This past weekend I was lucky enough to have some precious time with my extended family, when one of my cousins got married. I spent a lot of time with my all cousins growing up, and being an only child these relationships are very precious to me. We would see my Melbourne cousins twice a year, when we visited them and at Christmas time when they would make the trip up to Sydney. We always had so much fun playing games and chatting. I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for anything, but unfortunately it was too hard for all four of us to fly down this time. I was able to go by myself and enjoy some time in the city, and with my extended family.
I flew down on Thursday and hoped to be in the city by lunch time. The flight I was on went from Melbourne to Bangkok, so I got to fly from the international airport. It was nice hearing all the calls to New York, Fiji and all sorts of exciting places. Late baggage (causing lots of boos from the AFL fans on my flight!) and a bus ride later, met up with my lovely blogging friend Norlin from Baubles, Bubbles and Bags. We grabbed some lunch and chatted the afternoon away. I hope we are able to spend more time together next time – I think a shopping trip is on the cards!
My first shopping stop was H&M and unfortunately it left me a little bit disappointed. It was incredibly busy (there was a sale on) and I think being a Thursday afternoon added to it as well. My advice would be to take as many items as you wish to try on. You are allowed to take seven items into the change room, but can leave others outside and then exchange them when you are ready. The prices were reasonable, but I found the fit a bit strange. Some things were too big, and I couldn’t go a size down as the stock wasn’t available. I bought a skirt and singlet, but ended up returning the skirt when I went back into the city (there are no issues with returns as long as you have the receipt and it is within 30 days of purchase). The exercise gear looked good, and I only saw the underwear as I was leaving. The accessories were well priced, and basics like socks were a bargain. I found the quality of the kids’ clothing much better than the adults, and bought my two a few pieces each. It’s definitely worth a look though, especially for basics, and you never know what you might find.
Some family time was called for after shopping, and we had a lovely dinner at my aunty’s place. The next day was filled with changing houses (there were a few of us to accommodate!) and glamming up for the wedding. It was held at a gorgeous reception centre in the Dandenongs, and my cousin and his new wife couldn’t have been happier as they grinned through the ceremony and reception.
I wore the same dress I had worn to my sister in law’s wedding (you can see full length shots here) and accessorised it with a coat – the afternoon and evening were freezing! We had a great time chatting and dancing until the small hours, and enjoyed a little bit of a sleep in the next day.
My cousins and I headed into the city to explore and do a bit more shopping. With three of us being teachers, our first stop was a gorgeous children’s book shop called The Little Bookroom. You can find a small store in Degraves Street (near Flinders Street Station), or a larger store in Carlton North. The city store is tucked away in a typical Melbourne lane way, and is run by a fantastic gentleman who will be happy to read you a story! With a few purchases under our belts we found our hotel and then went in search of lunch.
A few dumplings and some fried rice later, we were refuelled and ready to shop. We did do an obligatory stop off at Federation Square to soak up the football atmosphere, but decided to steer clear during the game. It was a good choice – it wouldn’t have been good being a Sydney-sider after the Swan’s defeat.
We explored Emporium which houses some gorgeous shops, and the Bourke Street mall, with Zara and H&M. While I didn’t buy anything at Zara this time, I can’t praise their staff highly enough. They were incredibly helpful and attentive. Nothing was too much trouble when it came to swapping sizes or asking for an item to try on. I didn’t end up buying anything there either, but found two work tops and a cute blazer in good old Target!
After all the shopping (and trying on) we decided that we had earned a drink. One of my cousin’s turned 30 on Sunday, and decided to start the birthday celebrations early at the Rooftop Bar and Cinema on Swanston Street. It had a fantastic view, and a nice breeze but it was packed wall to wall with hipsters, which I am… not. Our other cousin joked that as we were up there while the grand final was being played they were the hippest of hipsters as they were trying to get away from the football! The drinks were lovely though, and I think it would be fun to go and see a movie there during the Summer. The burgers and fries they serve up smelled delicious.
We had a special birthday celebration at Maha, chef Shane Delia’s restaurant. It serves middle eastern cuisine, which is something different to what we would normally choose for dinner, and it was delicious! I am not normally a fan of spicy food, and was not sure what to expect, but only one dish was particularly warm. It was offset with other flavours and dishes. We chose the two course menu (you can have up to six) and the food was served ready to share. They catered incredibly well for different dietary requirements, and I was served beautiful vegetarian food. The service was impeccable and the restaurant very busy! We finished our meal and were given little bottles of their signature spice to take home, which was a lovely touch.
The next stop was a little hidden gem, found underground (as all good gems are!). My cousin had been to a hidden bar last time she had visited Melbourne, so we tracked it down. State of Grace on Collins Street offers food and a bar on street level, and a cellar bar behind a floor to ceiling book case. Choose the right book to pull, and you can discover your own Narnia. We walked down a stair case and chose to sit on some plush chairs. The decor was eclectic, music funky and drinks refreshing. I loved the atmosphere, and will definitely visit again should we happen upon a baby sitter next time we’re in Melbourne! If you’re looking for somewhere a little bit different and special, I would try it.
Sunday saw some more wandering around the city until it was time to head back to the airport. We shared the plane with lots of quiet AFL fans, and had the treat of flying right up the NSW coast. As we were over the Wollongong/Sutherland area I was watching the white peaks of water, and saw a whale surface, then breach. It was definitely a highlight of the trip.
We had a fantastic time on our little trip away. I missed my family a lot, but I wouldn’t have missed the wedding for the world. I am already planning my next trip to Melbourne – we would love to do a road trip down, and I have a lot more exploring to do.
Do you have a favourite city? Do you have any holidays or long weekends planned?