Monday, February 29, 2016

Good Eats: Natrabu Minang Restaurant, Bali, Indonesia


Natrabu Minang Restaurant  Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai No. 163 (Sanur), Denpasar.  Specializing in Minang cuisine, this restaurant serves many small dishes that are sort of like rijsttafel.  It also features an ornate stage where diners can take a break, dress up in exotic royal headwear, and snap some fun pictures.  


rijsttafel dinner at Natrabu Minang Restaurant in Bali, Indonesia


rijsttafel dinner at Natrabu Minang Restaurant in Bali, Indonesia


playing dress-up after dinner at Natrabu Minang Restaurant in Bali, Indonesia
Natrabu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  


Friday, February 26, 2016

Guest Post: CityPASS, NYC


We loved New York even more with CityPASS
guest post by Connie Terwilliger, with Debbie Murray
images ©2016 Debbie Murray

at Mews near Washington Square, Big Storm of 2016, NYC
at Mews near Washington Square, Big Storm of 2016, NYC

On a late January trip to NYC with my sister, Debbie, to visit our niece and her new family members--identical twin girls—in Queens, we decided to explore Manhattan for a couple of days first.  Turns out, we had the experience of our lives when we encountered one of the biggest snow storms in NYC history.   Because that evening of the storm it had been outlawed to drive cars or taxis or buses--even the subway  was closed—adults and dogs as well as kids were playing in the streets in the snow.  Everyone hung around their homes and threw snowballs.  Amazingly, policemen were still out there patrolling.

But, being tourists, we forged on with our plan to use our CityPASS to save some money and effort on our adventures.  However, because of the exceptional conditions presented by this major snow storm, we didn’t do as much or save quite as much as we had anticipated.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
I was impressed with how efficient and quick it was to get our passes approved for entry.  The regular charge for admission is a voluntary donation, so in essence this museum is free, but the recommended donation is $25 and most people pay that.   With the entry sticker attached to your clothing, you can come and go for the entire day.
Connie’s favorite exhibit:  Contemporary Art section
Debbie’s favorite exhibit:  room devoted to Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright room at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Frank Lloyd Wright room at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 
Here, we got to go to front of line with CityPASS—quite a handy feature when the museum just opens and it has a long line.  Unfortunately, the museum was redoing the central spiral ramp so we were unable to walk there, but the exhibits we did see were impressive.  Admission is $25, but because the museum wasn’t fully open it was discounted that day.  More about the Guggenheim.
Connie’s favorite exhibit:  the Kadinsky paintings 
Debbie’s favorite exhibit:  the Kadinsky paintings

Kadinsky painting at Guggenheim Museum, NYC
Kadinsky painting at Guggenheim Museum, NYC

Empire State Building Experience 
By chance, we chose an amazing time to visit here—5 p.m. on a Sunday, and a day after the second biggest snow storm in the history of NYC.  Consequently there was absolutely NO line.  We could tell that the line must generally be long, because it took us a good 10 minutes to “walk the line” to the elevator to take us to the 86th-floor viewpoint.  It was a clear night, and there were perhaps 80 people viewing the sites.  I am sure I wouldn’t have done this if I’d had to wait in a long line, but I definitely would have if CityPASS had taken me to the front.  The normal admission charge is $30; $60 for skipping to the front of the line.

sunset from atop Empire State Building, NYC
sunset from atop Empire State Building, NYC

American Museum of Natural History 
Debbie says:  I went here alone the day after the snow storm.  I arrived at about 2 p.m. and there was no line, but the pass did permit me to go to the front of the members’ line.  Because some areas of the museum were closed, the ticket desk didn’t want to take my pass then, so that I could come back again on another day.  Admission here is $22. 
Debbie’s favorite exhibit:  the dinosaur skeleton in its own room on the main level

dinosaur skeleton at American Museum of Natural History, NYC


Debbie says:  Though due to the snow storm we were unable to do everything we’d planned, the storm was my favorite part of the trip in Manhattan.  Visiting my niece and her new twins were the best treat in Queens.  I want to go back to NYC again in December for Christmas.
Connie says:  If you’re planning to visit from three to five of the places on the CityPASS, it’s well worth any extra cost just to get to the front of the line!  Originally we were planning to visit all of the places in the CityPASS booklet, including the “Top of the Rock” Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center, but we were slowed down a bit by the storm.

image ©2016 Suzanne Flores

Note:  CityPASS provided two New York adult booklets ($114 each) for this adventure.  You can buy your pass booklet at any listed attraction; it is valid for 9 days.  

(Connie Terwilliger is the author of “Art Travel Guide” and the operator of The Art Cottage & Art Studio overnight lodging in Nevada City, California.)

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Sights to See: Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia


Tanah Lot  One in a chain seven sea temples along the south-western Bali coast--each established within eyesight of the next--this expansive temple complex is always spectacular, but morning light provides the best photos.  Sunset is good, but bus-loads of tourists arrive then and the rock is in shadow.  If you’re here then, perhaps the best way to watch the sunset is fortified by a cold beer or refreshing fresh coconut water in one of the bluff-top cafes.  Souvenir stalls are plentiful, and hawkers offer interesting items as you walk around.  The temple name translates as “small island floating on the sea.”

Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia

taking selfies at Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia

Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia

sunset from a cafe at Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia


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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  


Friday, February 19, 2016

Great Sleeps: Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar, Bali, Indonesia


Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar  Jl Danau Tamblingan 99a, Sanur, +62 361 8497 000.  4 stars.  338 rooms.  Pool; children’s pool; beach club passes; fitness room; poolside massage.  Restaurant; swim-up pool bar, lobby bar.  Located in the heart of the popular Sanur beach area, with plenty of shops and restaurants located just outside the property, this stylish hotel has a Balinese touch.  A large open-air lobby is a comfortable place to gather and to people watch.  A large free-form pool with wonderful lukewarm water dominates the interior courtyard. 

pool at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

There are plenty of lounge chairs, and many of them are sitting right in the shallow water—the way I like it, and perfect for toe-dangling. 

pool at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

More lounge chairs await on the nearby beach, reachable by a 10-minute walk or free shuttle ride.  I think the best guest rooms are those on the bottom floor with their own little shallow plunge pool right off the deck.

plunge-pool rooms at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

But I did like my third-floor room with a private whirlpool tub for four on my outside deck.  And I liked that it looked out to the roofs of village homes, and I could hear the roosters and other animals in an adjacent barnyard in the morning. 

third-floor guest room view at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Room decor is contemporary, with soothing earth tones and wood trim.  White cotton sheets and duvet cover keeps things comfortable. 

guest room at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Bathrooms have a Toto toilet with all the bells and whistles.  Shower and toilet stalls are separated by opaque glass, and the counter is extra-large.  All rooms have a balcony, and the A.C. is gentle, quiet, and efficient.  Breakfast in the morning is in an open-air restaurant by the pool.  I favored an area in the back that fronts a quiet residential road, and I adored the French toast with papaya jam.  

breakfast room view at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Sanur beach and shops:

Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia

restaurant by Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia


shopping street by Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia


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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  



Friday, February 5, 2016

Good Eats: Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant, NYC


Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant  5 Mott St., Chinatown, (212) 566-8388.  Daily 10:00am-9:30pm; $.  In addition to being kosher and vegetarian, this restaurant uses no MSG and is very vegan.  It is a small restaurant with a large following, and so usually there is a wait.  I ventured here on Christmas Day, so wait we did.
wait outside Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC

full-up interior Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC

Finally seated, we ordered a head-spinning array of dim sum dishes.  Everything we selected was delicious, and nothing was left over.  Our hands-down favorite was the barbecue pork, which tasted so good and so meaty in texture that I was sure something hard I crunched down on was a bone.  Of course it wasn’t, but I still wonder WHAT was it?  Our tab for four adults and a child came to just over $50; it was so reasonable that we didn’t bother double-checking it, which we usually do.
vegetarian barbecue pork at Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC
vegetarian barbecue pork

fried taro custard at Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC
fried taro custard

rice roll at Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC
rice roll

sticky rice in bamboo leaves at Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC
sticky rice in bamboo leaves

fried greed peppers stuffed with veggie meat at Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC
fried greed peppers stuffed with veggie meat

chow fun noodles at Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC
chow fun noodles


And the clientele is almost as wonderful as the food.  A nearby couple who were finished and leaving stopped by our table and offered our group a neck massage with one of those roller massagers.  It was a surprising, fun, and satisfying encounter with “real” New Yorkers.

In fact, everyone in the restaurant rolled into a festive mood once they were fed.  Outside, when leaving, we were approached by another local character who was with a group waiting in line down the street.  He wanted to know what we thought of our dim sum brunch and we were happy to tell him.  He walked off considering jumping ship and bringing his group to Buddha Bodai.  
Buddha Bodai One Vegetarian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dim sum photo gallery.   

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Good Eats: Indus, Bali, Indonesia


Indus  Jin. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud.  The owner of this atmospheric spot inside an vintage building, Ketut Suardana, is a story in himself.  So is his wife, Janet DeNeefe, who is a noted expert on Balinese cuisine and hosts the town’s annual food festival.  Together they own three top restaurants in Ubud plus a guesthouse.  The couple also sponsors an annual writers conference.  This restaurant’s open-air dining room overlooks a vast jungle area and is both nicely decorated and comfortable.  My Asian-fusion lunch here included some crispy appetizer chips and a delicious shrimp curry.  It was among the best cuisine I enjoyed in Bali.  And I must mention that the restrooms, located downstairs and with a view into the garden, are surprisingly special and a don’t-miss (scroll down).  

dining room at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

children's area in dining room at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

view from porch at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

crispy-chip appetizer at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

orange fruit drink at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

shrimp curry at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

shredded chicken and fish stick at Indus restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Indus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Good Eats/Great Sleeps/Things to Do: Puri Candikuning and Bali Botanic Garden/Eka Karya Botanic Garden, Bali, Indonesia


Puri Candikuning  Jl. Raya Candikuning KM 52, Baturiti, Tabanan, +62 368 203 3252.  Located in the highlands, this serene luxury resort overlooks Lake Bratan.  The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and the views exceptional.  Though I did not stay here, I enjoyed a lovely meal in the dining room and later toured the atmospherically decorated accommodations. 

Nearby, the Bali Botanic Garden/Eka Karya Botanic Garden is a good place to enjoy the cool central Bali upland.  It is popular with both locals and visitors, who enjoy the highlands scenery combined with the vast collection of tropical plants--many of which are rare--and wildlife viewed in their natural habitat.  The giant and rare Rafflesia blooms several times each year.  Bali Treetop Adventure Park, with six main circuits stretching from tree to tree, is also found here, and a Balinese-style guesthouse provides onsite lodging.  A trip to the gardens is commonly combined with recreational activities at Lake Bratan and visiting the iconic Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple.

view of Lake Bratan at Puri Candikuning in Bali

dessert plate at Puri Candikuning in Bali
dessert plate at Puri Candikuning

lodging at Puri Candikuning in Bali
lodging at Puri Candikuning




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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers