Monthly Archive: July 2013

Wednesday

31

July 2013

1

COMMENTS

Eating & Drinking in Ubud, Bali

Written by , Posted in Travel

Eating! One of my very favorite things! Bali offered no shortage of great things to eat, so let’s get right to it…

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Coffee beans and chilis at a coffee plantation outside Ubud

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Grilled corn in Ubud Market

Aside from the so-so menu at our hotel  and the infamous Babi Guling (suckling pig) from Ibu Oka that I wasn’t very impressed with, everything we ate in Ubud was seriously amazing. Everything was so bright and fresh and flavorful, I couldn’t get enough. Their curries with the fresh flavors of lemon basil and lemongrass were my absolute favorite but I also loved the satays and spring rolls and some of the more traditional Indonesian/Balinese dishes that we tried like Gado Gado, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng, and Nasi Campur.

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Green Curry from Warung Schnitzel

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Nasi Campur at Cafe Wayan

A big plus of dining in Ubud was that almost everywhere we ate was so ridiculously inexpensive. There are definitely pricier options but you can easily find quality food on a tight budget here. On our last night we ate at the #1 rated restaurant in Ubud on TripAdvisor and our entire meal that included 2 beers, 3 entrees, and a dessert cost us $24. The owners are French and followed their dreams to Ubud and you can find them hanging out at the restaurant, Melting Wok Warung, most nights. Their chicken curry with coconut milk was also the most delicious curry I have ever eaten and has ruined me from all curries to come! The creme caramel dessert was also a dish to remember…

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Chicken curry with coconut milk from the Melting Wok, Ubud

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Creme Caramel at the Melting Wok, Ubud

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Creme Caramel at the Melting Wok, Ubud

Breaking away from traditional cuisine for a night, we also gave Naughty Nuri’s Warung and Grill BBQ a try. This expat haunt is about a 20 minute walk from Ubud Center along rickety sidwalks, but just look for the line of people out front and the large plumes of smoke from the grill that sits alongside the road and you’ll know you found the right place. Anthony Bourdain deemed their martinis “the best in the world” and I can vouch that the margaritas offer quite the kick as well…the heat and smoke from the grill will encourage you to have several. The ribs and pork chops that we tried weren’t quite at the Kansas City level but they were still pretty darn good and left me wanting more!

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

The grill at Naughty Nuri’s

We found a great bar/restaurant, Oops Restaurant and Bar (that’s actually the name), that had 2 for 1 mojitos during happy hour. Their mojitos were some of the best I’ve ever had and the list of flavors was a mile long (the strawberry was my personal favorite!). They have indoor and outdoor seating with options for people watching along the main road up front or green, serene views out back. We didn’t have a chance to eat here but all the food that came out looked delcious! The close proximity to Ubud Center makes this the perfect place to start your evening!

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Mojitos at Oops Ubud

Another great find thanks to TripAdvisor was Seniman Coffee Studio. Even if you don’t like coffee I would definitely recommend stopping in. They have juices, Indonesian cuisine, free wi-fi, indoor and outdoor seating, coffee making workshops, and of course…coffee! Cold, hot, espresso, latte, liqueur…coffee any way you like it! We went with the 5 variety taster and it was a great way to try several different varieties. Don’t waste your money on the over-hyped Luwak coffee, visit Seniman for the real deal.

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Coffee Sampler at Seniman Coffee Studio

Although the chicken curry from the Melting Wok was my favorite dish of the trip, my favorite meals weren’t actually from restaurants at all. The best meals we ate were the traditional Balinese meals eaten in the homes of Balinese families. We took a cooking class (Paon Bali)  at the home of Wayan and Puspa where we actually helped cook the food ourselves and we also had a meal at Yoga’s home after a countryside cycling tour with his company, Halo Bike Tours. More on both of these activities in a future post because they definitely deserve more than a few lines here. The point is-if you have the opportunity for a home cooked meal in Bali, take it!

Lion + Maven | Eating in Ubud, Bali

Chicken Curry served at the home of Yoga and his family after our Halo Bike tour

Here’s a rundown of everywhere we ate in Ubud and a few places we would’ve tried if we just had a little more time….

