Lifestyle Rave Reviews

Melbourne … More interesting than you think!

Hmmm…Melbourne. The state of four seasons in a day. Where if you don’t like the weather…wait 20 minutes. Luckily, my 2 best friends and I weren’t down there for the weather! Our objective was more of the indoor activity variety (and that’s not the kind I mean!). A whole weekend of food and shopping!

After dumping our bags at the hotel, we set off on a leisurely walk to the Queen Victoria Markets near the Melbourne CBD. These markets are huge and for the most part is a lot like Paddy’s Markets with souvenir vendors, ‘label’ clothing and shoes, knock-off leather goods, etc (though there were a few craft store gems that had the 3 of us reaching for our wallets!) But if you’re a foodie, these markets are spectacular! My best friend, who’s an amateur chef said to me: “You have to see this part!” I walked in and my eyes bugged out! Everywhere I looked was food of every description, culture, type…it was crazy and mouth-watering! 50% of the Markets are dedicated to selling everything that goes into making a meal! It was definitely an experience.

After the Markets, we walked our way back to DFO next to Southern Cross Station for some shopping. Larger (and better) than its Sydney counterpart, there I experienced the phenomena called: “Peer-pressure shopping”! “Try this dress on!” “That looks great! Grab it now!” *sigh* But I got my own back and all 3 of us walked out of there with heavy bags and even heavier credit cards!

Well, all that shopping made us a little peckish so we hopped on a tram to go up the street to the Grand Hyatt for High Tea. Now after watching MasterChef, I will never again take for granted what goes into those delicate little dessert concoctions! I loved the Crème Brulee, chocolate-covered strawberries, scones, and salmon finger sandwiches. Sitting there in the opulent Grand Hyatt, you can dream about the kind of money you have to have to stay in a place like that. I guess that’s why we boldly walked into the Louis Vuitton store a few doors down! I love my accessories, but paying $2000 for a wallet is just a little ridiculous for me! Fly me to London instead, I say!

Dinner that Saturday night was at Bistro Vue on Little Collins Street. Its classical but informal French décor contributed to the perfect ambiance to enjoy the beautiful Parisian food. It was sumptuous! My wagyu rump fillet was cooked perfectly and was accompanied by probably the yummiest mashed potato I’ve ever tasted! My best friend’s meal had a side of the most delicious chunky chips (cooked in duck fat!) I’ve ever tried! And my other friend’s gratin of pork was melt-in-your-mouth! And of course, we were in a French restaurant, so we had to try the Soufflé au Chocolat. It was put in front of us – this innocent-looking cake-thing but when we dug our spoons in…it just melted into this…chocolate lava! That’s the only way I could describe it!

Loaded up with all that food, we decided to enjoy the crisp Melbourne evening and walked to the Crown Casino. Interesting sculptures and fire towers lined the boardwalk alongside the Yarra River. The interior still reminded me of Las Vegas but more toward the tasteful elegance of The Bellagio and Paris casinos. In other words, so much nicer than Sydney’s Star City! We tried our hand at roulette and pokies but we left with more grins than wins as we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the next day.

Breakfast the next morning was at an outdoor Italian café called: ‘Brunetti’s’, down the road from Flinders Street train station. Brunetti’s is known for its amazing pastries, European-style sweets, fresh focaccias, salads, sandwiches, omelettes, and crepes. We tried the focaccias and omelettes and an assortment of macaroons and I tried an ‘Italian Hot Chocolate’ which is a glass of just that…chocolate! Yum!

After breakfast, we made our way down the road to explore Federation Square. That, along with the Arts Centre down the road, is the heart of creativity in Melbourne. Here one can attend a concert, view some of Australia’s best contemporary art, experience some unique exhibitions and of course, go shopping! We discovered an absolutely breathtaking store that displayed and sold glass art. The precision, talent, and patience of glassblowers never fail to astonish me!

We experienced more creativity as we explored the Sunday markets at the Arts Centre. There are no run-of-the-mill stalls here! Everything sold was uniquely beautiful and a testament to the talent of the stall owner. It was evident that while this was a business, it was also their passion. It was interesting to hear them speak about how they created all the individual pieces!

That was our last stop before heading to the airport for the flight home. With bags a little heavier than when we arrived and feet a little sorer, we were nevertheless a bunch of happy friends who enjoyed experiencing Melbourne together.

Editorial credit: EQRoy /

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