We were told that Melbourne has 4 seasons in one day. It sounded unbelievable but that was our first experience here. As soon as we stepped outside of the airport the weather was cold. Coming from the Gold Coast of tropical weather this was a bit of culture shock. We arrived at our apartment, got situated then left out an hour later. While walking to the grocery store the weather turned hot. We had to remove our jackets, it was like walking into a different season for real. After spending less than thirty minutes in the store, we walked outside to pouring rain. An hour later the rain had dried up and it was completely sunny again. Another strange thing about this side of Australia is the sun sets around 8:30pm as opposed to the 6:15pm sunset northeast. After three days of dressing warm, we stepped outside and it was 85°F. It felt like we walked outside in a completely different place – it was hot.
We stayed in Carlton which is a suburb of Melbourne. The neighborhood was quiet, local and residential. We lived like locals in a beautiful apartment thanks to Air b&b. The apartment was close to the train going into the city so we had transportation the entire time.
The Central Business district is busy with tons of people, trains, cars and businesses. One area is packed with people shopping and enjoying the street performers. We enjoyed sitting and people watching and of course shopping and eating.
This is also the place where a terrorist plot on Christmas with bombs was uncovered. Outside of that, it’s a peaceful place to sit outside and enjoy the scenery.
Some of the best food I’ve had on the trip has been in Melbourne. My favorite dish was the ham hock hash at Miss Jackson’s. It was a combination of smoked hamhock on top of fried soft potatoes, red cabbage, poached eggs and siracha hollandaise sauce. Doug’s cheese omelet at Industry Beans in Melbourne was one of his favorites. The omelet was made with cheese, carmelised leeks, fried kale, fried beetroot and fresh herbs.
Melbourne is known for their eccentric coffee shops and restaurants and prides itself on coffee. Most of the coffee shops brew coffee from around the world and serve lattes that look like a work of art.
I tried coffee in many places and still didn’t find it very strong across the board. The best coffee I’ve had, was sold in the grocery store refrigerated section called Schnob’s. The company is from Melbourne and sells bottled cold brew coffee. It’s the best I’ve had in Australia and from a grocery store.
In Melbourne bars and pubs are called hotels. This was confusing at first but the reason is the buildings were once hotels. Long ago licenses only allowed pubs to provide alcohol to traveling public. By having the a few rooms ( even if they aren’t used) gave an impression that they were following the policy.
Carlton Gardens is a World Heritage Site in the Central Business District of Melbourne. The park is 150 years old. We chilled out here before the Queen Victoria market started at six o’clock. Fitzroy Gardens is another beautiful park we visited. This is also the home of captain cook’s cottage which was dismantled in Great Ayton, Yorkshire and put in Fitzroy Gardens in 1933.
Queen Victoria Market is a huge outdoor/indoor market in the city area of Melbourne. It starts nightly at six and we arrived within the first thirty minutes. So many people had the same idea and the place was packed.
There were so many choices of fresh cooked food along with people selling crafts, produce, meats, seafood and alcohol. After walking around seeing everything, we finally made a decision and got in line. Within the first hour, the lines were so long we were happy we got there early.
Flemington Racetrack was a must see for us. This is the home of the prestigious Melbourne Cup. After seeing the Melbourne Cup on television I never thought we would be visiting the actual track. Of course I was under dressed for the occasion – again.
Everyone was dressed formally (except for us and maybe two other local degenerates) and the grounds were spectacular. When the horses passed by during the race we could hear the jockeys screaming at the horses and whipping them. The jockeys were a mix of men and women and both sexes were bringing in first place winners. GIRL POWER!
Another cool thing about the racetrack here are the bookmakers set up in and around the track. Bookmaking is illegal in the United States so seeing them operating openly was strange to see here.
Visiting here was a check off our international racetrack visit list. So far we have been to racetracks at every country we have visited (that had them). This is the most prestigious racetrack we have been to in our lives.
