It seems like everyone that goes to Melbourne falls in love with it.
Can I even make a big call (more like an uninformed assumption) and say that most people rate Melbourne over Sydney? I probably shouldn’t because goodness knows I’m just rattling factoids off the top of my head and I’ve got no real proof to justify this, except of course that we can be sure the Real Housewives of Melbourne are 100x more bearable than those of Sydney (fact).
Anyway, I too love Melbourne so was excited to find cheap(ish) flights there over Easter, so my boyfriend and I could visit friends and tick off a few touristy activities.
But first things first, let’s talk about these cheap flights….
We flew with Jetstar (the budget airline down under), which I’ve decided I won’t do again… well, not for a flight more than 2 hours. Domestic NZ would be OK, but 4-hours to Melbourne with no TV or entertainment got a bit much… thank goodness for podcasts.
I also won’t be taking the 11.45pm return flight to NZ ever again, as it’s awful and not worth the $60 or so you save by choosing this flight. You just end up waiting around all evening for the flight and by the time you get on you’re exhausted. And sleeping on a Jetstar aircraft while you’re sitting upright, squished with little legroom isn’t easy. Plus, by the time you get back in NZ, its 5:30am – and as I didn’t want to use up an extra day of leave, I soldiered on and went straight into work that day… never again!
On to some good news… our accommodation was great!
We stayed at the Rydges Hotel on Exhibition Street, a modest hotel, comfortable and well-priced. I think has a 3.5-4 star rating (which it suits) and it cost us about $120 a night, which is really reasonable for Melbourne. The location is fabulous, super central and a short walk to CBD landmarks/ tram stops. Our room was a good size and got lots of sun. The included breakfast was great, although I mostly only ate Nutella on toast because chocolate for breakfast is absolutely OK when you’re in a hotel.
The only hiccup was when we got stuck in the stairwell… we’d gone up to the roof to look at the pool (too cold for an April swim) and then decided to take the stairs down to our floor since it was only a couple floors below… mistake. Turns out their stairwells are for emergencies only and instantly lock behind you… I don’t know if this is common practice in hotels, but to me, it seems a little strange. Taking the stairs just seems more practical when you’re only going one or two floors, especially when you’re trying to burn off all that Nutella!
While the main reason we were in Melbourne was to visit friends, we managed to fit in a few touristy activities and a lot of shopping.
We mostly shopped at Bourke Street Mall, a complex in the centre of town which covers 4+ blocks, all linked by air bridges (make sure you set aside at least half a day to get through this!).
I’d been told of an outlet mall near Southern Cross Station, which I thought I spotted when our tram drove past Spencer Outlet Mall, so we stopped in to check it out. Unfortunately, this is not the good outlet mall, and not really worth a visit. The good, big outlet mall is called Harbour Town, which hopefully I’ll get to next time!
The highlight was definitely watching The Book of Mormon at the Princess Theatre. Sooooo hilarious. Seriously! I mean, so long as you’re not Mormon yourself, you don’t get offended easily, and you like the South Park sense of humour. It’s rough, it’s raw, it’s completely inappropriate, but oh man, the actors and stage direction is incredible. The songs had me in stitches. So good. Couldn’t recommend this enough – I hope they bring the show to Auckland!
We also did the Colonial Restaurant Tram. It cost about NZ$100 each, which is justified as this includes the open bar. However, the experience itself was a little ho-hum.
The meal was average, and could almost be described as plane food served on a ceramic plate. I mean, it wasn’t awful, some parts were tasty, but it just wasn’t special or anywhere near the high standard of almost every other meal we had in Melbourne, which for a city that prides itself on its culinary expertise is a little bit of a let-down.
On the plus-side, the tram staff were lovely and served us our money’s worth of alcohol. I probably wouldn’t do it again, unless like it was Mother’s Day. My mum would be all over it.
If you do decide to do the restaurant tram, one thing I will recommend is going for lunch rather than dinner. This way you can look out the window and enjoy the scenery. You don’t see anything amazing, you just go out to St Kilda and back (which you could do on a regular tram for a lot less), but I think seeing something is much nicer than looking out into the dark of night.
Other than these activities we just enjoyed the city life.
We wandered through the streets and laneways, stopping at cute cafes and strolled alongside the river in Southbank, where we popped into a couple bars for some drinks.All and all it was a great trip. As well as catching up with friends, we enjoyed a couple touristy experiences but didn’t tire ourselves out by cramming in too many tourist attractions for the hell of it.
It reminded me why I like Melbourne so much – the lifestyle seems so easy.