Reiselust- Hungry for travel

Decoding Saint-Remy-de-Provence´s magnetism

Saint-Remy- de-Provence… some words need to be savored, softly spoken out loud and pronounced gently to explore their special brand of magic. Let the syllables tenderly roll from your tongue, and you might start to get a feel for the allures of this vibrant little town that has been enticing artists, world-citizens, and bon-vivants for centuries.

Saint-Remy: A Provencale town like no other

Located at the foot of the Alpilles National Park mountain range,  Saint Remy offers the kind of soul-healing glory that only 300 days of sunshine per year can convey. It seduces its visitors’ palates with dozens of restaurants offering exquisite cuisine based on local products, and surprises them with quirky art offerings and quaint art galleries located throughout the narrow streets of the historic center. St Remy is truly the poster child for that unfathomable, typical Provencal je-ne-sais-quoi country town-charm.

Throughout the centuries, famous faces have been drawn to St. Remy like sexy bees to live-giving honey, and notable stars like Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer, who was interned here in 1918, have graced the French country town par excellence with their presence. Marie Gasquet, Provencale novelist and queen of the Felibrige, a literary and cultural association created to defend and promote the Provencal/ Occitane language and literature, was born here. Also, ethereal princess Caroline de Monaco chose St. Remy as a refuge for herself and her children after the tragic passing of her second husband Stefano Casiraghi.

The charms of the Provencal countryside even managed to entrap some talented musicians lately –  pretty hardcore fellows if you ask me, who would almost certainly never cross your mind when thinking of this laid-back location. Any guesses? Alright, alright, I´ll spill the beans: Only this year, world-renowned Heavy-Metal-Band Rammstein picked St. Remy as their studio-location to record their latest album here. They might be cuddlier than their tough exterior leads on, after all!

A treat for art-lovers: Follow in Van-Goghs´footsteps

St. Remy´s magnetism does not only work its magic on expressive heavy-metal-men, though. Simply make up your own mind while strolling along the picturesque boulevards under the shade of the ancient plane trees, feeling the mistral-wind blowing against the side of your face and the warmth of the sun on your skin. By the way (pun intended), have you spotted any Van-Gogh-route-stops yet?

These stops are hard to miss, really! At several places in and around town, the signposts make reference to places that super-famous ear-cutter and inspired artist Vincent Van Gogh frequented while in town. The Dutch expressionist spent a year at the psychiatric hospital of St.Paul-de-Mausole in 1889. He created many of his most acclaimed works there, and he also found inspiration among the town´s beautiful olive gardens and cypresses, in the rugged Alpilles mountains and smack in the middle of the village.

A treat for lovers of the otherwordly: Pass by Nostradamus´birthhouse

Another hot spot, in this case for history lovers and astrology-aficionados, has to be Nostradamus´(Dec 14th, 1503- July 2nd, 1566) birthplace. I have to confess: I got really, really excited about this one! The house really doesn´t look like much, but knowing that those walls housed legendary seer, doctor and astrologer Michel de Nostredame was enough for me to feel kinda awe-struck. While the walls didn´t give away too many secrets, my imagination wandered off to construe how the life of this extraordinary being must have looked and felt like.


Like many doctors in medieval times, Nostradamus was a trained astrologer who incorporated astrology into the healing arts in order to aid in diagnosis, prognosis and even treatment. He worked mostly with the plague-stricken and published yearly almanacs – our friend Wikipedia clarifies that this is an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information such as astronomical data and tide tables.

The latter propelled his rise to fame during his lifetime, and his much-referred to prophecies only furthered his popularity. He managed to become a household-name for more than 450 years! Michel definitely outdid his 17 (!!!) siblings there! Curious abut what the big deal regarding his supposed psychic powers is? Take a peek here and be prepared to be dazzled.

A treat for everyone: French restaurants to revere

If you feel peckish after that much history, you´ll be spoilt for choice when in Saint-Remy-de-Provence! For a delicious French meal-experience, head to “Toute Epoque”, a typical French restaurant which offers fixed menus in the evenings. Alternatively, enjoy yummy buckwheat or dessert crepes and refreshing house cider at the charming little restaurant “La Celtie”. Or just let yourself be drawn into one of the many other lovely eateries in this quintessential French town.

What about you, dear reader? Have you ever been to Southern France? And if not, do you feel drawn to visit a particular place, town or area there? As always, I would love to hear from you!

