Well it’s safe to say Miles and completely fell in love with Melbourne. What an amazing city!
We booked our apartment through air bnb and rented a room in a lovely British couple’s flat, We had heard that Fitzroy and Collingwood were cool places to stay and so we were pleased to get a brilliant place right on Smith Street in trendy Fitzroy. Collingwood and Fitzroy, neighbouring boroughs, are known for their cool shops, great food and even better coffee – staying here was definitely reminiscent of our time in Williamsburg Brooklyn – we loved it!
We arrived into Melbourne in the early evening. After leaving our bags and meeting our hosts, we decided to hit the pavements and have a wander and embark on an impromptu food and drink stroll. We stopped off first at the Rob Roy hotel for a delicious glass of wine and some amazing tempura cauliflower! Obviously cocktails were the next sensible step so we made a break mid-course for some delicious caprinhas!
Having worked up an appetite, we continued walking up around the neighbourhood, settling on the Beaufort for dinner. We rounded up the evening with the most obscenely unhealthy dinner of beers, burgers, chips and battered okra. Well we did work it off with a few games of pool… totally exercise right?
The next morning, bright and early we wandered down to an amazing brunch spot just a few streets down from the apartment; Two Birds Cafe. If you’re ever in this area of Melbourne definitely give this place a try! I opted for the corn and jalapeno Korean pancakes with herbed smashed avocado, Mexican salsa, sriracha mayo and baby corn. Miles had these incredible kaffir lime crumbed eggs with house made chilli sambal, smashed minted peas and marinated goats cheese on seeded toast. OH WOW.
We decided that we should probably walk off our breakfast so we took a wander around Collingwood, admiring the architecture, popping into the cool shops and generally just soaking in the atmosphere. We stopped for the odd coffee and had a slow morning wandering around and taking it all in.
From here we hopped onto the tram and made our way down to the CBD before grabbing a quick lunch at Schnitz. It’s actually a rule; you can’t come to Australia and not eat your weight in schnitzel! After lunch, we visited one of Melbourne’s iconic sites; Flinders Street Station, which was just as impressive as we imagined it would be. Flinders Street Station is Australia’s oldest train station and, with its distinctive yellow facade and green copper dome it’s a city icon. Flinders Street is the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere, with over 1,500 trains and 110,000 commuters passing through each day. Listed on the Victorian Heritage Registers, its 708 metre main platform is the fourth longest railway platform in the world!
Although super busy, this area of the city has a really cool vibe to it. Right next to Flinder’s Street Station is Federation Square, a huge meeting place which houses all types of events and gigs out in the open. Buskers and food trucks line the street and generally there is just a really nice atmosphere floating about.
As the sun started to set we took a wander down by the riverside, stopping off for a glass of wine and a beer to enjoy the views.
That evening, we headed back to Fitzroy. We had showers and a costume change before we hit the pavements on the search of somewhere to eat. In the end we settled on this AMAZING restaurant called Añada; a Spanish restaurant which served a tapas menu largely influenced by the peasant food of Andalusia and the flavours of the Muslim Mediterranean. I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious the food was. It was in some ways similar to Ottolenghi back in London, which suits me fine, as that’s my favourite!
Suitably stuffed from dinner, we continued to walk up Gertrude Street and stopped off at the most incredible cocktail bar; The Everleigh. It’s said that a night at The Everleigh is a unique Melbourne experience. After entering through an American diner, walking down a dim-lit hallway and climbing a few stairs, you are whisked back in time to a bar reminiscent of the golden era, dedicated to classic cocktails and service. This bar has repeatedly been referred to as one of the best bars in Melbourne and it’s no surprise why! What a place! Although the Everleigh does have a menu from which you can choose, they also offer a ‘barman’s choice’. Here, they ask you what sort of flavour you usually go for, before creating you a brand new cocktail, with touches of what you know you like, but different liqueurs or essences for you to sample. This was amazing. Miles and I stayed here for quite a while ordering various rounds of the barman’s choice. My favourite was the ‘Grapefruit Gimlet’ (gin, grapefruit, lime and peach liqueur). I also had a couple of tequila based drinks which were superb.
That night after the most amazing food and drink, we didn’t half get to sleep well…
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and made our way down to the South Melbourne Markets – what an amazing cluster of shops, stands and food sellers! We took a quick wander around before heading further into the beautiful neighbourhood and checking out some of the gorgeous boutique shops.
One of our favourites was a chocolate shop called Bibelot. Not only was their chocolate delicious, they were stunningly beautiful and their packaging really cool. Miles and I both brought bars to bring home, although we admit, some bars did not make their way out of Australia….!
Having worked up an appetite on the chocolate tasters we decided it was probably a good time to stop and have breakfast. I had read online about a really great place called St Ali, which is housed in an old workshop down a random back alley. Although there was a bit of a wait to get in, we were eventually shown to our table for the most delicious meal and, of course, plenty of Melbourne’s famous coffee.
I opted for ‘My Mexican Cousin’; secret recipe corn fritters with poached eggs, haloumi, sweet corn salsa, kasundi and dressed leaves, whilst Miles chose a delicious scrambled egg/ chilli/ coriander/ chickpea dish which was right up his street.
We loved this little spot and would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the neighbourhood! We headed back towards the market after to walk off breakfast and have another mosey around the gorgeous shops. I’m pretty sure we could have spent hours (and a fortune!) here.
That afternoon Miles and I decided we would split as there were different things that we both wanted to see. I wanted to visit the famous Immigration museum, but as Miles had already visited it when he came to Melbourne 10 years ago. He therefore decided he would catch the Scorsese exhibition that was showing in the city. From what I heard about it, it sounded like a really cool experience!
So it’s safe to say I was in complete awe at the Immigration Museum – what a fascinating place.
Over the 35 years between 1947 and 1981, about 1.5 million people migrated from the UK to Australia. They were dazzled with images of a better life down unda’ by a very active campaign. The museum still had many of these on display which was super interesting to see! I was particularly interested as in our family, relatives a few generations ago migrated to Australia during this period; seeing the Scottish aimed posters was super interesting!
Whilst the majority settled in, made new lives and prospered, the settling in wasn’t quick, nor easy for everyone. The museum did a fantastic job of depicting people’s true stories – I was completely fascinated and easily could have spent the entire day being absorbed in the exhibits!
After a couple of hours in the exhibition, Miles and I met back up and grabbed, what was meant to be a small bite down in the Italian area of the city. Safe to say the portions at Cafe Andiamo were very generous – delicious though!
Miles and I decided we would take the scenic route back to the flat; we walked up, as the sun started setting through Carlton Gardens. We admired the beautiful Royal Exhibition building and even stumbled across our first possum!
When we got back to the flat we sat out with our hosts for a glass of wine and a chat in the living room. It was really lovely hearing about how they ended up in Melbourne and they were super interested in hearing about our travels so far.
As it was our last evening in the city we decided we would treat ourselves to a nice meal – there is literally far too much choice in Melbourne!
In the ended we opted for the Gertrude Hotel and had the most delicious meal. Miles had a huge fish pie and I had aubergine parmigiana with the most incredible vegetable side dishes.
Unfortunately this brought our visit to Melbourne to an end. We had such a fun few days in this cool and quirky city; I would definitely like to go back some day! The next morning, bright and early we were awake and en route to the airport – goodbye East Coast and hello West – next stop Perth!