Melbourne has been so jam packed that I haven’t had to time to write over the last week. So, I thought I’d try a new approach with this post. It’s a long one, so save for those sofa days between Christmas and new year (with a hot chocolate obvs!)
Firstly, a bit about our apartment. I know on the airbnb post it said luxury, but this was something else. Okay, the flat was small, but being a new build, it had all the mod-cons needed. The bit we were most impressed by was the communal areas. There was a pool/gym/spa area, a BBQ terrace and a sky lounge on floor 55 (views at sunset were beaut 😍). All of which were practically empty during our numerous visits. The only thing wrong with the apartment was our flat mate (or should I say mates). She obviously didn’t speak very good English and clearly didn’t want to acknowledge us as she treated the flat like it was just for her use (and wasn’t even the owner).
Anyway, less of the bitching and more about what we did in Melbourne. The first few days were a bit of a blur as we spent the majority of time sightseeing. I’ve summarised the sights and what we thought below (a few are Christmassy, but some should help my fellow travellers):
– Hosier lane (a street after Jack’s heart). After meeting our Melbourne pal on the Great Barrier Reef tour, we had some recommendations which included this street and walking tours. So, I thought I would combine both and did a quick google search looking for some self guided tours. We took the lanes and alley tour adding Hosier Lane into the itinerary. This street is full of amazing street art (even the bins are covered) which is constantly being painted over. Obviously it was also full with tourists so go early if you want a picture without anyone else in it.
– Fed square. Kinda like Leicester Sq in London and a main tourist hub (due to the tourist info centre). There are a number of bars and restaurants located around the square, however we took a packed lunch and opted for the lunchtime screening of Elf. The outdoor cinema was free and had deck chairs set up so you could sit back and enjoy the film. We were amazed that this was free and by the fact that it wasn’t busy!
– Docklands. An up and coming area by the harbour and subsequently quite a lot of development going on. There isn’t much there apart from the Ferris wheel, however we didn’t go on it as it was like $30pp. It’s worth a trip just to see the other side of the city and the tram is free from the CBD.
– Bourke St mall. This street is host to a number of shops and department stores (including cotton on – a favourite of ours) and is one of the main shopping districts in the city. It was pretty packed around Christmas, but had a great atmosphere. The buskers were out in full force, along with street artists and everything else in between. A highlight on this stretch of road is Myer and its Christmas window displays.the animated windows tell a story, but beware the queues to view the windows can get crazyyyyyy.
– Southbank. A favourite of mine in London, so we headed to the Melbourne equivalent. It’s not quite the same, but full of restaurants and bars and also my firms Melbourne office (so could be my endz if I ever seconded). We went on a sunny day and had a drink by the river to admire the city from a different angle.
– Eureka skydeck. The viewing platform on the southbank cost about $20pp (we got student rates at $15) but was definitely worth it as you could see the whole city from above – great on a sunny day 😎. We did this just before the end of our trip so managed to point out where we had been, how far we have walked and our apartment block.
– St Kilda. We had been missing the beach and felt like the tans were fading so hit the beach on the hottest day of our stay. The beach is quite long but also gets super busy. We arrived around 11.30am and by 2pm it felt like you couldn’t even see the sand. It was probably especially busy as it was the first proper hot day the city had seen this summer – yes, I have had to break out the jeans.
– Luna park. Free entry so we had a wander around although it’s definitely suited to kids with the rides not comparing to the likes of Thorpe Park. However, it has the charm of a traditional amusement park and would be a shame to miss. We did have a go on the claw machines but sadly Jack didn’t win me a minion toy.
– Lygon street/ Brunswick street. A walk to the inner suburbs north of the city takes you to the university sector and what we could only think was the Italian quarter. Lygon street is full of cafes and restaurants, especially with Italian eateries. The sea of umbrellas lining the street definitely takes you to a Mediterranean town centre. We walked up the road, stopping for lunch, turned right just after the cinema and then right again when we got to Brunswick street. This is another road with restaurants etc but slightly more trendy than Lygon, with one off shops such as guitar shops and cute deli’s. Defs worth the walk.
– Flinders lane. Filled to the brim with restaurants and bars in the centre of the city. We wandered down here one evening and pointed out so many restaurants we wanted to eat at- if only we had the time or the money.
– Town hall lights. Being used to dark evenings around Christmas, it was weird having to wait until 9pm to see the light display at the townhall. It was so worth it. Apparently this was the first year this happened, but it was so magical and completely embodied the spirit of Christmas. It made us both excited for Christmas and we really weren’t bothered before.
– Gingerbread village. A miniature Melbourne constructed by a catering company raising money for a new children’s hospital. The queue was long, but we braved it with a billion others to see the display. Luckily it was good (I wanted to eat it all), especially the marzipan penguins in the Melbourne zoo bit.
There were so many places to eat and drink that we were spoilt for choice, however we tried to experience a variety of cuisines and snacks along the way (as you can see by the number of places below) .
– Doughnut time – best doughnuts we tried from the hole in the wall. Especially loved the Christmas themed doughnuts. I had a candy cane one, with Jack demolishing Rudolph.
– The Mill House – underground dimly lit bar with good choice of beers and local wines.
– Pony fish – bar underneath the footbridge crossing the river. Really cute and worth the price tag (the sangria was yummy!)
– Rare steakhouse. This was recommended by a local and where we met Kat (a friend from home) on our first night. The steak was so good and wasn’t crazy expensive. They have a chain of three restaurants in the city so are clearly doing something right.
– Hakata Gensuke. We went here after passing a number of times and seeing the constant queue of Oriental Melbournians. The ramen did not disappoint and was the cheapest dinner we had out. Just shows that the fancy restaurants aren’t always the best.
– Huxtaburger. More of a fast food restaurant, but we arrived in time for happy hour so got a beer and prosecco for $8. My burger was so good, but Jack (the chicken burger connoisseur) was not impressed. My advice – go for the Huxtaburger.
– Bowery to Williamsburg. I know coffee in Melbourne is meant to be good, and this did not disappoint. I mean, I was feeling Christmassy before Elf so had a hot chocolate, but Jack said his mocha was one of the best that he has ever had!!!Hidden round the back of Fed Square, this is one to stop at (they also serve food).
– Gelateria primavera @ spring street grocer. Cute cash only ice cream parlour. The tubs are in the counter and the scoops generous. They also make really original flavours, but sell out of certain flavours so make sure you get there early!
– The pancake parlour. After struggling to find any more food ice cream shops, we opted for pancakes on the way home from our dinner out. The pancakes were good, but expensive and service was awful (seriously, how many times do you need to ask for water!) Should’ve stuck with our ice cream shop.
Being in Melbourne was like being back home. We probably spent more money than we should’ve as we wanted to experience everything (and make up for not eating out much recently), but many of the activities and sights were free which helped. It was definitely an added bonus having an apartment in the CBD as we didn’t feel the need to be up at 6am every day to fit everything in. We both agreed that we could live in Melbourne, but why move when London is just as good (if not better 😉).
On the flight to Sydney (6am – wahhh) we were upgraded to extra legroom seats – result! Obviously happens on the shortest flight we have though.
Love as always & Merry Christmas. I’ll be back in 2017 xx