My husband & I had moved to Auckland a few months back from Sydney and we were missing everything Aussie- Vegemite, Tim Tams, rogue magpies, road crossing kangaroos (Roos) and most of all, the sunny weather! So, the moment we found a great flight deal to Melbourne, we booked it at once. We had only a weekend to soak up the Melbourne sunshine and charm, so we decided to explore the urban side of the city.
Where to Stay?
We are huge fans of Airbnb, but as we had little time in hand, we chose to stay near the CBD, so that we could make the most of the city without having to travel much. And lucky us, we found a good deal on Groupon for the Hotel Parkview, a modern & comfortable 4 Star Hotel about 10mins drive from the CBD. Melbourne CBD has many elite hotels, but if it doesn’t suit your pockets, there are enough options nearby, such as St. Kilda Road, where our hotel was situated.
How to get to the city from the airport?
We opted for the Sky Bus for various reasons -it was economical, had good frequency (every 10 minutes) and was fast. We bought the tickets at the counter but it can be bought online at ww.skybus.com.au/fares. And what made the simple journey really fun was the seats that we managed to get! Our bus was a double-decker and we rushed upstairs and caught the front row seats. We got an awesome panoramic view of the city. These seats are definitely worth a grab if you find yourselves in the double decker buses.
You can also take the Public Transport Victoria buses, although it is the cheapest option, it takes far too long and as we had only a weekend here, we ruled it out.
How to Travel within the City?
Thank the Lord (and of course Melbourne City Council) for the extensive & efficient public transport! Get the MYKI smart card, even if you are visiting for a short time and want to avoid renting a car or hiring a cab. You can use the MYKI smart card on buses, trains and the iconic Melbourne tram. Also, download the PTV (Public Transport Victoria) App. The app isn’t the most accurate one, but it gives a basic idea and can be used to navigate around.
Another cool thing about the PTV is the Free Tram Zone which covers a fair area around the CBD and these are clearly marked on the stops as well as in the trams. If you are traveling exclusively within the Free Tram Zone, you don’t need to Tap ON or OFF the Myki Card.
Places to visit:
We arrived on Saturday, at 7 AM at the airport and after finishing all the formalities at the airport, we headed straight to the historic Queen Victoria Market. It is the largest open air market in Southern Hemisphere and a mecca for “Weekend Market” goers like ourselves. It is a huge place and spread across 17 acres! It has massive options of fresh fruits & veggies, food, coffee, handcrafts, clothing, and most interesting of all- live poultry! We had scrumptious breakfast here which consisted of hot dog, pancakes and coffee and after that browsed through the unique collection of stalls. (Tip: Great place to buy Souvenirs).
We then took a bus to Hosier Lane, famous for its’ vibrant graffiti. What I found most fascinating about this alley was that it was ever changing! The photos that I had seen on the internet were so different from the one that I was witnessing first hand. Entire alley adorned with fascinating and colourful artwork, shoes hanging from power cables, street performer playing guitar in one corner make this place almost dreamy.
It was almost 12 by this time and our energy level was depleting at exponential rate as we had to wake up very early to catch our flight, so we decided to skip Melbourne River
Cruise, which was part of our initial To-Do list. Melbourne River Cruise sails through the Yarra River. We took an Uber to the Southbank Promenade and then while walking through the waterfront we came across the coolest street performers ranging from live jazz band to living statues. One of them was dressed up as a Gargoyle and as I stood beside him to have my photo taken with him, pounced on me and scared the bejesus out of me! Such fond memories. Anyways after the thrilling experience, we randomly chose one of the many restaurants there and had the Australian staple food “Fish & Chips”. We then took another Uber and headed to our hotel and rested there for a while gathering our energy for the evening.
I being a passionate sweet tooth wanted to try some of the goody indulgences of Melbourne. We went to Lux Bite, which is a charming little dessert café founded by one of the MasterChef Australia’s guest chefs. We treated ourselves with a few slices from the wide range of sinful desserts that this place had to offer.
We then headed to the famous Eureka Skydeck. It was the tallest residential building when it was opened in 2006! There is a fee to enter the Observation Deck but I would say it’s very well worth it. The observation deck is situated on 88th floors and at a height of 285mts
above ground, the view is absolutely spectacular. You can see many Melbourne landmark from up here such as MCG Crown and Federation Square. (Tip: Visit this place just before sunset so you can enjoy both the scenes of daylight & stunning lit up city.)
After this, we walked to the Crown Casino. Not that we wanted to gamble (the only thing I can play is the slot machine) but we went there as we had heard this was one of the must visit places of Melbourne. Even having visited Las Vegas casinos, I would say I was fairly impressed by it. Please note that my judgement is not based on the number of games but purely on the glitz, glamour, cocktails served and the crowd. I could see that this was quite popular among the partygoers. We neither looked the part nor did we have the energy to keep up with “woo-hoo” crowd, so we exited the building and walked to the Mooncake Festival being celebrated on the Riverwalk. This was right up my alley-carnivallike atmosphere with food stalls, dragon dance and fireworks. Here we sat by the bank watching the street theatrics and chomped on tasty noodles and pork buns. Perfect end to a wonderful day.
We had only till afternoon for sight-seeing as we had our flight back in the evening. So, we sifted through the many options we had & selected the Melbourne Museum. We checked out of our hotel & we got on a tram (finally boarded the Melbourne tram!) and about 40 minutes later we arrived at the Melbourne Museum. The building is spectacular even from the outside! We got the tickets and entered the massive building. There are many sections covering history, culture, rainforest, human body and my personal favourite-the Jurassic Park Exhibit. It’s a real treat both, for the kids and the kid-at-heart.
En route to the airport, we had a short stopover to the National Gallery of Victoria and the Sunday Market at Art Centre Melbourne which was filled with large array of stalls filled with colours and flavours. Here we grabbed tasty gozleme & macaroons for lunch from the
As we sat in the airport waiting rooms, we were going through the photos of our fun filled weekend. Although we enjoyed every moment of it, we realise that there was so much of Melbourne that we didn’t get to experience – The Great Ocean Drive, Yarra Wineries, Sovereign Hill to name a few. This only means that we have to come back for more!