Long weekend in Melbourne: Europe in Australia
From Proserpine we landed at 3pm in Melbourne after a very very bumpy flight that made me cry with fear! Bruce was of course very relaxed and almost asleep!
When we arrived we got our bags and then jumped on the Skybus, very good service that brings you to the centre (Southern Cross Station) in half an hour and goes 24/7 every 10 minutes. If only every city was so well organised! We got to the station and had to pick up the keys for our Airbnb in Melbourne in one of the station’s lockers. Luckily no dramas this time, and we got there easily 7 minutes walk from the station. The apartment was a very nice flat on the 12th floor of a very nice modern tower block. We had a quick shower and got ready to go out as we are meeting some of Bruce’s old work mates tonight at 6pm, Hayley Wilkins, Josh Lenton and James Kevill and his girlfriend Laura who have all moved here from London. We missed our train to get there by 10 infuriating seconds and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one which resulted in us being late. We met in Richmond in a lively pub called the Swan.
It was awesome to see them all again and catch up. We had some steaks and a lot of beers as predicted and ended up getting home at 3am in a cab, after a boogie and a few too many shots. We liked the cinnamon and whisky Fireball Oz shot! Bruce also managed to lose the “finger on the glass” drinking game and it took him 5 minutes to down the pint! Woeful!
Head hurts!! Woke up feeling truly awful, got nurofen and lots of water and groaned in bed until about 11:30am when we decided it was time to get out and check out Melbourne and get some food. Despite the rain and the headache we managed to walk to hardware lane, and waited a good half an hour to be seated at the Hardware Society, a very tasty French place that does amazing breakfast. It was worth the wait, we had some Oef Cocotte (baked eggs with pork) and a mind blowing lobster egg benedict with black bread which was really to die for. Also the coffee and the hot chocolate were pretty special and it all helped to get us back in shape. Well sort of.
After what those cool people would call Brunch we had a nice walk towards Federation Square, after stopping at a cool but geeky game shop where nerdy gamers were playing away, and we ended up buying two new card games (for the rainy travelling days, one called Gloom and one called Star Empire). We then got to Flinders Station where we got on the free loop circle tram (number 35) which is free and gives you information about the city as it takes you around. We stayed on instead of hopping on and off as it was raining quite badly and we were feeling pretty rough still! We got back to Fed Square after about an hour, where we walked around and explored, we found a lovely little market in the main building (great architecture, very interesting!) we also started to check out the ACMI museum (motion and technology).
Unfortunately it closed at 5pm and we got kicked out pretty quickly. As the sun went down we felt more and more shattered and had an excuse to go home and chill, have a home cooked meal and try out our brand new card games! We stopped at the supermarket and picked up dinner: kangaroo meatballs with mushrooms, avocado and raspberries for dessert.
We tried Gloom after dinner which is a very nice game where your objective is to make your opponents’ characters as happy as possible and yours as miserable as possible. Then kill them. Really fun and the cards have a very interesting goth design and are transparent with a mechanics that unfold the game through…
It was nice to spent a night in (after a messy night out) especially since the flat was so nice and also with great views pf the city and night.
Waking up was much less painful this time! We had breakfast with bread butter and jam and nutella at home, then got an uber to start our Lonely Planet walk of central Melbourne. A really nice loop that goes through a lot of arcades (which was a bliss since it rained again most of the day). Melbourne feels very European, especially the coffee culture and the nice little bars and restaurant with tables very close to each other. We stopped for a coffee in a pretty lane and kept going through Block arcade and Royal Arcade, both with very nice shops, mosaics on the floors, and very similar to Vittorio Emanuele in Milano! (Not as pretty of course!). We loved the walk, also the streetart is pretty impressive and we spotted a couple of artists painting too as we walked along under the rain!
By the time we finished the walk the rain was torrential and we decided to take shelter in the ACMI again since we couldn’t finish yesterday. At 1:15 we headed to the tapas restaurant we booked for lunch (Movida) , since it’s recommended on both Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor. Food was amazing, especially the anchoas and the mushroom and blue cheese croquettes, yum! Also had a nice Pilsner called Enigma.
After lunch the sun was magically out, but we had to finish our museum visit for a last half an hour. And obviously when we got out the sun was already gone and the sky got grey again! The museum was very interesting though, worth taking time to see it properly, it featured the history of technology (with Australian focus) from mute cinema to tv to videogames and the internet. We even had a game of supermario! We then got to the Ian Potter Museum to see some contemporary and modern Australian art.
Interesting and it made me realise how everything, from tv to art movements was slightly delayed here due to it being so far away from everything. After finishing at the art museum we walked in the park and over the river to the Botanical garden where we managed to have a nice walk just before it closed at 5pm.
Tired and ready for a beer we got an uber towards the centre where we ended up (a bit too early) to queue for Chin Chin, an Asian restaurant that is very popular with the cool Melbourne crowds. It doesn’t take bookings so it’s queue or nothing. But since it was so early, and a Monday, it didn’t take longer than 15 minutes to be seated. All the tables are very close to each other and the impression is that the food comes very quickly, just as they want the turnaround to be: quick! We had a delicious beef massaman curry and a superb Barramundi salad with caramelised pork. Both quite special. Then a banana roti with condensed milk and cinnamon to end on a sweet note. So delicious.
After dinner though we felt so bloated and didn’t have much strength to go out for another drink. We ended up getting home early, played another round of Gloom… I got VeRY annoyed, since after dominating the entire game Bruce managed to win unexplicably.
Grrr!! And normally I am not such a bad loser… (Warning! This may be a sarcastic lie). We also had a mission with the washing machine and dryer. The wash (normal cotton at 40 degrees) took over 3 hours and the dryer lasted for part of the night until when it stopped it started beeping and never stopped until the morning when Bruce gave up on trying to ignore it and went to turn it off. On top of this his white linen shirt became light blue. Luckily not pink although I am sure both would have been appreciated in fashionable Milano!
We had breakfast at home and packed our stuff which we could luckily leave at the flat until 4:30pm meaning that we could travel light for the day. In the morning we met James Kevill for coffee at his office, it was really nice to catch up a bit more with him! We then went to the Victoria market, walked around food stalls as we love to do and have done in so many cities now… Especially loved the seafood section with huge lobsters! We then had a beer and had lunch at Guido’s, an Italian restaurant from Venice that has opened only 7 months ago and it’s already number 1 on Trip Advisor! Very filling lunch menu with pasta, focaccia and salad that costed only $24 (£12). After lunch we spent some time at the Melbourne museum to learn more about the city and its origins. Incredible how in only 200 hundred years it went from a population of under 100 to over 4 million! After that it was time to go, we got the skybus to the airport and flew to Sydney for our last 5 days in Oz. Another very bumpy flight 🙁 but got there alive at 9pm.
We loved Melbourne despite the rain – and big love to Josh, Hayley, Kevill and Laura! x