The Strand Arcade was one of five shopping arcades built in Sydney in the 19th century and is the last to remain in its original form. It's still a shopping arcade; there are cafés in the central aisle where you can order, as I did, spinach lasagne and ginger beer which you eat while, given that it's a thoroughfare, passers by freely engage you in conversation about whether the lasagne is any good; and the mezzanine floors are packed with interesting little shops. There are old-fashioned lifts with rich chestnut-coloured doors and antique stained glasswork. It's a place to buy chocolate fish, ballgowns, antique watches, jewel-coloured glassware, satin peignoirs, silk kimonos and duck-shaped brushes. Pictured: dresses by Alex Perry; vibrant glassware at Dinosaur Designs; Marimekko homewares and Swedish design at Funkis; corsets and blue satin swags at Ms Couture; flowers at Pendolino Restaurant, tucked high in the eaves; and chocolate in cute wooden boxes at Haigh's.