There’s an undeniable charm that seems to descend over Melbourne in the wintertime. It’s all style and sophistication among the chills, while dear old Sydney is a lot more...relaxed. I love Sydney don’t get me wrong – I could never imagine leaving it for good. But it is lovely to spend a few days in Melbourne, soaking up the hip laneway life and the buzz that surrounds all those beautiful old buildings.
Just before this bout of ‘arctic vortex’ cold greeted Australia, my good friend, P, and I took a girly three days off in Melbourne, shopping, eating, exploring. It was the perfect quick mid-year pick-me-up, and boy did we do a lot of shopping! We spent hours scouring Spencer St outlets and DFO Southwharf. But this post is about the in-between-shopping-breaks...Enjoy!
Food: P and I did not have one bad meal during our adventures in cloudy Melbourne (though the first place – a little laneway café that I have completely forgotten the name of – took 40 minutes to make eggs!)
Do not skip Lygon St – the aroma of wood fired pizzas and the sound of fluent (and not so fluent) Italian reigns supreme here. Total comfort food...the kind Nona would make me, if I had one, that is.
The Hardware Societie was without a doubt the BEST breakfast we had. P is a little fussier with food than I am, so went for a baguette with caramel spreading sauce (decadent to say the least!) while I opted for my favourite at-home brekkie – porridge. Not just any porridge, though: this one had honey-laced mascarpone, with banana puree and dates swimming throughout it. And just the right consistency, too! None of that too-thick-or-too-watery in this here bowl! Definitely a winner, and absolutely a place for the weekdays. Don’t even try to get a table after 7:30am on a Saturday or Sunday...it’s just too darn popular.
Now, having started off our last day with that porridge, I had decided that nothing we ate after it would even compare – until P forced me through the doors of Perkup Expresso Barin Degraves Street near Flinders Street Station. I say forced because from the outside it looks...well...dingy. Or ordinary. Certainly not the kind of place I had envisioned for our last meal before that interminable bus ride to the airport. However, it is safe to say that I raved on about this veggie burger for HOURS after the plane had landed back in Sydney. And the sweet potato fries. Oh my, the fries!
Drinks: Not being big on drinking, P and I didn’t imagine our nights to involve a tipple, but after a bit of pushing by friends who had gone to Melbourne a few months before us, we just had to make our way to Madame Brussels. It was a gloriously ethereal rooftop cocktail bar, with a stunning view of the Melbourne city, and dainty umbrellas and a pink and green theme just begging for people to call this place a fairytale land. I had a Prussian Iced Tea (think: tequila, peaches, earl grey tea) while P stuck to a cider, and we chatted about our dreams and life and uni until it got too cold up there on the roof! I’d love to go back on a spring or summer Sunday and wile away the afternoon. One tip though: stay away from the elevator and take the stairs. I felt sure it was going to get stuck on us any second (the ‘if this elevator gets stuck’ sign wasn’t reassuring either.)
Day-to-Day: Apart from the obvious shopping that you need to do whilst in Melbourne, the most exciting things P and I got up to included a bit of transport. For $14, you can get a Myki (kind of like a Sydney Opal card or the London Oyster card) and a full day’s unlimited transport, with an $8 a day top up after that. Melbourne’s infamous trams took us to St. Kilda, the beautiful but incredibly chilly seaside suburb, boasting a row of cafes and incredible bakeries, as well as Luna Park, the St. Kilda pier, and...penguins!
While we didn’t get a chance to see the penguins this time, I have gone to Melbourne in April and just as the sun sets, the little penguins can be seen dotted around the rocks under the pier. They’re gorgeous, and a must-see if you’ve got the time to spare.
The other day trip we took was via train to Brighton beach, where a short 20 minute walk from the station landed us with a spectacularly bizarre view – a row of wonderfully colourful and themed beach huts, that stretched and got even more creative (think comical crabs, and Japanese paintings) as they went on. Amazing sight, and quite a beautiful stop if you want to get out of Melbourne city for a while.
Closer to the city, though (in fact, right in the centre) is a long lane of colourful expression and art in the form of graffiti. P and I overheard a tour guide telling his group that all the neighbours at one point or another have agreed to having Hosier Lane covered with beautiful and eerie art. It's a wonderful escape from the business of the city just outside the walls of this lane, and an absolute unmissable walk-through.
One last adventure we had was walking 40 minutes through the rain (yes, we are troupers...or maybe just crazy) to I-Scream-Nails, a tiny little studio in a very ordinary looking building, which screamed fun and passion. For $35, P and I both got 4 nails all dolled up with nail art (mine are the milk bottle and the pineapple), and while I do think that that is quite expensive for a half hour appointment, it was a fun thing to do. One of my nails have even stayed non-chipped – and I’m writing this a good two weeks after having gone to Melbourne! Sydney is also 'cool' enough to have one - try Newtown for the same company!
I love Melbourne. I love the architecture, the weather, the style, the wonderfully organised layout of the city (think: Collins St parallel to Little Collins St, Bourke St parallel to Little Bourke etc.), and apart from Queen Victoria Markets which I didn’t really enjoy, I loved every second of my trip, and thoroughly encourage that if you are ever in this old-worldly city, you enjoy some of the places I’ve mentioned xx