Handy information part:

  • Where is this town? Saint Remy de Provence is located about 20 km south of Avignon and just north of the gorgeous Alpilles mountain range. It´s easily accessible by the TGV (France´s high-speed-train), with the train station  20 km away from town. The closest airports are situated in papal-palace-place Avignon, noisy yet noble Nimes and messy, marvelous Marseille.
  • To find the Van-Gogh-route stops, simply stroll along town or go prepared by checking out the according website here.
  • Nostradamous birthplace is located on Rue Hoche 6, Saint Remy de Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. As far as I know, you can´t head inside – still fun to marvel at the famous seer´s provenance!
  • For mouthwatering French cuisine, try the Toute Epoque restaurant, located on 21 Place de la Republique, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence, or cozy La Celtie at 9 rue du 8 Mai 1945, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

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Things to do in Provence: Dance inside a quarry in the Alpilles

Have you ever dreamed of having a little dance inside a mountain? Truth be told, I hadn´t – but then I also didn´t know that that was a possibility at all!

Hidden away in the Provencal countryside, in the midst of swoon-worthy mountain landscape Les Alpilles, there´s a place where nature and art meet and melt together in a most surprising, inspiring and uplifting way: Welcome to the fascinating Carrieres de Lumieres, mes amis!

The secrets of the Carrieres de Lumieres

Literally meaning stone-pits of light, the location in itself is a converted quarry dating back to the 19th century. It was then when the so-called “stone of the south“, the limestone that constitutes the building blocks of the quarry, was in high demand. It remained much sought-after up to 1935, when its fancier cousins steel and metal stole its thunder as premier building materials. The limestone itself, onto which stunning artistic images are projected during the much-acclaimed audiovisual shows, formed a staggering 20 million years ago, by the way!

Since 1977, the Carrieres de Lumieres have often served as cultural go-to-location during which spectacular multimedia-shows are projected onto ALL the surfaces of the massive rock-walls that surround you. Yes, even the ground is covered in images, how cool is that? You are basically getting a full body, mind and soul immersion into exquisite art, nature and music when choosing to visit this art-center near dreamy village Les-Baux-de-Provence.

As luck or coincidence had it, famous Spanish painters took center stage at my time of visit, followed by an awesome time-travel back to the Seventies flower-power-hippie days with their life-affirming musical tunes.

What a differently flavored experience that was! I tried to soak up as much of the stunning art pieces detailing the life, love and work of genius Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and the likes as possible and let myself fall into the sounds, pictures and sensations of spaciousness all around me.

The magic of letting yourself go

There´s a certain magic that blossoms when you manage to leave yourself behind and become one with the art that´s diligently knocking on the doorstep of your soul, begging you to leave the mundane, the ever-repeating and at times numbing rituals and routines of daily life behind, inviting you to step into its glimmering promise of enchantment, rejuvenation and wonder instead.

I let myself dance to the rhythms of the all-embracing multimedia-art and left the Carrieres des Lumieres on an absolute high, feeling excited and just thrilled to be alive and to be able to witness all that beauty! If you feel inspired to do the same, here is some helpful information for you:

Handy information part:

  • Location: Carrières de Lumières, Route de Maillane 13520 Les Baux de Provence.
  • Bookings: Make sure to book ahead through the Carrieres website to avoid those queues!
  • Rates: 13 Euros for adults, free for children under age 7, disabled visitors and journalists.
  • Opening times: Open every day. 
    January, March, November, December: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 
    April, May, June, September, October: 9.30 a.m.-7 p.m. 
    July and August: 9.30 a.m.-7.30 p.m. 
  • Also: Make sure to pack a jumper/ jacket/ woolen scarf/ your favorite blankie because it´s kinda chilly in the quarry.
  • Current exhibition: Van Gogh/ Starry Night as well as Dreamed Japan are taking over the show until January 5, 2020.

The remaining exciting things to experience when in Provence that I hinted at in my last post will be covered in the following one, don´t you worry! Provence truly is a treasure-chest of once-in-a-lifetime-experiences.

Have you ever been to an art-show that inspired you to your core? Would love to hear from you! Feel free to share below – Vive l´art!

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Enchanting Provence: First impressions

Ah, la Belle France… few countries in this world conjure up such enticing and seductive imagery, I dare say. No matter if Disney´s hunchback of Notre Dame let you in on the hidden charms of Paris, or Edith Piaf´s passionate song “La vie en rose” (Life through rose-colored glasses) gave you a heart-felt insight into the French´s famous savoir-vivre –no one seems to be able to resist the charms of this country.

In France, even a visit to a regular supermarket-chain can turn into a gourmet-meal-experience, and I am talking packaged crepes and salads! Yes, the French surely know how to wine, dine and feast on first-class food, there´s no doubt about that.

