Going overseas this year wasn’t really in the plans but when the opportunity came up to go to Melbourne for a week, I didn’t hesitate. This was my first overseas trip since the pandemic started. This was also the last city I went to before the world locked down and NZ borders closed. I was quite excited to leave the country after 3 years and of course I had to document it.
The last time I was in Melbourne was early 2019 when I went with my sister. I posted all the brunch spots we checked out back then. That was quite a fun trip. This time around, I was with Max as this trip wouldn’t have been possible if he didn’t have to go for work. Max had to be in Melbourne for a few days and we added a few more so we can have a mini holiday too. We were there for a week and this was also our first overseas trip together.
We arrived on Sunday and checked into our first hotel in the city. We stayed at the Grand Chancellor which is right by Chinatown. This hotel was booked my Max’s work. The location was amazing. We loved being near Chinatown as the food options were great.
We were hungry and didn’t want to wait long for food so we popped by next door at Hawker Chan for dinner. So quick and easy! After dinner, we walked around and got a bit overwhelmed at how busy the city is on a Sunday?! Then we got bubble tea.
The next day was a free day together so we just walked around the city. The weather wasn’t great and we ended up at Lune. Lune is famous for their croissants and have been hailed as the best croissants by NY Times. The line was long. I can’t exactly remember how long we waited but it was way probably around 30-40mins.
Lune is so popular that they do sell out. By the time we got in, only 3 things were available: pepperoni wheel, ham and cheese croissant and lemoncurd. We got all three to try and to be honest, they were just okay. They were nice but was underwhelmed for how hyped up they were. There were nothing spectacular about the pastries. Later on I’d find a better bakery than Lune (scroll down below). If you can see the ham and cheese croissant above and compare it to the one below, you can tell which one is better too. We don’t regret lining up for it. We got to experience it but I think it’s overhyped.
Max has been to Melbourne before but he said he hasn’t explored the city much at all. I have been twice and I stayed in the city last time too so I’ve been to the popular spots. I told him all the spots to check out and we went there. We loved the State Library Victoria. The building is beautiful and the architecture in the city is great. There were also some beautiful flowers outside the Town Hall.
Then we hit the popular spots: Flinders Street Railway Station, St Paul’s Cathedral and Hosier Lane.
We were tired from walking all day so we opted for a restaurant close by. We ended up at Seamstress, an Asian fusion place and we had delicious cocktails, crispy pork belly, money bags and Korean fried chicken. It was a great dinner out. As we are staying right by Chinatown, we had quite a bit of Asian food during this trip which is our favourite anyway.
For the next 3 days, Max had work so I had the whole day to myself which I thought I’d spend shopping so I don’t have to drag him into shops (he doesn’t mind it but I like to shop alone as I take my time window shopping and deciding if I actually want to buy an item). It worked out great as I had a few days to do some shopping and our days together was spent exploring and eating.
We started the day with coffees from League of Honest Coffee. This was our go-to place since it was close to our hotel and their coffee is pretty good. Then I explored the city a bit more and due to the weather (it hailed and rained after starting out sunny), I ended up in Hardware Societe.
Then I went shopping. Well, mostly window-shopping. The weather was cold and rainy outside so it was a great day to be inside. I spent hours in David Jones. There were multiple levels and they have a great range of brands. I checked out all the designer brands they had in store and it was great. The Emporium, Melbourne Central and Myer are also good and I went to all of them.
I didn’t end up buying a lot this day but there were some awesome sales. David Jones shoe section is amazing! I did end up getting something from Myer as I couldn’t resist when I saw the Hermes beauty section and a few bits from Uniqlo this day.
That night for dinner we went to Florentino’s Cellar Bar with the guys Max were with for work. They flew to Australia from Europe and was only in Melbourne for 2 full days. We had wine, pasta and bread. Then we walked around after dinner before heading back to the hotel.
