Last weekend I had the beautiful opportunity to see the sights of Melbourne- and am I the kind of gal to let having abut $40 in my bank account, super squeezy daylight hours and Victoria’s signature drizzly weather hold me back? Hell no! Here’s how I did the big-little city on cash and time budget, and loved every second!
G E T T I N G A R O U N D
The Skybus from the airport to the city was easy and affordable- $38 return, and they always seem to be pulling up right when you need them! Uber was how I got around the rest of the time and I found the service to be reliable, safe and friendly. When I flew in I went with TigerAir (because cheap) which was fine apart from a forty minute delay, but when I got to the airport bright-eyed and bushytailed and ready to go home I realised that my return ticket was booked for July, not June! Ah!!!! That in itself was not an issue, obviously it was stressful but was also 200% my fault- what was not my fault, however, was the grumpy lady at the front desk who’s badge said supervisor and who treated me like something wildly unpleasant she had stepped in- even before she knew what a wally I had been. Thankfully Quantas had a seat on a flight leaving at the same time I was going to anyway and the service and flight itself were so lovely that I sobbed half the way home- to the point that the lady next to me sympathetically asked if I’d been out of the country for too long (I pretended that it was true to save face, fyi).
T H I N G S T O S E E F O R ( A L M O S T ) F R E E
Being on a student’s budget, touristy things that usually make the cut were off the table- seeya, skydeck. That did leave a lot of room for other fun stuff, though. Walking down Swanston Street in the drizzle was a lot of fun day and night, marvelling at the State Library of Victoria was a highlight in terms of architecture and a random painting of Shane Warne, and exploring floor upon floor of buildings looking for the perfect view is fun for all. We also went to Emporium, the home of all things fashion and flashy, and I did some serious window shopping (PS, the H&M change room mirrors are instant fat day magic, avoid at all costs!), the stores there are on a whole other level.
F O O D & D R I N K
Obviously the most important part of any holiday / day / life experience is the food side of things. Seriously, how bloody good is eating?! In melbs, it’s arguably even better.
Fonda Mexican, 31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
My insanely stylish sister-in-law and her also very stylish fiancée picked out this place for the night that I got in. The decor is trendy as heck, the food is delicious and the ambiance even better. There was about a ten minute wait for a table which was exciting for a country bumpkin, and when we were seated it was all systems go. Counter service was made easy by lovely, friendly staff. The eats were cheap, and I opted for a couple of delicious tacos- soft shelled and made with fresh corn, just the way the Aztecs made them (apparently!). My fav was the prawn which featured Caramelised kimchi (YUM!), pineapple, betel leaf and Japanese mayo. My favourite part of the whole meal was actually my drink, non-alcoholic and utterly delicious; it was a watermelon and strawberry juice with fresh mint and I miss it already.
East Elevation, 351 Lygon Street, East Brunswick.
So very Melbourne, this place is a done-up chocolate factory with a striking red door and no resemblance to a cafe from the outside. It was packed to the (actual) rafters on a Saturday morning, and for good reason. Their signature hot chocolate is rich- like, really rich- and is made for sipping rather than a morning toss down the hatch. Breakky for me was an amazing oil-soaked olive bread layered with avocado, basil and Persian fetta, topped by vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes straight from the cafe garden. Yum.
Jungle Juice Bar, 20 Centre Place, Melbourne.
Before this place, the only time I’d had had any association with jungle juice was pulling a tiny jar of it from the hands of a girl in the Red Square toilets on a Saturday night. This was, thankfully, nothing like that! Nestled in the bustling foodie paradise that is Centre Place, the menus were as quirky and sweet as the staff- but I won’t give up any spoilers! We shared a Salmon bagel (smoked Tasmanian salmon, fresh avo, capers, cream cheese and rocket) and a juice of the day, both were scrumptious as heck and are making my tummy rumble just thinking about them! It’s a tiny space so be prepared to squish, but it’s a must visit for any rumbling tums in search of simple fare.
Rice Queen Restaurant 389-391 Brunswick St, Fitzroy.
Dimly lit and dotted with kitch red lanterns, Rice Queen was going off at 8PM on a Saturday night. We dropped in for a drink while we waited for our table at our dinner destination, and while the service was a little slow at the bar that’s really to be expected when it’s just warming up on the weekend. Their outside area is a kind of inside-outside inbetween, and the perfect place to stay warm, get some fresh air and sink back a red wine (or a Think Pink cocktail, which was freaking delicious).
Mukka Indian, 365 Brunswick St, Fitzroy.
Holy Guacamole, if I could recommend one place to hit up in Melbourne then this would be it. Actually, if I could recommend one place in Australia to get really amazing Indian I’d point you in this direction. Firstly, it was really REALLY affordable. We had a 9-10 course vego feast for $30 each between the two of us, and a delicious cocktail full of ginger beer, pomegranate and enough vodka to not remember whether we had nine or ten courses. Either way, they were presented one after the other like an incredibly scrumptious parade of deliciousness, and we didn’t even finish half of them. The wait staff were lovely, the vibe was happiness on happiness from every table and the whole experience was incredible.
Huge bloody massive thanks for my incredible kindred-spirit, gentle soul, bundles of fun friend Claire and her housemates Kobe and Nathan for putting up with my excessive talking and (probably) snoring and making it so I didn’t have to put a ‘places to stay’ dotpoint on this list. 10/10 would recommend.