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Worldwide: Festive Friday 2!

We have had some incredible feedback following our first post in the #FestiveFriday series. Today we take you to two countries that are miles apart with different traditions. The things they have in common however are the passion the two writers have for their respective countries and the festival they celebrate! 

We loved learning about Guatemala from Ale’s last blogpost, now we get to indulge in her Christmas traditions!

One of my favorite things of Christmas in Guatemala is the sense of unity and family that is created in the environment. All throughout December, Guatemalans host different types of events in order to spend quality time with people they love. A very common event is a “convivio”, which is basically a party where friends, family, or co-workers (depending on who hosted it) gather and celebrate that the year is almost over and simply spend a fun time together. Most of the time, convivios have different types of games where you can win prizes, food (of course) and/or a gift exchange.
Ale Xmas.jpgSince Guatemala is still a predominantly Catholic country, one of our traditions is having a “posada”; an event symbolising the pilgrimage of the virgin Mary and Joseph on their departure from Nazareth to Bethlehem, awaiting the birth of Jesus. This tradition consists in leading a procession through the streets and at the end, stop by some houses to receive a snack; traditionally, people should offer tamales or chuchitos, sweet bread, and punch (fruit punch is prepared differently in Guate). The procession is accompanied with candles, carols and instruments.
Some big local companies also host free events where everyone is invited. There are two big events in my city; the inauguration of the biggest Christmas tree in Guatemala, the Árbol Gallo (Gallo is the name of the beer company who is hosting the event), and a fireworks show called Luces Campero (sort of like Macy’s 4th of July show in NYC). Both of these events have some acts before the main spectacle begins, such as ballet, national artists, etc.
Apart from events, we also come together by decorating our homes. In Guatemala it is rare to buy a real pine tree; we mostly have the plastic ones sitting in the garage waiting to be decorated. However, one of the traditions is commemorating the birth of Jesus by placing a representation below the tree these are called “el nacimiento”. Nacimientos are decorated with a layer of moss, pine leaves, sawdust of all the colors you can imagine, and little clay characters to represent everyone that attended the birth of Jesus. Personally, this was one of my favourite memories when I was little, since my sister and I had the freedom to decorate it however we liked!
Kathleen thrilled us with her tales of German joke books, now she has a festive story to tell! 
Kathleen Xmas

As some of you might know, I went to Kiel in 2015 as part of my year abroad at university (and those who don’t, I don’t know how because I haven’t shut up about it since). Christmas in Kiel was one of the most magical things I’d ever experienced. There was a huge market by the central station – admittedly, a rat once ran over my foot there, but I was feeling very festive and chose to consider it as more of a Christmas rat – and I was struck by the amount of camraderie and happy feeling around all the people there. No one actually seemed to buy anything from the many little huts around the square, but the Glühwein was flowing and there was almost always some kind of local band playing a Christmas tune or two. When Kate came to visit (namedrop to the editor), we went to Lübeck and marvelled at the marzipan towers on the main square. When other friends came, we went to Hamburg to try the Christmas rides firsthand.

I feel like I should give a short introduction to my former landlady at this point. Her name is Renate, she is the most spritely 67 year old I’ve ever met and she spoils me absolutely rotten. Because there aren’t any young people in my village, she has taken me under her wing. Are we best friends? I don’t know, but we exchange excellent WhatsApp chain mails and she insists on bringing over dinner in a Tupperware every Friday night so I don’t have to cook over the weekend. When I get a call from Renate asking me to go with her on a coach trip to a historic Christmas market, what’s a gal going to do? Obviously accept. So she signed me up with her (other) best friend, Barbara, for a Christmas market tour.

