It was getting pretty late by the time I got to the Sheraton, but check-in was quick. I got a small studio suite as an upgrade, and the staff at the front desk was extremely genuine and welcoming. The room was also very nice, and overall for a Sheraton I was extremely impressed.
It was after 9pm at this point, but I wasn’t quite ready for bed, so I asked the concierge if he could recommend somewhere good and local to get a glass or two of wine and some tapas. He was very passionate about his job, and said there was a great little wine bar and bottle shop just down the street called the Melbourne City Wine Shop. It was excellent, and I had a couple of very good glasses of wine and a small cheese plate and called it a night.
After a good solid sleep got up and went wandering for a coffee. I’d been warned that it was sacrilegious to drinks Starbucks in Melbourne since it had so many delicious local coffeeshops, so I picked the first one that looked good and gave it a good. The coffee exchange was delicious, and I got a fantastic cup of Seven Seeds filter coffee and had “The Hipster” for breakfast. I’ll admit I ordered it for the name, but when I saw it had haloumi cheese too I was sold.
After breakfast I headed out for a good long walk to see the city centre. First stop was Federation Square:
Flinders Street Station:
Flinders Street Station again:
I kept walking down Flinders Street until I got to the Docklands area. It was early afternoon by this points, so decided to stop for a light lunch outdoors. It was a bit cool outside, but was lovely sitting out and having lunch:
Delicious calamari and beer at Cargo:
Seagull looking cute and innocent right before he shamelessly swooped in and stole my last calamari:
At this point I continued the walk back around the north side of downtown.
It was nearly 5pm by the time I got back to the Sheraton from my walk, and I’d walked nearly 7 hours and seen a good chunk of the city. I took some rides on the circle ride tram as well from point to point, and also checked out several small shops. I also stopped for another coffee at a small coffee shop which was delicious.
At the recommendation of a hockey teammate originally from Melbourne, I decided to brave the tram up to Brunswick to have a few beers. The tram was definitely the local means of transportation of choice, and the Melbourne experience wouldn’t have been complete without at least giving it a try. Bought a Myki transit card, loaded $10 on it, and away I went!
He recommended a place called the Alehouse Project which had a great selection of craft beers on tap. I definitely wasn’t disappointed, and ordered the small sizes in order to sample as many as possible. I think I had four or five in the end, and overall I was seriously impressed. I thought it was a slight bit overpriced but would definitely recommend The Alehouse Project. It was a great chill place, and a good place to people watch at the end of a work day. Australia’s definitely well on it’s way to having a great craft beer scene from what I saw.
The other bonus of The Alehouse Project is that it was right across the street from 400 Gradi. This restaurant won some award recently for having the best margherita pizza in the world, and the choice was to wait two hours for a table or sit at the bar. Um, I’ll take the bar please. Just as I got there a hightop table opened up right next to the bar so I swooped in and grabbed it. Lucky timing!
I wanted something with meat on it, but if this place had a specialty I was going to give it a try. It was definitely taste, but the crust was a bit soft/soggy for my liking. Nevertheless, it was tasty and reasonably priced.
Walked halfway back to the hotel to walk dinner off, and caught the tram the rest of the way. Was planning to go out for drinks, but was beat and ended up calling it an early night instead.
Up reasonable early the next morning, and grabbed coffee at another local place which was delicious. I’ll confess I’m glad I gave Starbucks a miss. Overall, after the great cold brew in Cairns and the great coffees I had in Melbourne I have to say I was seriously impressed with Australia’s coffee scene.
Checked out of the hotel, caught the tram to the train station, and rode the airport bus back to the airport. It was time to fly off to Brisbane in preparation for the island-hopping part of the adventure!