Southern France: A magic bag of beauty

One of France´s most alluring regions which offers culinary delights a plenty, jaw-dropping natural scenery and artistic pilgrimage places en masse is undoubtedly Provence. Situated in Southeastern France and bordering Italy as well as the Mediterranean, seductive Provence has it all! Exhibit A: The stunning mountain ranges of the Southern Alps, a place in which my companion and me got lost for hours in the middle of the night by following the wrong GPS – indications, but that´s a whole different story! Exhibit B: The one-of-a-kind natural beauty of the Camargue, with its wild gorgeous horses, cheeky pink flamingos and abundant birdlife. Exhibit C: The glitz and glamour of the French Riviera aka beautiful bodies tanning on fantastic beaches, exquisite restaurants and nightclubs waiting for affluent visitors, and so much more. As well as of course, Provence´s picturesque olive groves, pine forests and its world-famous lavender fields.

Picture this: the sky is dressed in its most mesmerizing, popping blue, elegant cypresses line the path in front of you, butterflies swirl over fields of flowers and the enticing, elevating scent of pine trees engulfs your being. That´s exactly how Provence greeted me, and how the images of its beauty chose to stay with me ever since.

French discoveries: Come with me on a mystery hunt

During the five days that I got to spend in this magical corner of our beautiful planet, there were some highlights that stood out. Would you mind coming on an adventure with me and discovering some experiences that could absolutely sweeten your Provence experience to the max? Let´s do it. But wait…why don´t we approach this in a slightly different way?

I´ll give you some scavenger-style-hunt-tips alluding to some outstanding Provence things-to-do, and you can, if you´re up for it, do a little research or guessing-game and find out what those attractions might be. I´ll post them here within the next two weeks with some cool details. Alright? Vamos, on y va, let´s go!

First, head to an area close to enchanting Les-Beaux-de-Provence, where you´ll be inspired by an unusual mixture of nature and arts. Think full immersion into these two fields plus pack a jacket to not freeze your tush of.

Next, follow in the footsteps of one of the world´s most famous painters – and no, he´s not French! I hope you are all ears on this one…

And finally, travel back in time and say hello to the birthplace of a prettyyy well-known seer…he´s been in plenty of movies and stuff, you know.

Of course, you´ll also load up on some delish French cuisine, while you´re at it! No worries, I got you covered on this one!

Any ideas yet on what the former clues could mean? Feel free to leave your notions in the comment section, mes amis!

Photography: All rights reserved @A gypsy at heart.

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Trier – the beauty of German-Roman ruins

Imagine yourself around 2000 years back. You are dressed in a traditional Roman tunic and when looking down, you realize you are wearing the type of sandals you vaguely remember from the movie “Gladiator”. Therefore, you are quick to tell yourself that you could very well be in Rome, the epitome of power, wealth and glory in those long-lost days. Clearly, you arent, though – the chill on your skin indicates that you gotta be in a quite different location, a location which bears the rare honor of being named after the Roman emperor and which could definitely use some warmer temperatures, dammit!

2000 years back, you would have found yourself in Augusta Treverorum, a city which nowadays is better known as Trier and lays claim to be the oldest city in good old Germany. Augusta Treverorum might have been more of a hotspot for budding Roman signorinos and stylish Roman signorinas in their sexy tunics. But fear not, Trier is still a place more than worthy of your time and attention! Points in favor? No worries, let me take you along to my top 3 experience-Trier spots, places I was fortunate enough to experience on a whirlwind road trip from Germany to Spain a while ago:

Travel back in time – visit the Porta Nigra

Don´t you just love those very special places that conjure up images and feelings of long-lost tales of hope, promise, challenge, and endeavor? Places that almost effortlessly transport you out of yourself and right into a totally different world. Well, to me, the Porta Nigra in Trier is definitely one of those magical hotspots! Built in grey sandstone just before the year 2000, it is formally known as the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.

Informally, it simply rocks to explore the several stories- high building and its distinct vibe – who knows, maybe that´s the presence of the ghost of greek monk Simeon, who lived as a hermit in the Porta Nigra after 1028 (up to his death in 1035) and very rarely descended from his contemplation-spot. Or it might just be the ancient sandstones whispering tales into your ear about those long-lost days when the northern entry gate to the Roman city got turned into a church…

Recharge and reboot – experience calm at Trier cathedral

For lovers of calm, Christianity and churches, head to Trier Cathedral, the oldest bishop’s church in Germany, built smack in the middle of Trier’s city center. Take a tour and check out the remains of the first Early Christian assembly room north of the Alps from the late 3rd century. Alternatively, explore more pieces of ancient Rome in Trier by visiting the Roman central section with the original walls rising up to a height of 26 meters. Art worshippers will be delighted by the variety of artwork and architecture from more than 1650 years that can be found within the impressive building.

