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Tigerlillys, Nusa Lembongan, Bali

Floating in a pool-side, suspended swing chair, surrounded by lush greenery and thatched-roof cabanas – a menu of tasty food at the ready – is a pretty good recipe for a relaxed holiday stay. When checking in to Tigerlillys, on the southeastern Balinese island of Nusa Lembongan, you are handed a watermelon juice, and then welcomed in to this little island oasis. It’s tempting to pull up a cabana chair, order a fresh coconut, and not leave the premises.

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan room 3

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan Katie Mayor readTigerlilys Nusa Lembongan best islands bali indonesia food

In addition to being a pretty hip lodging, Tigerlillys is also a restaurant and bar, and probs one of the best ones around. Craving some tasty Indonesian and Asian cuisine? You’re in luck, friend. We especially dug the Vegetarian San Choy Bau with tempe (chicken one also available), the yummy juices like the dairy free ‘Green Machine’, with spinach, avocado, cucumber, papaya and banana topped with chia seeds, and I find it a real challenge to order beyond a banana pancake for brekky when I’m in Bali – they are sooo good, with the slices cooked into the pancake, rather than on top. GIMME!

Tigerlillys definitely provides the kind of menu you could happily peruse every few hours while kicking back by the pool all day. Cup of tea? Sure. Cheeky pizza? (Unfortunately for your healthy eating plan) too easy. Time for a Bintang or a watermelon mint martini? Why do you temp us so?

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan settling in pool_Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan restaurant space chair

The rustic, boho decor (think vintage furniture and bright, mirrored throw pillows) gives the restaurant a relaxed vibe as well. When you feel like changing it up, a stroll down to the fab The Deck is also worth your while. You know, if you want to swap your pool view for an ocean one.

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan restaurant area

The room had a comfy, wooden frame bed with a batik bedspread and is surrounded by a mosquito net. A daybed sits by the window, a cosy little reading nook to while away a lazy afternoon, peering out at lush vegetation of palm and frangipani trees. We had an upstairs room with an external staircase, the semi-outdoor bathroom below.

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan roomTigerlilys Nusa Lembongan Phillip Marsden reading

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan best islands bali indonesia palm trees

Our one complaint was that when booking a Nusa Penida tour through the reception, the operator who came to explain it to us, failed to mention that the snorkeling section of the tour he sold us cost extra. It wasn’t until we returned from the tour that they hit us up for a higher price that we had agreed upon, and the reception staff didn’t back us up when we complained, so we begrudgingly still had to pay it. It put a bit of a dampner on what was an overall good stay.

Also check out the post Bali Island Paradise: Nusa Lembongan for what to get up to on the island.

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Surf Jack Hotel, Waikiki best hotels honolulu hawaii

Wild Spin of the Web {3}

A sneak peek into one of the fab hotels I’ve booked into for my upcoming honeymoon, some natural spas to get you planning your next relaxation break, a charming author’s guest cabin, and a retreat in Tasmania to truly get away from it all (but in rustic style), welcome to the next installment of Wild Spin of the Web.

STAY: Surf Jack, Waikiki – I’m endlessly on the lookout for unique, boutique hotels to add some style and comfort to my trips, and this was especially the case when planning my upcoming honeymoon to Hawaii. Sure, Hawaii seems like a cliched choice, but I’ve been itching to get there to experience the natural beauty of Kaua’i, otherwise known as the Garden Isle. But flying in and out of Oahu means a few days in Honolulu, so I was on the lookout for somewhere exciting to stay that doesn’t break the budget (the wedding has already done that, people!). Enter Surf Jack, complete with a pool that is blazoned with Wish You Were Here (also a fave Pink Floyd song!), stylish rooms, cute cafe and restaurant downstairs…you get the picture. I can’t wait!

Surf Jack Hotel, Waikiki best hotels honolulu hawaii

Photo credit: Surf Jack, Waikiki

VISIT: Natural Hot Springs  – I think all this wedding planning is making me feel the need for a good rest, and what better way to wind down than having a soak in some mineral-rich natural hot springs? This article in Australian Traveller 11 natural hot springs of uncommon beauty show some of the most divine examples across Australia, and for some international and instagram-worthy examples, check out 8 hot springs that are equal parts dreamy and rejuvenating in Well + Good.

