Over the weekend of the 13th-15th of September, my Mum, Aunty Michelle, her friend Sue and myself headed over to Melbourne for the annual Gluten Free Expo for 2013. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Melbourne having a girls weekend by eating, shopping and a lot more eating! This first post is all based on what we did on the Friday :)
Travelling Tip #1: Be Smart when choosing your flight times.
Clearly, since I'm including this tip, we did NOT do this...when we booked, we decided to go with the first flight of the day out of Adelaide for 2 reasons. 1. It was one of the cheapest of the day (gee, I wonder why...) and 2. It arrived in Melbourne at 7:30, so that gave us more time to shop! But we didn't exactly factor in when we'd have to be at the airport by and consequently, what time we'd have to get up. We had to leave home at around 4:30am :S However, if you don't mind getting up at the crack of dawn to get a plane, then spend all day on your feet - go ahead and book whatever time you want....not my thing though! I started to look forward to my coffees desperately though...thinking back to all the times I've been at the airport in the mornings, I don't think I've ever been there when it's been dark...
A few days before we left, we rang Qantas to confirm our gluten free meals; they informed us we'd have one on the way there (breakfast) but on the way home, it'd be afternoon tea, so they wouldn't have anything. We were kind apprehensive about breakfast, but took a plunge and didn't eat at home before leaving - lucky too, since a GF breakfast on Qantas is actually pretty good.
Travelling Tip #2: If you get the choice, always go for a cold cereal meal over a hot one.
Whilst I don't exactly get the choice anymore, I found it was always safe to go with cereal - even airlines can't get that one wrong. They can, however, get hot meals wrong - think soggy eggs, tough sausages and you get the picture! And this time around, mine even came with a Cookie/Biscuit from Rowie's that I had never seen before!!
Travelling Tip #3: If you're only travelling with one suitcase and going to the CBD, go via the Skybus.
Obviously, this only applies for Melbourne; other capital cities may have one similar to this, but I don't know anything about them. We bought our tickets online a couple of days before, since it's cheaper that way. It cost us $17 to go into the CBD, but would've been cheaper if we had booked both ways. Plus, it only took about 25mins and we got a pretty specky view of the city as we came in towards Southern Cross Station.
From Southern Cross Station, we wandered down Spencer St. to our choice in hotel - The Holiday Inn, about 5mins away from the station.
We chose the Holiday Inn for a couple of reasons; it was a short walk to and from Southern Cross Station (due to the sky bus)and it was only about a 5min walk to the Exhibition Centre. This narrowed it down to two and the final decision was based on the Holiday Inn having free wifi :P
We had such a quick check-in, mainly because we didn't mind about adjoining rooms, had time to freshen up and head out to shop! We hit up DFO first and got there as the shops were beginning to open. One of my favourite clothing buys over the weekend was from Ginger Tree there. Three of us happened to buy the same dress in different colours....
After doing some shopping, we stopped for "lunch". Lunch for most of us consisted of coffee and a Macadamia Toffee Cheesecake - my kind of lunch!! We actually found a cafe in the food court called Piccolo that did a wide range of GF goodies.
After finishing our shopping there, we decided to head to Harbourtown. In order to get there from the CBD, we hopped on the City Circle Free Tram. This comes roughly every 10-15mins and is Free for the entire loop of the city, which was really handy!
Getting there, we slightly disappointed with what we found; it was pretty quiet (presumably because it was a Friday afternoon), but there were a lot of shops that were not even open. If I were to go again, it would probably be on a weekend. But I did find this:
We also had a very much needed coffee whilst at Harbourtown. We just went to Gloria Jeans - nothing fancy, but they had Byron Bay Cookies there! The triple choc is just to die for!
After declaring the Harbourtown was a bust, we headed back to the hotel to just chill. Once dusk hit, we took a wander up to Bourke St Mall, but nothing really caught our eye, so we went back down to South Wharf for a look and dinner.
As my friends and family will know, I have a love-hate relationship with Melbourne. I don't see why people go crazy over it and I really dislike Fed Square (don't ask - there's no logic behind that one), but this time around, the shopping was actually good and I saw Fed square for the first time at night, which was a little specky...I guess somethings can change....
Walking along South Wharf, makes me very excited for the continuing development of Adelaide Oval. It's going to be wonderful to park on the outskirts of the CBD, have a nice diner somewhere in the city (personally I think Good Life is going to be a real hit for us), then wander on down to the Oval along the Torrens.
Pretty sure this was one of the BEST gf meals I've had out...ever!! It was at Il Primo Posto along South Wharf. Everything about it was wonderful - the food, the staff, the service, the location! We got seated as soon as we got there and were ordering drinks and receiving them not long after. Our food choices were easy - we don't spaghetti here often, so I went for Pumpkin, Danish Fetta, Broccoli and Chilli Spaghetti. The others all got pasta related dishes as well. The meals came out incredibly fast - 10 mins top! Note: if you don't like Chilli, ask for it without - there is A LOT! Lucky for me, I loved it :) The Staff were so helpful and really really nice as well. Go check it out - the only thing is, that they don't take reservations after 6:30, but we didn't have any issues getting served on Friday and the same happened when we went back on Saturday (but that's a whole-nother story....)
A couple of my bargains - can't wait to try out some of those macaroons!!