Disconnect and reconnect – take a stroll along the Moselle river or the city center

Trier is an astoundingly picturesque city, to say the least: located in the beautiful Moselle wine region, not far from the border to Luxembourg, it offers an enticing melange of well-kept Roman remains, beautiful architecture and stunning surrounding scenery. If you are as much into reconnecting with mother nature as I am, head to Moselle river and listen to the soothing sounds of the water stream, soak up the soft green of the rolling hills and enjoy an invigorating walk. If you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city center, head to Trier marketplace (Marktplatz in German) and check out the many eateries, shops and gorgeous houses all around. Or, carpe diem to the max and just enjoy both, nature as well as city life!

What´s your preference, dear readers – nature or cityscapes? And why? Read you soon!

Handy information part:

  • So, what´s the gist regarding Porta Nigra? – It probably won´t have moved anywhere so far, so head to
    Porta-Nigra-Platz, 54290 Trier, and you´ll find it there 🙂 Opening times are –
    April – September: daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    October and March: daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    November – February: daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Admission is 4 Euros per adult, 2 Euros for kids.
  • And what about Trier cathedral? You´ll find it at
    Liebfrauenstraße 12, 54290 Trier! Opening times are –
    April – October: daily 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    November – March: daily 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m Admission is 6 Euros per adult

Photography: All rights reserved @A gypsy at heart

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China for beginners II: Haikou Hotspots

Exploring Haikou, Hainan´s capital equals coming face to face with a pretty authentic Chinese city-experience. This true Chinese feel seems to be able to emerge thanks to the relatively low number of foreign tourists, thanks to intriguing temples and old town streets contrasting with massive modern shopping malls as well as the allure of exotic cuisine that can be experienced in the myriad of restaurants all around.

Wandering through the port city´s streets, you´ll discover majestic trees to lean on, red lampions to marvel at, and street vendors loudly praising their products. A very popular snack indeed is the humble potato: its sweet variant is served steaming hot on many a street corners and warms and delights at once with its delicious simplicity.

Haikou would only be the first stop of a two-week-long Southern Chinese adventure which would lead me, amongst other outstanding experiences, to (very reluctantly) trying snails in Guangzhou, (delightedly) witnessing a professor from Beijing reciting a handwritten calligraphy- poem, (excitedly) trying Bamboo-Rafting on the Li- River, and (enthusiastically) partying the night through with some Brazilian expats and party-experts in Shenzen.

Haikou was, however, my first point of encounter with quintessential China, which was quite different from the watered-down, stereotyped version of China we can see portrayed in the mainstream media. Some of the highlights of my Haikou- experience included the following:

Exploring the Temple of the Five Lords

The Temple of the Five Lords, also known as the “Temple of the Five Officials” (Haifu Rd, Qiongshan Qu, Haikou Shi, Hainan Sheng, China, 571100) is a memorial shrine to five exiled officials from the Tang and Song dynasties that you´ll find in the southeast of the city. Think gorgeous subtropical vegetation and soft green bamboo plants surrounding bright red Confucian temple structures, intriguing animal figures guarding the roof of picturesque shrines, and marvelous altars cloaked in the smell of incense.

Strolling through the Old town´s quarter

Head to Haikou´s historic neighborhood, one of Hainan´s many “qilou” districts – well-preserved areas that date back through the dynasties to the 13th century. Haikou´s old town quarter features an enticing mix of Chinese and colonial European architecture – wander down the street and you´ll be transported to a completely different world that´s rarely visited by westerners.

Breathe in the strong scent of Chinese medicine being brewed in one of the many arcade shops while marveling at the interesting architecture or watching a painter intently creating a portrait of Mao Tse-Dong. You do know Mao, right – yep, the namesake of the outstanding movie “Mao´s last dancer”. Here, in Hainan´s Zhongshan Road (Zhongshan Road, Qiongshan District, Haikou 570101) you´ll really get a taste for the unique charm of olden-day China!

Living on the wild side: Exploring Haikou´s cuisine

No post about a trip to China could be complete without mentioning its sometimes fabulous, sometimes scary cuisine! Scary why you ask? Well, that once upon a time (or what it nowadays?) monkey´s brains were/ are consumed as a delicacy in the land of the red dragon might just be a rumor.

