Saturday, 29 June 2013

Teka Teki: A Traditional Balinese B&B in Seminyak


One of the things I love about Bali is the Hindu architecture: The Hindu effigies, the colourful bricks and the private temples in the residential gardens. So when I found this traditional Balinese B&B called Teka Teki in the heart of Seminyak, I felt I’d truly arrived in Bali. Teka Teki means crossword, which to me seemed quite appropriate because my taxi driver and I found it a bit of a puzzle to actually find the place in the myriad of ‘gangs’ or alleys.

Teka Teki: A Traditional Balinese B&B in Seminyak

                            This photo of Teka-Teki House is courtesy of TripAdvisor


I arrived in the middle of the night after riding a van, a ferry and another van all the way from Cemoro Lewang. So I only realised how atmospheric Teka Teki was the next morning. I woke up in my Kecak room which was tastefully decorated with batik pillows, wicker furniture and local handcrafts. The smell reminded me of my childhood, when I was living in Jakarta. I had my own TV and aircon, but a shared bathroom which was one of those open air ones, a floor covered with pebbles and a lush rain shower right.

Teka Teki: A Traditional Balinese B&B in Seminyak

                                    This photo of Teka-Teki House is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Guided by my grumbling stomach I went out to the porch where breakfast was served. I devoured my sweet banana pancakes and Bali coffee and relaxed on the couch a little bit, taking in my new home for the next couple of days. There is a small garden which is the domain of the two house dogs and some very loud toads. The latter apparently only migrate to Teka Teki occasionally so not to worry.

Teka Teki: A Traditional Balinese B&B in Seminyak

                       This photo of Teka-Teki House is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Teka Teki: A Traditional Balinese B&B in Seminyak

                       This photo of Teka-Teki House is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I asked if I could have a nosey around, and that was okay. There are two rooms downstairs and one upstairs called the Legong room which has its own porch, complete with a traditional Balinese door. There are two more rooms across the street. Since my last stay here, Teka Teki have expanded and they now also offer accommodation in a private villa or, if that is too posh for you, you can opt for a bunk bed in their 6-bed dorm room. Furthermore there is a small kitchen where snacks and drinks are available at reasonable fees.

Teka Teki: A Traditional Balinese B&B in Seminyak

                        This photo of Teka-Teki House is courtesy of TripAdvisor

There is no swimming pool, but I was taken to the pool at a nearby villa complex just around the corner. But of course, the beach is never far away when you’re in Seminyak, so that's where I went most of the time. What struck me most about Teka Teki is that, due to its location in the far end of a gang, it’s utterly quiet and peaceful. The contrast with downtown Seminyak will hit you as soon as you turn the corner into Seminyak road where honking horns and crazy motorbike riders will snap you right back into reality.

I loved staying here so much that I actually returned the next year and I promise I will next time I go to Bali.

For more information on Teka Teki, click here: http://www.tekatekibali.com/

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Visit to the Bromo Volcano

When you’re travelling across Java, the Bromo volcano is one of those must-go-and-see places. So on my last trip to Indonesia, when I was making my way from Yogjakarta to Bali, I stopped off in Cemoro Lewang to see what all the fuss is about.

In Yogja I had booked a transfer all the way to Seminyak in Bali which included a detour to the still active volcano. The drive from Yogja to our hotel in Cemoro Lewang took over 14 hours. I was picked up from my hotel in Yogjakarta in the morning and we arrived at the hotel in Cemoro Lewang at around 11pm. I went straight to bed as a 3 am wake up call was next on the itinerary.

A Visit to the Bromo Volcano

I was woken up to a freezing, cold room and put on everything I could find in my back-pack, before hopping into the jeep. We drove along dark, windy roads with a couple of other jeeps in tow. After about 45 minutes, the driver parked the jeep and we got out, where even more jeeps started turning up. I bought myself a cup of tea to keep warm and sat down to wait for the sun to appear.

It’s funny, when I’d imagined watching the sun rise on my visit to the Bromo Volcano, I certainly hadn’t thought that it would be in the company of hundreds of other tourists. I kept having to get up off my rock to take pictures of them, or posing in them (the joys of being Western in Asia). But I watched the sunrise and tried to ignore the crowds. I’ve seen many a sunrise, but this one was indeed an impressive sight to watch: daylight crept over the massive mount that sits in the middle of an open plain which is also known as the ‘sea of sand’.

A Visit to the Bromo Volcano

After the sun had done its trick, we climbed back into the jeep and drove to the sea of sand where we walked towards the volcano and up the stairs to the rim of the crater. The Bromo is still active and last erupted in 2011, so the smells of sulphur are clearly noticeable. The viewpoint is fenced off but if you walk towards the end of safe area, away from the noise of the other visitors, you can hear the rumbling coming from the insides of the Bromo. We walked down the steps again and had a quick look around the Pura Luhur Poten temple, before jetting off to Bali.

