It was a nice sleep in this morning and we finally got some good rest. We worked out how to use the thermostat which made our sleep much better. This morning we had heard of another really great patisserie that was a few blocks up the road so we figured that we would wonder up there and try out the delights.
Well, we arrived at about 10am and the line for the patisserie which is called LUNE Croissanterie was about half a block long. We didn’t have much to do up until lunch today so we figured that if this many people are waiting here, then it is likely worth waiting for so we will wait it out. In fact, the New York Times named them as the best croissants in the world. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes in the queue which did not really move very fast. We had wanted to order the Almond croissant as that is the one that gets all of the hype. Well, they were all out of almond croissants. How disappointing. We ended up getting a cookies and cream croissant and a Kouign Amann which is a traditional French pastry laminated with sugar and baked in a mould lined with butter, sugar and salt, until caramelised. We got them takeaway to eat back in the airbnb. Of course we had to get some coffee to go with it. We ended up at Tulip Coffee which is a cute little pink coffee shop nestled in a classic Melbourne laneway. We grabbed our coffees and returned to the AirBnb to enjoy
Aimee believes that the Kouign Amann is the best pastry that she has ever eaten in her life. It was flaky and soft, but also crunchy at the same time. It was sweet and buttery and just wonderful. It may look basic but that was what made it so good. It wasn’t trying to be anything else. It was absolutely delectable and worth the 45 minute wait. The cookies and cream croissant we thought was a little pretentious. It was trying to be something it wasn’t. Still really very good and delicious, but it was a bit decadent for us. We prefer simple and good. The coffee was also very good. It wasn’t one of the ones we had planned to get prior to coming to Melbourne, but it worked out well.
Shortly after this we took the free tram to The Crown Casino. The free tram service in Melbourne is fantastic. There are trams that run on every line to every stop pretty much every 5 minutes (sometimes even more frequently), they are free and you can get anywhere. It is really convenient and is the best way of getting around. It is one major advantage that Melbourne has over many other cities.
The Crown casino is quite an impressive beast. It is definitely larger than our closest and most visited casino (The Star – Sydney). There is also so much to do here. We spent some time on the gaming floor succeeding in blackjack which was nice then we decided that it was time to grab some lunch. We didn’t have anything planned but we found a authentic looking Chinese restaurant within the casino call Man Tong. We weren’t massively hungry so we knew our order was going to be light. We started off with a couple classic steamed pork buns which are always delicious. Then we got a couple of Xiao Long Bao. Xiao Long Bao are soup dumplings with with pork inside served in a bamboo basket. We absolutely love Xiao Long Bao and these were no exception, they were really good. However, nothing can compare to Din Tai Fung which we always compare any dumplings we have to.
Then for the main we ordered a pork mince fried rice to share. It was really light and had delicious flavours. It was bigger than we thought it was going to be but it was really tasty. It didn’t taste just like the run of the mill fried rice you would get at the local Chinese restaurant. It is kind of hard to explain but it was airier, less greasy and had a subtle but delicious taste.
It was quite a nice and unexpected meal. After this we had a few activities in a row to do. The first one on the list was called The Happy Place.
The Happy Place is a temporary pop-up experience that has toured all around the world and happened to be in Melbourne at the same time we were. We didn’t have much knowledge about what this actually was but we saw it when we were in the Crown and decided to have a look. What it actually is is a series of multi-sensory exhibits that have props and are staged for good instagram photoshoots – not really our thing. We still went through it and took some pictures with most of the exhibits because we had paid money to be there.
It was pretty funny and stupid. It was over before we knew it though. I think there were probably 10-15 installations with the best one being the giant cookie. We got a picture at all of them, but really it wasn’t that fun and unless you love doing photoshoots, we wouldn’t really recommend it.
After this we went to a little bar that was near the entrance to the Happy Place to have a drink as we had to wait another hour or so for our next activity. The bar was Juke’s. It is a karaoke bar that is 70s theme with really bright pastel colours and funky décor.
The karaoke wasn’t happening but they had these cool chairs that sat against the windows of the hallways in the crown. It was a good spot for drink specials ($10 redbull based cocktail) and people watching, so we did this which was relaxing, tasty and enjoyable.