Truth is, though, that there is a certain traditional dish that I was determined to try when in Hainan, which turned out to be… a chicken´s brain. Like, they literally served me a whole skull including the brain. Which I did not see coming. Like, at all! All the while, I witnessed a rat doing a joyful run and jump through the restaurant. Did I eat that brain? Did I make friends with the rat? No to both. And I am proud to say, I have been a non-meat-eater ever since.

On the plus side, there are some exquisite dishes to be tasted while in Haikou- try Wenchang chicken (free of brain, I think), Jiaji duck or Hele crab at Fule Chicken Restaurant Hainan or – go vegetarian (climate change is real! Just saying) and try some delicious vegetarian dishes of the Szechuan cuisine.

That´s it for now regarding my Chinese travel-tales! What about you? Have you ever been to China? What was your favorite experience or dish while there?


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Sevilla: Follow in the footsteps of Don Juan

If your heart beats in unison with a deeply romantic soul, you´ll find yourself in heaven on earth when in the Andalusian capital Sevilla. Sevilla is the raw material that 1001 dreamy tales are born from: the scent of oranges and jasmine fill the air, pink Bougainvillea flowers lean against bright white walls, the sound of laughter and song remind you of the long-longed for joy within your being and the warm sunrays linger on your skin.

Head to the ancient neighborhood Barrio Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter, for an extra dosage of rejuvenating inspiration. Here, you´ll be able to lose control by getting lost in the labyrinth of the enticing narrow streets all around you. Don´t linger too long when you find yourself in front of yet another gorgeous palace or hidden-away convent, though – the ghost of Don Juan de Tenorio and his forbidden love Dona Ines de Ulluoa await you! Well, they might, anyway.

“Encantado”, delighted, that´s how Don Juan would surely introduce himself to you, in a charming, yet assured tone of voice and with an irresistible demeanor. He might even bow to you, in that typical 19th century-way. He was, after all, the absolute star of the Spanish drama Don Juan de Tenorio by Jose Zorilla, and therefore the key character of Spain´s most popular 19th-century-play!

Don Juan, the young nobleman who so loved to drink and duel his way through the city, fell madly in love with young novice Ines, who, as rumor has it, was born in the Santa Cruz hood. Their tragic love story unfolded at impossibly romantic places such as Plaza de Dona Elviria, Plaza de los Venerables, and maybe even the popular “Antiguo Rincon del Beso“, the old corner of the kiss!

This beautiful yet humble spot, located on Calle Gloria 7, is where many couples like to stop for a passionate kiss and to celebrate their love by taking a cute snap or two. And it might also just have been exactly this tucked-away corner where Don Juan and Ines exchanged one of those deep glances that you can only share with someone who truly touches your soul…

What´s the most romantic place you have been to so far? Would love to hear all about it! May the spirit of romance be with you, my friend.

Categories: Amor und Eros - Love and sensual living, Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Bali-hotspots: Charmed by Canggu

Majestic cows calmly grazing on lush green fields. Local farmers doing their daily chores with humble composure. The sound of salty ocean waves sensually caressing the rocks along endless beaches. Doesn´t really sound like a trendy hangout for hipsters, graffiti-aficionados and global citizens, does it? Think again, my friend, because you are smack in the middle of cutting-edge, vibrant Canggu, a formerly pretty sleepy village and surfing spot that has been transformed into a much sought-after mecca of intriguing culture and trendy cafes.

Let me take you for a little bike-ride through this piece of pretty darned special Indonesian island, alright? Excuse me, what did you say? You wanna know what you are getting yourself into beforehand? Alright, let me tell you that this trip will involve places where motorcycles meet art, sexy hangouts where pissed-off dogs encounter beautiful people chilling out to the latest tunes, inspiring graffiti-art waiting to be discovered in forgotten places, and the creme-de-la-creme of healthy, clean cuisine. And I´ll serve you a tiny tale of a very failed attempt to surf on the side.

Sounds good? Cool, you know what to do then: Put on that helmet and join me as we cruise through this cutting-edge neighborhood on the Southern coast of Bali.

Stop 1: Morally correct breakfast at inviting Betelnut cafe

After a short ride along emerald green rice paddies and the occasional graffiti art piece making a pleasant contrast to grey murals, its time to take that helmet off again, shake off the dust and enter Betelnut cafe, located 5 minutes away from popular Echo beach. Betelnut cafe is one of many, many hipster-hangouts dedicated to serving food that´s good for your tummy, your energy level, and your whole magnificent being. Choose between teas such as Japanese Sencha or strong, smokey Gunpowder tea from Java, opt for the obligatory green smoothie or just go for a fresh young coconut.