Peninsula Hot Springs, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria Source: Australian Traveller Magazine

Peninsula Hot Springs, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Source: Australian Traveller Magazine

STAY: Author’s Cosy Guesthouse – I dream of having a rustic, chic cabin in which to write, and U.S. author Edward Karlow has made his guest cabin in Minneapolis, Minnesota just that. Check it out on Design Sponge, and the great news is, you can also book it on Airbnb!

Author cabin Minnesota Airbnb

Photo credit: Design Sponge

GUIDE: Daylesford, Victoria – Anyone who has been following the blog (you can sign up to the e-newsletter here) will know that I recently had a spectacular winter weekend away in Daylesford, Victoria. And I felt like I visited most of the key spots, but after stumbling on this article in The Design Files which has the tips of author and landscape designer Paul Bangay of what to explore in this beautiful region – spa country actually, there’s a theme here this week – and it’s given me loads of inspo for my next visit there.

Daylesford, Victoria

Lake House, Daylesford. Photo credit: Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

STAY: Captain’s Rest, Tasmania – I’ve clearly been exploring a lot of design websites lately, but they can be a great source of travel inspiration as well! And my heart went aflutter when I stumbled on this idyllic, off-the-beaten-track accommodation option on Design to Inspire, which made me feel calm just by looking at this rustic little abode by the water. In the worlds of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock “I want to go to there”. Bookings can be made here, but me first please!

CaptainsRest

Photo credit: Captain’s Rest

I hope this post has given you some ideas about where to next seek some chill time. Where is your favourite place to chill out?

 

 

 

 

Bali Island Paradise: Nusa Lembongan

Oh, to while away more long mornings over coffee and books at The Deck on Nusa Lembongan, watching over the pale, shallow water to the mist-covered hint of a volcano beyond.

An island in the south eastern waters of Bali, Nusa Lembongan is developing quickly, but is far from developed. You can find both comforts and potholes and much in between on this small isle of chilled out paradise.

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan room best places visit baliTigerlilys Nusa Lembongan best places to stay

STAY: We checked in to Tigerlily’s, one of the more beautiful bungalow-style hotels on the island, that wraps around an inviting pool and has an on-site restaurant serving delicious Indonesian specialties, with western faves available too. More on that in a post coming soon.

Breakfast Time: The Deck

After checking in and getting ourselves acquainted with the pool-side swing seats (back for you later *wink), we head straight for one of the island drawcards, The Deck. First glance at this cafe and bar, perched overlooking Jungutbatu beach, revealed one of the signifying features of Lembongan – the old mixed with the new. The Deck is a modern, stark white verandah that has rustic thatched roofing on top, which was covered by a make-shift tarp, which I’m assuming is because of the rain. And on our first visit there, it did just that, so we tucked ourselves away from the elements a little and ordered my first of a few dragon fruit bowls I would indulge in here.

Dragon fruit is a bright pink coloured fruit that originated in Mexico, but is grown quite widely in Southeast Asia. When mashed up and a little icey, it makes a delicious breakfast, especially when combined with other fresh fruits (like watermelons or coconut flesh) and muesli. If you’ve seen this other Bali food post, you’ll see that I’m quite the fan.

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We spent a few nights on Nusa Lembongan, so we had plenty of opportunities to return to our fave island chill spot of The Deck and kick back. It was out last day here where we got epic sunshine that made the whole coast glisten. We read, we drank coffee, and when we couldn’t get more coffee without tweaking our relaxed vibe, we ordered tea, which came on a silver Moroccan tea tray. Nobody rushed us on or gave us looks for lingering. I assume it’s the done thing in Lembongan, and who are we to mess with tradition.