When we can’t get to the track, somehow there is always a place to bet on the horses. In Melbourne its the TAB (Totalisator Agency Board ) which is a place to make bets on sports and racing. They look like an AT&T store from the front but inside are televisions with sports events on and horseracing. You get the gritty gambling feel in there and I’m usually the only girl walking in.
Chinatown in Melbourne was a small area but had the best dumpling restaurants in the city. So far in our travels every place we have been has a Chinatown. Chinese restaurants grouped together with an arced entrance street with Chinese decorations on it. The good news is the restaurants were packed with people and Australia’s Chinese restaurants appear a lot cleaner and sanitary than some of the ones I’ve seen in the United States. They topped the list of every dirty dining report on the local news at home.
St. Kilda is a small beach town just a short train ride away from Melbourne. The vibe is relaxed and cheery. I went to a local garage sale while walking though the neighborhoods. She had loud music playing and sequined clothing and leggings hanging up in the sunlight – it was hard to pass up without stopping by.
I liked it here because it was mostly outdoor cafes and a lively atmosphere with the beach and amusement park close by. We went on a Saturday so the cafes and streets were packed with people.
Luna Park is Melbourne’s historical theme park that still runs today. The strange thing about this roller coaster was the conductor spends the entire time standing up while everyone else is enjoying the ride on the hills. This park kind of reminds me of carnival rides in America they don’t look too safe but everyone’s having fun until one of them breaks. The front entrance looks like something from American horror movie. A big clown face with a doorway of his mouth open inviting people into these rickety rides.
Drinking alcohol is not only expensive in Melbourne, its expensive if you can’t handle your alcohol. Signs were posted in some of the restaurants of the fines for being a drunkard in public. I never noticed anyone out of control during my visit but I’m sure those signs are posted for good reason.
The coolest thing about Melbourne is the vintage shops and funky restaurants and bars. Each one has a different style and character. Dining out is big business in Australia, especially for breakfast.
I love shopping in second-hand and vintage shops and Melbourne had the best I’ve seen in my travels. Vintage shops are popular in Amsterdam but the prices are much higher in Melbourne.
A pair of Levi’s 501 shorts from the 90s were $79.00 at one of the shops in Melbourne. Actually most of the clothes were priced the same as new clothes in a department store. All of the nostalgia looked great grouped togther and visitnig the stores took me back to happy memories.
Melbourne is known as the world’s great street art capital. I did some research and found out the City of Melbourne approves permits for street art with building owners permission. Legal street art changes continually on a day-to-day to basis in some areas.
Some of the art can be found on the streets, alley ways and buildings throughout the city. Most of the art I saw was spectacular but there was also some meaningless tagging mixed in.
This is one of my favorite things about Melbourne. Even though it’s considered vandalism in America (a felony charge), I was proud of the people who took the risk and painted it.
Hosier Lane is a bluestone cobbled alley full of beautiful urban street art. This is one of the most popular areas that tourist visit to see street art. It was exciting to see but there is so much artwork throughout the city, this was just one of many stops.
It seemed like every corner we turned throughout the city and surrounding neighborhoods, street art was on several buildings.
I haven’t seen that many bums or homeless people in Melbourne as I have in American cities. I’m sure they are out there but I haven’t noticed as many in Australia in general. There was a guy begging in the street for $100.00 “to get on”. I couldn’t help but notice that everything on the guy was brand new including his backpack. Another strange person I couldn’t help but notice was a passenger on the train going into the city. He chose to sit in the most uncomfortable way imaginable even though seats were available.
Melbourne was a great experience and city. I look at Melbourne as the New York City of Australia and Sydney as the Los Angeles. Two very different places in the same country. I like the quiet outskirt neighborhoods of the city center the most. In Chicago (where I’m from) some of the neighborhoods around the inner city are very dangerous and have a high rate of crime. Melbourne gives off a very safe and upscale feeling in those surrounding cities which makes it desirable to live there. Just like New York City the rent is very high and the buildings are historical which means the building cannot be changed with the times.
My only complaint about Melbourne is the weather. The weather was very unpredictable and volatile. Some days it was burning hot and then the next day chilly cold. I imagine their closets have clothes for all year around, all year around.