I am finally getting down to writing about our March school holidays adventure. We flew into Melbourne on a calm, sunny morning after a tiring red eye flight. Perhaps it was because it was Saturday, or that we’d just come on an A380 (more people and bags on a flight?), but the luggage took us a very long time, and so did the rental car. Eventually we were soon packed up and ready to go. (Btw we rented a car from Hertz and it wasn’t even washed properly. Right.)
At the airport we wanted to buy the Vodafone wireless router which we bought in Perth last year (SO much better than renting an expensive Changi Recommends one), but they don’t have a Vodafone counter there (what?!) and the Optus queue was really quite long. In the end, I couldn’t decide on what we wanted, and we ended up getting a SIM card from one of the shops downtown. Here is the price reference because the first shop didn’t have stock of this cheapest card, and the second shop ti-gong (pretended not to know anything) until we specifically asked them for the card and said we saw it in another Vodafone shop.
Our first stop was the Citadines on Bourke Street. We had a 2 bedroom apartment for the 7 of us – 4 adults and 3 kids. It was a slight squeeze, and the 5 of us slept in one room (we moved that extra bed you see above, into the bedroom), but that’s usually how the kids like it anyway. I love that the apartment had a washing machine because, you know, kids. The smaller apartments do not have a washing machine, but there are shared machines on the premises. There is also parking in the building for $30 a night, which is reasonable considering a taxi from the airport to the CBD can cost you around AUD$60.
Around the hotel, we tried a variety of things, including Pho at Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop (a must for me in Australia) and Spaghetti Tree, a cosy place which is large and bustling eatery, great for a noisy brood of kids. The first two mornings we made our own breakfast, but Melbourne is well known for its vibrant cafe scene, so I insisted we had to go to at least ONE cafe. We ended up at Brother Baba Budan for a take away cuppa, while waiting for our table at Manchester Press Cafe, where the bagels were stunning. I was satisfied 🙂
We loved taking the free city trams, and it was so convenient to get around! One of the days after breakfast we headed to Queen Victoria Market (via tram) and bought some fruits for ourselves. It was a weekend and they were having a Turkish cultural festival going on, so we had some lovely kebabs, which I could not get enough of in Dubai last year; followed by fresh oysters from the seafood department. I do not eat oysters or any shell fish like mussels, clams etc (with a few exceptions of clams), but the oysters here were so fresh I actually managed to stomach them. The deli section was also a favourite, with some amazing coffee from Market Lane Coffee. We are all cheese lovers, so we bought some cheese here.
We then decided to drive to the South Melbourne Market where there were more oysters and cheese, cheaper than QVM too, and we had tapas and paella at Simply Spanish along the periphery of the market. I liked South Melbourne Market a lot more than QVM as it is less touristy.
After having our fill, we decided to head to Philip Island to catch the Little Penguins returning from their day at sea. Melbourne is interesting in that the sun sets pretty late, so the penguins only started coming at around 745pm. Initially we were quite undecided whether to drive all the way to see the penguins but we figured this would be the only place we’d ever see wild penguins unless we headed to South Africa, South America or Antarctica, so yeah, suddenly Philip Island didn’t seem like such a long drive away! We didn’t have time to linger at the discovery centre (which would have been interesting!) because we arrived just in time to be seated and by the time we left it was really quite late. It was amazing to see all the penguins up close, and certainly an experience of a lifetime for animal loving peeps like ourselves. On the drive home we stopped by a large McDs with a lovely playround, but like the other McDs we’ve been to in Australia, they are all pretty…poorly maintained. There wasn’t a single table without some rubbish on the table, seat, or floor. Ugh. Maybe take out would have been a better option.
The next day we headed to the Birrarung Marr Playground which was super packed as they had some events going on, so we didn’t stay long. After that we headed to our next stop for 4 nights, which was in Yarra Valley, which I will write about in my next post.
P.s. We flew Emirates to Melbourne because they were having an offer for their new route with the Airbus A380s, and perhaps because I was feeling a little like I needed some torture. The flight to Melbourne was uneventful enough, if you don’t take into account the steward who was super kiam-kana (stingy) with the passenger arrival cards, and then crew who don’t look the least bit happy to be doing their job. The return flight had a slightly more friendly crew, but Scout and I had seats that were so stiff we couldn’t even recline them. Aren’t these planes supposed to be new? And about their entertainment system – sure the screen looks new, and it does look like they have SO many movies, but once you discount the different categories – Arabic movies, Classic Arabic, Bollywood Arabia, Classic Bollywood Movies, Indian Regional Movies, Pakistani Movies, South American Movies and African Movies, there really aren’t ALL that many movies left…. I am not going anywhere that SQ isn’t flying to for a while, TYVM.