Every year, my company shuts down during the Christmas to New Year period for 1-2 weeks. To make use of our long holiday, we decided to travel to Melbourne! We decided on Melbourne because the air fares were the cheapest *LOL* plus we missed Melbourne after our previous trip there in 2010. The difference was, of course, this time we were going to travel with 2 young kids. Little J had been looking forward to this trip for weeks ahead, when we told him that we were going to fly in an aeroplane. Every few days, he would be asking us when we’d be going for our holiday in the aeroplane. When the day finally came, he was so excited even though he was a little under the weather from a stomach bug. Here are some of the pictures of him waiting for our flight and on the flight itself. He didn’t even want to get off the plane when we arrived at Melbourne!
Our trip was for 5 days, so this post will be a condensed version of what we did during that 5 days. We stayed at Melbourne Short-Stay Apartments in the CBD, which was so convenient location-wise. Firstly, it’s located just across the road from the Kings Cross Station, which is where all the Skybuses from the airport stop. So it was really stress-free for us to travel from the airport to our accomodation, something that’s important when travelling with young children. Apart from that, there’s also a tram stop literally in front of the apartment, which makes travelling within the CBD on the tram really easy (and free!). Location aside, our one-bedroom apartment was well-appointed with a complete kitchen, laundry facilities (washer and dryer), dining area, living area and a queen-size bedroom. Our only gripe was that they did not provide complimentary cots for infants, so we took the trouble to bring our own portacot over for Little K. The apartment was clean and tidy as well, and amenities were replenished on-demand. I was so glad that we chose to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel room, because I was able to make Little K’s food everyday instead of relying on baby food pouches. The one-bedroom partition also helped in getting the baby to sleep earlier without distractions from the big brother. Plus we were able to hang out/ watch the TV in the living room without worrying about waking the baby up!
The next morning, we decided to visit the Melbourne Aquarium because it was cloudy and drizzling, so heading to somewhere under cover was the way to go. Obviously, half of Melbourne must have thought the same for the queue to get tickets was so long! It didn’t help that the kids didn’t sleep well on their first night in a foreign land, so both were cranky and tired while in the queue. We finally managed to get in after what seemed like an hour of queuing but it didn’t get much better inside as everywhere was filled with people. We even saw a couple of kids lost and crying for their parents because there were just too many people inside. It was overall quite an average experience for us, as we expected to see something more in a more spacious area. The highlight was probably the water tunnel, but because there were so many people, we had to keep moving without the chance to stop and admire the fishes or take pictures. Also, since we had a pram with us, we had to rely on lifts to get from one level to another, which wasn’t ideal because there were many other prams around too. So there were also queues getting to a lift. To sum it up, it was all a very rushed experience.
After the aquarium, we went back to the apartment for the kids (and adults!) to take a nap. It was still cloudy and drizzling in the evening, but we decided to go out anywhere hoping that the rain would stop soon. We went to Bourke Street mall via tram, where Little J was so excited with the ride. I saw the nice H&M store at the GPO building, which was the first ever H&M in Australia. I loved walking along this street, there was so much to see and lots of restaurants at various junctions. We even spotted a small lane with graffiti art on it. For dinner, we walked towards Chinatown where there were plenty of restaurants around, making it hard to choose.
Saucer had a yearning for udon so we randomly went into an udon shop called Udon Yasan. It had the cafeteria-style concept, where one would queue up to get a basic bowl of udon in the preferred size and soup, then proceed to top it up with various items such as soft-boiled egg, tempura prawns, chicken karaage, croquette, etc. After paying, there’s a huge condiment station with plenty of complimentary toppings such as spring onions, bonito flakes, tempura flakes, seaweed and even green tea! The best part was that the bowl of regular udon was just $4.80! Saucer loved it so much that he had it again the next day. 🙂
For dinner, we had BBQ and roast pork at a Hong Kong restaurant called China Bar. We loved the roast pork (siu yoke) there – the skin was amazingly crispy and the meat well-seasoned and tender. However, the branch that we went to in Swanston Street was quite small, making it not pram-friendly, plus they did not have high chairs! We only realised that once everyone was seated and ordered, so it was too late to leave. But it was definitely not easy handling a fidgety baby while trying to eat.
