Melbourne is my favourite city in Australia, hands down. It has been since I started going there for Student Union conferences way back when the Prince of Wales still smelt like stale urine and cigarettes and the Espy was, well..pretty much the hipster hive it remains today.
I was prepared to love it again but I didn't expect it to have metamorphosised from the grungy, live music capital with kick-arse coffee into all of that plus urban sophisticate, arts beacon, counter-culture icon and foodie haven. Having recently spent some time in Paris and Tokyo, two of the world's greatest cities, I feel they are in danger of being outclassed by this gorgeous town.
With only a day and a half to spend in Melbourne, I tried to pack as much as I could into every second of it. Here's the low-down:
Melbourne does this well and breathtakingly cheaply in comparison with other cities. My tips are:
Birdman Eating - 238 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Do not leave this casual cafe without consuming the freshly made doughnuts with chocolate sauce.
Gill's Diner - Gill's Alley, Melbourne
Slow delicious food, long tables, good wine list, atmosphere. It's all there.
Von Haus - 1a Crossley St, Melbourne
This tiny vintage button of a cafe is great for breakfast or lunch. The hot chocolate will make your hair stand on end.
Pellegrinis - 66 Bourke St, Melbourne
A Melbourne institution - great coffee, good pasta.
Drink not that I imbibed (cough)
Labor in Vain - 197 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
A real pub like the ones you used to go to and have a counter-meal as a little tacker. Plus they make their own beers, smashing.
Hell's Kitchen - 20 Centre Pl, Melbourne
Decor - check. Bevy list - check. Street cred - check.
Paris Cat Jazz Club - 6 Goldie Pl, Melbourne
I'm going back with the Frenchman next time. Think 30's Paris with Arthur Miller
Perseverance Hotel - somewhere on Brunswick St, Fitzroy
I've always loved the name of this hotel. Unfortunately, it's completely derelict but if you put your head up against the brickwork it might just whisper some wicked secrets in your ear.
Up next: sleep and shop.