Lol, this is a super delayed post but I got here finally because I have photos!
What happened was that I brought my camera to Melbourne… but didn’t realise until I went though customs that I forgot to replace my battery in after I charged it. So I brought a camera… that couldn’t be used >_>
I decided to go on a trip with uni friend A – she had annual leave, and I still have a zillion days left to take – I took the rare opportunity to take just a few days off (it was only like 3 days) to go on a mini trip interstate. Well, in that case, it means I didn’t actually fulfill my resolution in 2011 since I went to Melbourne in January 2012, but I guess it’s close enough since I went on the 5th January, just after the new year.
We did a lot of research into which hotel to book, and what to do when we got there. I went to Melbourne in I think 2010 and it was too short of a trip to have done all the shopping I wished I was able to do! I kept hearing stuff from my colleague about awesome deals but I didn’t really encounter many – this time I was determined to snag some great deals. In fact, the whole point of this trip was to destress and spend money shopping – that was all, LOL.
I seriously already planned where to go, how long it’d take us to get there, how long we’d spend at the place and how we would get there. I had to organise it because we had a fairly tight schedule, and I really didn’t know my way around Melbourne, despite being there before. I really really was terrible with directions the last time, because I didn’t need to know – there was always someone else who knew the way, and I couldn’t figure out which street was which since they looked so familiar.
All photos were either taken by me or my friend – credits to whoever took em, she shouldn’t mind 😉
We flew Tiger Airways, and it wasn’t that bad. It was the cheapest air ticket we found (JetStar came a close second), but it was still kinda pricey at $95 one way, $191 return. It could have been cheaper, but that price included travel insurance, and 20kg checked-in baggage TO and FROM Melbourne (we should have just picked like 10kg on the way there – but we actually didn’t need it… and on the way back we only weighed in about 12kg, so 15kg would have been enough for us). Either way, it works about about the price of petrol, but you get to Melbourne really quickly, about an hour and a half at most.
Check-in for Tiger opens 2 hours prior to the flight, and boarding starts about 30 minutes-45 minutes before the flight is due. We checked in at around 8:10am (originally we made it for 8am but we were slightly late) and we managed to get seats next to each other, as well as plenty of overhead space. Check in early – you’d be surprised. We saw many people being separated from their friends and on the way back, there was limited cabin space especially if you board later – so get on board first!
Tiger will also not let you board another flight if you are late – so it’s good for people who are really punctual. We were fairly organised so that wasn’t a problem. The flight left early, even, because everyone was so orderly.
When we got to the Melbourne Domestic Airport (please folks, when buying your air tickets, choose Tullamarine airport and NOT Avalon airport – Avalon is kinda in the middle of nowhere – just search it on google maps and it will frighten you.
We pre-purchased tickets to ride the Skybus ($26 return for adults) but they sell tickets whilst you board. The Skybus is a shuttle bus service that takes you straight to the city centre (Southern Cross Station) and it’s a service that happens every 10 minutes, so it’s fairly frequent. It’s a cost effective way to get to the city, without catching a taxi.
A bus ride on the Skybus takes about 20-30minutes depending on traffic. They also have a free hotel transfer service – but we didn’t use it.
At Southern Cross we took a Melbourne guide book (includes a map and various coupons inside, so take one if you see one) and then went to the shopping centre above, Spencer Street Mall. The mall has a lot of stuff we have in Sydney, like Forever21, Wittner, blah blah – I didn’t get anything there, but we had lunch there (a salad and a juice – cost us about $15 each) and bought a bunch of supplies at Coles supermarkets, including stuff like muesli bars, water, fruit, toothpaste (we both didn’t bring toothpaste because we only brought carry on baggage on the way there and there’s a limit to how much you can bring – make sure to read carefully and pack lightly).
We then bought our tram tickets at 7/11 – the tram tickets are about… damn I forgot. Around $9 for an adult all day zone 1 ticket. Zone 1 is the city area and an all day ticket means unlimited travel on Yarra Trams, Metro Trains and the buses. We then hopped on a tram to get to the hotel – and surprisingly, it was a lot closer than what we originally thought.
We decided to stay at Causeway 353 Hotel, which is a 4 star hotel on 353 Little Collins Street. We booked a twin bed room for two nights, and I think between us it was $150, so $75/night, which wasn’t bad. I originally wanted to stay at Novotel because they had 30% off for booking in advance, but it worked out all the same – 353 was a bit cheaper, but the location was even better – litterally, we were about 10m away from a tram stop which took us directly to Crown Casino, which was amazing. It was like hitting the jackpot without knowing it.
There were many cafes downstairs where you could have breakfast (though we didn’t try those) – the worst part about the location is that it IS accessable only via an alley, but we didn’t think too much of it when we saw so many cafes along the way. But the inside was honestly a lot nicer than we expected, so we were fairly impressed.
