Our travels to Melbourne took us to meet family and friends. Melbourne is a big city with many out lying suburbs. We were fortunate to stay with friends who lived in a suburb called Oakleigh which was conveniently linked to the subway. A good tip if you plan to use public transportation is to get yourself a MYKI Pass to travel around the city and suburbs.
The Queen Victoria Night Market is commonly known as Vic Market or Queen Vic is worthwhile place to visit while in Melbourne. It is open every Wednesday night from 5 – 10 p.m. It is a covered open air market filled with stalls selling a variety of cuisines to satisfy every taste bud. It is here that people come to experience global street food all under one roof. We tried a number of dishes from around the globe. Clam chowder which did not come up to my expectation, Spanish paella, Chinese noodles and Roti Canai, a Malaysian favourite. I think the Roti Canai got top spot for its taste and flavour.
While the foodies were enjoying themselves in the company of their friends there was a band playing live music that people had gathered around to listen. Interestingly enough we also found some stalls selling vintage clothing, jewellery and other wares.
Melbourne also has a good number of Chinese Restaurants, our friends suggested the Imperial Kingdom Restaurant, a family favourite eating place for celebrations. We had a celebration on our mind so we decided to try it out. We were not disappointed with the food. We ordered chicken and corn soup, soya chicken, deep fried spicy calamari and black beef fillet. The food was mild for our taste buds so we had to ask for some hot sauce to spice it up. It was an exciting evening with good food and exciting company!
Melbourne is also famous for Indian/Pakistani cuisine. There are certain areas just outside the CBD in the Eastern suburb of Clayton where you can dine on delicious and authentic food as well as Indian snacks. Our friends took us for saturday breakfast/brunch to Punjab Sweet Centre in Dandenong suburb, his favourite haunt populated with Indian restaurants, where food is prepared freshly while you are waiting and served pipping hot. We ordered the commonly eaten street food in North India the very appetising Punjabi chola puri / chana batura. A dish made up of chickpeas cooked with spices and fresh ingredients topped with fresh herbs. The puri is rolled dough which is fried in hot oil. It is soft and fluffy and goes well with the chola. This place also sells freshly made samosas, Indian sweetmeats and has a selection of main courses as well on their menu for lunch and dinner.
Although our love for eating took to us to many restaurants, if you visit Melbourne take a trip to St. Kilda’s, a bayside suburb not far from CBD. St. Kilda’s is Melbourne’s most famous beach it has several theatres and many big events and festivals take place here. The St. Kilda’s Pier is local landmark and tourist attraction. It is also a breeding grounds for blue penguins and home to a colony of Little Penguins who swim and waddle back to their nests among the rocks of the breakwater. The penguins come back to their nests at dusk and leave at sunrise. We were fortunate to see some baby penguins among the rocks. The best time for penguin viewing is around 7.00 p.m. in the evening or at sunrise.
Another interesting place we visited was a seaside resort town and holiday destination south of Melbourne called Sorrento. We had to take a ferry from Queenscliff quay across to Sorrento which took about 40 minutes. This town is quiet in winter when we visited it, but in summer it is bustling with activity and crowded with vacationers. Like any seaside resort that are plenty of water activities to keep busy whether it is swimming with dolphins and seals, swimming in the sea, browsing through galleries or enjoying a meal by the seaside. You can have your fill of fish and chips and other seafood delicacies as well. We ate some pub grub, beautifully plated and very appetising seafood at a restaurant by the wharf. It is a delightful and interesting place to visit specially during the summer months and I would recommend a visit.
We could have seen many more touristy sights in Melbourne, but our visit was to spend time with family and friends and that is exactly what we did. We have still to see more of Melbourne and experience the other sights and sounds that it has to offer. That will be put off till our next visit to this culturally diverse city in Australia.
Until then we will keep on travelling!