Kathleen Xmas 2The coach came to pick us up from our village centre and we went, via Cottbus, to our destination. I was the only person on this bus under the age of 64. I know this so precisely because Barbara is 64. The bar opened obscenely early on board the coach; the woman next to me had three half bottles of wine for under a tenner and all before midday. The journey took us about three and a half hours, but I was ready; this was going to be the best Christmas market I’d ever been to! A medieval town in Saxony, on the Elbe, totally off the beaten track for non-Germans! There was a distracting interlude in the afternoon which involved eating half a goose and going on a boat trip with the Saxon equivalent of John Bishop, but we eventually got there at quarter to four. Remember this, quarter to five.

“Right everyone, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Time to go and explore the Christmas market! Remember, everyone needs to be back on the coach by ten to six!”
Ten to six? Maybe I’d got the devilish German time telling wrong (who says three quarters eight when they mean quarter to nine??) and they meant six to ten? Oddly specific, but not unheard of in the land of punctuality. But no, she said ten to six. I didn’t really understand why we’d driven for nearly four hours and been subjected to such John Bishopry for two hours in order to stay there for an hour.

I soon understood why. The stalls all fit one of four profiles: Glühwein, baubles, gingerbread, candied nuts. They were all ever so slightly expensive for what they were. The light sleet in the air was making everything damp, but at the same time not damp enough to feel wet. Renate, Barbara and I only actually spent 20 minutes at the market – there was absolutely no Christmas feeling whatsoever. A man was telling me on the bus about how he came a few years ago and there were Czech craftsmen making ornaments for people to take home with them – where were they now?

Unfortunately, this seems all too prevalent in the New Bundesländer (former East Germany). The markets are full of aging adults, with children too old to come to the Christmas markets but not old enough to have grandchildren of their own, and who aren’t willing to shout about how much they love Christmas. That said, I was in Bautzen a few weeks ago and there were children and young people filling up the main squares of the town. But the stalls were all the same, everywhere I went. A true German Christmas experience you’re looking for? Head north. Try out the Lüneborg or Lübeck markets. Say hello to the Christmas rat in Kiel, wherever s/he may be. And bring the enthusiasm with you! Don’t expect the market to do all the Christmassing for you; drink as much Glühwein (or Apfelpunch! Great non-alcoholic alternative) as you can stomach and bully your friend into trying a Feuerzangenbowle – hot wine with a sugar lump balanced on top and set on fire!

Follow both of them on their travels via their social media:

Ale:  http://marialevasquez.wixsite.com/doslunares  http://instagram.com/doslunaresgt/

Kathleen: https://twitter.com/_mrsbruhl  

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Travel

Manchester, UK: A Northern Powerhouse

Editor Kate grew up not too far from Manchester so was thrilled to find out some hidden gems from Debbie!

Hi all! I am Debbie and I am a travel blogger over The Misguided Millennial where I give my perspective on all things travel. When I first moved to Manchester in September 2015, I honestly was not a huge fan of the city. At first look, it seemed like a smaller, less interesting, and dirtier version of London, but after living there for a year, I discovered the city had an endless number of hidden gems that made up its unique fabric. Each sector of the city has its own personality, from the hipster tea shops and bars of the northern quarter and the student-filled streets of Fallowfield to the upscale restaurants in Spinningfields, the city feels more like a collection of small towns than one large city. The best part of the city must be the amazing places you can eat throughout the city. I love food and a big part of how I settled into life in Manchester was by finding wonderful places to eat when I did not feel like cooking again.

Hands down, my favorite part of the city was the amazing food available at every turn. I had visited England twice before moving there, but the food never really struck me as anything to write home about. Most importantly, I was worried about not being able to find good Mexican food, one of the staples of my diet. Luckily, within the first few weeks of moving to Manchester, I discovered Pancho’s Burritos. This place was better than almost every other Mexican restaurant I had been to AND it was also inexpensive. Manchester- 1; Debbie- 0. Pancho’s is a rather unassuming spot a bit outside the city center and off a main road and yet it draws a crowd of regulars every weekend. If you are passing through Manchester and want some quality Mexican food, I promise you that Pancho’s will not disappoint.

