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Mini break in Melbourne

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Mini break in Melbourne

Looking back at the entries in my diary from our whirlwind trip to Melbourne has made me want to start planning a longer stay.

The only time Maureen and I had been to Melbourne was a flying visit a few years ago, right before we set off on an unforgettable drive down the Great Ocean Road. We told ourselves then that it was a shame we had never properly experienced the city. So last May, when we saw there were great rates at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, we decided it was time to make amends. Of course, there’s no shortage of things to do in 48 hours in Melbourne. The hardest part was deciding what. I recently pulled out my diary of the weekend trip…

May 10th, 2019

After checking in, we got our bearings with a stroll along the banks of the Yarra on the Flinders Walk. The setting sun reflecting on the river, and the office towers of the CBD, made for a spectacular welcome. We were a bit weary from our flight, so after a stop at a stylish bar in Flinders Lane for gin & tonics, we decided to have dinner at the hotel. We had one of the best Italian meals I can remember. The concierge at Sofitel put us on to Pretty Boy Italian Steakhouse. The Kobe scotch fillet was melt-in-your-mouth, and Maureen’s black truffle gnocchi were superb. Best of all, the restaurant is at Novotel Melbourne Central, so my Accor Plus dining benefit made the dinner all the more delicious.

May 11th, 2019

This morning, we tore ourselves away from the breakfast buffet and set out to explore Melbourne’s legendary laneways. Tiny streets like Centre Place, Hosier Lane and Duckboard Place teem with quirky shops, bars and galleries, as well as a seemingly infinite choice of cosy cafes for a shot of that famed Melbourne coffee. I got some great photos of eye-catching murals – including Bon Scott and Angus Young in AC/DC Lane!

Staying at Sofitel means we’re right in the heart of the best shopping in Melbourne. Maureen was especially keen to browse ornate Victorian-era shopping passages, including the Block and Royal arcades. I didn’t want to cramp her style, so I left her to it. Meanwhile, I finally got to do something I’ve always wanted: catch an AFL match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The stadium and the atmosphere are even better live than they are on TV! Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take in the nearby National Sports Museum – will have to save that for next time.

In the evening, we wanted to try something a bit special. Choosing among the best luxury restaurants in Melbourne was no easy task, but we’d heard so many great things about No35 and the fact that it was right here in the hotel made it a no-brainer. The views of the city’s flickering lights from the rooftop restaurant were a breathtaking backdrop to a delicious meal. My roasted lamb rack was melt-in-the-mouth good, and Maureen loved the white miso king salmon. We treated ourselves to a delicious red too as we sank back into our chairs and gazed out of the window, full and very content. Now we’re both looking forward to dozing off between those cosy sheets!

May 12th, 2019

We decided to get an early start today, as we were both keen to see the Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria. It’s a truly impressive collection with works dating back to the 19th century, from Albert Namatjira landscapes to abstract contemporary pieces.

After the Gallery, we hopped on a cross-town tram to Queen Victoria Market. The heritage-listed landmark dates back to 1878, and it houses a vast array of stalls selling everything from fresh meat, fish and produce to clothes, jewellery and artworks. There are also deli stands serving tasty delights from Italy and Poland to the Middle East and Africa. We picked up a couple of hand-knitted scarves for ourselves and souvenir t-shirts for the grandkids. By this time we had worked up quite an appetite – but it wasn’t easy to choose among all the food stalls! Eventually I settled on a yummy Sri Lankan curry, while Maureen went for a Malaysian seafood laksa.

After one last Melbourne coffee, it was time to head back home. As we were sitting in the taxi to the airport, we realised a weekend in Melbourne was only enough to give us an appetiser… Now to start planning our next trip!

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