There’s something intrinsically romantic about Melbourne. Explored, hand in hand on a romantic getaway with my love, the city has us in its sway; in love with its hidden laneways, soaring city skyline and many cultural, designer and gastronomic delights.
A quick luggage drop at the eminently funky, 59-room boutique Hotel Lindrum, our swanky home for the next few nights, and we’re on our way. Armed with a myki travel pass, it’s a delight to discover Melbourne has a free 24-hour city tram service.
The drinks are flowing at Fitzroy restaurant, Naked For Satan, when we arrive. The dark and moody ground floor Bar de Pintxos y Vodka, a Basque-style eatery with soaring ceilings and an antique brass vodka still as centrepiece, is overflowing with pintxos (Basque snacks) not unlike the great pintxos bars in Spain’s San Sebastian. A quick foray to the bar, and we return to a small table, plates laden with morsels of vinegary white anchovy and pickled green chilli, smoky chorizo, spicy lamb meatballs and crusty slices of baguette topped with creamy beetroot and smoked salmon; the cost calculated at the end by the number of empty toothpicks on our plates.
Upstairs, the fourth-story rooftop bar is heaving and we manage to nab a table, armed with margaritas, in time to watch the sky blaze orange and fade to night behind the city skyline.
The romance of Melbourne’s tiny network of cobblestone laneways that branch off Collins Street is not lost on us as we wander its pretty stretch of hole-in-the-wall cafes, street art, bars and cool designer stores. We stop for a heart-starter coffee at Café Vicolino, in the oft-photographed Centre Place, before strolling past the Cathedral and lush green expanse of Queen Victoria Gardens to the NGV and Andy Warhol | Ai Wei Wei exhibition. Here, we stop in awe at Ai Wei Wei’s massive Forever Bicycles installation, a monumental formation of 1500 bicycles assembled layer upon layer in a stunning interplay of silver spokes and wheels.
Come evening, the vibrant buzz of Melbourne’s Flinders Lane, with its inviting array of tiny bars, warehouse-scale restaurants and incredible must-visit street art of Hosier Lane – beckons. Perched at the bar of the elegant Cumulus Inc, a small restaurant housed in an old rag trade building in Flinders Lane, we sip on champagne and share a plate of freshly shucked mixed oysters while gazing at the passing street parade.
In search of dinner, we are rewarded with the explosive flavours and technicolour buzz of popular hawker eatery, Chin Chin. Even though it’s busy, it’s not long before we’re seated and savouring the exquisitely complex flavours it’s famous for – spicy corn and coriander fritters in a crisp DIY iceberg lettuce cups with chilli jam and a to-die-for crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelized pork, lemongrass, peanuts and nam jim keynotes creating serious wow.
Southbank and the modern Japanese delights of Sake Restaurant, is our final hurrah on a romantic getaway that feels all too short. Overlooking the beauty of the Yarra River, we feast on sashimi tacos, scampi tempura and short rib and enjoy the pale autumn sunshine while agreeing that Melbourne can add our vote to most visit-able city and vow to return for another romantic getaway soon.