While munching on the ingredients of your Betelnut Bowl, a tropical fruit melange, or a Mung bean breakfast (tomato, avocado, and sprouts on your choice of bread), you´ll be able to watch digital nomads from all over the world and chilled-out locals interact in their natural habitat. Alternatively, let your gaze wander over the adjoining rice fields and dream a little dream. Don´t get too sleepy though, it´s about time that we head off to our next stop! Ready? Let´s do it!

Nothing better than sipping on a cool coconut on a tropically hot day!

2. Check out inspiring, off-the-beaten-path street art

Enjoy the feeling of freedom pulsing through your veins while riding along hip hotspots for hot-deskers and slickly designed Yoga studios alternating with pure Balinese nature-scenery until our arrival at Jalan Lkr Neyalan. See if you can spot the gorgeous, orange-colored street-art-tiger set against a deep blue background that seems to run at full speed over the adjunct rice field! Inspired by his vitality, we´ll continue on to check out the abandoned shacks at Batu Bolong Beach, where creative mavericks have come up with pretty quirky art pieces.

If you feel tempted to take a refreshing dip in the delicious ocean waves and let all the new impressions sink in, take your time, I´ll wait at groovy Old Man´s beach bar for you, no worries. You could even try your luck at surfing here, of course, if you feel adventurous!

Let me tell you, I did the same thing a few years ago and despite my best efforts at surfing managed to not just lose my favorite ring, custom made at Istanbul´s Grand Bazaar , but also my balance and a few more things… let´s leave it at that, I´ll spare you the embarrassing details. You go, girl or boy, though, try your luck cause I heard surfing can be a pretty fun thing to do!

3. Hang out at breezy beach bars and mesmerizing motorcycle-temples of hedonism

While you try your luck at catching a wave or two, I´ll be enjoying a drink and maybe a quick lunch at Old Man´s (you snooze, you lose hehe). I can´t really remember what day it was today – am in my thirties, after all. But in case it´s Wednesday, there will be some alluring party action taking place after sunset, and if it´s any other day, there´s probably gonna be live bands playing anything from reggae to rock or DJ´s showcasing their skills to an attractive crowd of locals and expats.

Chilling out on a colorful bean bag and deeply inhaling that delicious sea breeze is another great way to enjoy Old Man´s charm… and in case some barking dogs wanna join your restorative moment, just stay relaxed and let it be. Barking dogs belong to Bali like its volcanoes and transformative magic, after all. Or at least that´s how it was a few years back!

If you still feel like amping up on more inspiration after your stay at Batu Bulong Beach, finish your Canggu discovery ride at Deus Ex Machina, the self-proclaimed temple of enthusiasm and eclectic motorcycle shop. Here, you´ll be wowed by unique fine art pieces while listening to life-music and browsing through a plethora of the latest in motorcycles, surfboards, and skateboards. The unique hangout amid emerald green rice fields also offers movie nights, Pan Asian cuisine and yummy cocktails, so it might just be just the right place to finish your Canggu discovery day!

By the way, I´m open to symbolical tips in the form of tips – have you been to Canggu yet? What are neighborhoods in your area with an artsy vibe that you´d recommend to culture-and arts-lovers?

Handy information part:

Betelnut cafe –  Address: 80351, Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No.60, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351. Opening times: Every day from 8 AM- 10 PM

Old Man´s – Address: Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.117X, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351. Opening times: Every day from 7 AM-1 AM

Deus Ex Machina – Jl. Batu Mejan No.8, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia. Opening times: Every day from 7 AM-12 AM

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Traditional Balinese dance and music performances in Ubud

Unusual melodies awaken you from your thoughts. Sounds that seem slightly disruptive, like speedy drivers on a silent road, suddenly envelop you. You might not know what to think of this music that´s at once exotic and bewitching.

What you do know is that you simply can´t help but be intrigued by it all: the all-male Gamelan orchestra who elicits the traditional Indonesian sounds from xylophones, drums, gongs, and other percussive instruments. The stunning backdrop of the performance stage, with its intricately ornated angkul-angkul traditional gate and guardian statues. The gorgeous Balinese dancers, expressing the depth and versatility of their cultural stories and myths with such passion and precision.

There is grace in their movements, there is a pure embodiment of all that´s good, enticing and seductive about the Balinese culture. Theirs is the perfect blend of spirituality and sensuality, always offered up to the higher realms they so believe in.

Balinese dancers in Ubud, photo by Aditya Agarwal from Pexels

The accompanying Gamelan-music roots´ lie in an even older past than the Hindu-Buddhist origins of Balinese faith. They are a mesmerizing remnant of indigenous art forms that dominated the cultural expressions of Indonesia during its earliest records.