If you are craving something a little more quintessentially British, my favorite place to grab Fish and Chips in the city is Ra!n Bar. It’s this fun little pub located on one of the small canals that go through the city. On one of the 4 sunny days all year, it’s nice to sit in their outside area and enjoy a pint and some food with friends. The Fish and Chips are amazing as are the Bangers and Mash and the drinks are strong and inexpensive (two of my favorite things). Keep in mind that if the weather is nice, the outdoor area will be packed so you may want to get there early to find seats, especially if you are in a bigger group.

The last restaurant I am going to mention is one of the most unique places I ate while in Manchester and if I had judged it by how it looked, I never would have gone in. Northern Soul Grilled Cheese looks like an absolute hole in the wall from the outside, especially since it is open on 2 of 4 sides. This place is in a tiny shop about a block from Piccadilly Gardens in the center of Manchester. There are about 15 total seats and it is always packed because the food is so delicious. As you can probably tell from the name, Northern Soul Grilled Cheese specializes in, you guessed it, grilled cheese. But this isn’t just any grilled cheese. It’s made on delicious sourdough bread with a blend of three cheeses and you can add everything from Macaroni and Cheese to amazing 9 hour pulled pork to your sandwich. It was one of my favorite spots to grab lunch if I was in the city center and there really is something for everyone on their unique menu. It was even featured on the Facebook page Love Food recently.

In terms of food, there is another category that needs to be discussed: Tea. There is a bit of a debate about the best place to get proper tea in Manchester and I am here to say there is no right answer, because everywhere is rather amazing.

My favorite place to grab tea and a scone or a piece of cake the size of my face is Teacup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter. It is budget-friendly, has an excellent selection of teas and cakes and I am not joking when I say the slices of cake are the size of your face. Unless you have a hollow leg, you will likely have leftover cake for later, which is a wonderful thing. Teacup Kitchen has a very laid-back atmosphere and is a great place to hang out with friends and decompress from a long week. Also, don’t be completely distracted by the cakes as the scones are equally as amazing especially if you aren’t looking to eat as much.

Now if you are looking for something a bit fancier to celebrate a special occasion over tea, I recommend Cloud 23 at the Hilton Deansgate hotel. It gets its name because it is located on the 23rd floor and every table has an amazing view of the city below. If you are going here for tea, you might as well splurge on the champagne afternoon tea. With this you get an endless amount of tea, a glass of Champagne, and a tower of delicious treats. From the cakes to the scones and even the savories, every part of this tea service was worth the splurge. While not a good everyday tea spot, Cloud 23 is great for those occasions where you have something to celebrate and feel like being a bit fancy.

From this Misguided Millennial to you, I hope you have enjoyed my tips on places to eat in Manchester!

Also be sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to hear more about my travels and check out my blog at Themisguidedmillennial.org to get all my best tips and tricks for your Travels.

Travel

New Zealand: The Land of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Brooke from A Girl and A Kiwi knows a thing or two about the hidden gems of New Zealand. Here she lets you into a few local secrets…

The saying “it’s about the journey, not just the destination” is so true for New Zealand. In New Zealand, there is so much diversity in the landscapes, and it doesn’t take long to get from “somewhere” to the “middle of no-where”. If you know anything about New Zealand, you’ve probably heard of the major cities and attractions like Auckland and Queenstown, or Milford Sound. New Zealand is also known for adventure activities like bungy-jumping, zorbing, and amazing surfing on the picturesque beaches. But today we’re sharing seven of our favorite gems in New Zealand that are a just a bit off the beaten path.

