Your feet touch ground at the corner of Lygon and Elgin streets. You look around, gaining perspective and focus back. Suddenly, Lygon St opens up before you. A tree-lined, many-peopled stretch that goes on far into the distance. This is your chance, you tell yourself. This is a chance to immerse yourself in a truly Italian location close to Melbourne's heartland, the CBD.
Face towards the city, on the left-hand strip, and take your first step. Now, this is the key to Lygon St and its enjoyment. You must take your time. Rushing will lead you nowhere, and in a hurry. Pass the Shell service station and you are greeted with a deli, a pasta shop and a cafe called Trotters. A favourite with the local student crowd, this bustling cafe can get a bit squeezy in peak hours, but the food is fantastic. Stop here for a morning coffee and a plate of eggs benedict before you continue on your journey.
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The next stop is Lygon Court, home to Cinema Nova (great independent films), Borders, buskers, homeless folk, and some very strange people who want to hear what's playing in your headphones. Drop a coin to the hard-working buskers. This little arcade also houses medical centres, just in case those eggs are playing up.
Cross Faraday St, and you are well and truly in the restaurant precinct of Lygon St. Many eateries await you: the student-y Grilld, the traditional Key on the Wall, the expensive Donnini's, the flash and fancy Carlton Espresso. All these places are worth their weight, and it really does depend on your mood and appetite in choosing where to eat. After these little ditties, if you're feeling like a drink to calm those restaurant jitters, stop in at the Carlton Yacht Club, a bar that specialises in high-class cocktails and great service.
Pass DiMattina's, a famous footballer-founded restaurant, and make your way up past Grattan St. This is where the fun begins. All the restaurants you saw were easy to walk past: the post-Grattan precinct ups the intensity. Many places have older Italian mangers and owners trying to coerce you into their eateries, and you have to make a concerted effort to try and get past. The streets narrow, the people get thicker and more frustrated, and the managers do their best to get in your way as much as possible. Steel yourself, and learn to say no. This will come in handy.
On your way towards the city, you'll also come across sporting bars, pubs, and the odd occasional crime scene. But don't fret! Trades Hall rises up from the horzion, providing you with your turning point. Make you way to Bella Union Bar for a quick drink before doing a 180 and going back down where you came from, on the opposite side.
And don't forget to visit Lambs on a boozy weekend night if you feel like a dirty, garlicy kebab. Awesome.)
Going back towards Elgin St, you'll come across the Curtin Bandroom, a great bar for live music and a regular hangout for tired students. Run past the many kebab and second-rate Italian restaurants and make your way to Argyle Square. Rest your legs here: the grassy knolls provide a wonderful backdrop to watch the crowds go by.
Pick up your feet (as well as the rest) and make your way up past the 7-11, past the chocolate bars and Mexican food joints. The Original Lolly Store awaits those with a sweet tooth, providing homemade and well-known sweets from across the world. Reese's Peanut Butter cups will become a new obsession.
Once you're back to Faraday, cross over for what could be the most exciting stretch of Lygon St. First, King and Godfree. A bottle shop of the highest standard, K&G have everything you could want, of the alocholic variety. They also stock fresh cheeses and meats, for that little extra on the side. Make your way past some ladies clothes shops, and you have (arguably) the most respected institution on Lygon: Ti Amo. Any meal here will be full, flavoursome, and fast. Then make your way into Readings for those books you simply couldn't find anywhere else.
Suddenly you find yourself back at Elgin St. Full, a litte tipsy, tired from dodging all the buskers and restauranters, and with hands full on non-descript clothes and bags, you turn and look at where you came from. Not a bad effort. Maybe I'll do that again...right now.