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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Mama in Melbourne

My recent trip to Melbourne wasn’t just about shopping and dining out (although, it was that too). Nope. It was more than that. It was about me. And you know what? That's ok.

To be honest, I’m not a big shopper, but if you want to shop, then Melbourne’s not a bad place to give your credit card a good work out. My friend Jen and I wholeheartedly intended to hit the shops, and indeed we did. I bought a few things – including a dress in Veronika Maine on Chapel Street that I think just might become my party frock for my upcoming 40th birthday celebrations next month. (That is, once I have actually organised something – I know, I know! I keep changing my mind about what I want to do!)

Chapel Street, Melbourne

Melbourne wasn’t just about shopping though. It was about taking a break for myself. A complete ME trip. And it was long overdue.

I blogged here about the need for a break. And yes – admittedly, I did feel some guilt about doing it – how could I want to spend time away from my family? But it's ok. I soon got over that. ;) 

When I awoke on Friday morning after my first night there (a little earlier than I had hoped!) - in my gorgeous fancy-schmancy hotel room - it took me an hour to realise that it was the first time in eight and a half years since I had gotten up and had no one else to look after other than myself. How awfully liberating. As my friend Jen slept in her room next door, I was happy to read, watch the Today Show (haven’t done that for a loooong time), take a long shower and even pluck my eyebrows. All without interruption. Heaven.

Relaxing on my hotel room bed. Ahhhh...

The whole weekend was fantastic. Jen and I immediately went out for cocktails on the Thursday night after quickly checking out our rooms on arrival, and dumping our bags. We went out for breakfast the next morning and had the yummiest eggs and bacon. We shopped in the city and on Chapel Street. We saw the Titantic exhibition at the Melbourne Museum that afternoon with friends. (Highly recommend this – the highlight for me was getting a ‘boarding pass’ on our arrival where you become one of the passengers on the ship, with the details of who you were traveling with and why you were traveling. I’m happy to say that both Jen and I were first class passengers who survived the sinking – as did our husbands – only 2 of four couples who were reunited after the disaster). Afterwards, we did some last minute shopping in David Jones in the city, before grabbing an incredibly yummy late afternoon treat from Café Laurent.

A little break at Cafe Laurent

We met up with six other girlfriends from our kids’ school, who were staying nearby. We had drinks on Friday night at Madame Brussels (a quirky kind of tennis club type drinking place which serves fun cocktails in jugs), followed by dinner at a fantastic Thai restaurant on Swanston Street called Cookie. (Noisy, but FANTASTIC food.) And we wound up drinking one last cocktail that night at a wine bar down at Southbank.

Pre-dinner cocktails at Madame Brussels with friends

On Saturday, I nervously and excitedly caught up with two beautiful bloggers for brunch: Nomie at Under The Yardarm and Megan at Writing Out Loud (whom I had met before). What gorgeous gals these two are. (I am SO annoyed I forgot to get a photo of us together!) We didn’t stop talking the whole time, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that we caught up. I hope to see them again VERY soon. Unfortunately, Emily over at Emly The Strange was supposed to join us, but couldn’t due to work commitments. :( Next time, Em. :)

After brunch, I went to see The European Masters Exhibition at The National Gallery of Victoria (or NGV as its known). I loved the french art especially - have always been a fan - and I bought myself a lovely print of a Henri Rousseau painting that I loved.

The Avenue in the Park at Saint-Cloud 1908
Henri Rousseau

Then it was back to Chapel Street to meet up with Jen for a quick cup of tea and piece of Tiramisu (as you can tell, much of the weekend revolved around eating), before watching our 6 other friends in action shopping. They had spent the morning on Bridge Road, Richmond shopping up a storm, and my goodness – I’ve never seen such determination and perseverance during a shopping expedition that some of them showed! I gladly lived my life vicariously through those gals that afternoon as they purchased shoes, bags, jewellery and clothes galore!

Tiramisu on Chapel Street

Then it was back to the hotel for a bubble bath and rest before Jen and I headed to what would be my dining highlight in Melbourne. We went to Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant, Maze at the Crown Metropole. Oh. My. Goodness. It was (as Jen and I have joked constantly since that night) a-MAZE-ing. Truly. I can’t recommend it highly enough. All the servings are small, so the idea is to have a few courses. Jen and I took it one step further and enjoyed the 7-course chef’s meal. Fantastic. Just fantastic. You must book and go when you’re next in Melbourne. The 7-course meal for one person was $95, and for the quality restaurant and amazing food and dining experience that it was – this was more than reasonable in my opinion. (It should be noted that Hubby suggested it. Traveling so much for work, he has eaten in fine dining restaurants all over the world, and he puts it up there with one of the best restaurants he has ever dined in.)


We passed some of our friends on our walk back to our hotel, making their way to the Casino. We made our way to their apartment to visit the remaining three friends, already comfy in their pjs and drinking tea, before heading back to our hotel.

On Sunday morning, Jen and I reluctantly checked out of our hotel and Jen headed off to breakfast with a friend, as did I. I caught up with my friend, Kellie, whom I haven’t seen since Hubby and I got married back in 2000. An ex-Sydney gal, she has called Melbourne her home for the past 9 years, and it was so wonderful to see her again. We had breakfast at a little café over at Federation Square. (And once again, I forgot to get out my camera. Ugh!)

Federation Square

Jen and I then met up and, taking a leaf out of our friends’ books, took a trip to Bridge Road in Richmond ourselves to see if we could pick up some last minute bargains. However, we soon discovered our shopping mojo had disappeared. We wandered aimlessly for a while before stopping for a coffee and croissant at Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder (which our friends raved about after having lunch there the day before) and heading back to the hotel – empty handed – to collect our bags and head to the airport.

Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder

Before boarding the plane, our friends arrived for their flight, so we spent a few minutes chatting with them. Many hugs goodbye ensued. Everyone looked happy and rested after the last few days.

The flight home was…a little white-knuckled on my part to be honest – but I’ll tell you about that another time. However, we did arrive home safely, and I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to ring the doorbell and hear the boys jumping up and down with excitement inside, shouting, “Mum’s home! Mum’s home!” Better still – Hubby had a roast lamb cooking in the oven, served just minutes later. (Bonus points for you, Hubby.)

Time to head home

I absolutely missed my family, but I also really enjoyed my time with Jen, the other school mums and everyone else I caught up with. I also really enjoyed some time to myself. It was fantastic, and a trip I wouldn’t hesitate to do again some time in the future. (You up for it, Jen?) 

I found that some time to yourself is good for the soul, and makes you realise just how fortunate you are to have such a beautiful family to come home to.

How about you? If you have kids, do you get away often, or dream about doing so? If you don't have kids yet - make me jealous: where have you travelled to lately?


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