The conference is being held at the Mercure-Pullman Albert Park, which is a slightly odd hotel that actually consists of two hotels. The Mercure, where I am staying, is the slightly less fancy half. The Pullman, where rooms are a little more expensive, is reportedly a little more upmarket.
|Mercure hotel room|
I think my room is fine, although the view out the window is not, perhaps, Melbourne's best front.
Fortunately, once outside of the hotel, the Albert Park reserve is more scenic.
|Albert Park lake|
The lake has a running / walking track around it, which I explored in an out-and-back fashion on my first morning. I found it difficult to judge the distance and worried I'd end up at the furthest point of the loop without sufficient time to make my way back. I later discovered it was a simple 5km loop, so circled it fully yesterday and today.
|Albert Park lake|
The area is also near to St Kilda, which isn't a part of Melbourne I have explored much before. I walked down after checking in late Wednesday afternoon, and decided I definitely like Melbourne's city features more than its coastline. This isn't a criticism of the coastline - rather, to me, Melbourne is about beautiful architecture and culture and character-filled cafes. I have beaches at home in Perth.
|St Kilda beach|
I was able to get a taste of some of Melbourne's city characteristics on Thursday morning, when I took a tram to Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne's north. Trams certainly make getting around easy.
I was in Lygon Street to meet Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe and Mel of Veganise This for a morning coffee, in the atmospheric Brunetti reviewed by Johanna recently. Brunetti is as impressive as Johanna's post suggests. In fact, Lygon Street in general is impressive. We started in the Readings bookstore opposite Brunetti and I wish I could package the shop up and take it home with me.
Even more lovely than Lygon Street itself was the opportunity to chat with Johanna and Mel in person. It is a funny thing when you exchange comments with people over the internet. I hadn't met Johanna before, and Mel just once, but it was a really nice few hours talking with them.
Rounding out the company, Johanna spoiled Mel and I with her generosity in baked gifts. And when I say generosity, I mean considerable generosity! Her gifts were all vegan and included halvah, mini sweet potato chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip cookie dough balls, and some exquisite chocolates with a sweet potato and orange filling.
|The box that keeps on giving!|
She has been doing recipe testing for a new book (I will let her share the details in time), and I think I am convinced to buy it on my taste testing alone. My phone camera has not done the products justice but suffice to say they were wonderful. There is also a Melbourne-made vegan salted lime dark chocolate block that I am looking forward to trying.
After coffee and conversation, it was difficult to return to work. However, the conference has also been good and yesterday saw me knock off one of my two presentations. The other is today, and then tonight I shall fly home - sorry to leave Melbourne but admittedly glad to return to Mr Bite.
Have you had any mini local or further afield out-of-routine visits lately?