A Melbourne city break to escape the renovations - 29 November - 2 December, 2021

As our long-awaited bathroom renovation finally got started, we decided to move out and started our time away from home with a short break in Melbourne. Lee's copious Qantas Frequent Flyer points balance (from years of business-related travel) gave us the option of good quality accommodation at little cost, so we booked an apartment (dog-friendly too!) and headed off on our staycation!

We set off early on Monday morning, a lovely sunny and warm start to the week. It was a straightforward drive to the Docklands area of Melbourne where we'd decided to head first to grab lunch from the excellent HOME Vegan Bar. After managing to find a car park, we walked up to HOME and stocked up on lunch, dinner and drinks to make the most of the "Midweek Melbourne Money" scheme (meaning we successfully claimed 30% of our bill back!). We enjoyed eating our lunch choices down in Docklands City Park under the shade of the old peppercorn tree. It was a short (in distance if not necessarily time in Melbourne city traffic!) drive from Docklands down to our accommodation for the next three nights, Quest St Kilda Road. After parking in their underground car park, we checked-in just after 2pm and our second floor studio towards the back of the complex was great - nearly new, pleasantly furnished and with everything we needed for a short stay. It was great to find this dog-friendly Quest and all the staff were super welcoming of little Lola. After settling in briefly, we headed out to enjoy the warm afternoon sunshine with a walk to Albert Park. Returning to the apartment, we enjoyed more of our food from HOME before driving into the city and joining the protesters (against the so-called Pandemic Bill, sadly since passed) at Parliament House. It was a chilled vibe at the protest and we had nice conversations with people there - and Lola was a star too! The short drive back to the apartment at just before 10pm rounded out our first big day in the big smoke!

It was a hot and humid start on Tuesday so we walked Lola early before it got even hotter, heading into the lovely Fawkner Park just across the road from our apartment. This large park was very popular with the local doggie set and it was great to see many off-leash areas for the dogs to enjoy a good run around. Lee returned to the apartment for a couple of calls with his consulting client, sneaking down to the excellent 580 Bench coffee shop along St Kilda Road between the calls! We still had food left from our haul from the HOME Vegan Bar so that was more than sufficient for lunch, before we headed out again. We drove the short distance to St Kilda and found a free all-day parking spot along the Esplanade, from where we unloaded the fold-up bikes, chucked Lola in her bike carrier and set off along the Esplanade. The beaches through St Kilda were absolutely packed as the natives looked for respite from the mid-30C conditions, but it was pleasant enough on the bikes and we managed to ride all the way to Station Pier at Port Melbourne. A well-deserved rest in the shade was in order before making the return trip, with a brief stop on a quieter section of beach for Lola to enjoy cooling off in the water. It's always a nice ride along this stretch, with a good separated bike track and plenty of scenery in terms of the beach and the fancy properties lining this strip of the beachfront. After packing the bikes away, we wandered to Acland Street for a takeaway drink from the splendid Sister of Soul before heading back to the apartment. At dusk, Lee took Lola for a ride around Albert Park lake to round out the day.

Wednesday started warm and humid again, so we took Lola for an early walk over in Fawkner Park, before heading back to 580 Bench for an excellent coffee. Lee then took another consulting call for an hour before we drove out to Brighton to try out a relatively new vegan place, called Bowl Me Over. After picking up a few different meals there, we drove down to the beach at the end of North Road to enjoy some of our food, thankfully in the shade as the day was now well into the 30C's. After lunch, we continued driving down Beach Road as far as Mordialloc, a familiar haunt from our time living in nearby Aspendale and Mentone! The main street hadn't changed much, but a welcome new addition is the all-vegan Conscious Cravings cafe which served up a great coffee and has been beautifully done. We vowed to return one day - when we're legally entitled to eat inside cafes again! The humid conditions inevitably led to a hefty thunderstorm which hit while we were in Mordi so we jumped in the car and drove back towards the city. We stopped off at the very worthy Elwood Organic shop to stock up on a few supplies and then enjoyed dinner (from Bowl Me Over) back at the apartment. After the storms cleared, the evening turned much milder and pleasant, so we took Lola for a walk around Albert Park lake.

We again woke to warm and humid conditions on Thursday as we packed up. Before it got too hot, we again took Lola for a good walk and run around Fawkner Park and then checked-out of the Quest apartments at 11am after a thoroughly enjoyable stay. We drove over to Albert Park and jumped on the fold-up bikes for a couple of laps around the lake, a lovely ride on a warm but quiet midweek day. After the ride, we were ready for lunch and so headed just up Clarendon Street to grab takeaway from The Ambitious Act, which we then enjoyed at the nearby peaceful St Vincent's gardens. After a nice feed, we drove on as far as Williamstown for a short walk on the Esplanade, the hot and humid conditions making it tough going for Lola. It was then an easy drive back to Leopold to begin our stay with Joan and Al.

We enjoyed our few days away in the big city. While the traffic was surprisingly bad, it was still good to get around to a few different places, try some new vegan food spots and also explore some familiar territory from our time living in Melbourne. The Quest apartments provided us with a great place to stay and their genuine friendliness towards dogs was much appreciated. Lola coped really well with the various noises, smells and people around the city!

Review of Quest St Kilda Road accommodation