Tawharanui Beach

This crystal clear water and white-sand beach is located north of Auckland, on the east coast. It’s about 1-hour drive from the city center and it’s worth the drive. It feels so tropical and the beach stretches for miles. The main beach can get a little congested on the weekends and holidays, but walk north up the beach and around the point and it will feel like your own tropical, private beach. Bring your surfboard and your snorkel! There is also a campground here, which puts you within walking distance to ocean.

thumbnail_2 lake w.jpgLake Waikaremoana

Let me start of by saying that I love this place. My husband and I went camping here for a long weekend for our 1-year anniversary. It’s a huge lake, which covers 21 sq miles, or 54 sq kilometres, with waterfalls cascading into it. We borrowed a little tin boat, loaded up our camp gear and set up our tent by the lakes edge. The water is crystal clear and there are several very cool hikes in this area, including one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”. Hike through caves, to waterfalls, or up to the bluffs over looking the lake.

Hamarama Springs, Rotorua

Located outside of Rotorua, this is a spring-fed river that pours into Lake Rotorua. It pumps out 4.5 million gallons an hour! The river color is the real gem here though. Turquoise like you have never seen! Photos are completely unedited. It’s an easy, short walk through the touring redwood trees along the river and back. thumbnail_3 hama.jpg

We visited here on a recent trip to Rotorua, and discovered it is now $18NZD to access the spring. If you don’t feel like spending the cash, exit the car park and turn left. You’ll see another gravel carpark along Lake Rotorua. This is where the river feeds into the lake, and you can still see the amazing crystal clear water. My personal favorite: there’s a rope swing and you can swim in the freezing turquoise water.

Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools, Rotorua

This gem is only accessible by boat, these are natural, mineral hot springs that fill spa pools on the edge of Lake Rotoiti. Soak in the hot pool and then jump off the dock into the lake to cool off, or sit by the newly renovated picnic area. Repeat until relaxed. It’s about $20 for the day for adult.

Read more about other Rotorua recommendations here: http://agirlandakiwi.com/7-adventures-not-miss-rotorua/

The Drive to the Rob Roy Glacier

Wanaka is a small town north of Queenstown, and a hidden gem in itself in my opinion. But travel northwest out of Wanaka, past Treble Cone, and through the valley. You’ll drive along a crystal clear stream with mountains on each side, with waterfalls cascading down. Stop and enjoy the view, walk over the swing bridges and then keep on driving. Eventually, you’ll get to a car park and there is a hike up to a Rob Roy Glacier from there. thumbnail_5 rob roy

Mercer Bay Loop, Near Piha

This is a section of the famous Hillary Trail that we think is a gem because of the huge bluffs with windswept bush, and sparkling black sand beaches.

This leg is near Piha. Off Piha Road, look for Karekare Road. Next, look for Watchmans Road, which will lead you to a small carpark. The trail starts here and it will take you towards the coast. We walked North up the coast. The trail starts in the bush and takes you up, up, and up – teasing you with glimpses of the ocean through the bushes and trees. Until finally, you get your first glimpse of the breath-takingly rugged coast.

Along this trail is the Mercer Bay Loop Track, which is not part of the Hillary Trail but takes you down to a bay with black sand and caves. It’s a steep climb not for the faint of heart, but it’s seriously one of our favorites! There’s a reason we take our visitors to NZ here! thumbnail_6 mercer.jpg

The track is steep, and zigzags down the cliff. At times you’ll be on all fours, scrambling over rocks or using a rope to lower yourself down. (James always tests the rope to make sure it’s secure.) This trail is definitely best when it’s dry. We’ve done this in the rain and getting up and down was difficult, and not to mention scary at times. At one point, I think James tied a rope around my waist just in case I slipped… (don’t tell my mother).

