilliant shopper or a terrible one. I’m a minimalist and spend most of my shopping budget (I use the word “budget” loosely) on books and music, both of which are mostly digital and take up no physical room in my space. I see many things that I like, but always end up asking myself, “What am I going to do with this?” Back on the display it goes. But if you’re a shopaholic, you’re in luck because there is some fantastic shopping to be had in Melbourne. Continue reading