Nusa Lembongan the deck side view best places to eat bali island indonesia

Nusa Lembongan The Deck best places to eat visit bali island

Wander the island on foot

Lembongan keeps the kind of slow pace that travellers to Bali come here for, so a leisurely walk along the streets is something that I’m sure you’ll come to. We weren’t in Indonesia at peak travel season either, so on our strolls we walked past many quiet warungs, or stalls selling typical souvenirs and t-shirts, thongs (or flip flops or jandles or whatever your country calls them – ha!) and snacks, and locals zipping about on scooters or preparing for ‘ceremony’. One of our days here there was a ceremony, which meant locals donned sarongs and local attire in patterns like batik and ikat, common in the region, and visited the local temples. There was even rice cakes dyed pink, though I’m not sure why exactly. Might have been for a wedding.

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Our second morning on the island, I decided we should wake early to watch the day break on the northern side of the island, which was meant to have the prettiest views that take in Mount Agung over in Bali. The morning was a little sprinkly and overcast, so the sunrise was more a gradual lightening of the sky, but it was nice to wander on a deserted beach, except perhaps for the odd curious dog or caged rooster making an effort to wake the owners of the warung to which they belonged.

Speaking of rain, it pays to remember that in rainy season, on the coast, you’re likely to get dumped on at some point, which was the case for us on one such evening out for a wander. But, as we say here in Aus, it pissed down with rain and we got absolutely drenched and suddenly the 500 meters we’d wandered from Tigerlily’s was like a million thong-slipping, mud puddle slopping, shelter chasing kilometers. It’s like I must have over-complained about a mild sunburn and the Indonesian Gods went aaah, we’ve got a solution for that, it’s called a sky-opening water dump, here you go! So, if your accommodation has umbrellas, maybe take one out with you – or not, getting drenched in the tropics can be kinda fun. We also swam in the hotel pool in the rain though, so maybe don’t trust me.

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Nusa Lembongan beach morning best islands visit bali indonesiaNusa Lembongan the deck paradise boats best islands bali

Scoot Around

You can pick up a scooter cheaply (around $7AUD per day) from around the Jungutbatu area where the tourist boats come in from Senur. Just a block behind the beach you’ll see loads of them. The roads around this area are mainly sealed, but for the love of God keep your eyes peeled for potholes and this is not necessarily the case in other parts of the island. We rode all the way down to the south west of the Island to Sandy Bay Beach Club to get a massage one afternoon and some of the roads were almost indistinguishable as such, but you know your suspension works when you’re bobbing up and down like a goddamn pogo stick (which is fun). There are some beautiful views on the high roads, so take it slow and be prepared to stop to take in the vistas.

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Nusa Lembongan view Bali Katie Mayor  best islands visit bali indonesiaNusa Lembongan motor bike scooter best islands visit bali indonesia

Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach

We enjoyed our first visit to sunset beach on the western side of the island so much that we returned on our final night, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, so OK, fine! Dining by the ocean with a lovely sunset it is! The Sandy Bay Beach Club is another example of one of the modern, chic venues on Nusa Lembongan, of which I’m sure more are slated.

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Nusa Lembongan Sandy Bay Beach Club Sunset Beach Happy Hour

 

In addition to being a great place to share a meal (with a large menu from seafood to salads and burgers to nasi goreng), it also has an attached spa, a great little store selling beach threads and shabby chic homewares, and – most importantly – they have a pick up service from most of the hotels across the island! Our first visit was an adventure on the scooter (and maaan are the roads dirty dive holes around here) and our return for dinner and a few champers saw us hitting up the local driver service. We also booked in to the spa and enjoyed an afternoon pamper with a Balinese couples massage (you’ll have lots of these in Bali as they are so darn cheap – or here in Aus they are so darn expensive more like it!), which set us up right for easing into the evening, the sunset, the wine.

Have a water-side drink

On our last evening, after a day trip to Nusa Penida (post coming soon), we settled in at a bar overlooking the beach at Jungatbatu (just a few doors down from The Deck) and ordered a cocktail as the sun went down, watching the boats bob on the surface and some tourists having their luggage hoisted onto the boat back to Senur, knowing that would soon be us. I felt suitable chilled, relaxed, wound down. Perhaps it was the cocktail, perhaps it was spent adrenaline from the kamikaze scooter weilding of the day, but either way, as the water lapped over the shores of Nusa Lembongan, I was already mentally planning my return to this rustic, island hideaway.

Another cocktail please, waiter!