We wandered over to the convention centre which is directly across the road from the Crown. It is very similar to the convention centre in Sydney and is just incredibly enormous. It really is staggering how big the convention centre is. We had to walk all the way around to the other side which turned out to be a pretty decent walk to get to our next activity. We had booked this one a long time ago as we knew we wanted to see it. It was The LUME’s Van Gogh digital art exhibition. The exhibition starts off with a timeline and showcase of some of the most famous paintings that Van Gogh did and what was happening in his life at the time as well as the story behind the painting. This area was really nice as it was very much like an art gallery (which we love!) except without the actual pieces of art, only recreations. After this area, you walk into the giant open area where every wall and floor is covered with Van Gogh’s art through using digital lighting. It is really immersive.
The show goes through Van Gogh’s life and surrounds you with his art and his quotes. It is also set to stunning classical music. It is a new and exciting way to experience post-impressionism art. It really immerses you in the art and gives you an insight into the artist which we found to be beautiful and harrowing.
There is even an area where you can sit in a café and drink wine. The café is based on Van Gogh’s “Café terrace at night” which is such a beautiful painting. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to sit at it as it was very full at the time. We watched the show and then at the completion of it you can go to another room which has about 20 easel’s set up in front of a TV. The easel’s had A3 paper and pencils. You take a seat at them and on the screen is a 5-10 minute drawing tutorial for one of Van Gogh’s paintings. When we sat down it was his most famous painting of all “Starry Night”. We got to drawing which was super fun, but also very hard as we are terrible at drawing.
We would definitely recommend checking this out if you are in Melbourne and appreciate art. Even if you haven’t had much of a chance to appreciate art in the past, this is a new way to experience art that can appeal to a broader audience. It is definitely worth seeing. Right after this we wandered back over to the Crown for our next activity that we booked on a whim. We noticed that the Crown had its own Escape Rooms. We have done escape rooms in the past which we have always loved and enjoyed. We always appreciate a challenge, especially to our wit. We decided to do the room “Alien” which is where aliens are invading earth and you have to subvert the crisis. We found the room to be very well themed. They had a mechanism where the room actually provides you hints if you are taking too long on a certain puzzle which we appreciated as we did get stuck on some of them. Some of the puzzles we felt were a little unfair but we did quite well. We didn’t escape as we got stuck on the very last puzzle and ran out of time. We really enjoyed it though and an escape room is always a fun way to spend an hour.
By this time it was about 7pm and we were getting hungry. We left the casino and took the tram back to the CBD. We figured that we would get something that we can takeaway and eat it at the Airbnb as we didn’t have a huge amount of time before our next activity. We didn’t want to go to a chain that you can get anywhere. We ended up at Sal’s Authentic New York Pizza on Flinders street. Sal’s is a no nonsense type of restaurant. You go in and there are gruff looking staff that always look busy. You order your pizza by the slice and sit down and enjoy. We decided that we were going to take it back to the Airbnb for a nicer rest before our activity tonight. We both decided to order the “little neck combo” which is 2 slices of pizza, 2 garlic knots, dipping sauce and a coke.
The pizza was really very good. It wasn’t as great as SPQR as you wouldn’t expect but it was down and dirty, classic New York style pizza. The garlic knots were also pretty good in the dipping sauce. The dipping sauce was cold though, we probably should’ve heated it up in the microwave or something but it was still pretty nice.
We headed back out at about 8:30 for our final event of the evening. We had heard about a free candlelight concert happening in Federation Square which is a string quartet playing movie soundtracks with surrounded by hundreds of candles. It sounded delightful. However, it turned out to be less than so. We got down there and there were literally thousands of people. They didn’t have speakers or a screen or anything so we couldn’t hear a single thing and there were so many people that we couldn’t even see a single candle from any angle. It was poorly planned. I am guessing they didn’t expect it to be so popular. It was the biggest crowd we have witnessed since COVID-19 and it was really quite uncomfortable. We spent a while trying to weasel a spot but it was just untenable. A really big disappointment. On the plus side though, we ended up stopping by a gelato shop called Pidapipo. It was really authentic and really good gelato that certainly hit the spot. Since being in Italy we have come to appreciate and love gelato. One more day left in Melbourne.
Ronnie & Aimee.