Flinders Street Station and Federation Square
The next morning, we woke up from a much better sleep and headed towards Flinders Street Station. It’s Melbourne’s iconic and first ever train station which we visited 6 years ago, and we really wanted to return for a picture now with our family of 4. 🙂 From there, we took a walk towards Federation Square, where the art galleries and ACMI are. ACMI happend to have free entry during our visit so we went in to have a look. Little J had a blast with lots of their interactive booths where he could touch the screens and play with their tablets. It was surprisingly an enjoyable and informative visit, even for us adults. 🙂
We then proceeded to take a walk along the Yarra River. The place was still the same as our last visit 6 years ago, where we went on a river cruise. For lunch, we walked towards Queen Victoria Markets and had our fix at their food court. There wasn’t a huge range of options to choose from, but Saucer managed to satisfy his cravings for Indian food, while I had the delicious fried Lou Shi Fun which can’t be found in Sydney!
In the evening, we took the tram towards Crown Casino and enjoyed the riverside view there. We went there mainly to relive our experience of going there years ago as a couple, enjoying ice-cream and the gorgeous view, only this time we had 2 little ones with us. 🙂 Dining options at the Crown are not great though – everything was massively overpriced and not a great deal of choices, unless you were going to one of those fine-dining restaurants at the casino.
On the second last day in Melbourne, the kids woke up early so we all left the apartment before 9am to head towards Hardware Societe, apparently the hipster brunch place to go. We reached there before 10am and there was already a queue in front! We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table and little J was not happy about it. Read more about our experience here. After brunch, we took a stroll along Hardware Lane, which is a street filled with lots of cafes. This street reminds me of Surry Hills in Sydney, where the brunch and cafe scene is strong too.
Hakata Gensuke Ramen
For lunch, a quick google search revealed that Hakata Ramen is famous for its tonkotsu broth ramen. We reached the place at around 12pm (it opened at 11.30am) and there was already a long queue in front! I was quite disheartened with the queue and wanted to change our lunch venue but it was our second last day in Melbourne and we would be flying off the next morning, so we braved the queue. We only managed to get seated around 30 minutes later, but luckily their ordering system was quite quick and we were served within minutes.
Saucer had the Signature Tonkotsu Ramen, which was served in warm, milky and very tasty pork broth. The noodles were still al dente and had a nice bite to it. I tried to be adventurous and ordered the spicy God Fire Ramen instead, which came with different levels of hotness. I had mine medium and was sweating away halfway through the bowl. *LOL* Between the two, I preferred the signature tonkotsu for the in-depth flavour of the broth that wasn’t overpowered by the chilli.
Gami Korean Fried Chicken
On our final night in Melbourne, Saucer suggested having Korean fried chicken because we seldom saw Korean fried chicken restaurants in Sydney. After doing a search and based on where we were, we decided to go to Gami Chicken & Beer. It was located on a quiet corner on Little Lonsdale Street with an assuming yellow signboard that we would have missed if we didn’t have google maps with us. But boy, were we glad we chose this joint because we were hooked to their fried chicken! We had the whole chicken in 2 sauces – soy garlic and sweet chilli. Since we were not sure if Little J would be ok with the level of spiciness of the sweet chilli, they were nice enough to separate the sauce on the side. That turned out to be a great idea because we then had the original fried chicken which was still crispy without the sauce.
We also ordered the Tteok Bok Ki, which was a combination of stir-fried rice cakes, fish cakes, noodles and vegetables in an extrenely moreish and spicy Korean sauce! It was really authentic and reminded us of the tteok bok ki we had when we were in Seoul. We would totally get this again if Gami decides to open in Sydney. 😀
That concluded our final night in Melbourne! Looking back this post, it felt like our Melbourne trip was more like a food trip instead! *LOL* I guess you can’t take the love of food out of a foodie eh? Hopefully our kids will grow up to enjoy food as much as we do and would go on adventurous trips with us just for food!
The next morning, we had a quick breakfast in the apartment before we left for the airport via Skybus. Again, thanks to the great location of our apartment, we only needed to cross the road to get to the Southern Cross Station for our bus. We thoroughly enjoyed going for holidays with our kids even though it’s no easy feat. But I’m sure practice makes perfect and we would only get better at this. 🙂