Nusa Lembongan bar beach view Phillip best islands visit bali indonesiaNusa Lembongan beach morning bintang best islands bali drinkNusa Lembongan volcano view mount agung best islands visit bali indonesiaNusa Lembongan bar beach view Katie best islands visit bali indonesia

Getting there: We got the fast boat with Scoot Fast Cruises which takes around 30-40 minutes from Senur to Nusa Lembongan. We’d arranged this through Tigerlily’s, who did a transfer from our hotel in Canggu, including organising the boat. Check out the Scoot website above for a timetable and fares if you plan to do it direct.

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What’s your fave island in Bali?

 

 

 

Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossoms blooming, sumo’s wrestling, origami hanging, Cosplay peeps discoing – wait, where are we?!

A couple of weeks ago, for a couple of weeks, the Auburn Botanic Gardens in Sydney’s western suburbs became the site of much hanami, which translates as the Japanese art of “flower viewing”. Crowds of people (and some hungry bees!) descended on the Japanese garden, which wraps around a lovely geese-filled lake, and is a mere corner of the nine hectares of the whole Auburn sanctuary.

I’m not sure the resident peacocks knew what hit them, but it was definitely camera flashes. Instagram?! What the ef is Instagram?! They weren’t sure, but plumed their impressive emperor attire just in case. Or they wanted a fight. Who knows. Anywho…

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Crowds aside, for the Japanophile (which is probs all of us, yeah?!), it was worth all the potential danger you faced being hit by phone-wielding arms. Bursts of the delicate pink blooms lined the walking paths, and periodically you would find yourself alongside a lady dressed in their finest yukata (summer kimono), clacking in her geta (clogs), which I hadn’t seen since Japan and made me smile and regret not purchasing one in Tokyo.

Speaking of attire – there were also people dressed in elaborate Cosplay outfits, happy to simulate their chosen character for the photos of strangers (like me, for example). Further down the botanical boulevard there was also a Cosplay silent disco, where a group of dressed-up youths bounced and swayed with unabashed delight, letting out communal laughs, lost on anyone without a headset.

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Cherry blossoms are not the only flora to be found in bloom at this time of year – my favourite winter and early spring flower is the magnolia. I always think they are the poetry of the flower world. Something about their blush pink poise when everything around them has died or gone to sleep makes my heart swell a little bit, so I was very pleased to see them among the blossoms of Auburn.

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Food trucks selling festival favourites like bao buns, fairy floss (?) and yakitori sticks were abundant, but we opted for yakisoba and sushi, because the lines weren’t insane and we wanted to get it out of the way before the sumo wrestling started, which took place three times per day over the weekend. We did make sure, however, that we sampled some matcha (green tea) mochi – a sweet dessert made with red bean filling, which was a little ball of squishy deliciousness.

 

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In the late afternoon, visitors began to weave out under the torii gates toward the exit. This was probably the pretties time to be in the garden, for looking up through the cherry blossoms at the waning, sparkling sun was a special sight. We found a spot outside of the Japanese garden (and not far from a kangaroo enclosure, which made me intrigued about what lie in other parts of the vicinity), to laze by a pond and take some idle time, before heading on our way. Eventually we left via an origami crane display, a native bird aviary, and a cart that sold lemonade in light bulbs.

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The Cherry Blossom Festival will return to Auburn Botanic Gardens next August.

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Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival

Wild Spin of the Web {2}

In this second edition of Wild Spin of the Web, we’ll follow a family road trip in California, get a sneak peek at a new travel-inspired exhibition in Brisbane, go on safari, visit a hot new Perth hotel and get some colour inspiration – San-Francisco style!

TRAVEL  –  We know Byron Bay’s Spell & The Gypsy Collective for their floaty, floral, boho fashion, but I only just discovered that they also have a dreamy blog. This adorable post of the Abegg family’s travels in Big Sur and Yosemite, California, is one to give you some serious road-trip envy.  Be sure to watch the video, and take down some notes for your future family road trip. I assume you all plan to do that trip at some point if you haven’t already. (feature image on this post is from Spell & the Gypsy Collective)

STAY – Tribe Hotel, Perth Years ago, after coming back from a year of being overseas, I was not ready to settle back in Sydney, but couldn’t afford to get overseas again, so I decided instead to head for the far opposite coast and lived in Fremantle for around 4 months. And while I’ve been back to Perth briefly a few times since, it was seeing this new Tribe Hotel on Wallpaper* that has shuffled it back into the list of places I want to visit in the not-too-distant future. Love me a design-focused hotel and this easily could have squeezed onto my recent Wild Five: New Australian Hotel Openings post if I had seen it in time!