Where we ate in Ubud

Melting Wok Warung: The BEST chicken curry! The creme caramel dessert is also a great treat. Inexpensive, reservations necessary

Warung Schnitzel: Indonesian cuisine + schnitzel! Nice atmosphere just off the main road, inexpensive, great green chicken curry special

Seniman Coffee: Relaxed coffee shop and studio with Indonesian cuisine and free wi-fi

Naughty Nuri’s: BBQ in Bali, a popular spot for expats and visitors, hot and smokey, the best martinis according to Anthony Bourdain

Oops Restaurant & Bar: 2 for 1 mojitos during happy hour, great location, great people watching

Cafe Wayan: Stopped in for lunch and wasn’t too impressed with their Nasi Campur, but the open-air seating out back in the gardens is fantastic

Ibu Oka: Most well-known spot for babi guling in Ubud but in my opinion, it wasn’t all that great

Restaurants we would’ve tried in Ubud if we had more time

Mosaic: Multiple courses, small beautiful plates. This is the place to go if you want to spend some $$$ on dinner in Ubud

Fair Warung Bale: Trades spots with the Melting Wok for #1 restaurant in Ubud on TripAdvisor, inexpensive and all for a great cause

Bali Buda: Wide variety of options perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in between. Vegan/vegetarian friendly options, juices, bakery, coffee,  ice cream, indonesian dishes, sandwiches, and even pizza!

Saturday

27

July 2013

1

COMMENTS

Welcome To The Jungle

Written by , Posted in Travel

Ok…so it may not exactly be a jungle, but as I sit here reflecting on our 5 days in Ubud from in my air-conditioned condo in Chicago almost a month later, the giant bug bites and rashes covering my feet and legs long gone, I really feel like “jungle” is the best way for me to describe our first 5 days in Bali.

We spent a total of 10 days in Bali on the last leg of our wedding/honeymoon extravaganza; 5 days in Ubud at the Komaneka at Tanggayuda and 5 days in Jimbaran at the Ayana Resort. Ubud and our resort in Jimbaran were so completely different it’s hard to believe they are on the same tiny island. Ubud is the major art and cultural center of Bali and has become increasingly popular for tourists in recent years, especially with the help of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book turned movie Eat, Pray, Love. As popular as it is, we only met 4 other Americans during our entire stay in Bali, with the large majority of other tourists being Australian, Japanese, or Chinese…Bali is basically their Caribbean. There is so much to see and do in Ubud itself and from Ubud you can easily get to anywhere else on the island so it really makes for a great starting point. I was completely overwhelmed by all the great food, great shopping (think jewelry, painting, sculptures, wood carving, statues, and more), beautiful temples and statues (Bali is known as the land of 1,000 temples), beautiful scenery, and the beautiful, happy, gracious Balinese people. And so begins my Bali blog series….

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

When we got off the plane in Denpasar, 2 flights and 15 long hours away from Paris, it was a bit of a shock to the senses. The heat hit us as soon as we walked off the plane. We followed the herd and made our way to the line where you pay for your visas and then waited in another line to actually get our visas.  We found our luggage, found our ride, and once we made our way through the crowd outside and tipped the random men who grabbed our bags from us we were Ubud bound!

Driving in Bali is totally insane and I would never try to do it myself. Not only are the roads super narrow and they drive on the left side of the road, but there are scooters/motorbikes everywhere! They ride with multiple scooters per lane, weaving in and out of traffic on either side of cars and many times I saw 4 bodies squeezed on to a single scooter…1 or 2 of those bodies often being small children and even infants being held by others on the scooter. So crazy, I have no idea how they do it!

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

View along one of Ubud’s main roads

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Motorbikes in Bali

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Motorbikes in Bali

After about an hour’s drive from the airport we reached our hotel, the Komaneka at Tanggayuda. We were greeted by the happy, ever-smiling staff with cold towels and the first of many glasses of fresh squeezed fruit juice.

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

We stayed in a pool villa that overlooked the valley and it really was a view we never got used to.

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Villa pool by day

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Villa pool by night

The main pool wasn’t too shabby either…

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

The inside of our beautiful villa was ready and waiting for us when we arrived, complete with flower petals everywhere. There were bugs but only a few actually made their way into our villa…thank goodness. As we were unpacking when we first arrived I seriously thought there was some kind of “sounds of the wild” audio playing until I made the comment out loud and Mike informed me that no, those are the actual birds outside. I guess I was still stuck on the “sounds of Paris”! The animal noises got even louder when the sun went down…bugs and frogs and god knows what else in those trees made quite the interesting soundtrack to fall asleep to.

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

On our first night we enjoyed some traditional Balinese cuisine at our hotel but after that we stuck with only breakfast at the hotel and ventured out for lunch and dinner. My go-to breakfast in Bali was fresh fruit and Nasi Goreng, which is fried rice that usually has chicken or shrimp mixed in and a fried egg on top. I definitely miss my Nasi Goreng! We also drank of fair share of Bali Hai and Bintang on this trip…the sun is hot and the beer is cold, what can I say?!

