In honour of my last few days in Melbourne, I'm sharing my favourite things and my must dos in this amazing city. My seven months in Australia have been nothing short of amazing and living and working with a local family paired with my Aussie boyfriend gave me the perfect combination. I was really able to experience Melbourne from a local perspective and learned about all the hidden gems that many tourists miss out on. If you're someone with Australia in your upcoming travel plans, I highly recommend you include a stop in Melbourne on your itinerary.
As expected, first up on my list is the food. Checking out new restaurants and bars has to be my favourite thing about visiting a new place. Ant and I take our food seriously and spend just as much time researching what cafe we're going to eat breakfast at as what hotspot we're going to visit that day when we're on holiday. Enjoying local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience a new culture and Melbourne will not disappoint. It really is a food and drink lover of any level's paradise.
Fonda Windsor- Mexican has to be my all time favourite dish and Fonda's relaxed and contemporary spin on authentic Mexican has made it a regular on my local eateries list. Try the Mex-Bim-Bap bowl for a fresh and yummy meal. Want to heat things up? The “F*** You” sauce will leave your mouth burning for the next three hours (I now go for the Jane Fonda sauce to be safe).
Naughty boy- Melbourne takes breakfast to the next level and I've shamelessly gone for brunch pretty much every Saturday and Sunday since I've arrived. Naughty Boy is the first brekky spot Ant took me to and it didn't take long for me to realize why. My "InstaShake" was more than Instagram worthy and my "Eve's Garden" is still the best breakfast I've ever had.
Chin Chin is a South East Asian fusion spot in the city centre based around the concept of sharing dishes. Be prepared to wait for 2 plus hours as they only take one 10 person table reservation a night. It's more than worth the wait though and you can pass the time with a few drinks in the GoGo bar downstairs. Go stress free and just order the "Feed Me" option. You can relax while you're served the restaurant's best and favourite dishes.
The Swan- one of my favourite bars may come as a surprise to the Melboure Locals but I haven't had a bad night at The Swan. I love great cover bands more than concerts and The Dirty Bird (as its referred to by locals) has an awesome one. They play the best singalong throwbacks mixed in with Australian pub songs that I never know the words to but trust they're classics by how loud everyone else is singing them.
If you're in Melbourne between the months of April and September, be prepared for Footy Season. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the way Canadians live for the NHL Playoffs. Australian Rules Football is played across Australia but the biggest following is in Melbourne. 10 of the 18 professional AFL teams are based here so attending a footy game at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground is a must. While you're at the game, make sure you enjoy a meat (or vegetarian) pie and a hot jam donut!
The Great Ocean Road is a can't miss spectacular coastal drive and well worth renting a car for if you're just visiting. Make sure you plan to spend about 8 hours cruising along, because between traffic and pulling over to take in the incredible views, you'll need every minute of it! The road pretty much wraps up with the 12 Apostles but I recommend continuing on to Warrnambool or Port Fairy for the night to take in a few extra beautiful coastal views. The inland drive back to Melbourne the next day is only about 3 hours.
**Full disclosure** I am a non-coffee drinker and amongst the very small percentage of people who have made it through a thesis without a cup of coffee. However, I swear Melbourne coffee comes from a different planet. There’s none of the instant or drip coffee that North Americans are accustomed to. It’s all expresso and lattes and coming from someone who doesn’t even like coffee flavoured ice-cream or chocolate, I actually really enjoy my soy lattes at brunch on the weekends.
The Mornington Peninsula is only a bit over an hour drive from Melbourne and well worth the drive. I’ve done four or five day trips to different areas there and still feel like there’s more to see and do. Check out the Peninsula Hot Springs for a relaxing soak, Portsea Pub for a yummy lunch with a view, and Sorrento Back Beach for some incredible running trails. You can also spend the day winery touring around Red Hill. There really is something for everyone!
As we're always saying, our 20s are for exploring, seeing the world, making memories, and enjoying as many different experiences as we can and that’s exactly what I’ve spent the past seven months doing. After taking a mini “time-out” from reality, I really feel as though I’ve found myself here. I’m leaving motivated, inspired, and ready to continue making the most out of every day so that I can build the best life possible for myself. Travel truly is the only thing we can buy that makes us richer and you never know what you may discover about yourself once you’re out of your comfort zone.
Lots of love,