Tribe Hotel, Perth

Tribe Hotel, Perth

EXHIBITION – Another Aussie city tempting us towards a trip is Brisbane, with the new GOMA exhibition Travellers on from now until the end of October. It promises to feature works that “capture images of discovery, trade, pilgrimage and forced relocation” by various artists in a collection of sculptures, prints, videos and paintings. And then you can stroll along South Bank in the sun. It’s Brisbane – it’s always sunny, amirite!?

 

Jeffrey Smart The Traveller GOMA exhibition

Image: Jeffry Smart, The Traveller

TRAVEL/STAY – Dreaming of safari?! Campsbay Girl is a collection of inspiring photos and stories by South-African blogger Carlinn, who recently made us all envious with her stay in the Madikwe Kopano Lodge, complete with a plunge pool and fireplace. It features some great shots of the animal safari as well. Oh man, I need to get to Africa!

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Image: CAMPSBAY GIRL

VISIT: Colour Factory, San Francisco – better pack one of those extra phone battery charge fittings when you visit this Insta-drool of a new venue in San Francisco. The team behind the cuteness overload website Oh, Happy Day have opened a pop-up venue full of ‘colour experiences’ in one of my fave cities. It’s only open until the end of September, so snap up those tickets.

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Missed our first Wild Spin of the Web? You can check it out here.

Miss Clara, Stockholm

When somebody says Scandinavia, the first thing that floats into my subconscious is clean lines and beautiful, functional design. Well, at least as the top three things with hygge and Alexander Skarsgård – in no particular order. So to even consider going on tour in the land of sleek interiors and not stay in a beautiful hotel or two was out of the question. Enter Miss Clara, Stockholm.

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From our first experience checking in, where we were greeted by a very friendly and helpful concierge (who later gave me great tips for exploring the design stores of Östermalm), we knew were in a place that was pure class.

Then our room, with dark solid wood and billowing white clouds curtains, walls and sheets of crisp white as well, lovely light whether natural or lamp-made, we were arriving into the very aesthetics that Scandi design conjures.

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A nice hotel is also as good as the little touches, like the Orla Kiely products in the bathroom, the Swedish script on the frosted bathroom window,  and the divine buffet breakfast from the downstairs restaurant (oh, to have waffles for breakfast always!), which also presented an inspiring use of hanging light fittings. There’s something to be said for the Scandinavians often being ranked as the happiest nations on earth – and the design is often credited as being one of the reasons for this.

Stockholm Miss Clara bathroom selfie

Stockholm Miss Clara window quote

Splurging on a few luxe stays doesn’t make us elitist, or mean we flit from boutique stay to hot hotel at every turn. After all, we’d just spent a night camping in the wilderness for free on Svartsö, where I came back with a couple of ticks (which thankfully just got lost in my wild hair and didn’t have the chance to burrow in!), and spent much of our trip in the U.K. staying at Phil’s family home (thanks Ron!), which brought as much joy as any fancy hotel.

I do try to have boutique stays in lovely hotels where I can though, but rarely big chains or because of some status name (and I hate paying quite a lot of money on a soulless, average stay), but because they can really heighten your travel experience and – especially with Miss Clara – reflect the sleek aesthetic that runs through their culture.

Which leads to happiness.

And so does a good night’s sleep.

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For further posts you might like on Sweden, please visit my A Short Guide to Stockholm post, or our stay in the Stockholm archipelago.

 

A Short Guide to Stockholm, Sweden

My family is from Stockholm on my mother’s side. Her grandfather’s family, who emigrated to Sydney, had a home that sat below the Captain Cook’s Bridge on the George’s River that they called ‘Stockholm’ in memory of their place of birth. He was a maker of Swedish furniture until a boating accident devastatingly crushed one of his arms. His two brothers went off and married the family maids, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family.

