“I refuse to feel guilty about wanting a break”. I just keep repeating this mantra as I enjoy a three day break in Melbourne by myself away from my husband and child. After being invited to a blogging event in Melbourne, I impulsively decide to make it a long weekend. It’s my chance to relax and enjoy myself. Last time we visited Melbourne, I researched and wrote about a family holiday so this time I’m looking forward to a completely different weekend.
My sojourn starts with a Friday flight from Newcastle airport at the very civilised hour of 8:30am – I’m not a big fan of those 6am flights to Melbourne. This flight time was ideal and the Airport SkyBus gets me into Melbourne CBD at 11:30am, just in time for lunch. I arrive at the Novotel Melbourne on Collins located at the “Paris End” of Collins Street so dubbed for it’s beautiful architecture and high-end boutiques. This is my favourite place to stay when I’m in Melbourne due to its comfortable rooms, location and the wonderful staff in this hotel. Nothing ever seems to be too much trouble for the staff whether it’s providing me with directions, recommending a café or helping me print out a document. I check in hoping to dump my bags and run but I’m informed by the always-friendly staff at Reception that my room is ready.
Up I go in the elevator and step into my room and sigh. There’s a lovely gift for me plus it’s so pristine. Since having a child, I’m more enamoured of hotel rooms than I’ve ever been. They’re so clean with not a thing out of place. This particular room is one of my favourites with a view out onto Collins Street and an enormous comfy bed. I lay down and immediately regret it. It’s so comfortable, I don’t want to get up. Luckily, my phone chimes with a message from my friend Shannon who lives in Melbourne texting me directions to a local café. In keeping with the “Paris End” theme, she’s opted for a cute French café called Roule Galette just moments from the hotel.
Walking out from the hotel, I enter the laneways which Melbourne is known for. I want to linger and check out the different boutiques and cafes but I’m late and scurry down Flinders Lane. Aahh, there it is. A cute little French creperie.
As I walk in, I’m assaulted by the smell of crepes and by the animated conversations in French. A few minutes later, Shannon walks in and we sit down and catch up over delicious savoury galettes and dessert crepes. An added bonus is the flambe crepe. I always love food on fire!
Being a wonderful friend, Shannon has ditched work early on a Friday afternoon to hang out with me. After lunch, it’s off to a spa called Sakura Lounge located down yet another funky laneway. Shannon and I have decided to spend a cold winter afternoon luxuriating at a day spa. Sakura is a serene and tranquil Japanese-style spa and we feel ourselves relaxing as we change into our spa outfits, a comfortable top and fisherman pants.
After much deliberation, I’ve booked a Head to Toe package which includes a 30 minute foot soak and massage, a 60 minute Hot Rock Massage and a 60 minute Facial. The treatments are divine and I’m especially enamoured of the Hot Rock massage which lulls me into a dreamlike trance. For my 2 ½ hour package, the prices are incredibly reasonable and I make a note to return the next time I’m in town.
I say goodbye to Shannon and head back to my hotel. However, on the way, I spot a Chinese dumpling place ShanDong MaMa Mini which I just can’t resist. I end up stopping and devouring their dumplings. It’s a fantastic hole-in-the-wall laneway cafe which features craft beers matching various flavours of pan fried dumplings.
It’s then back to the hotel for a swim in the indoor heated pool before calling it an early night in my uber-comfortable bed.
It’s dark when my alarm goes off the next morning. I’m tempted to roll over and go back to sleep but remember about my blogging seminar which is the main reason I’m in Melbourne. The central location of the hotel means it’s easy to get around Melbourne as it’s close to tram, train and bus lines. I walk over to Flinders Street Station – it’s a short 8 minute walk – and catch a tram to Hawthorn, the location of the Kidspot Voices of 2015 launch event.
It’s a festive atmosphere as I walk in with the whole room full of bloggers who are simultaneously chatting, Tweeting, Instagramming and updating their Facebook status. We start the day with a delicious breakfast presented by Garnier who also provides us with a goodie bag full of products. Thank you Garnier! The day continues with an educational Masterclass presented by Kidspot which covers lots of interesting blogging tips and techniques. I meet so many fabulous and interesting bloggers including Dhanya from The Spice Adventuress and Lauren from Me and My Girl.
The event concludes with cocktails and an announcement of the top 100 finalists of which The Mummy Project is included. This definitely calls for a celebration and I head off to meet friends for drinks and dinner at Smith Street in the Fitzroy/Collingwood area. Yes, this is me slightly inebriated but I was determined to stay out late and celebrate.
After a relatively late night, I manage to drag myself down to breakfast on Sunday. I’ve arranged a late checkout from the Novotel Melbourne on Collins so don’t need to rush. I linger over breakfast and enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast that soothes my hangover. I love the enormous range of food on offer especially the bacon and cook to order eggs. I’m tempted to stay longer and read the Sunday papers over endless cups of coffee but the dining area is getting busy. With my stomach full and my hangover somewhat abated, I’m ready to head out and discover more of Melbourne CBD.
I leave the hotel without a clear destination in mind. I’m in the mood to wander and Melbourne CBD is the place to do it. It’s a city full of surprises. I spend a while walking around admiring the architecture of the buildings from Victorian-era to contemporary and controversial. I’m especially bemused by the “Green Brain” at RMIT University.
From the Yarra River to Flinders Street Station, you can wander down laneways and find cute little boutiques, delicious cafes and talented buskers. If you feel like exploring further afield, jump on a tram or take a boat down the river or rent a bike.
After walking a few blocks, I find myself at Federation Square and spot the National Gallery of Victoria Australia building. I’ve been meaning to check this gallery out for ages and I’m so glad I did. The gallery is three floors of incredible Australian art ranging including impressionist, indigenous and contemporary art. With free admission, it’s easy to pop in for a short visit or take your time and really savour the pieces on show. The Joseph Brown Collection is especially noteworthy.
It’s then onto the shopping precincts. There is every kind of shop imaginable in Melbourne from high end designer wear to boutiques featuring local designers. It’s a shoppers dream and I can’t help but indulge. I’m so glad I bumped up my baggage allowance to prepare for the inevitable shopping purchases. Yes, I need those boots!
I’m about to head back to the hotel when I notice a banner in front of the State Library of Victoria. It’s the Inspiration by Design exhibition on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I wander in and are amazed by what I see This free exhibition showcases some of the world’s finest book art, graphics, photography and illustration. There’s an original drawing of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter as well as drawings by Picasso, Miro and fashion sketched by Dior as well as rare medieval manuscripts. I’m seriously impressed especially as I’ve managed to enjoy it on the very last day. That’s yet another thing I love about Melbourne – there’s so much art and culture to soak up.
All too soon, it’s time to head to the airport. It’s been an illuminating weekend. It’s been so long since I’ve had a solo break and I’m amazed by how refreshing and rejuvenating it’s been. Like many other mums, I fall into the trap of putting everyone else first. So to be able to have a few days in which I could do what I wanted when I wanted felt fantastic. I highly recommend getting away by yourself or with some friends. It will do you the world of good!
Disclosure: The Mummy Project received a promotional accommodation rate thanks to Accor Hotels.