When I think of Melbourne, I think of nooks and crannies, waiting to be found – coffee shops and arcades, hidden away that only the locals know about – and more importantly… food.
I was determined to uncover at least a small portion of these tiny places (with lots of food), while I was in Melbourne and I found just the way to do it.
Buckle up kids and put on your walking shoes, because we’re going on an adventure!
The City of Melbourne has kindly given us more touristy folk a wonderful Arcades and Laneways walk of the CDB. Find it here and print it straight off. All you’ll need is someone who can navigate relatively well (which obviously wasn’t me) and you’re set to go!
Our adventure started off right near Flinders Street Station at Federation Square and if we followed the directions correctly, the plan was to do a sort of loop and end right back here.
First stop was Degraves Street.
Two files of restaurants and coffee shops on either side of the street, jam packed in the middle, with tables and giant umbrellas and bustling with tourists and locals, enjoying their morning coffee break.
Along here, you’ll be tempted by very pretty doughnuts…
And let’s not forget…
At the very end you’ll spot the skinny, but attractive Majorca Building from the glamorous 1920’s.
Turning right, the adventure continues…
Next stop was the fantastic little pedestrian laneway, Centre Place, which was bursting with people and teeny tiny cafe’s and restaurants, with something to suit everyone.
Visit what seems to be the very popular Jungle Juice Bar and/or Hell’s Kitchen, if you start getting peckish.
(Excuse the very fuzzy photo! ^)
Also keep an eye out for lots of street art around Centre Place, as it’s really known for it.
From the hustle and bustle of the nonchalant, unpolished urban eateries, with all their hipster style and unapologetic street art, our walk suddenly transported us to what I can only explain as pretty much the opposite for our senses.
Welcome to the delightful, historical and beautifully European inspired Block Arcade.
Built between 1891 and 1893, it was inspired by the incredible Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. (If you don’t know what or where that is, you better Google it!) Block Arcade got its name from the fashionable elite of the day, who would ‘do the block’, walking the streets surrounding it.
I fell quite in love with the mosaic floors that treat you on entering…
And continue all the way through…*droooool*
When you’re in here, you can’t but help look up. It’s really captivating. And while it is on a tiny scale, I can certainly say it made me reminisce of the grand Galleria in Milan, even before knowing its building plans were based off it.
I made a new friend, while I was there…
Pup. Just a little adorable.
While you are here, make sure to look around all the beautiful shops. There is a little something for everyone, from women’s fashion, men’s tailoring, homewares, knick-knacks, and stationary, set among the wonderful details of the building
And of course there is food, but not just any food.
Introducing the delightful Hopetoun Tea Rooms.
Dating as far back as the arcade itself, the tea rooms are very popular, almost constantly having a waiting line outside. So, if you plan to visit (as I do next time!), best to book in advance, because it is not only you that appreciates its captivating cakes and richly decorated emerald green interior!
Now, moving on from this particular arcade obsession.
Following the map, we emerged into Block Place, where food, once again, was not a shortage…
And my brother, Mason’s, photo bombing skills were put to work…AGAIN!
Thumbs up to you too kiddo!
Then we crossed the street and entered the famous little gem I’ve already mentioned in my last post.
It is the oldest and longest standing arcade in Australia, with construction having been finished in 1870.
With it’s wonderfully checkered floor and glass ceiling.
It is famously known for the statues of the mythical creatures Gog and Magog, that preside on the end and chime on the hour.
It’s a sight that takes me right back to my childhood, as we waited for the hour to hit and the bell to ring.
Don’t forget to mosey about the shops inside the arcade also. You couldn’t possibly miss this adorable pastel display either…
…of sweet yumminess! (That’s a word right?)
We crossed right through the city centre, where you’ll find all the glorious shopping your heart could desire.
The next interesting lane we came across was Niagara Lane.
It was almost eerily quiet, compared to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. A rather non-important little place, if you didn’t know better, however this place is deceptively historical. The buildings were once old warehouses dating back to the 1860’s . Now only the special barrel hoists poking out of the buildings are a quiet reminder of yesteryear.
Next stop was what I like to think is a little slice of Italia.
A red paved street, lined with traditional Italian restaurants and alfresco dining, you can walk past, as the well trained waiters try to invite you in.
Peer upwards and you’ll see the lovely remains of more warehouses, in the gothic revival style.
Now with all this Italian culinary delights and being lunch time, we caved into the temptation.
We chose Il Nostro Posto and sat inside, as the air conditioning was far too inviting.
The lunch menu was very affordable and the food was relatively good, but nothing to rave about, I’m afraid. I enjoyed my meal, but the pizza was underwhelming for Mama Feltoe.
I had the Linguine Amatriciana, but with gluten free pasta.
It was a big portion, rather tasty and I must say the gluten free pasta was almost like the real thing! I couldn’t complain about that. Warning though!…It was SPICY! (The way I like it.)
Thoroughly full, we trudged on with our great tour of the city.
Forever enjoying the wonderful old architecture, it is undoubtedly a little lost to wear and tear, but even more special for it, I think.
Other places we went through include the beautiful Manchester Unity Arcade (keep an eye out for the teeny tiny coffee shop) and Manchester Lane.
And the fantastically colourful Flinders Lane, filled with street art. If you don’t already know, Melbourne is super famous for its street art. It’s everywhere, so you can’t miss it!
(Obligatory street art, wanna-be hipster photo.)
Finally our tour was coming to an end.
We popped into Scott Alley, among other spots…
With even MORE cafes!
Before we found ourselves back at the beginning.
It was a really fantastic way to experience the city, especially if you’ve already done the standard tourist hot spots like my family and I have.
I believe, like most people, the best way to experience a city is on foot and Melbourne is no exception to this. It opens up a whole new area for you to explore, food and all. Definitely go hungry and while you have only one stomach to experience it on, nothing is stopping you from popping back to Hardware Lane the next night to try the next Italian restaurant along.
The mushroom risotto, with chicken was fantastic!
Ciao for now! xxx