As I pretty much covered the shops within the CBD, I thought I’d check out the 2 outlets close to the CBD.
I ended up going to the Spencer Outlet Centre and DFO South Wharf. I walked to these two places which are both walkable from the centre of town but you can also take the tram. I just felt like walking that day although I ended up walking close to 23k steps. Next time, I’ll take the tram!
I did score these amazing beauties from the outlets! I’ve been wanting a nice pair of loafers for quite some time and the top of my wishlist was a pair of sunglasses. The Spencer Outlet isn’t big so I’d recommend DFO South Wharf a lot more. Also, these 2 places seem to be the only places that have the Lindt store where you can pick n mix.
Max had a work dinner/drinks this night so I had dinner with my friend Elaine who now lives in Melbourne. We forgot to take photos together and we just took photos of our food.
We’ve both wanted to try Serai which is a Filipino restaurant right in the CBD.
The food at Serai was incredible! We had the Gippsland lamb ribs in sticky ‘adobo’ sauce, ‘Lechon’ western plains free-range pork belly, ‘Patotim’ Milawa duck with calamansi jam, bone sauce, smoky pineapple ‘palapa’, ‘Sinangag’ garlic claypot rice and duck-yolk. Highly recommend trying their cocktails too. Serai reminds me of my favourite Filipino restaurant in Auckland, Nanam. They’re both not traditional Filipino food but the dishes are inspired by usual Filipino ingredients and tastes.
Dessert was at another Filipino place, Kariton which I’ll share below because I went there a few times during my week in Melbourne.
This night was also our last night in our first hotel Grand Chancellor. I didn’t have much photos here as it was booked for Max’s work. The hotel location is great but it is a bit older. Our room was quite big though. They have a heated pool in the rooftop which we used while it was cold and raining. It was nice. I wouldn’t recommend staying here unless they have a massive sale/discounted rate as it’s quite outdated. However, I would recommend our next hotel.
This was Max’s last day working so while he went to the ‘office’ there, I checked out of our first hotel and crossed the block to Brady Hotel Jones Lane.
I got lucky booking this hotel. They were having a flash sale so I got it at such a discounted rate. The room was modern and the bathroom was nice. We also had a balcony. The best part was the service. I was able to check into our room at 11am instead of leaving our bags at reception. I highly recommend staying here especially if you want to be near the theatres and Chinatown. It’s also close to the museum.
For the rest of the day, I just roamed around the city again. Went back to shops such as MUJI, Uniqlo, Innisfree and Chemist Warehouse to do the rest of my shopping. I had the intention of checking out vintage/second hand luxury stores in Melbourne too but sadly I was unsuccessful. The two within the CBD were closed (one only by appointment which wasn’t clear on the socials and one closed down but Google said it was still open). There was another store which was 15-20mins outside the CBD but by then, I was out-shopped myself. I was done shopping or going into stores. I couldn’t do it anymore and there was nothing else I really wanted.
I focused my time on food instead. I grabbed a few cream buns from The Usual Joint which is located within QV, close to our hotel. I got matcha and black sesame.
For dinner, we ended up going to the Night Noodle Markets. I’ve been to these pre-pandemic when they were in Auckland. It was great that there was one while we were there. We ended up getting Hoy Pinoy BBQ and Char Kway Teow. We didn’t get to try a lot as we got full fast (we both had late lunches) but it was nice walking there during golden hour.
We ended up getting the most selfies there during our entire trip. We need to get better taking photos together but I’m glad we got some.
After 3 days of working, Max had the Friday off so we had this day together and through to the weekend which was nice. We started with brunch at Operator Diner.
I had the chicken katsu sandwich and Max had the pork belly. Both were delicious. This place was close to our hotel. The interiors were nice and the food was good too. The service was a bit meh but Max might be to blame due to his unusual coffee order that morning. Haha
The sun finally came out this day after the cold and rainy few days. We ended up at the National Gallery Victoria. I’m quite glad Max enjoys walking around galleries, museums etc. He finds them interesting and doesn’t get bored by them. The NGV is always a nice place to visit.