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Chicken Satay

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Fresh fruit every morning

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Nasi Goreng

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

 

Lion + Maven | Ubud, Bali

Overall we really enjoyed the Komaneka at Tanggayuda. The staff was amazing, the grounds and rooms were clean and beautiful, and we had a great massage at their spa. However, it was about 15 minutes from Ubud Center and for us that was a bit of a bummer. They offered a shuttle into town every hour which was great, but it was still a bit of a pain to have to worry about shuttle schedules. One of the reasons I picked the hotel was because it was a bit out of the way, but once we were there we definitely wished our access to all of the action was easier, especially because there was just so much to see and do. If I was planning the trip all over I would definitely pick a hotel in or very close to Ubud Center, there are some very nice ones that offer seclusion but also that great location.

More on Ubud food and shopping to come….

Wednesday

3

July 2013

2

COMMENTS

Paris Day 3-The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Eiffel Tower

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Day 3-our last day in Paris…inevitably it was going to be a busy one! On the agenda-The Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, with a stop by the Eiffel Tower at night. I bought tickets to the museums ahead of time so we could bypass the ticket lines and get in as quickly as possible.

Louvre pyramid

We started at The Louvre and arrived at 9am right as they opened and once inside we were on a mission…get to Mona! We entered through the main entrance at the large pyramid and on our way to Mona we passed the famous Nike of Samothrace or Winged Victory of Samothrace perched at the top of her very own staircase. Even though my plan was to go straight to Mona, we stopped and took a few pictures here and I’m so glad we did…when we passed back around after seeing the Mona Lisa the crowds around the Winged Victory had probably quadrupled. This was my favorite piece at the Louvre so I’m glad we had a few minutes to see her without throngs of tourists everywhere.
Winged Victory, Louvre

Winged Victory, Louvre

We continued on up another staircase or two, made our way down several long halls, and finally we had found her! The Mona Lisa will always be one of the most crowded stops, but it was a manageable sized group when we got to her around 9:30am. I can’t even begin to think what it would be like any later in the day…

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa crowds

After getting all our pics of Mona, we continued on to see the other selected works I had picked out prior to our trip. I had a mini meltdown at this point because my pre-paid SIM card had stopped working and I couldn’t access my email where I had stored my list. Talk about poor planning! Luckily I remembered most of my must-sees, and it helped that they were mainly the popular ones that were listed on the Louvre’s map anyways. Still, the Louvre is so incredibly massive and spread out and I am probably the worst person when it comes to navigating with a map so I was thoroughly frustrated. Luckily Mike is pretty great at this kind of thing and he took it from there! We stopped to see a few of the more famous French and Italian paintings (Wedding Feast at Cana, Virgin of the Rocks, Madonna and Child with St John the Baptist, The Raft of Medusa, The Coronation of Napoleon) before heading over to the nearly empty wing that houses the Napoleon III Apartments…all incredibly cool things to see.

Napoleon Apartments, Louvre

We walked through some of the Egyptian rooms and the sculpture halls, found Venus de Milo (circled by hundreds at this point), and then called it good on our first trip to the Louvre after about 2-3 hours.

Venus de Milo, Louvre

The buildings and rooms are beautiful to walk through in their own right and every room has something you can stop to see…it would take weeks upon weeks to see it all. We were happy with what we saw in such a short period of time and hopefully we’ll be back someday to see a little more!

Louvre sculpture

Next up was a quick bite to eat followed by the Musee d’Orsay. At this point we were pretty exhausted and our patience was waning…luckily there were little to no crowds at the Musee d’Orsay so we were in and out in no time at all.

Musee d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay is an old train station and the building itself is incredibly beautiful. We headed up to the 5th floor to see the impressionist paintings and then worked our way down, stopping to take a few pictures of the clock and of the museum itself, and finishing with the Van Gogh and other post-impressionists on the 2nd floor. We could’ve stayed much longer as there was a ton to see here as well, but we were exhausted and ready to head home.

Clock, Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay

After a short nap we headed back out for our last night in Paris. We walked from our B&B to the Moulin Rouge area, stopping for a few drinks and finally getting my escargot on the way! We returned to Dirty Dick for a couple more tiki drinks and then, once it was dark, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower to say our final goodbyes to Paris! From right outside the Trocadéro metro stop we got a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower and the light show begin just as we got there. It was quite the sight to see and a great way to end our final night in Paris!

Escargot, Paris

Dirty Dick cocktail

Eiffel Tower at night

All in all I really enjoyed Paris, I can’t say I truly loved it like many people do, but as the days went by it began to grow on me more and more. To me, Paris is very similar to New York City…if you replaced all the skyscrapers with super old buildings and added in a palace or two. Paris is big, it’s kind of dirty, I felt like I was about to be Taken by nearly every man in the subway, and the people outside our B&B weren’t always the most pleasant, but there was always just that buzz…the same alive feeling I’ve had standing in the middle of Times Square at night, watching all the craziness unfold around me. I feel very fortunate to have added Paris to my growing list of places travelled and I hope that someday I can return to experience it all over again.

 

Paris Day 1-The Lay of the Land

Paris Day 2-Visiting Versailles

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