They had a lot of things I didn’t expect them to have – such as a microwave. I mean, I expected a safe and a kettle and hairdryer, but the microwave was a real bonus. There was a long desk, an ottoman, a chair, a sofa and a TV which we didn’t use. The bathroom was actually really nice and brand new, but I didn’t take a photo of it because we kinda really messed it up by piling lots of used towels on the ground as mats to make it less slippery (shower splashes water okay). The bathroom has a shower in a tub, so you can take a bath if you want, and the best part is that the water is actually hot. ZOMG. Maybe it’s because whenever I’m at a hotel or motel in Australia it’s in Canberra or somewhere where hot water is limited LOL – but even so last time in Melbourne, hot water actually stopped around 10pm… because I did take a cold shower once in the middle of winter >_>
There were a bunch of phone books, a safe. iron and even ironing board. We didn’t use the slippers or the robe because I think you had to pay for them (check the bar price list just in case guys!), and there was a Remington hairdryer, which surprisingly, did not suck. It was a good hairdryer. You’d be surprised at how crap some hairdryers are… they just blow warmish air and do nothing… but this hairdryer was a BEAST. Pleased, really happy.
ANYWAY enough about the hotel – checking in was easy and the room was really nice. We didn’t have a view, but overall it was fairly quiet, except in the early hours – I could hear people rolling out their wheelie bins and in the morning I could hear vans or trucks reversing, possibly to collect rubbish. Otherwise it wasn’t bad. Aircon was controllable and it was fairly comfortable.
Our first stop was South Wharf DFO which we took a tram to Crown Casino to, and then walked for about 10 minutes. I was really looking foward to Burberry there because it was an outlet… I was pretty annoyed that Burberry in Sydney didn’t have 50% during Christmas sales (they did during July) so I was looking forward to seeing what they had.
Bring your sunglasses. I didn’t regret it – it’s really windy and sunny at times, so you will need them.
This is the entrance of South Wharf, so look out for it or you’ll miss it. We almost missed it because the entrance was located in a fricken wind tunnel, but there were heaps of people holding shopping bags so we just traced back to where they came out from LOL.
They had a lot of sports clothing outlets, so you could get great deals like my friend who got 2 Adidas t-shirts for like… $25 or something? I dunno, it was really cheap from memory. Upstairs was just homewares and furniture, so we checked out the basement – full of clothing and shoes.
I didn’t get much from DFO because I bought myself a GHD hair straightener (though it wasn’t cheap or anything, I was just sick of looking) and we just kept walking and walking… we went into almost every store (that at least caught our attention anyway)… and then at the very end of the loop… BURBERRY. We did a hugeass circle and it was at the fricken end! Next time I go, I’ll go anticlockwise rather than clockwise… OMG. But anyway, my friend did buy from the other stores – like shoes… I think it was from ALDO (a pair of heels and they were only like $30 or $40 – really cheap) but Burberry…. @___@
Everything in the shop was half price D: And the best part was that most of the items still had sizes – I still regret not getting the pair of espadrilles there… I thought that I shouldn’t get them since I bought so many shoes last year… but they were only like $230 or something D: Sigh.
Anyway, I was more interested in their clothes – we each bought a jumper for about $135 (that’s cheaper than Lacoste okay) and I took my time looking for a trenchcoat. There were only a few to choose from but none of them really tickled my fancy all that much. There was a trench that was pretty nice, but it wasn’t waterproof so I didn’t think that I needed it that long… little did I realise, I managed to find the cropped jacket version of it… and I really liked it, so I got it. Half price makes me happy.
We then headed back to the hotel to drop our stuff off – and I kid you not, Melbourne was freezing then, so I was pretty glad I bought a jacket to wear. We tried to visit Prada since it was just down the street, but by the time we got there (we took a tram 2 stops up), they were closed. This was at 5pm! Shops close at Melbourne wayyyy too early. And they open wayyyy too late!
So we then hopped back on the tram to Crown Casino.
We went to the Prada at Crown Casino, and walked into many of the shops there but we didn’t buy anything. The Prada there had a shockingly small collection of stuff to sell – or rather, the sales assistant didn’t even bother to check for us, or at least tell us if it was available elsewhere. She seemed like she was daydreaming.
We already planned in the first place to have dinner at Crown Casino, because I got a Melbourne Entertainment book and card courtesy of my boss and manager – they went to Melbourne in around July 2011 so the book/cards were still valid.
After walking around a lot and trying to decide on where to eat, we ended up on the first floor. We were tempted to try the one on ground floor, but we had no idea what Modern Australian cuisine was, and it was fairly cold so we skipped it. Well, *I* wanted to try the Buffet but it was fully booked, but luckily we didn’t go there – it didn’t look that nice to be honest.
