Ubud is known as the cultural centre of Bali. It is the first place I visited, and I imagine I will head straight here when I am next in Indonesia. It is a contrast of green rice fields and potholed streets, world-class restaurants and street food carts. There are galleries and temples and motorbikes screaming past – and what looks like more than a few women seeking the enlightenment of Eat, Pray, Love. Ubud does really have an energy though, for me it was an immediately calming one, as it felt all my home worries evaporate in the warm air. A feeling I would keep on this whole Balinese journey.
After checking into the incredible Ibah Warwick Hotel (speaking of Eat, Pray, Love, the reason we know about this hotel is because my travel buddy Kel’s boyfriend stayed here with the cast and crew when filming the movie) we went exploring up the main street in Ubud.
We stumbled on the stunning Saraswati temple, lined with a water lily pond in bloom.
STAY – Sunrise Villa
This bohemian villa has bright balcony daybeds overlooking a lush overgrown valley. The sunrises and sunsets here are a bringer of zen. It also has an infinity-style swimming pool, an on-site spa, and beautiful artwork by the Australian manager of the villa, Donna. It is also right near The Elephant (as below) and Naughty Nuri’s (as mentioned in this post), so the location is super handy.
EAT – The Elephant
Bali mornings are about swims and fresh tropical fruit juices. At the Elephant, you can chase your fresh juice with a smoothie of swirling berries, perhaps some toasted muesli topped with more seasonal fruit and yoghurt, eggs or avocado on toast that looks like toast, or maybe even Ottolenghi’s sweet potato fritters. The view is like many in Ubud, of sloping green rice paddies and frangipani trees. You can eat at tables, on couches or even the odd swinging hammock-like chair. It’s a blissful place to indulge in some earth friendly food. This place was recommended to me and I’m grateful. So, please pass it on…
EAT – Bridges
This open air restaurant set in a leafy gully by the bridge on Jl. Raya Campuhan is a pretty, tranquil little place to dine. The menu is a fusion of Indonesian and western food, so to sample both, we started with an Indonesian tasting plate where you can select three different dishes (we enjoyed the yellow fish curry and shredded chicken salad with aromatic tomato and kaffir lime dressing) and ended with a basil-infused gnocchi. We both preferred the Indonesian flavours.
Despite it being the middle of the day when sparkling water would suffice, I couldn’t help but notice that Bridges has quite an expansive wine list, featuring hundreds of different drops from Australia, New Zealand, California and Europe.
EAT – Casa Luna
I pretty much recommend you go here for the pineapple kaffir lime margaritas! That there is delicious Indonesian food as well, served to the sounds of local live music, makes it worth a visit, but PINEAPPLE KAFFIR LIME MARGARITAS.
Casa Luna is also owned by Janet DeNeefe, who in addition to running the Casa Luna Cooking School and sister restaurant Indus, is also the founder and Director of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which grew from the tragedy that was the 2002 Bali bombings.
There were so many additional places I wanted to try, having been recommended yoga studios like Yoga Barn and Intuitive Flow, as well as even more restaurants like the hard-to-get-into Locavore and acclaimed Mozaic, not to mention the Monkey Forest, art galleries and nightly Balinese dance performances. I’m quite fond of leaving key experiences untouched in cities that I love though, as weighty temptations coaxing me to return.
Want more? Check out my Wanderlust on Bondi Beach Radio Bali Special, which includes loads of great interviews from this trip to Bali and an accompanying soundtrack!