Every now and then I will invite a special guest to write about their five favourite streets (or places) in their own city and or somewhere around the world that they have managed to travel to. It is my hope that my guests will lead you on a tour of streets that may be historic, nostalgic or just simply great places that are important to them. Today, I am honoured to have Kate Rae as my special guest. Kate and I recently connected over our love of music and I am equally excited that she is a Melburnian. Without further ado I will let Kate take you on her tour of her five favourite streets/places from around the world.
The Esplanade, St. Kilda, Melbourne.
The stretch of The Esplanade in St Kilda, which runs specifically from Acland street around to the beginning of Fitzroy street, is a unique sight. On any afternoon, looking out to sea is a relief from the buzzing suburb, the rattling of the Luna Park rides. You see the Palais theatre arching into the skyline, adding to the Baz Luhrmann –esque, seaside feel. Approaching the Espy (Esplanade hotel), is a visual treat- a classic, white building, with bay windows speckled with quiet afternoon beer drinkers- a step away from the bay side atmosphere of trams and backpackers.
Unfortunately the amount of artists and locals in the area have dropped drastically since the early 2000’s, and the Espy hotel is currently closed. An old school friend recently reminded me that in the early 1900’s St Kilda was the home of the elite, resulting in the many art deco mansions built along its hills and waterfront. Shortly after, postwar St Kilda dropped to become home to low-cost rooming houses, drawing in bohemians, artists, musicians and other subcultures. She pondered that perhaps history will repeat itself in the future, reminding me that the area has always been like its well loved rollercoaster, the Scenic Railway.
Lawson Street, Byron Bay, New South Wales.
The path alongside Lawson street and the waterfront from main street Byron Bay, heading east towards the lighthouse, is luckily well shaded. The 20 minute walk (until you reach the Beach Cafe) is often trekked in sub tropical temperatures by surfers, campers and schoolies, but somehow never seems too chaotic.
The tree lined path is a perfect buffer between the sea, and lines of hotels and apartment accommodation. A manageable distance to carry a hired surfboard from town when heading towards The Pass surf spot, late afternoon, or heading to town for a morning coffee or home after dinner or bars/pubs. This part of Lawson street captures some of the mixed elements of Byron, at varying times touristy, crazy, beautiful or serene. The best time to walk the path is late afternoon, or in the cool of the evening, leaving the noise of town in the distance.
Via Urbana, Monti, Rome.
If you’re dropped off in a taxi to the middle of Rome, the boutiques, cobble stoned streets and beautifully maintained old buildings of the Monti area, are exciting and comforting at the same time. In particular Via Urbana is quieter than its surrounding streets, although still walking distance to the tourist hot spots. Comprising of hairdressers, fruit shops and hipster espresso bars, sometimes you see a part view of the Colosseum in the distance – which is very helpful when figuring out your bearings.
Jalan 66 (Double 6), Seminyak, Bali.
One of the best things as an Australian visiting Bali, is realising how most areas are very different to how they are portrayed by the media on Aussie TV. Although touristy, my first walk down Double 6 with my sister and nieces was very memorable. The heat, colourful signs advertising bali coffee, motorbikes wizzing past in flows of traffic, whole families holding on, and some casually texting seemingly oblivious to the near misses at every turn. There’s DVD shops, bead shops, dress shops where Balinese try to sell you their many trinkets or sarongs, but if you decline, they smile or giggle and wave you on. Somehow the craziness also has a gentleness. As you walk further towards the beach and restaurants and bars, Balinese homeless dogs wander along the endless streets, amidst construction and half built infrastructures. Although people say Seminyak is not what it used to be, the calmness and friendliness of the Balinese in this area sets it apart from the more intense Kuta.
Broadway Street, Downtown Nashville,Tennessee.
The line of the bars along Broadway in Nashville is a music lovers dream. If you head into the tourist area of Nashville on a late afternoon, the hot sun drops behind dusty buildings and every second person seems to wear a cowboy hat. Bluegrass, Rock, Alt Country Johnny Cash covers and originals spill out from each bar, where bands are sweating out ripping versions for tips. It’s easy to bar hop your way down this street – you might even see the self professed original Marlborough man. Locals are mostly friendly and welcoming, and during the day time the music continues. Further along Broadway, music memorabilia can be bought, or diners offer drip coffee from waiters who call you ma’am.
Kate Rae loves coffee and long walks and has grown up surrounded by and loving music. As well as writing songs, working in music and attending a healthy share of gigs, she has studied creative writing and more recently participated in the Push Songs songwriting program.
Kate writes also an amazing songwriting blog called She Speaks A Different Language “focusing on interviews with songwriters from Melbourne, Australia, on the mysterious ways songs come about. It is named after the Tex Perkins song from the critically acclaimed Dark Horses album which was on high rotation around St Kilda, Melbourne in the year 2000.”
You can also connect with Kate via her twitter feed @kateraemusic.
Photo Credit: The image of buildings on the Via Urbana is courtesy of Kate Rae. The Esplanade Hotel photo is by flickr user Jonathon Walker and is used under the Creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license. The Byron Bay beach scene is by flickr user Andy Hay and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license. The image of Broadway Street, Downtown, Nashville is by flickr user Phillip Hendon and is used under the creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDervis 2.0 license. The photograph of the Balinese trio sitting outside art gallery is by flickr user Werner Bayer. It appears to be in the public domain with no known copyright restriction listed.