Afterwards, we walked around Southbank and then waited for the heritage tram to go to Docklands. The heritage tram is pretty cool and goes both directions. It’s also free. It was just so packed with people so it was too warm and stuffy inside. We got off at Docklands, walked around there and grabbed a drink at one of the bars. Then we had a gelato and took the tram back to our hotel.
This night was the most exciting for me. The top thing I wanted to do in Melbourne was to watch Hamilton Musical. It was at Her Majesty’s Theatre which was pretty close to our hotel. Beforehand, we had dinner at Yang’s dumplings basically beside the theatre, a quick and easy meal before the doors opened.
Hamilton the musical was phenomenal. It’s absolutely brilliant and the cast were amazing. I love musical theatre and this has been on my list to watch. It didn’t disappoint and actually went beyond what I expected. Watching the cast sing, dance and rap was mind-blowing.
We also had great seats. I got so lucky as Hamilton tickets went on sale the week before our trip. The seats Max and I had were usually $225AU each. I got them on sale for $70AU each! Unbelievable! It was meant to be and I loved it.
This was our last full day in Melbourne and we also didn’t have any plans. The only main thing set within the week we were there were my dinner at Serai and Hamilton musical as those were booked before we arrived in Melbourne. The rest we just figured it out and depended on how we felt that day.
We started our day at Bakemono for pastries. The line wasn’t long at all and their croissants were amazing. Much better than Lune and I highly recommend this place.
Then we headed to Queen Victoria Market for a browse. We ended up getting gozleme from one of the stalls. It can be quite an overwhelming place but it’s nice to check out the markets. I wish we have something like this in Auckland.
Then that afternoon we walked around Carlton Gardens and got lucky as there was a fashion market inside the Royal Exhibition Building so we got to see the beautiful interiors! It’s such a beautiful building and even better inside. As I said above, I was so done with shopping that I think even Max was surprised I didn’t bother looking at the stalls. I just admired the interiors of the building.
Then we went inside the Melbourne Museum and spent a few hours in there. Compared to the NGV and ACMI, you do have to pay to get into the museum but it was worth it. There are a few exhibits and we got to see Horridus, the triceratops fossil on display there currently. It’s pretty cool seeing it in person and knowing more about it. There’s also a Pink Diamonds exhibit which I wanted to check out (it was okay) but the mini mega model and the gemstones/minerals exhibits were better and I enjoyed them more.
I highly recommend a walk along Carlton Gardens. It’s lovely place especially when the weather is nice.
As this was our last night, I wanted to have a nice dinner out to celebrate a week overseas together. Restaurants in Melbourne on a weekend is quite fully booked so it was hard to find availability. My friend said you need to book a week or so in advance for nice restaurants. I had a long list of restaurants to try but as I only tried to book 2 days beforehand, I struggled. Thankfully I got one in Tsuru Japanese Restaurant.
Japanese food is Max and I’s favourite cuisine. We love food in general but our go-to/no-fail food is Japanese food. I’m so glad we got in at Tsuru as we had a great meal. We had sashimi, karaage chicken, miso eggplant and tempura. They were delicious and we had a great night.
We didn’t have dessert at the restaurant as earlier that day I got the pandan & coconut crepe cake from The Usual Joint. It was delicious and I highly recommend this too!
Our flight was at night time so we still had a full day in the city. Again, we didn’t have specific plans but we just ended up exploring. Our hotel was great and allowed late check-out.
I started the day by going for a walk as I couldn’t sleep in. I went back to Bakemono to try more of their pastries. Some were sold out when we went the day before. I arrived prior to them opening so I went overboard and got 4! No regrets though as they were amazing. Going back the second time and trying a few more, their pastries are definitely better. Even the plain croissant was better than Lune. I also loved the honey sesame and sea salt and pain au chocolat. If you’re going to line up for pastries, Bakemono has my vote.
