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Rigours of a city trek

WHIRLWIND TRIP TO MELBOURNE

Oaks On Market is a four-star apartment hotel at 60 Market Street, Melbourne – just off Collins Street and the financial precinct.

Accommodation is in full-appointed studio, one and two-bedroom apartments with kitchenette, microwave and fridge, with multimedia TV with Foxtel and CD player.

Facilities include an indoor heated swimming pool, business zone with full facilities in the lobby lounge, guest laundries and conference areas for up to 250 people.

Phone (03) 8631 1111 or 1300 790 687.

Visit www.oakshotelsresorts.com.au

Taxis are minutes away from the hotel lobby, or walk just a few steps to Collins Street for a tram.

BLOODY blisters and aching feet. Even my legs were begging me to stop.

But I had to go on.

For our two-family group from the Sunshine Coast, a bi-annual sojourn in Melbourne is all about shopping, food, entertainment and sport – in that order for the women, at least.

The trip is not one for the faint-hearted.

We squeeze into a four-night, five-day itinerary what sensible people would expect to accomplish in a full week. This year was no exception.

The trouble was, I'd packed the wrong shoes.

Boots generally fit the bill quite nicely for our autumn-winter tour of duty. But, stupidly, a last-minute swap in the suitcase before flying meant I had packed only “dress” boots, not walk boots.

No problem. After a brisk trip through the city to the Queen Victoria Markets for a $2.50 feta and spinach breakfast borek (traditional Turkish bread) and piping hot coffee, I thought nothing of the four-hour stroll up and down the market stall aisles, trying on bargain clothing designs and buying presents while our men played golf at Kooringal Golf Club.

No alarm bells were raised either on the walk back to the Oaks On Market one-bedroom apartment to offload our purchases before trundling off for an afternoon's shopping at DFO Southern Cross Station (formerly Spencer Street).

I changed boots for dinner in Chinatown's Sawasdee Thai Restaurant, feeling a little tingling here and there, and maybe some soreness on the walk to and from the tram.

But who could tell with a belly bursting from sharing three curries, chicken pad Thai, honeyed prawns, baked barramundi, Chinese broccoli and fried rice.

But as I gingerly placed my legs beneath the soft white sheets of our queen-size bed, I could feel the round white blisters forming under the pads of both feet, around an ankle, and on one heel.

I soldiered on during the short walk to breakfast before being forced to buy a pair of soft, comfortable leather shoes on sale.

And my feet were eternally grateful, because while the men took in the Melbourne-North Melbourne match at nearby Etihad Stadium, another full day shopping at Harbour Town and walking-tramming through the Bourke Street Mall awaited, followed by cocktails at quirky and trendy rooftop bar, Madame Brussells, and dinner at Flemington's The Quiet Man Irish Pub.

And then there were the obligatory Sunday markets, pier walk and breakfast at St Kilda's Beachcomber Café.

And I haven't mentioned the breakneck speed at which we passed through Fitzroy Gardens to make the start of the footy at the MCG.

Nowhere is far away in Melbourne city. And there's no better way to get around than on foot.

Senses are heightened while taking in all the ultra-modern and historic architecture or an artist at work in the mall, being gathered up and pushed along the streets by the black and grey-suited crowds of city workers, with eardrums bursting at the cacophony of CBD sounds and a busker's bongo beat, and aromas emanating from one chic al-fresco café after another.

But until now, we'd never stayed in this part of town.

Oaks On Market opened up a whole new playground to us.

As well as enjoying a tasty seafood marinara and rib fillet steak with our friends on arrival at the hotel's Alexi's on Market Restaurant, we could easily have settled in for the night when we took advantage of happy hour in the r2 restaurant bar on the Thursday and after drowning our sorrows following the Carlton-Collingwood clash.

We could see the Yarra River and Crown Casino from our huge lounge windows – just a short stroll away across the bridge, continuing on to the Southbank Promenade.

That meant celebrity-spotting on Logies Night when we dined in the reasonably priced Margo's Café and came away winners on the roulette wheel.

It certainly seemed like we were only five minutes from anywhere when we stayed at Oaks On Market – probably because we were.

I must make note of the nearest shoe shop next time.



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