March 31, 2018
November 18, 2017
The first thing you notice when walking around Melbourne is that you can get coffee at virtually every street corner. Or at least if you’re a coffee drinker, you notice that. Sometimes it’s just take-away from a cart or a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, sometimes from a specialized café, sometimes from a restaurant. But regardless of the presentation, coffee is everywhere. Once you have a few coffees from these places, you realize that all the coffee is good! And being able to get good coffee around any street corner is, to such a dedicated coffee drinker as me, downright fantastic.
I heard from locals that the city indeed has a blooming coffee culture and most Melbournians can be quite nerdy about where they get their coffee. And they may change their go-to place for coffee if their favorite barista moves to another café. Clearly, locals here take coffee seriously, so my first impression of Melbourne was a very good one.
One thing that is characteristic of Melbourne is its street art. You can find street art everywhere – some is great and some is not so great – but especially Hosier Lane is known for the ever-changing decoration of its walls.
A second characteristic of the city are the many galleries in its center, most of them housing very pricy shops, but beautifully decorated, especially now close to Christmas.
Downtown Melbourne has, just like Sydney and Brisbane, its fair share of high-rises, but also some interesting buildings in and around Federation Square, such as the buildings of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).
Another major attraction for me in the city center was the Queen Victoria market (where the last photo below was taken), advertised as being the biggest open-air market in the southern hemisphere. It was very big indeed, but disappointing in terms of what it had to offer.
On one of the days we spent in Melbourne, Daniel preferred to stay in our (Airbnb) apartment to plan our upcoming trip to New Zealand, so I took myself out for activities that he doesn’t like, such as going to museums and shopping. I went to the Ian Potter center in the NGV and to the ACMI (Australian Center for the Moving Image), which had a very interesting interactive display of pretty much everything relating to cinema and animated movies.
Last but not least, there are a ton of great restaurants in downtown Melbourne (and in other areas of the city I suppose, but we only had time to try a few of the restaurants in the CBD). We never had bad food while in Melbourne and we tried all sorts of different cuisines: Mexican, Vietnamese, Australian, Chinese, Italian,… maybe I’m forgetting some. But the restaurants were always sooo noisy! Most of time, the restaurant owners squeeze in as many tables as possible into the space they have, the walls and floors do not absorb the noise, and the restaurant-goers are in a chatty mood and talk as loudly as necessary to make themselves heard. I suppose the locals are used to this, but to us, coming from the rather quiet Switzerland, it was a surprise and sometimes quite annoying when we had to shout at each other in order to communicate.
Some of Australia’s best wine regions are very close to Melbourne, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit some wineries and try the local wine. So we booked ourselves on a day tour from Melbourne, which took us to 3 local wineries, plus a site of the French sparkling wine producer Chandon. It was a bus tour which picked us up and dropped us off in central Melbourne, so we could both enjoy the wine without worrying about driving afterwards.
We got to the first winery at around 10.30 AM and we could taste 4 wines: 2 whites and 2 reds. That was definitely the earliest in any day that I started drinking wine. But we didn’t particularly like any of the wines – perhaps it was just too early in the day. No photos from here.
The second winery was a bigger one and here we got 5 wines to try, plus lunch (which included a glass of wine).
The third winery was small, family-owned, and farm-like, and we both liked it the most. It was the most authentic and made us feel like we were guests there, not just tourists to sell wine to. Plus, the Australian owner chatted with us about the time he spent in Switzerland (in Winterthur, of all places!) and about Swiss people he knew living in Australia. Here we got to try a total of 10 (!!!) wines and I can honestly say that, after about the second one and after all the wines we tasted at the other wineries, I had absolutely no idea anymore what I liked and what I didn’t like. At the end of this wine tasting, we had already had 19 wines in one day…
The final stop of the day was at the local site of the Chandon sparkling wine producer. Here we got a small tour of their cellars, explanations about how sparkling wine is produced, and we could choose one of their sparkling wines to have a glass of.
Here we are with our Chandon glasses, having the 20th wine of the day: