This weekend I took the opportunity to stay downtown and pretend to be a tourist in Surabaya! Normally I tell my friends and family to just skip Surabaya and meet me in Lombok or Bali, but there are a couple of things to do here if you have some extra time.
I stayed at the Four Points Sheraton which is attached to the second largest mall in Surabaya called Tunjungan Plaza. This is an excellent place to stay for tourists because it is close to many restaurants, shops, and tourist sites. They have a great buffet dinner (with a good discount for hotel guests) and a breakfast buffet. I like the food a little better at the Shangri-La in town, but this place has MUCH better service. I’m pretty sure most of the workers in the restaurant knew us by name (mostly my adorable toddler) after staying only 2 nights. The only thing I didn’t like is that they have their pool right next to the lobby and restaurant so it feels like people are always watching you through the floor to ceiling windows.
Only a ten-minute Grab drive away from the hotel is the Submarine Monument. I told myself that I was going to check it out for a possible field trip for my current unit about exploration, but I have to admit that I was curious myself! For about a dollar (15,000 IDR), I was able to visit at 10AM with my son. I had it to myself for the first 30 minutes, but then a local high school group showed up (many local schools have Saturday school). They have AC hooked up in each of the 7 rooms that we can access on the tour. You can check out where the torpedoes were loaded and peek into the old periscope. I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t signs in English, but they did give me a helpful brochure when I requested one. After checking out the sub we caught the last five minutes of the hourly documentary with English subtitles. It was the perfect amount of time for my energetic toddler!
From the parking lot of the Submarine Monument, you can walk to a Patung Suro dan Boyo Skate Park with a miniature version of the Suro and Boyo sculpture of the shark and crocodile. It is the symbol of Surabaya and you can see the same sculpture at the zoo and a larger one closer to the bridge. The name of Surabaya is from those statues in Javanese Language, Suro (Shark) and Boyo (Crocodile). We saw a few kids skating and playing around on BMX bikes, but there isn’t any shade so I recommend going earlier in the morning because it was quite hot around noon.
Then, my friend suggested that we go to the House of Sampoerna. It is an old cigarette factory. I’d heard that it is really well organized and well done, but I put off visiting because I hate cigarettes. Since it is free and we were only ten minutes away we decided to visit anyway. Their website says “is a Dutch colonial-style heritage building compound built in 1862 and located in the “Old Surabaya” area.” The museum is small, has English signs, good AC, nice and clean old fashioned double stall bathrooms, and a nice viewing window where you can peer down into the old factory. My friend and I went with our toddler sons who loved the koi pond the most. You don’t need more than 20-30 minutes here (including a bathroom break since it is the nicest bathroom nearby).
By the time we finished at the museum, we had two hungry toddlers so we decided to check out a place that several teachers recommended called Mr. Fox. It is located right on the street side of Tunjungan Plaza. While I agree that they have an interesting variety, I wasn’t impressed with the brisket burger that I ordered. It came with two onion rings and a mayo sauce on it. It had a small side of fries (not the sweet potato fries that were listed on the menu). It was the fattiest brisket that I’ve ever had! I also ordered the signature Mr. Fox ice Tea which is the weirdest tea drink I’ve ever had! It is a vanilla chai with a scoop of orange sorbet and candied orange peel on top. When I have brisket I always want strong home-brewed ice tea to go with it so I was surprised. It wasn’t bad, but it isn’t what I was looking for. My friends who are not nursing a toddler like myself recommend trying one of the cocktails from the long drink menu.
After a little afternoon nap to keep my toddler happy we relaxed some more and headed down to dinner. If you like to shop rather than nap you could have easily spent this time at the attached mall. At six we showed up for our reservation at the hotel buffet dinner at Lime Restaurant. I recommend a reservation because it fills up fast on the weekend! The seafood, noodles made to order, roast beef, and dessert selection were definitely worth the 210,000 IDR ($15USD) price tag. I do wish they could improve their sushi section though!
So there you have it, one day as a tourist in Surabaya. I hope to explore a few other things in the future, but it was a great way to spend a staycation!
Have you visited Surabaya, Indonesia before? Where are your favorite spots? Do you have a restaurant suggestion for me?