So I’ve got a bit of a crush. I wouldn’t say I was in love, we hardly know each other. But I can’t stop thinking about you; your laid back cool vibe, heavenly coffee and gallery worthy street art on every corner. I’m completely enamoured and a little bit intimidated. I am a Londoner (an East Londoner to be precise), I should be used to urban grit and skinny jean hip. But you are different. You are cool without even trying. You don’t have to make a song and dance about pop-up bars, dazzling sunshine, even your proximity to world-class beaches, because you are positively overflowing with them. For you this is normal. You’re cool and you know it, but you’re not afraid to sit back and let the rest of the world work it out for themselves.
I think I might be falling in love with you Melbourne and here are some of the reasons why:
In a grotty courtyard off a dingy alley in the heart of Chinatown, you construct a bar out of abandoned storage containers and it is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. (Section 8)
Jammed onto a pontoon in the middle of the river you house a bar that I am clamouring to get into. (Ponyfish Island)
On the top of a derelict looking building with a scarily old lift, you open a roof garden bar and rooftop cinema. (Rooftop Cinema and Bar) And in funky Fitzroy, Italian cafes and vintage clothes stores are interspersed with bars decorated with reclaimed furniture (Bimbo Deluxe) and German-esque beer dining halls (Little Creatures.)
I spent two years in training with a Melbournian so that I was able to drink coffee before visiting your city. So sooner had we landed when we found our way to St Ali and I was glad to have converted my tea swilling ways. Half warehouse, half science lab, even this novice coffee drinker knew the bean was good. We continued to tour the city, from Manchester Press to Brother Baba Budan, on a never-ending journey of acclaimed coffee houses.
Melbourne your shopping is good but it’s the way you present that really rocks. In underground subways (Campbell Arcade) and down cobblestone laneways (Manchester Lane). In renovated post offices (Melbourne’s GPO) and scarcely restored office buildings (Nicholas Building). The shopping is cool but the surroundings are even better. (Click here to find out more about Melbourne’s Shopping Hidden Secrets.)
I’ve included some pictures of my favourites below. I’ll say no more.
Melbourne you seem more multicultural than the rest of your Aussie city siblings. You’ve embraced the Asian culture and that is visible in your cuisine. You offer Asian fusion banquets that enabled me to eat like a Queen (Chin Chin – 7 courses for $70) and have whole areas dedicated to the joy that is Vietnamese cuisine (see Halong Bay in Richmond). At Queen Victoria Market, trading since the 1800’s, the clothes may be a pile of tat but the variety of fresh food and veg on offer still delights the locals today.
For a visitor like myself you offer a spectrum of accommodation. A luxury hotel with picture postcard worthy views (Crown Towers) or boutique affairs influenced by local artists (Art Series Hotels). The Olsen actively encourage guests to overstay their welcome by offering guests a second night free if their room is not already booked. How cool is that?
Melbourne I think I am falling in love with you. Could it be you love me too?
Thanks to the team at Hidden Secrets Laneways and Arcades Tour for introducing me to the arcades and laneways mentioned above. For a full Guide to Shopping in Melbourne please visit travellingshopaholic.com. Find out more about my stay at the Crown Towers by clicking here. For info and advice on planning a trip to Melbourne please go to the Visit Melbourne website.