If I could transport back in time, I would love to be around in this house and see how these stories of my family all played out. To see how much of the Swedish culture was woven into their everyday lives. Did they break for fika? Did they speak a mix of English and Swedish and did the brothers whisper Jag älskar dig to the maids while they worked? Was there some pieces of furniture made by my great great grandfather that really should be in my lounge room right now? Probably, but I’m not sure I’ll ever know…

Stockholm Architecture OstermalmStockholm Tram

Needless to say, I have wanted to visit Stockholm for a long time. And while a whirlwind visit (we stayed 3 nights, plus a night camping in the Stockholm Archipelago), we managed to eat well, sleep in one of the most stylish hotels (Miss Clara – see below) of my hotel-staying career (I like to think it’s that – I’m at the beginning and hope it will be a long one), wander through neighbourhoods from the Old Town to Södermalm, and indulge my inner book nerd with a stunning library and new fave bookstore.

STAY: HTL Kungsgatan

We checked in to this stylish and central hotel once at the start of our trip, and again when we returned from the archipelago (more on that below). It’s a good option for a  centrally located place to stay (just down from a Monki store where I got a very Scandi long white button up shirt which had me looking the part), with a stylish bar and back courtyard. OK, it wasn’t just a good location for shopping, it was good because to the north there is the area of Vasastan (where the incredible Stockholm Library is – more on that below), to the East is Östermalm (also worth a visit for fancy Swedish design stores and where you go to get ferries into the archipelago), with the old town Gamla Stan close by to the south. It’s also more reasonably priced than (the incredible but expensive) Miss Clara that we stayed for our third night in Stockholm.

Stockholm HTL Kungsgatan Hotel room ScandinaviaStockholm HTL Kungsgatan plant barStockholm HTL Kungsgatan Phillip Marsden

Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Each day in Stockholm, we found ourselves wandering into Gamla Stan for one reason or other, usually to get to the other side, for the ferry to Djurgården or to wander over in to Södermalm, which we’d been told was the hipster heart of the city. Gamla Stan is a weaving network of charming, cobblestone streets (quite surprising given in the 19th Century it was considered a slum!), lined with traditional bistros and inns, souvenir stores and ice-cream shops. It leads you down to the sunny Kornhamnorg Square, from where you can can cross the bridge into said hipster heart or jump on the ferry. I recommend you do both.

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Stockholm Old TownMade in Sweden Gamla Stan

VISIT: Djurgården

If you missed my post on Oaxen Slip, one of the coolest restaurant’s in Stockholm, jump over now and take a peek, then you will see why we chose to visit Djurgården in the first place. Here you can also find the ABBA Museum, an amusement park Gröna Lund, and our reason for visiting a second time – the Vasa Museum, which houses the world’s only in-tact 17th Century ship, a royal commission built to be Sweden’s greatest war ship, that awkwardly sank about 30 minutes into its maiden voyage. If you see the heavy top and light bottom of the structure you’ll be like ‘duh, but it’s an incredible sight and an echo or an earlier time.

Katie Mayor Stockholm from Ferry Scandinavia

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TASTE: Gro Restaurang

Often when I travel, I line up interviews for my Bondi Beach Radio show before I go. When I heard Aussie chef, food stylist and photographer Simon Bajada, who had recently released the book Nordic Light, was living in Stockholm, I set about lining up a chat. When I interviewed him in the lobby of Nobis Hotel, I couldn’t help but ask: what restaurant was he loving in Stockholm right now and he didn’t hesitate: Gro. To paraphrase, he said what they were doing to raise the flavours of everyday vegetables was blowing his mind. So I thanked him and made a reservation.

Stockholm Gro Restaurant Vegetarian breadStockholm Gro Restaurant Vegetarian summer cabbage beans

This is one of my fondest dining memories ever. Somehow the team here deconstruct simple vegetables, have methods to heighten the flavours – while still staying true to the way that vegetable should taste – and then present them back as something simple, but suddenly magnificent. You really need to experience it for yourself! True Nordic food.

