Snug little cafes in cosy lanes; the gleaming sun; happy, warm faces; the predicament of not knowing the incalculable Melbourne weather, all of it defined Melbourne to me. I had only been there four days but had fallen hard for this beautiful city.
I stayed at the Crown Towers; you couldn’t catch a dull moment; as a guest, I had easy access to casino spaces, ticket machines, various sizes poker tables, black jack and my personal favourite: roulette. I couldn’t end without mentioning the shopping options and the variety of restaurants within the hotel, not a dull moment to spare. My room had a fantastic view overlooking the stunning Yarra River and the city. The bed had comfortable fluffy pillows, turn down service, an en-suite bathroom with a luxurious bathtub and a separate rain shower. What I couldn’t get enough of was the cosy lightening options and the breathtaking view from my panoramic glass windows overlooking the beautiful city.
I spent my first night in Melbourne, exploring Lygon Street, that had a sprawl of restaurants and cafes to choose from; befuddling to pick one but my friend’s recommendation left my palate wanting more. We dined at a restaurant called Vila Romano; I ordered creamy, succulent tiger prawns dipped in white sauce and sautéed mushrooms at a table outside, snug under a canopy; my knife glided through the creamy prawns smoothly, and my palate felt all the right flavours. After a scrumptious meal, we headed towards Tutto for dessert: the biscotti froyo with brownie chunks, hot caramel sauce and crushed Oreos drizzled on top, made for a perfect melange. Speaking of the sweeter things, I don’t mind the occasional brain freeze and what better way to get one than an icy gelato the size of my head? This remarkable gelato store called Il Dolce Freddo has fresh and luscious gelato; these deliciously silky gelatos melt in your mouth with every easing bite. I’m not the one who digs into gelato on a cold freezing night, but for the love of excellent taste, a few exceptions are spared.
The Tutto, Melbourne
This city has some remarkable sights; we went galavanting across the city, the Federation Square painstakingly decorated with assiduously created handmade flowers for Anzac Day was a splendid sight. My favourite part of the city was the spectacular city views as I strolled by the Yarra River from Crown Towers to Southgate Bridge (better known as Lovegate). The walk captures the stunning views of beautiful Yarra River and a backdrop of city concretes. Not too far from Southgate is a little bar called the Pony Fish Island. It’s called an island because the bar looks like a ship floating on the river and creates an illusion of being on a boat. We sat at the bar with our drinks, watching the sunset and felt the sound of the waters beat against the concrete rims of the bar as we sipped on some drinks.
The next morning, I was in one of those ‘I-just-want-a-peaceful-breakfast moods’; to enjoy some tranquillity during my morning meal, Port Melbourne was a good choice. It’s quite a walk once you get off the tram, though an enjoyable one. My intention was to find Sandbar, but I stopped by at Cafe Lafayette (choices and distractions! they’re always tricky); I particularly like a healthy start to my day, so I was quite pleased with their menu. Surrounded by tall glass walls and panoramic views of the grey seaside, I waited for my healthy portion to arrive. The ‘Egg Benedict’ perfectly cooked placed on crunchy bread, and greens sprinkled on top and mushrooms on the side, and the view of the beach to go along with it. Just perfect. And calm. St. Kilda is usually the popular choice for beachside fun and frolic with lively restaurants, bars, shops and beautiful palm trees.
Breakfast at Port Melbourne
Melbourne is known for its cosy cafes that serve delicious hot drinks. Degrave Street is one particular street lined with cafes. I am a complete sucker for hot chocolate, and Melbourne didn’t disappoint. According to popular suggestion, I stopped by at Max Brenner; hot chocolate served with a portion of thick hot chocolate sauce and strawberries, the texture felt creamy and velvety as I indulged in every heavenly sip of steaming cocoa served in a cuddle mug. I was so tempted to try the rest of their irresistibly extensive menu.
Hot Chocolate at Max Brenner
A vacation isn’t complete without a day trip! The highlight of my stint in Melbourne was the trip to Great Ocean Road. Coming from a city like Bangalore, the daily hustle in barbaric traffic can get to you ( I spend about 2 hours in traffic every day on an average). This was the perfect escape. My drive to the Great Ocean Road was breathtaking. Once we got to the Cape Otway Lighthouse, we soaked in the picturesque view from the top, facing the serene blue seafront. The while that I was up there, it felt like all the sound and clutter around me died and I remained drenched in calmness.
The walk to the Cape Otway Lighthouse
View from the Cape Otway Lighthouse
The drive to Great Ocean Road
The journey to Great Ocean Road is packed with some exciting fun. I got an opportunity to mingle with the parrots. We drove through the dense Otway ranges where I spotted a wild koala climbing a tree ( you’re considered to be lucky if you encounter one that isn’t asleep because they sleep for 18 hours a day ). The drive through the thick rainforest and beautiful green valleys made the long journey easier
My favourite part of the road trip was the stop at the Twelve Apostles, our final destination; giant rocks that protruded from the middle of the waters. We trekked to the edge of the mountain to get a grand view of the Twelve Apostles. For a complete splurge, we treated our eyes to get a bird’s eye view on the helicopter ride; as we got up-close to one of the mountains, the helicopter slanted towards one side pushing me to the edge of my seat (literally). I won’t forget the feeling of butterflies in my stomach for those minutes up there.