Once you’re down, the black sand is beautiful and there are caves to explore when the tide is low. Getting back up the track is surprisingly easier than coming down. Now, this is an unmarked and unofficial trail, so hike at your own risk. You can read more about this loop, safety and whereabouts here: https://www.newzealand.com/ca/article/amazing-mercer-bay/.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Not quite as “hidden” as some of the other gems we have talked about here, this is a huge alpine crossing after all. It’s probably more popular then some of the places we have mentioned too, but I think it’s worth a nomination as a gem due to it’s unique topography and all around massiveness. Located in the central north island, this walk will take you up over the range between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro for about 20 kilometers. We have been told (and have seen pictures) that at the top there are breathtaking views of the Red Crater. thumbnail_7 .jpg

Unfortunately, when we got the top we were completely clouded-in! We sat on the top and ate our lunch in the freezing rain but to our dismay the cloud did not lift. We did see the Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake on our way down. We parked our car and booked a shuttle that dropped us off at the start of the hike. At the end of the day (when you’re blistered and sore) they’ll pick you up on the other side of the crossing and deliver you back to the car. This is hands-down the most challenging hike I have ever down, and I highly recommend it!

Happy Travelling,

Brooke

A Girl and A Kiwi

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Travel

Cotswolds, UK: Proud Of Stroud

Welcome to a Cotswold Town like no other, thanks to latest contributor for More Native Than The Natives, Katie from Katie In The Cotswolds…

When imagining the Cotswolds it is natural to conjure up images of sprawling lavender fields, sun-drenched yellow-stone cottages and twee countryside folk. It’s true that there’s a lot of beauty and old-school charm around this part of the world. However, a mere hour and a half train ride from Paddington will lead you to Stroud, one of the Cotswolds’ quirkiest and most popular destinations.

For many years the town was synonymous with the alternative. Alternative food, alternative shops and an alternative way of life. However, with the increase in people living more organically, sustainably and ethically, outsiders are being to learn what natives already knew: Stroud was simply ahead of its time. Now Stroud is over-flowing with artists, writers, celebrities and people looking for a quieter, yet fulfilling, life outside of London. They’ve come to the right place.

Here are just five of Stroud’s best bits:

 Raise The Roof Stroud 4.jpg

From its humble beginnings of a childhood dream, Nell and Toti Gifford created Giffords Circus, a beloved summer tradition that returns to its hometown of Stroud every year. Clowns, trapeze artists and a live band combined with a wonderful comedic flair, set to a different theme each year, make for a great night out for the whole family. Shows are often sold out and this hugely entertaining show has to be seen to truly understand the unique magic that keeps visitors coming back year after year.

Stroud 3.jpg A Rather Jolly Nice Place to Be

What was once a dilapidated filling station on the main road from Stroud to Cirencester is now one of the best brunch spots in Stroud. Killer coffee, delicious burgers and drool-worthy bacon baps await you. All to be enjoyed in cosy heated yurts or, in warmer weather, in the picturesque picnic meadow. With the focus on local, organic and homemade, and a lovely little deli selling local artisan food and drink, the Jolly Nice Farmshop and Cafe is one gem not to be missed.

 

On Common Ground

The National Trust commons of Minchinhampton and Rodborough, along with nearby Selsley Common, sit high above the Stroud Valley and offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area. Between Marking Day in May and the end of summertime in October, around 500 cows, 5 horses and a donkey, named Alfie, roam free. It’s not uncommon to come face to face with grazing Highlands or to be held up in a traffic jam as cars wait for the herd to leisurely cross the road. Stroud 5.jpg

In the spring and summer months, or any time of year to be honest, a walk on the common wouldn’t be complete with a stop off at Winstones Ice-Cream factory. One of the longest running ice-cream companies in the country Winstones is simply scrummy. Definitely a welcome reward at the end of a good old stomp.

 

 

In the Market For Something Special

Farmers’ Markets are pretty commonplace in towns these days, but the multi award-winning Stroud Farmers’ Market definitely tops the list of must-do Saturday morning activities for the natives. Some of the Cotswolds’ best loved artisan food and drink brands sell their fabulous goodies each

week. Choose from a wide variety of organic fruit, veg, bread and dairy products along with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian produce to enjoy on the hoof or at home. Insider tip — get there early for the best of the best.

