The Melbourne Vibe

Have just spent a fabulous four days (well, 3.75 days, but close enough) in the great southern city of Melbourne. It was rainy, cold and dark, quintessentially Melbourne and perfect weather for holing up in uber cool cafes, staring at the impressive array of winter coats worn by passers-by. I marvelled at the sight of one dashing fellow in a 3/4 length burgundy coat - and silently admired the bravery/style of a women strutting by in a stunning yellow coat and matching ankle boots (Yellow, yes, yellow!).

After arriving in the late afternoon we set off from the hotel in search of some good bookstores (hard to come by in Sydney these days). The Hill of Content Bookshop is a wonderful combination of cosy classics and wide-ranging new titles from an array of international publishers. It's Balmain branch in Sydney is one of my favourite haunts especially when I'm looking for something special as a gift.
We came out of the bookshop and my eye was immediately drawn to the dark and sultry window of a cafe nearby. "Is that pumpkin pie?" I asked incredulously. "I don't know" replied Jonathan, feigning interest. "I don't know where in Sydney you can get pumpkin pie in a cafe!" I declared. "Let's go in".
We were not disappointed. The Self Preservation Cafe on Bourke Street lived up to all of my expectations of Melbourne. So trendy it hurts. The pumpkin pie was melt-in-your-mouth gorgeous (cooked fresh every day the waiter confirmed as I swooned) and when I'd come out of my blissful trance and drained the last dregs of my lovely coffee, we perused the art work and jewellery displayed along the walls and in long glass cabinets. I spied a gleaming antique diamond-look floral brooch in the vintage jewellery cabinet. It screamed Great Gatsby. It screamed buy me. But alas, its price was rather astronomical. Maybe it looked like diamonds, because it really was diamonds? It was a Melbourne mystery..
The rest of the long weekend went by in a flash as we happily dodged puddles, trawling through the myriad of trendy and stylish shops. We stopped for lots more coffees, explored laneways, ate luscious italian dishes, and tried on some gorgeous coats (knowing we'd never get enough wear out of them on our return home). I also met up with a lovely old friend for lunch and visited the impressive Monet exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria
Claude Monet, Roses (Les Roses), 1925-26
The paintings were vibrant and beautiful, often beyond words. My  skin prickled at a vivid coastal scene with waves crashing against cliffs. The accompanying description stated that there were actual sand grains in the paint, as Monet had been standing on the beach as he painted it. Wow.
Meanwhile, the kids were being minded by favourite family members at home. After me practically suffering from insomnia in the lead-up, worrying about how they would survive without us (Arch at 2.5yrs hadn't been without me before, ever), they had a ball. Once I realised this (with "I told you so" ringing in my ears) I had a ball too. 
Pictures from this most excellent mini-break are few. Leaving my camera's memory card at home didn't help. Having a non-functioning phone added to my inability to capture the magic on film. This is a sad confession from a would-be blogger..
Hopefully I've captured a little of the fun and refreshment we had from our brief change of scene. Thanks to my Melbourne friends who have shared their favourite haunts with me over the years, so that on a flying visit I knew roughly where to go for good coffee, food and ambience.
Looking forward to another exciting trip, and secretly hoping I won't have to wait another three years for the next one..


  1. Looks like a fabulous time! I've never seen that Monet. Lovely.

  2. Thanks A! I'm planning my next trip now - can't wait!


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