Taking you through our Melbourne trip blow by blow would be tedious all around - and anyway - who wants to hear about Little Miss O's meltdown in the Degas exhibition or the cracked bathroom tiles in our hotel? Right? We just want the LOVES. Obviously, we did not have the time, foot power or stomach capacity to do Melbourne full justice, but here are our favourite things out of those which we managed to get to.
Fave coffee: While hipsters and food instagrammers were crowding into Hardware Société to instagram their breakfasts and the queue was snaking down the lane, Little Miss O and I nipped into Bowery to Williamsburg across the street and found great service, great music on the stez and the best coffee (and hot chocolate) that we had in Melbourne. Smooth, no bitter aftertaste, lots of crema and a good caffeine kick. Anything else needed? Nope. Little Miss O was stoked with her hot chocolate too - with Hershey's kisses an added bonus. Their brekky was beyond good too but....
123 Hardware Street
Fave brekky: Speaking of hipsters again - we went to plenty of recommended "edgy" eateries - mostly for breakfast, hands down my fave meal of the day, but you know, I like the other ones pretty well too. However, I am basically a breakfast traditionalist at heart, and I like a packed plate, more so than pretty arrangements with kale and dukkah. Famished after a fabric buying frenzy, Little Miss O and I ended up at Von's, and I had a bumper brekky for a decent price. It was all a bit touty on that strip of street, but...whatever - I got me a good value old school brekky. Nice.
78 Hardware Street
Fave naughty treat: The American doughnuts at the Queen Victoria Market. Oh man. Hot, fresh, sugar coated, jam-filled - and OK for Little Miss O to eat. We were in heaven.
513 Elizabeth Street
Fave shopping moment: When we walked into the sale at the Phillips Shirt factory on Little Lonsdale and after ogling at all the glorious shirts and fabrics (and the huge cutting tables and enormous windows), were faced with the remnant pile, handed a bag and told to fill it for a tenner. I actually stopped breathing momentarily, and my heart rate definitely increased as I rummaged through vintage fabrics and Liberty...
274 Little Lonsdale (but relocating soon)
Fave market: We went to loads - a car boot, a handmade, some food, a flea...but our favourite was the Winter Night Market at the Queen Victoria Markets. There were fire pits, loads of food stands, shopping stands, entertainment for children, mulled wine, a smoky, fire pit meets BBQ haze in the air and chilli hot chocolate. It reminded me a little of fireworks night when I was a child - maybe it was the smokiness and the winter chill. There were so many food stands to choose from including vegan, Spanish, Chinese baozi, pies, churros, Hawaiian, mushroom burgers, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.
513 Elizabeth Street
Fave opshopping strip: We used this excellent spreadsheet and found that the closest spot to us with the most op-shops was Chapel St, Windsor and surrounds with seven in close vicinity to each other. Look, op-shops are hit and miss, but I did come out with a couple of cute cardis, the exact pair of jeans I was looking for and some vintage textiles, but my mind was not blown that day. One of the op-shops in particular was charging prices way, way, way beyond what anyone should be asking for secondhand stuff, which was disappointing and just takes the fun out of the whole exercise. I know a lot of op-shop prices are getting silly these days, but this one was beyond the pale. There was a good range of upmarket style and old school-ish, so, all shoppers could probably find a joyous purchase.
Fave sushi spot: Little Miss O gets regular sushi cravings, and so we are always looking for a good sushi spot. We have been spoilt by living in or being born in Japan, but in Melbourne, we were quite impressed by Tetsujin in the Emporium Building. Pretty-looking and pretty damn delicious sushi. It tasted fresh and juicy and the servings were generous as well as being all the same price, which was helpful. Sides varied in price, but the takoyaki were fabulous.
278 Lonsdale Street, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4
Fave transport: Although Melbourne is extremely walkable - got to love a grid pattern city - and we did a lot of walking, we also found the trams to be very useful - especially the free City Circle no. 35 tram which saved us a few times when Little Miss O was a bit over the walking. She's a trouper, so it wasn't very often.
Fave feel good feed: We made a beeline one day for a late lunch at Kinfolk in the CBD which is a cafe that donates all its profits to charity and is run by volunteers. Little Miss O's raspberry and white peach soda was pretty good, and the staff were helpful with her allergies. However, my toastie, although tasty did not blow me away - too oily and salty, but even though it wasn't the best feed, it filled our bellies on a warm afternoon and we felt warm and fuzzy for doing good. The salad and the soup combo looked amazing, by the way, so don't write it off just because I didn't go cray cray for my sambo, OK?
673 Bourke Street
Fave way to get there: We took the XPT Countrylink sleeper train, which was so much fun. Our own room. Snack packs. Cozy beds, the boom chicka chicka of the train at night and brekky in bed. Dodgy toilets, but you know - can't have it all. A highly recommended way to move around.
Fave kid-oriented activity: Although we did lots of things and most of them were fine for kiddies, and we tend not to do "kid" things, we did go to the Melbourne Musuem, which was great! We avoided the temporary exhibition and headed to the section on the history of Melbourne which had enough realistic features e.g a mini cinema, reconstructed slum houses etc. to engage Little Miss O and lots of interesting facts and footage. We both liked the big taxidermy of Phar Lap too.
11 Nicholson Street, Carlton