Stroud 2
Photo Credit: Stroud News and Journal

Oh Hoppy Days!

You can’t get more local than the Stroud Brewery which makes its own organic beers from barley grown on the hills of the Cotswolds. The Brewery hosts a family friendly bar, from Thursday to Saturday with live, acoustic music on Saturday nights adding to the welcoming, laid-back vibe. The beer is matched only by the delicious sourdough pizzas served up by Velo Bakery. Great beer, great pizza — what more could you want or need? Kids clear out around 8pm which is a fair arrangement. Families get a kid-friendly meal and adults get grown-up time later on.

All in all, Stroud is a gem all of its own and its uniqueness sets it apart from your average Cotswold town. Balancing its location in an Area of Outstanding Beauty with progressive ideas and creativity, there’s so much more that make the natives fiercely “proud to be Stroud”. Not that they’re likely to share them all with you. After all, you might not want to leave.

Travel

Paris: Caffeine Cravings

Coffee 2Kate is not a morning person. When she lived in Paris she needed all the help that coffee could give her to get her to work on time, here are her favorite spots!

Instagram has overwhelming decided that they would love to hear about the best places to get a coffee in Paris. I shouldn’t really be surprised as it is the first place I go to check out where I can get my caffeine fix when traveling somewhere new! One of my ideas of what my life would be like when I first moved to Paris definitely involved lounging in a gorgeous pavement café sipping espressos and basking in sunshine. Luckily this has proved to be one of my favourite activities during this Parisian adventure. Grabbing coffee with a friend is synonymous with putting the world to rights and is an activity I am more than well versed in. Here is my shortlist of the top places to pick up your latest pick me up. Coffee.jpg

Strada Café on Rue du Temple and Rue Monge is everything a hipster cafe should be. From the ever changing art on the walls to the deliciously freshly pressed juices you can’t go wrong with anything from here. I stumbled across the Marais branch during a long day schlepping around the city for work and managed to have a delightful pitstop out of the hot summer sun and had an invigorating latte.

coffee 4

 

Café Kitsune on Galerie de Montpensier has some of the best homemade iced tea that I have ever tasted. What better way to finish off wandering around the Louvre that a cup of citrusy goodness? The interior décor is truly sublime and makes the experience you have there.  The little fox shaped biscuits are the best thing to round off a visit to this fashionista hotspot.

Coutume on Rue Babylone has to be my favourite place to work, natter and feast on gastronomic goodness. I suggest ordering a chai latte and financier if you happen to be in the Coutume Babylone for the perfect revision aid. The large table at the back has been a location of many essay and blogpost writing sessions so if you do visit pay a little homage for me! Coffee 3.jpg

Cuillier has several cafes but my favourite has to be on Rue de Grenelle which happened to be really useful for me when I was working in Paris as I tended to do lots of my freelance work in that area. With distinct areas that are laptop free, you can catch up with a friend here safe in the knowledge that you won’t have someone’s computer taking up most of the table space!

There are obviously many more places to go and grab a good old cup of Joe as our American cousins call it but these are just a few favourites of mine! Do you have somewhere you always like to get your morning cup of Java? Let us know in the comments.

Travel

Melbourne: Dynamic & Cosmopolitan

The hipster captial of the Southern Hemisphere, Melbourne certainly has lots to offer! Take a trip with Eve to the funkiest coffee shops, museums and much, much more….

Melbourne is a mecca for the coffee-lover. With alternative vibes on every corner, and the city awash with culture and art, it’s impossible to find yourself bored. Melbourne boasts some of the world’s finest street art, smoothest coffee and best avo-smash. But it can be easy to get lost amongst the colour and creatives. Sensory overload and an abundance of laneways can see the most seasoned traveller at a loose end. So to make life a little easier, and to get the most out of a city trip, here’s a tried and true list of where to spend your time.

