Apologies for the delay, folks. I was in Melbourne for a very long weekend. It was lovely! I set aside a couple of hours yesterday and sat down at an internet cafe to make post go, but uploading photos took forever and I thought my brain was going to explode from frustration.
This was my sixth trip to Melbourne, and the third I’ve taken in the last eight months or so. I rather like it there! So I thought I’d tell you all about some things that are awesome about Melbourne. I’ve sort of been wrestling with the idea that novelty is what’s required when travelling. I’ve developed a bit of a beloved routine about visiting Melbourne, now, because I know the things that I like to do and where they are. I want to go to Melbourne because I want a kugelhopf and a visit to Sticky and to wander around a place that is familiar but not home. I still think that’s a real and valid thing. Hmm. Anyway, on with the slide show.
The last three times I’ve gone to Melbourne I have stayed in the same hotel, in St Kilda. (St Kilda is awesome because it is basically like Newtown, with lots of cafes and funky little shops, except at the beach, with Luna Park.)
One of the reasons why I love that hotel is that right across the road is my favourite cafe, the Galleon. All the tables are grandma-style coloured melamine, and I’m starting to think about having one in my kitchen one day. They make a great BLAT, which is pretty much my favourite breakfast. When I’m feeling seedy and haven’t slept enough, which seems to be the default setting while travelling, a BLAT and a juice equip me for the day.
I should probably add at this point that many of the Melbourne traditions are food-based, and on this trip we did have trouble fitting enough meals in the day. Breakfast is important, but lunch tends to be delicious snack food.
We took a trip to the American Doughnut Van at the Queen Victoria Markets. These things are hot, amorphous, jam-filled and coated with sugar. They are pretty amazing. We bought lots, and then discovered that they are not so fantastic cold. Alas.
One day for dinner we made a pilgrimage to Soda Rock, a 50s-style diner. I’d heard about Blue Heaven milkshakes and I decided I had to try one. It was strange. I had heard that Blue Heaven was vanilla with a touch of citrus, but I think it’s actually a touch of berry, so the flavour is a bit like bubblegum icecream. The thickshake was almost chewy. It came with a spoon on a tiny paper doily that I have started using as a bookmark. There are little jukeboxes on every table but even if you don’t put money in it plays 50s music all day. Some of the songs were unfamiliar to me despite my years of listening to 2WS on Saturday nights.
I always buy a chocolate kugelhopf from Monarch Cakes in St Kilda. I didn’t get a picture of my kugelhopf and after a day stuffed in a locker in Southern Cross Station and then sideways in an overhead locker on a plane, it’s not exactly at its most presentable. (Also I’ve now eaten at least a third of it.) But you can see one on the website. They’re made from yeast pastry and have melted chocolate swirled throughout. They actually travel pretty well due to not being cake as such.
It’s also important to visit Lord of the Fries, for a cone of chips with Belgian garlic mayonnaise. It is pretty great! One time I had some nuggets there, though, and couldn’t figure out if they were pork or something because they sure weren’t chicken. Then it turned out that the whole place is vegetarian and the nuggets were tofu. It was surprising! (Yesterday we had Poutine. It was delicious once the cheese melted under the heat of the gravy.)
There are non-food traditions too. I always go to Sticky and buy a crapload of zines. I really like the way I can buy half the shop’s inventory and it costs me under $20. It’s in the Degraves Street Subway, which is a fascinating little tunnel leading to Flinders Street Station.
Degraves Street is one of the charming little laneways that people go on about in Melbourne. There are tiny cafes more or less set into the walls. If I hadn’t still been full of chips I would have thought about having an iced chocolate from somewhere. My favourite shoe shop, Sole Devotion, is right near the corner of Degraves Street and Flinders Street. Usually I spend hundreds on an amazing pair of Fluevogs. Nothing really took my fancy this time. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood – I’d more or less decided not to buy any more shoes on this trip after discovering that I have quite a few already. I started lining up my shoes against the wall while cleaning and there are over 20 pairs there, with more floating about the place. But I did end up buying these lovelies from a stall at the Queen Vic Markets. The guy who sold them to me was a shoemaker of 50 years, he said, and he showed me how to stretch an overly tight instep using warm water and Sunlight soap (or Velvet soap).
Melbourne also has:
friendly batman graffiti; public art with owls in
Mag Nation. Julia, this is the place that you always want to be there when you travel. It is a magazine shop that sells coffee. You buy a coffee if you want, sit down in one of their incredibly comfy chairs, and then you use their free internet as much as you like. Probably they wouldn’t even care if you didn’t buy a coffee. Once we were here and there was an american film wanker talking to a guy who desperately wanted him to like him and the internet was bad, but every other time it has been great.
Also there was a magazine with a pig in boots.
In conclusion: roadtrip y/n?