Then we explored the Ian Potter Centre: NGV and ACMI. I highly recommend going to ACMI. It’s interactive and you can spend quite some time in there watching and playing games. It’s pretty cool. The galleries within the Ian Potter Centre was also cool. More modern than the big NGV building but it was great walking around it. Both are also free which is awesome.
That was pretty much it! We checked out, left our hotel and took an uber to the airport. Max managed to get a Mercedes car for our uber which was nice. It was a comfortable ride to the airport that I fell asleep. The photo above was our view from the hotel room balcony. Again, Brady Hotels Jones Lane was pretty good. Close to Chinatown and the theatres and only a 10min walk to the main shopping strip in the CBD. Their nightly rate (especially on sale) is better than others too.
Before I end this post, I want to give a special mention to Kariton Sorbetes, my most visited and tried during our week in Melbourne.
Kariton Sorbetes is a Filipino ice cream/gelato place in Melbourne. They have a store in CBD and their main one in Footscray. The CBD store was dangerously close to our hotels so I went there 4 times! Twice in one day too. My friend Elaine said the Footscray branch is better/bigger and have more flavours but I’m so glad the city one was close to us.
The flavours took me back to the Philippines. My favourite flavours were Buko Pandan and Ube Halaya. The mango float and melon were also good. After our dinner at Serai, I had the Taho soft serve. Then after the Night Noodle Markets, Max and I went here for dessert he got the buko pandan and ube and I tried the Champorado and P.I.M.P (peaches and cream).
I loved this place and I miss it already. I highly recommend trying their flavours. It’s amazing. It’s also great to see how much Filipino food we had in Melbourne. It makes my heart and belly happy.
Some other musings from our trip before I end this post:
- Melbourne city is busy at all times. Restaurants are busy so book if you can especially for dinners.
- There are bubble tea places everywhere. Like within 5-10m of walking along the street, you will find a bubble tea place.
- There are so many food places to try! Most are open til late too.
- Most restaurants have a weekend surcharge.
- Melbourne is known for having good coffee. I found it okay, NZ coffee has gotten much better over the years so I didn’t really see a big difference in coffee quality.
- Google or Apple maps weren’t accurate during the entire time we were there. I think places change so much that it doesn’t get updated as fast. Some places I wanted to check out have closed down but Google said they’re still open which was slightly annoying. Opening hours of stores/restaurants weren’t up to date as well. I went to a few that Google said was open only to find out they were not or they’ve moved.
- Trams are great. I wish Auckland still had trams. Can you imagine Queen St having a tram up to K Road?!?
- Look up and appreciate the beautiful architecture around the city. So many cool buildings!
- I noticed a lot more cigarette smokers in the city and barely any vape smokers which I found interesting.
- The weather is unpredictable, even more so than Auckland. We had sun, rain and hail in one day. I’m glad I brought my umbrella.
- Shopping in Melbourne is next level, especially compared to Auckland. I thought about going to Chadstone Mall but I didn’t end up needing or wanting to go as the CBD had everything I really wanted to check out.
- I didn’t buy too much but I ticked off 3 things in my wishlist (loafers, sunglasses and Hermes lipstick). The other places I shopped at were Uniqlo for clothes (the Paul & Joe collab is cute), Muji for pens, Innisfree for skincare and Bonds underwear (Big W had them on sale for $6 and $10 which is amazing), Chemist Warehouse (high dose b12 supplements we can’t get in NZ) then small treats for my family.
Overall, we had an amazing trip. Although Max worked for a few days, we balanced it out with days together exploring the city and eating delicious. I’m so glad I tagged along as I had a great time. It was a bit overwhelming at first, being in such a busy people-filled city but it was also great to see such a vibrant and thriving CBD. I walked a lot and my feet suffered after but it was well worth it. I can’t wait for our next adventures! 🙂