We went opposite and found JJ’s Bar and Grill – which upon first glance sounds like a barbeque place, but it was actually fine dining, so that was really surprising. The interior was pretty grand and followed a racecourse theme. Throughout the night there was a guy playing the piano and singing classic songs (all of which my friend knew, none of which I knew) – he was so good that I honestly thought that I was listening to a CD until I turned around and saw him there D:
Photos are not allowed in Crown Casino, but these photographs were taken with the permission of the waiter at JJ’s – we asked before taking these. I guess you’re not allowed to take photos of the casino and gambling area – food is alright, I suppose?
The bar was pretty spectacular.
To start us off they gave us some bread and vinegar in olive oil. The bread was nice and warm and crispy. Yummy. This was complimentary.
The first thing that arrived was the platter we ordered. The platter is a platter for 2 – around $50. There were several items you could order from the list, but you choose 5 out of the ones they have listed. We ordered everything under the category of “The Ocean” except for the king prawns, which was exactly 5 items (I mean, if it was gonna cost $50 of course I’ll order all the seafood… lalala). Starting from the shell and going clockwise, the shell was scallops, then salmon, calamari rings, octopus and ham, and lastly, crab meat. I didn’t touch the crab since I wasn’t sure if I was allergic to it, but everything was pretty good. The paste in the centre was a tomato paste and it was pretty tasty.
The platter looks really small, but it also came with some bread (like pancake bread) to go with it – you can see it faintly in the top left hand corner.
I was actually pretty hungry by the time the food came, because my lunch was a mere salad and I ate that at around 12… it was about 8pm when we were at the restaurant, so I was starting to get stomach pains from not eating on time. That really did ruin my experience, and it was shame because the food was really good 😦
I rarely stick photos of myself in here (esp with that hair – what/ why I do not know), but I had to include this because I was happy with my main. The surroundings were also nice as you can see. I ordered a pan-fried barramundi – it cost about $45 or so, but ohhhhh the fish was huge and it was the softest, juiciest fish I’ve had in a very very long time. Melts in yo mouth :Q___ Sat on a bed of I think mustard seed. YERMZ. Too bad I had to stop halfway and pause for a bit – because it was a really really good main. I did finish it, by the way. But I didn’t finish the mustard seed, just finished the salad on top and the fish 😛
As you can also gather, we each got a glass of water – we were happily drinking that, until we noticed they were serving us Panna water which is a fricking expensive water they serve at high end restaurants. I don’t think they charged us because I didn’t see it on the bill, but we were like “omg what” – LOL. We should have known, I mean, we did pay quite a lot for this meal.
The two cocktails we ordered – at the beginning the waitress asked if we were going to have beer, wine, spirits or cocktails. We said cocktails and she took our glasses away 😛
The pink one is mine, which is a Cosmopolitan. I still don’t know how I’m supposed to drink it, but it came with strawberries, a heck of a lot of ice, and MORE alcohol in that stainless steel cocktail shaker on the left. Couldn’t finish drinking it. The yellow one was my friend’s… don’t know what it was called but it was a pineapple flavoured cocktail… we each paid $19 for our cocktails.
Last but not least, this is my friend’s main which was kangaroo meat done medium rare. It looks like really little, but whoa, each slice of kangaroo meat was probably the size of a human tongue. This photograph does no justice to the size of the dish. There was a LOT of meat there. This main was also around $42 or so.
We declined dessert at the end… we were both seriously, really really full.
After using our Entertainment Gold card and giving what we thought was a reasonable tip, we each forked out $75 each.
I think it’s the most expensive meal I’ve had to date, but it was the first time I’ve actually went fine dining (yes, I’m slow, but well, I’m not a person who exactly likes to spend money on food). I’d say the restaurant is pretty good value for money. The food was good, atmosphere was nice and well, yeah. If I had to say what was weak, the food was a little slow and the drinks were a bit strange – I had lots of ice, my friend had zero ice – and funnily, I preferred drinking my drink with the ice. Otherwise I’d go again – no reason to not go back.
I was slightly tipsy on the way back (that’s what you get for trying to finish your alcohol in the last 10 minutes of your meal) and by the time we got back it was like 10pm. Showered, went to sleep. We were pretty exhausted.
Day 2/3 coming soon.
This post is already 3000 words so I’m going to cut this short. Lately I’ve been really hooked on Shut Up! Flower Boy Band, which is really amazing D: So much better than Flower Boy Ramyun Shop – really!
So much better than Dream High 2, which in my opinion makes no sense and features a bunch of emotionless, zombie actors/ actresses following a poorly written script. WHERE IS THE SUSPENSE. O THAT’S RIGHT. THERE IS NONE.
Another reason why I am ending this post is because I need to do my daily exercise in 2 minutes. Lol. Will be back soon with next segment of this super boring journey. Hope it helps persuade some of you to go to Melbourne, tho 😛