A Visit to the Bromo Volcano

In hindsight, I think I would’ve give the Bromo a miss given that it’s such a popular tourist destination, but it was not a bad break from being cooped up in a van on our 36 hour drive from Yogjakarta to Bali.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Biking the Thames Path

Biking the Thames Path

London must be the most rural metropolis on earth and you can clearly see this along the Thames River Path.   This path runs along the entirety of the river, from the source in the Cotswolds to the point where it spits its water and all the crap it collected along the way, in the North Sea.


Biking the Thames Path

I love walking or cycling along the path in and outside of London. It's fascinating to see the contrasts of urban London with the rural scenes the further out you go. However; last weekend I took my Dutch bike for a ride from Battersea to Kew Gardens and back.

Biking the Thames Path
Wandle nature reserve

I started near my home at the Battersea Heliport, and went on towards Wandsworth, where new apartments blocks are sprouting  like onions, overlooking the serene spot where the Wandle meets the Thames. I passed through Wandsworth Park, where I stopped to take a look back and watch the sweeping river views behind me.

Biking the Thames Path

After a short interruption in Putney of having to walk across some crossings with traffic lights, I jumped back on the Dutch bike and peddled past the Oxford and Cambridge rowing clubs and sailing clubs. This is where rural London starts. The path here suddenly becomes rocky and completely covered by a canopy of trees. Views of the river appear in and out of view between the foliage of the shrubs that separate the river from the path.

Biking the Thames Path


Biking the Thames Path

I passed under the Hammersmith Bridge and cycled further towards Barnes through more bushiness, passing the Barnes Wetlands centre. On the Terrace the path continues on the pavement before dipping under the Barnes rail bridge, continuing towards Kew. The path here becomes considerably more narrow and I on my ill-equipped Dutch city bike almost slid into the river Thames a few times. Must invest in mountain bike!

Biking the Thames Path
Kew Bridge

Biking the Thames Path

I was going to cut my Thames tour here, but suddenly I realised that I was extremely close to Kew Palace and couldn't resist the urge to go and have a look. So off the path I went, onto the driveway of the palace. After paying the (whopping) 16 quid to enter the gardens, which included a visit the palace, I took a quick self-guided tour of the royal residence and its kitchens and of the lush display of cakes in the Orangery restaurant next door. The scones were delish. And so was the carrot cake. And the muffin.

Biking the Thames Path
staircase at Kew Palace

Biking the Thames Path
Royal kitchens at Kew Palace
On the way back I decided to take the other side of the Thames. Even though the north side isn't as green and lush as the north side, I passed some lovely, albeit more urban spots. The Strand on the Green remains my all time favourite place to hang out and have a beer at one of the pubs with your legs dangling over the water, off the side of the pavement. Don't bike here though!

Biking the Thames Path
Garden at Chiswick Mall

The Chiswick Mall is another must-stop-and-take-pictures spot. The houses lining this street are extremely grand and beautifully overgrown with climbers and colourful flowers. The private gardens are located across the road. They are very pretty, but judging from the sludge on the lawns, they flood on a regular basis. The Thames is a tidal river after all and living on its banks comes with the drawback of having a flooded garden.

Biking the Thames Path
Cottage at Chiswick Mall

Biking the Thames Path
Chiswick Mall

I rode onward through Hammersmith past the Fulham stadium, through Bishop's Park and passed the posh Hurlingham Club. I crossed the river back to the south side on the Wandsworth Bridge where I rejoined the path in front of Battersea Reach before reaching my house again.

If you're not the lucky owner of a bike, not to worry. The Thames path happens to be very walkable too.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Battersea Flower Station


Battersea Flower Station

Battersea Power Station recently had a little, floral sister called Battersea Flower Station. It's a brand, spanking new garden centre off Battersea Park Road, nestled against the bank of the train tracks running alongside. I love it when I discover new things in my hood, so this morning, on my way to get my coffee, I popped in.

Battersea Flower Station

It's got a long, stretchy layout, with lush plants and blooming flowers on either side, creating a green corridor throughout. The scent of jasmine and lavender dances in the air. You can buy everything here, whether you're looking for outdoor plants, indoor plants or bouquets of flowers.There are crates of herbs, like sage, thyme and mint. Tables full of fuchsias and fences draped with climbers. Pots, garden furniture and lots of other garden paraphernalia are dotted around the centre.