To get a taste of this very particular cultural phenomenon, head to Ubud royal palace at about 6:45 Pm as each night starting at 7:30 PM there´ll be a variety of rich dances shown there. The royal palace, known as Puri Saren Palace to the locals, is one of Ubud´s cultural hot-spots located along the town´s bustling main road Jalan Raya Ubud. The performances being shown there include Barong Dance, Mahabharata and Legong Dance… take your pick and expect to be wowed. To help you figure out which dance performance you might be most drawn to, here a little insight into two typical types of Balinese dance:

The Barong Dance is where Barong, a creature akin to a lion in the mythology of Bali, meets Rangda, badass-demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders. Sounds a bit like Game of Thrones, doesn´t it? Well, it´s not entirely the same, but there is an epic battle to behold, a war between good, mirrored in Barong, the king of the spirits, and evil, in the form of Rangda. I could go on a feminist rant here due to “good” appearing in the form of a male figure and “bad” personified in a female. But fear not, I won´t. The dance is still an amazing sight to be enjoyed, after all!

The Legong Dance, traditionally performed by girls who have not reached puberty, enacts different traditional tales, one of them telling the story of the King of Lasem, a true heroic romance. Interestingly enough, according to legend, Legong dance came into being through a dream vision! The prince of Sukawati is said to have had a feverish dream in which two girls danced to Gamelan music. Subsequently, being the inspired guy he was, the prince arranged for such dream dances to be performed in real life.

Another story version of Legong´s possible origins states that it came into being through the sanghyang dedari, a ceremony involving voluntary possession of two little girls by beneficent spirits. Sounds kinda creepy, though, right? Again, fear not, the dance performances are absolutely mindblowing anyways, no matter where their origins really lie.

Legong dancers at Ubud Royal Palace. Photo: Saranabhi/Wikimedia commons

No matter which performance you choose to watch in the end, you can´t really go wrong: each one of them will be like a window into a very different world and enticing in its own right. Have you ever seen a traditional Balinese dance before? How did you feel about it?

Practical information:

  • The Easiest way to get tickets:  If you are around Jalan Raya Ubud in the afternoon, you´ll most likely run into street vendors offering tickets to the nightly spectacles. Otherwise, just head directly to Ubud Royal palace no later than 7 pm to buy your tickets at the door.
  • Performance time and duration:  Nightly performances start at 7:30 PM every day of the week and last for an hour.
  • How much does it cost me? You´ll be 100.000 IDR poorer per person, yet a lot richer in spirit!
  • Where was it again? At Ubud Royal Palace, Jalan Raya Ubud No 8, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, World.


Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ubud´s artistic hotspots

Why is it that there are places that just seem to have a certain creative and transformational power that others just don´t? Places that burst with a certain je ne sais quois, an almost magnetic force that draws visitors in like bees to honeycomb or like wild souls to seawater. Ubud in Central Bali certainly belongs to the list of seductive places that lure you in with their promise of healing and artistic delights.

It might be because Ubud is literally named after the Balinese word ubad for medicine, making reference to its function as a crucial source of medicinal plants and herbs. Or maybe Ubud´s mysterious attraction can be traced back to its founding legend which surrounds a Javanese priest by the name of Rsi Markendya. As the eighth-century legend goes, the priest chose to meditate at the confluence of two rivers in Campuan, Central Bali, which inspired him to create the Gunung Lebah Temple. Up to today, this site remains a place revered by pilgrims and seekers.

Be it as it may, there are certain places in Ubud where you can easily get a taste of its legendary creative charm yourself. Let´s start with majestic ARMA-museum, the Agung Rai Museum of Art. Founded by Balinese protector of the Arts and Culture, Agung Rai, it houses permanent exhibitions of inspiring paintings by Balinese, Indonesian and foreign creative mavericks. On top of alluring traditional and contemporary visual art by Balinese masters such as Ida Bagus Made or I Gusti Made Deblog – no, he wasn´t blogger to my knowledge, even though what a spot- on-name that would be- there´s a space dedicated to German painter Walter Spies.

Ever heard of this crafty fella? Well, don´t fret if you haven´t, his fame didn´t make it to a global level, but he did rock Bali´s world and had a major impact on the development of the arts on the island. Spies was an ethnic German born in Russia and the whole artistic package: a gifted teacher of music and painting, he also experimented with dance and excelled as a visual artist.

Spies, who lived an intense and short life, and kindred spirits Willem Hofker and Rudolf Bonnet were also real olden-day-celebrity-magnets. They came to entertain and delight global stars such as my beloved Charlie Chaplin, British Science-fiction-writer H.G. Wells or Austrian-American writer Vicki Baum, to name a few. And the foreign artistic groundbreakers also used their influence and popularity to gather the creme-de-la-creme of artists from all over to teach and train the Balinese in arts. This is actually what led to Ubud becoming the world-famous cultural center of Bali known and loved by so many today!

While you are at the ARMA- museum, don´t miss out on the magnificent tropical gardens: Let your newfound inspiration work its magic within you while wandering past orchid-lined water-ponds filled with lotus flowers. You´ll also pass by enticing traditional stone sculptures frosted in green moss and adorned with typical Balinese flower offerings. The soothing sounds of the picturesque fountains will create an irresistible auditive melange with the exotic Gamelan-music that can often be heard in these peaceful surroundings. You might even get a glimpse of children practicing their Balinese dance skills! This is due to ARMA also housing an outstanding center for performing arts which regular hosts Balinese-themed workshops, classes, and performances.

Practical Information:

  • The ARMA museum is located on Jalan Raya Pengosekan in Ubud.
  • Opening hours: Every day from 9 AM to 6 PM
  • Admission: IDR 80000, which includes a tea or coffee
  • Peckish? There is also a fabulous cafe and a restaurant on site.
  • Is there more? Yes, there is a stunning resort located on the compound, Cultural workshops to delight in, musical performances to attend…

Have you ever been to Ubud, or to any other place that for some reason really stirred your soul? Would love to hear about your experiences!

Photography: all rights reserved © A gypsy at heart

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Balinese village life: Exploring soulful Lothunduh

Bare-breasted women graciously balancing heavy goods on their heads, looking just like those on the black-and-white-film-snippets recorded by Charlie Chaplin back in 1932. Exotic looking Bali cattle, descendants of mighty buffalos, plowing the soils of vast rice fields just before the rice seeds are planted. The happy squeals of local children, splashing and playing in the waters of the river. Enchanted looking, hidden away Hindu temples, exuding the whiff of the unknown.

My time in Lothunduh introduced me to a world which was far-removed from everything I had immersed myself in before. In a way, my 5 month-stint in Bali would prove to be so significant that it would divide my life into a “before” and “after”. The intricacies of that story are destined for another post, though…

This story aims to transport you to a Balinese village just a stone-throw away from trendy Cultural hub Ubud, and yet so far removed from it in terms of its deeply-rooted connection to its traditional essence and to a slow-paced way of life lived in harmony with the seasons. Spend a day or even a few hours in Lothunduh anywhere off the main roads, and you´ll get to look through a peephole into the island´s past. Watch rice farmers donning their traditional working clothes and hats while minding the paddies, observe devoted artists and craftsmen create their unique art pieces in one of the many art shops or workshops, or marvel at the Balinese goddess-women who perform their daily offerings at the many places of worship all around.

Something about Lothunduh and its inhabitants simple, yet deeply connected and magical way of life really stirred my soul. Especially the way in which the Balinese there and on the whole island honor and give back through daily rituals which express their gratitude to the Gods they revere creates a completely different atmosphere to what we are used to in the West. To believe in something outside of oneself and to cultivate awareness for the countless gifts we are given each day of our lives is an inspiration that I hope to keep in my heart.

You will be able to witness the deeply spiritual life of the Balinese just by keeping your eyes and hearts open while wandering along the roads of the farming village. Here are some more places to visit in order to get an authentic feel for what I am trying yet might fall short to transmit with my lines (there is only so much that words can convey, after all):

  • For beautiful artwork: You´ll be absolutely spoilt for choice here, you lucky girl/guy! As a good starting point for your exploration, head to gallery Semar Kuning on Jalan A.A.Gede Rai 8. Here, two Buddha figures and a big Ganesha-Elephant- statue greet you upon arrival and intriguing contemporary paintings depicting traditional Balinese motives await your visit. Keep wandering around Lothunduh-village and you´ll come across more galleries and workshops, as Central Bali is not only a place filled with rituals, myths, and magic but also home to countless skilled artists and craftsmen. Many Balinese wholeheartedly devote their time to honor their Hindu faith through their visual arts, woodcarving, dance, and other art forms.
  • For interesting Hindu temples: Even though you generally won´t be allowed to visit these places of worship, it´s still a beautiful experience to take in their charm and interesting appearance while strolling around. Head to Pura Desa Lothunduh or Pura Hyang Api, for instance.
  • For authentic Indonesian food: Check out Blue Bliss Warung and indulge in specialties such as Nasi Campur or Nasi Goreng, delicious rice (Nasi) based dishes.
Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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