Manchester Press: Hidden down a laneway off Little Bourke Street, and covered with greenery, is Manchester Press. Known for its bagels and coffee, the place is always thriving. Aside from the menu, the café is an Instagrammers dream. Grab a coffee and take a walk along Little Bourke Street – this tributary of small shops and independent cafes is a not-so hidden gem.

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@manchesterpress

Degraves Street: Degraves Street is a tourist destination unlike any other. Follow the bustle of people, and the camera flashes, and grab a coffee from one of the many shops along the road. The laneway is a condensed snapshot into Melbourne’s scene: filled with culture, art, and coffee!

St Ali: St Ali is the birthplace of a number of Melbourne’s top chefs and award winning baristas. Heralded as the creators of Melbourne’s coffee scene, St Ali is an institution of coffee and its artistry, rather than just a café. The wait for a table is undeniably worth it. Settled in a warehouse, amid bare brick and stripped paint, it’s difficult not to be taken in by the beauty of the building as much as the food.

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@doughboysdoughnuts

Doughboys Doughnuts: For the sweet teeth amongst us, Doughboys Doughnuts is the place. Only a brisk walk up Bourke Street hill away from the shops, sits the grooviest doughnut shop in Australasia. With funky flavours like Panna Cotta, Vanilla Rhubarb, French Toast and Carrot Cake, it’s guaranteed you’ll walk out with more than one!

 

 

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(Ron Muek ‘Mass’, NGV photo by Eve Gamet)

National Gallery of Victoria: Sitting beside Flinders Street Station and Southbank is the National Gallery of Victoria. The NGV hosts a number of world-renowned exhibitions each year, pulling large international and domestic crowds. The NGV hosted the grand Dior exhibition, which held the first complete Dior collection to be shown outside of Paris. It included over 140 gowns designed from 1947 to 2017, featuring work by all head designers of the House. The NGV is currently hosting the NGV Triennial, featuring over 100 artists and designers from across the globe. The exhibition aims to capture artwork from varying cultures and perspectives, bringing them together for a free celebration of the power of design. Artists of note include Yayoi Kusama and Ron Muek. Later this year the NGV will host a MoMA exhibition.

Higher Ground:  It would be quite easy to leave Southern Cross train station and walk straight past Higher Ground, although the weekend queue may give them away! Nestled in one of their nooks or at an elevated table, it can be difficult to leave. Boasting their own coffee roastery, and in the company of equally interesting and delicious sister cafes (insta-stalk Top Paddock!), Higher Ground is a must-see.

Section 8: This place is one of the coolest back alley finds in Melbourne’s CBD. Hidden along the laneways of China Town, sits a hub of grungy vibes and alternative times. Section 8 is a cash-only, graffiti-laden, shipping container bar, which plays host to some of the city’s most interesting people. The bar hosts a number of events and DJ nights, and almost always is packed with party-goers.

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Fitzroy by Visit Victoria

Fitzroy and Brunswick Street: Catch the tram out to Fitzroy and Brunswick for the best op-shopping of your life! The alternative area is popular with students and those in need of an arty excursion. The streets are decorated with art and the bars are packed with quirk. For vintage stores look out for Vintage Garage, Vintage Sole and Hunter Gatherer. For roof-top wining and dining with alternative vibes, check out Naked For Satan.

Cup of Truth: Nestled under Flinders Street Station is perhaps the smallest coffee shop, with the biggest personality. Melbourne locals rave about the coffee and the guys behind the bar: unfazed by the rush and providing the best chat while you wait.

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Cup Of Truth, by Smudge Eats

State Library of Victoria: If the life of a bustling city gets a little too loud, pop into the library! The State Library of Victoria, aside from offering free wifi, plays host to a number of exhibitions each month. The architecture and breath-taking glass ceiling, leaves many too distracted to actually study.

Cover photo of Hosier Lane by Y Travel Blog.

Thank you to Eve for taking us on a voyage of dicovery! Follow her travels across the globe over at her Instagram.