Between the shrubbery there are several gift shops selling garden decorations, ranging from outdoor candles, light strings and garden gnomes. And you can even buy freshly baked bread and homemade jam.

Battersea Flower Station

The little Battersea oasis is run by local people who, according to their website, chucked in their office jobs to set up a place of beauty and magic in the heart of London. Besides the general garden centre stuff, the Battersea Flower Station also offers bespoke flower arrangements for weddings and such, they can give you free advice on how to pimp up your garden, terrace or balcony and if you just love love love gardening, but aren't blessed with a garden of your own, you can come in and help at in theirs.

Battersea Flower Station

It's a must go to place for people with green thumbs. And even if my thumbs aren't so green, it makes for a lovely short-cut to my morning coffee.

Battersea Flower Station

For opening times and other useful tidbits on the Battersea Flower Station, visit their website here:
http://www.batterseaflowerstation.co.uk/


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Bring Your Own Cocktail


Bring Your Own Cocktail

Even though booze is not illegal these days, speakeasy bars are so hot right now. BYOC (which stands for bring your own cocktail) is a speakeasy bar in the middle of Covent Garden and I was invited to come and have a look.

Bring Your Own Cocktail

It's all very hush hush and secretive and you need to book before you go there. The venue is completely out of sight from the unsuspecting passers-by and it took us a while before we'd actually found the way in. Its entrance is hidden inside a juice bar called the Juice Club on Bedfordbury Street among the crates of oranges and lemons and behind bottles of freshly squeezed bottles of juice.

Bring Your Own Cocktail

The hostess took us down the stairs into a teeny tiny and very dark room. It took a while before our eyes were adjusted to the lack of light, but when they did we were pleasantly surprised. The place is very intimate with exposed brick walls and wooden furniture and only 6 tables. There were only two other parties when we were there, which made the atmosphere even more cosy. In the aisle there was an antique looking dolly trolley stacked with bottles of syrups, gomme and fresh herbs and fruits.  A gramophone playing some Louis Armstrong songs. (Actually it was an IPad perched on the gramophone doing the playing, but hey, this is the 21st century.)

Bring Your Own Cocktail

We were greeted by our cocktail master Alexei who grabbed our bottle of rum and after consulting our preferences and favourite flavours, swiftly started mixing it up with all sorts of interesting ingredients and fresh juices. Our first drink was a breakfast martini made with fresh orange and lime juice, some vanilla syrup and egg white for the froth. His second concoction was made with real cucumbers, rose syrup, some apple and vanilla syrup. Our third drink was even more unusual as it was made up of yellow bell peppers. We finished our evening with a strawberry, basil and balsamic cocktail. The cocktails were all very experimental, but each and every one was extremely tasty. After two hours we had to leave our table as our session was finished, but the weird and wonderful cocktails of BYOC certainly left a taste for more. Must go back soon.

Bring Your Own Cocktail


To book your own BYOC evening, check out their website:
http://www.byoc.co.uk/


Click to add a blog post for BYOC on Zomato

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Geffrye Museum in East London


The Geffrye Museum in East London

Call me weird, but I like looking into windows peeping into people's living room. So when I heard about the Geffrye museum in East London, I just had to go.

The Geffrye Museum in East London

The Geffrye Museum is a museum about homes and the way people lived in London throughout the last 400 years. It showcases different living rooms from different times, using real furniture, upholstery and knickknacks. There are eleven rooms on show at the Geffrye Museum. You start your visit looking into a hall from 1630 after which you walk through time along a narrow corridor where the living rooms, parlours and drawing rooms are alternated with rooms that hold artifacts and very clearly displayed tidbits on how people used to live in that particular time. The tour ends with a loft conversion from the 1990s.

The Geffrye Museum in East London

It's really fascinating to see how taste and style evolved throughout the centuries. How the decor went from minimalist to opulent and back to minimalist. How fashion was always something to follow; Japanning was hot in the seventeenth century, neatness in style in the eighteenth century and needlework and crochet cushions were must-haves in the late nineteenth century.

The Geffrye Museum in East London

It's interesting to see how mod-cons like lighting and heating changed over the years. You learn how sanitation worked back in the day; the loo was in the back yard and a guy came to pick up the poo. You see how rubbish was disposed off; You just chucked it out the window, really. And how water was supplied to the house; It was home delivered by a water man.

The Geffrye Museum in East London

But really what struck me most was how the things we love to do at home with our family haven't changed all that much. We still have dinners together, we still play games together and we still listen to music together. Although I think when it comes to 21st century family life, I can add: We like to fiddle on our smart phones while we're spending time together.

