Melbourne, Day 1: Getting Naked For Satan

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Fitzroy neighborhood

Late last night I arrived in Melbourne, after a relatively uneventful flight save for the fact that one of the flight attendants was one of the mothers of one of my favorite students in the school. I already knew that Minnie, Clarissa's mom, was a flight attendant for Air Vanuatu, and that she made the regular routes to Melbourne, so I knew there was a chance for me to see her. What I didn't expect was the usual Vanuatu hospitality (this time in international skies), when she invited me to the back of the plane to take free packets of Milo (hot chocolate), tea, and cookies to shove in my purse before she made me a cup of Milo and handed me a cookie. The previous offers were for the road, these were to consume here, on the plane, of course.

Minnie and I go back.

Bill picked me up from the airport and chuckled at the fact the three flight attendants from my flight knew me by name and wished me a safe trip as they walked past us. "Of any flights in the world, I would expect to befriend flight attendants on a flight from Vanuatu!" he said.

Last night, I "checked in" to Bill's cute apartment in South Yarra, we made milkshakes, and I got ready for a fun day ahead of me.

Today, Thursday, Bill was working, so I was free to do my own thing. Despite him planning everything, he did request input so he could tailor it to me. I told him one of my favorite things to do is to seek out secondhand bookstores or vintage clothing shops, and that usually leads me to a hip neighborhood with cute coffeeshops and people-watching. Thus, he suggested the Brunswick/Fitzroy area for me to do some solo exploring on my first day.

But it wasn't completely solo, as Lindsay, another PCV from Vanuatu, happened to be here at the same time with her brother. These were her last days in Melbourne, so they were open to exploring this area with me.

We all met up for lunch at Easey's, a burger place Bill recommended. He'd always wanted to go, because it looked cool and seemed like one of those hip, Instagram-worthy venues for a good bite. He was jealous he couldn't join.

Easey's is the kind of place with graffiti on the walls, and is unassuming at first, with a small fast-food joint look in the front. However, stairs in the back which are scrawled with graffiti lead up three stories to the restaurant's main attraction: train cars that have been cleaned up to house seating and tables for burger lovers. Use the train car doors to slide into the restrooms which jut out from the train car, or to step down a few stairs to the outdoor beer garden area.

I had a hefty breakfast, so I split the chili cheese tots with Lindsay, which was just enough for my hunger level, as they were overloaded with their titular ingredients.

After hours of chatting away at Easey's, we headed down to Smith Street, which is lined with a bunch of bars, cafes, and secondhand shops. Vintage Garage was one of the standout favorites, a glitter, vinyl, lace, and neon fever dream of vintage, handmade, and all unique finds. There, you can find bicycle shorts that have been bedazzled from waistline to hemline with rhinestones, or a vintage sheepskin coat, or a velvet pizza print t-shirt, or neon orange lace teddy leotard, or a hot pink crop top that simply reads in friendly lettering, "Bitch." I want to make a music video just so I can shop here for ridiculous items.

We popped into the far less exciting Saint Marks Secondhand which, by comparison, appeared to just be shades of brown and beige. But it was there that I found a pair of black shoes in size 9 for Minnie, who asked me to pick her up some work shoes. What, do you not go shopping for your flight attendants while on vacation? It was also here that we overheard a fun exchange between a couple 20-something Aussies debating purchasing a funkier outfit, to which one said to the other, "I mean, we live in Brunswick, so it's kind of expected."

The Australian Red Cross was a happy medium between the first two shops, with edge and attitude, and a mix of new clothes as well as funky vintage.  Down the road is a Salvos, the Aussie version of a Salvation Army store, which was massive and organized just as they are back home, but unfortunately not open when we arrived.

With booze on the mind, we stopped at The Hippo, which is both a liquor store and a bar. At first glance, with its exposed refrigerator doors and shelves, it appears to just be a liquor store, yet the stools and small tables in the middle suggest otherwise. Basically, you can buy any booze here and crack it open and enjoy it in-store. The bartender in the back, who also serves draft beers, informs us that we can also bring in food from any nearby restaurant and enjoy it here with our drinks.

We sit outside and people watch the passersby, much of whom remind me of the types you'd see in Chicago's Wicker Park. Soon enough, Lindsay and her family have to head off to meet a friend for dinner, and I wait a brief time before Bill meets me for the mystery events of the evening.


The first stop is Naked for Satan, a hip restaurant with a nude theme, as evidenced by the vintage burlesque and nude photos that are plastered on the walls leading to the restrooms. The place is less tack and more sexy and sultry, with exposed red Edison bulbs and vintage Victorian furniture. We order a couple of cheap ciders for $6 each at the happy hour price, then indulge in a few of the tapas-style dishes, like the braised pork cheek, heirloom carrots, and pumpkin ravioli.

Naked For Satan takes the name literally

We then hop on public transport and we head downtown where Bill takes me to Lui Bar, a swanky Gold-Rush era cocktail bar with spectacular views of the city from its 55th floor location. I ordered a Spiced Margarita, a savory and spicy drink with Zaatar syrup and hints of lime, oregano, cumin and sumac. My second drink was a lightly sweet and smooth Mary Pickford.

The view from Lui Bar

Despite the late hour, with the sun setting at nearly 9pm every night, the night still feels young, so we head off to wander around. Bill takes me to Hosier Lane, a famous spot for locals and tourists alike to get some fun photos of the alleyway graffiti that is goofy, thought provoking, beautiful, and political in nature. I had seen pictures online, and I was surprised how centrally located it was and how well-lit and safe it felt to be in a graffiti-riddled alleyway at night. Families were walking through it, so it didn't give the grungy vibe I'd expected from pictures.

I can officially say I saw a kangaroo and a koala in Australia...

Bill lookin' chill by the dumpsters of Hosier Lane

The dot art is a style of Aboriginal artwork in Australia

We wandered over to Federation Square, a public space and event area with galleries and restaurants. Most of it was closed, but a handful of people were cozied up on the lawn chairs laid out facing the massive screen playing highlights from the Australian Open, which is taking place in town.

Finally, we hop on the public transport to head back to Bill's place and call it a night, resting up for the unknown (to me, at least) activities ahead of us tomorrow!