Sometimes the best plan is to make no plans and just wander and discover. This is how I feel when visiting Melbourne city. It’s nice to have an idea of where you will end up but how you get there, and what you see on the way is flexible.
This is how we came to have breakfast in a cosy little café in Centre Place in the Melbourne CBD. This laneway is a crowded, busy place with lots of café options and we happened to find Eliana Lulu, a casual café with dining at street level overlooking this bustling laneway or in a comfortable space upstairs. We at first were given space upstairs to get in out of the cold and order coffees and breakfast, and it was no trouble when we asked the owner if we could move downstairs if space became available. Before our food had arrived we were alerted to room downstairs so made our way down and soon our coffees and abundant breakfasts arrived. Great food, great service and another interesting bustling Melbourne laneway.
After this stop, we wandered into the Block Arcade, off Collins Street, where a beautiful mosaic floor draws your eye to enter this 1890-1893 built arcade of shops. The stained glass windows and massive skylights overhead are the next spectacular features to grasp your attention.
The arcade was built in the French Renaissance style and has plate glass shop windows and an octagonal centre at the junction of the two arcades. This features an enormous glass domed roof.
One of the original shops from the era, the Hopetoun tea rooms, still trades in the arcade today. The striking tiled floor throughout the arcade, is a classical Victorian design and was made from tiles manufactured in Italy. It is classified by the national trust as well as being on the Victorian Heritage Register.
In 1890 the original tea rooms moved into the shop space they still occupy more than 130 years later. They were named the Hopetoun tea rooms after the founder, Lady Hopetoun who was the wife of the Victorian Governor and first Governor General of Australia, Lord Hopetoun. The tea rooms are also listed on the National trust and Victorian Heritage Registers to ensure their protection. The décor inside features an emerald green printed wallpaper, etched mirror and chandeliers and the tea and decadent looking cakes are served on white and gold fine bone china.
Another interesting shop within the Block Arcade is The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery. In the gallery is a collection of limited edition reproduced illustrations, sculptures and ‘unorthodox taxidermy’ from this American artist and author of children’s books. Who doesn’t know ‘Cat in the Hat’, and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ for starters.
It’s a very quirky gallery and shop to stop in for a browse. The artworks are individually numbered and can be purchased and it’s just a fun place to stop in and be taken you back to your childhood for a while.
Have fun exploring when you get the chance to next visit Melbourne,