Now, on to what we ate in our ‘Vegivor set menu’. Simple soft and crusty bread, followed by our first dish of carrot, sunflower and marigold. Summer cabbage, beans and pumpkin seeds was next, followed by broccoli, almond and chard. Dessert was to finish, with strawberries, sour cream and chamomile. The four courses were 500 SEK, which came to around $78AUD each, plus wine.

Stockholm Gro Restaurant Vegetarian broccoli almond chard

STAY: Miss Clara

Our stay at one of Stockholm’s best hotels was thanks to an engagement present from my Swedish Grandmother Joan. She’s always had great taste – I like to think it’s the Swedish style coming through her veins – so it makes sense she indulged us in such a classy way on our Stockholm trip. A full post on Miss Clara is coming soon!

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TASTE: Urban Deli

On the same block as Miss Clara is the wonderful mini market Urban Deli, which caters to all your deli-style food needs and has cute outdoor seating as well. There is fresh produce, cheeses, condiments for daysss, and a bread bar that makes some insane (as in good madness) sandwiches. In fact, the sandwich concoction here of feta, chili, lime, mint spread, coriander, green leaves, avocado, and pickled radishes was probably just about the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Big call. But we really ate well in Stockholm.

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VISIT: Vasastan

Head a little north of the city into Vasastan to behold one of the world’s most beautiful libraries! The Stockholms Stadsbibiotek, or Stockholm Public library has a magnificent dome central reading room, with a large and impressive English section (I think Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh was one of the first books I stumbled on, always a good sign). Take the winding stairs up to the circular balcony to browse, sit quietly with a book down below, or scout out the dedicated poetry corner and marvel that such a wondrous place exists. We could have stayed all day. Hey, why didn’t we stay all day?!

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Stockholm Library Stadsbibliotek Books Literary world best

…perhaps because we got hungry and also had to pick up our washing from the laundromat. Luckily, nearby is one of the really hip Stockholm cafes, which I discovered in the very essential Scandinavia Standard. In fact, I interviewed the lovely Freya McOmish from Scandinavia Standard when I bumped into her at Roskilde Festival, which you can listen to on the Scandinavia Special of Wanderlust here.

TASTE: Cafe Pascal

The croissant that I had here with scrambled egg and cured ham was everything. Delicious as the coffee was, too. Loved the understated interiors of exposed brick, hanging bulb lights and teal counters. We happily took a break and aimlessly flicked through Swedish magazines.

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VISIT: Södermalm

As if a beautiful library is not enough, Stockholm also has to pull out an inspired little bookstore as well? City after my own heart! Paper Cut is a must visit for anyone who loves the art of print. It is stocked with well-curated magazines and journals, including Kinfolk, Frankie and Lucky Peach. It also has an excellent travel guide section with the CITIx60 guides (the Stockholm guide is a must), and Monocle City Guides as well (I’m about to try out their Honolulu Guide). I could browse here for days, and loved it so much I had to pick up a cute Paper Cut tote bag.

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In Södermalm you will stumble upon lots of great stores and restaurants. Another worth a visit if you love homewares is the leafy Herr Judit with more curiosities for the home than you could ask for.

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TASTE: Falafel Baron

This is a Skymie fave! We left lunch a little late one day as we wandered from Gamla Stan into Södermalm, and after walking for a while without finding something suitable (especially for a vegetarian), we were getting a little hangry. Then like a beacon, Falafel Baron appears before us, and holy s*&t it was pita pockets full of chickpea deliciousness! Afternoon saved!

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When our time in Stockholm came to a close, I was feeling a calm content about this place that had always been a thread of my family history, but one I had only just scratched the surface of. I felt pride about my connection to there, and a definite wish to return. But alas, we were off to Norway. More on that soon…

The other, perhaps the best in fact, thing about Stockholm is that it sits in the Swedish archipelago and all you need to is jump on a ferry to access one of thousands of islands. We chose Svartso, and either we lucked upon the coolest island of all (and there are 30,000 of them, so this is highly unlikely), or there is a whole sea of delightful islands to be discovered in the area. That prospect alone would have me revisit Sweden. Read about our Svartso free-camping experience here.

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Want more? Listen to my Scandinavia Special of my Wanderlust on Bondi Beach Radio show…

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