The Geffrye Museum in East London

You can find more information by clicking here:  http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/


Friday, 14 June 2013

Afternoon Tea at Gallery Mess


When searching for scones today with my mom (who loves them) and dad who are visiting from Holland, we ended up at the Gallery Mess next to the Saatchi Gallery on the King's Road for some afternoon tea with a side of art.





The Gallery Mess is tucked in a corner of the Duke of York Square. We walked in on and were seated right away at a table overlooking the green in front of the Saatchi Gallery. As expected the decor has loads of references to the gallery in the shape of interesting pieces of art. So don't be surprised to find a massive shoe on your way to the loo or a glass head looking over your food.



The Gallery Mess is open from 10 am to 11.30 pm perfect for lunch and dinner. But we were here for the afternoon tea. Mom and I opted for the afternoon tea which consisted of a pot of tea of your choice. The savouries included cucumber sandwiches, bagels draped with smoked salmon, and quail's egg sandwich. There were chocolates, macaroons and a lemony cake topped with a tuft of frosting. And of course there were the scones. They were served in a white serviette, still warm out of the oven accompanied with clotted cream and jam.


On our way back to Battersea, we popped into the Saatchi Gallery and wandered around the different works of art on display. The theme of the exhibitions was paper and there was one display by an artist named Yuken Teruya that really struck me. They were dioramas inside paper shopping bags ranging from Louis Vuitton to McDonald's bags. Yuken had meticulously cut out tiny trees complete with branches full of leaves from the side of the paper bag and folded them into the bag. That's what I call being a creative recycler.






The exhibition 'Paper' was on in 2012, but  there are always exciting exhibitions on display here.  Go and have a look. 
http://www.saatchigallery.com/

Gallery Mess Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Bloom PYO Strawberry Garden in Covent Garden

If you can't make it to the English country side, then why not let the English country side come to you? Today I was invited to pick my own strawberries and have a G&T at the Bloom PYO Strawberry Garden smack in the middle of London's Covent Garden, a quintessentially English pop garden sponsored by the gin brand Bloom.

Bloom PYO Strawberry Garden in Covent Garden

It's a lovely setting to take a breather and have a refreshing glass of Bloom G&T and it really feels like you're stepping from a bustling London street into the quiet English countryside.

Bloom PYO Strawberry Garden in Covent Garden

There are birds singing, there's hay on the ground and there are flowers everywhere. You can even smell the scent of freshly cut grass wafting about. Downstairs there's a marquee complete with garden tables and chairs. Or you can sit on bails of hay if you prefer to rough it proper country style. Of course it wouldn't be complete without the rows of strawberries which are lovingly watered by girls in flowy, white summer dresses.

Bloom PYO Strawberry Garden in Covent Garden

The concept is simple. You pick your own strawberries and take them to the bar where two bartenders will cut them for you, put them in a glass and douse them with a refreshing Bloom G&T. I can't say that I'm an avid G&T drinker, but I admit that the Bloom gin seems a lot less hairy and the strawberries really do give an extra summery flavour to the G&T.

Bloom PYO Strawberry Garden in Covent Garden


The pop up Bloom PYO strawberry garden is located on 19 Earlham Street in Covent Garden and will be open from 12pm-7pm today till Thursday the 13th of June.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum

After seeing the real thing in Italy earlier this year I couldn't miss the exhibition of Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum. So I booked myself a ticket online and off I went.

Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum

I had been really blown away by my visit to the ruins of the two cities that were destroyed due to the eruption of Vesuvius back in AD 79. So I'd see where they lived, worked and played, now I was going to see how they lived, worked and played.

Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum


The exhibition is laid out as a typical house of that time and visitors are led through the different rooms where the artifacts that go with that particular living space are displayed.

Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum

There's the shop area with its different tools, liquor jugs and canisters. You walk through the living area where colourful mosaics hung and marble plaque on the wall and residents sat on beautifully crafted furniture. There's a garden where you can just imagine the people of Pompeii relaxing there with the sound of birds chirping and water flowing in the fountain in the background.

Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum

You learn that the Romans were a lively bunch. They liked to show off their wealth by throwing lavish parties. You learn that they were very open about what happened in the bedroom. Very open, indeed. It was apparently very common to have your slave present during lovemaking and sometimes the slave was even allowed to join in. You'll see that the ladies cared about their looks and wore makeup and jewellery.

Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum

However the most remarkable items I thought were the plaster casts of the dog and the family with two children. It is scarily visible how awful it must have been for them to go through a natural disaster of that scale and die the way they did. Ironically, as horrible an event it must have been back then, it also enabled us to learn so much about the way the Romans lived back then because the ashes and debris conserved the towns so well.


Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum
Just a regular Roman wind chime

The exhibition Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum is still on till the 29th of September.
For more information, check out the British Museum website.