I’m not usually big on birthdays. I rarely celebrate it, except for the obligatory family dinner. But this year, I decided to drag my mom and sis and celebrate in one of the country’s ‘cool weathered’ tourist destinations – Baguio. It’s been more than 5 years since I last went there and I guess it’s the easiest place to go to if you only have the weekend. And I desperately needed to get away from the city, from the people, from work. Since we went there in October, it was pretty chilly so make sure you come prepared with a thick sweater and even a blanket for the bus trip.
Victory Liner First Class Bus. I bought our deluxe tickets a week before October 25, our departure date, at their Cubao station (along EDSA near Chowking and 711). Ticket per person cost about P750 one-way, which includes snacks and drinks. The air-conditioned bus has its own ‘stewardess’ to assist you, has a restroom inside the bus, has lazy-boy types of reclining chairs, has only 3 lush, roomy and comfy chairs per row, has a socket per seat so you can charge your phone, is non-stop and has wifi. Also, deluxe passengers can stay at the VIP lounge at the station, which is air-conditioned and has a TV. Make sure you’re at the station at least 30 minutes before your scheduled trip since they give away the seats to chance passengers. It was quite weird that the bus going to and fro was not full, though all the tickets were already sold. So even though our allotted seats were at the back, we were able to transfer to the front because the other passengers were a no-show. Unfortunately, you can’t buy a two-way ticket so when we arrived at their Baguio station, we immediately bought deluxe tickets going home. You may also opt for their regular bus trips for half the price. Our schedule was October 25 (Friday), 8:15pm going to Baguio then October 28 (Monday), 1:10am going back to Manila. Going there it took about 6 hours; going to manila took only about 5 hours. In fairness, the buses left the stations on time. We stayed at my mom’s place and took cabs around the city. I’ll share what you can possibly do in Baguio in just one weekend in a steady, relaxed, no-rush pace.
Café by the Ruins. We didn’t have a particular itinerary to follow and we didn’t go to the horseback riding places since we just really wanted to relax although we did have places to go to in mind. First up, brunch at Café by the Ruins, located right across their City Hall. Too bad one side of the café was closed off by Eurotel’s wall. So what was once an open garden is now just a wall with a garden painting on it. We had their Baguio Bagnet (P300), Mushroom Crepe (P200), Pinikpikang Chicken (P250) and their special coffee with whipped cream (P100). The bagnet and chicken were served with red rice. I highly recommend their bagnet and the crepe. Both were really good. The bagnet was crispy and tender while the crepe was very flavorful and creamy. We didn’t like the chicken that much because it was their native chicken, which is a bit tougher than our regular chicken, and the soup tasted a bit weird. The coffee is a must try! It’s their special blend prepared through a Japanese brew. Then, my sister surprised me with a birthday lava cake, which looked like a little ducky! So cute. Though I don’t necessarily recommend the lava cake as a dessert. Ambiance is nice since it’s very earthy, the café is clean and the service is great.
Ben Cab Museum. I’ve been itching to go to Ben Cab’s museum but it’s a bit far from the city. What we did was hire a cab to take us there, who will wait for us then take us back to Session Road. The cab fee was P400. It’s a good thing too since there were some people ‘hoping’ to get a cab from the museum, which was a far cry. Entrance fee is P100, with 20% discount for senior citizens. I’m not an artsy fartsy kind of person who pretends she “gets” what the artist is trying to express through his art but I do appreciate a nice painting or sculpture once in a while. Ben Cab’s art was truly amazing. I took a few photos of the ones I liked and I plan on making them my personal phone wall paper. It’s amazing how much passion you can see and feel through his art and even through his museum. I wish I had as much talent and passion as he does. Did you know that Paul McCartney of the Beatles bought a piece from him for only P70? Amazing. And the Sabel woman you see in his art and whom he named his café after? A homeless woman he met and got inspiration from. Amazing. The museum is a bit huge and even has an eco-trail outside. Café Sabel is located on the lowest floor while Ben Cab’s home is right beside the museum. Mom said that she even chanced upon Ben having coffee at the café last time she was there. I highly recommend visiting this museum, even for an hour or so, not only to appreciate his art but also to honor one of our National Artists.
SM Baguio. We didn’t plan on going malling while on vacay but we had to buy a few stuff so we decided to check it out. Besides, SM Baguio is the only SM mall which is open aired. Aircon not needed. It also rained so we had to stay indoors and opted to watch a movie.
50s Diner. I’ve been reading about this place in numerous blogs so we made sure to have dinner there. As evidenced in the photos, people came in multitudes lining up for a spot inside. It took a few minutes of waiting but at least they had a ‘waiting list’ so it was orderly. Once inside, a sort of 50s vibe was going on though don’t expect it to be too fancy. The chairs were just regular onces and the plates were plastic. We ordered their huge cheeseburger (P150), some kind of pork belly with shrimp and veggies called Gangsta meal or the other (P300), asparagus soup (P50), fresh salad (P120) and two milkshakes – one chocolate, one strawberry (P80). Unfortunately, I did not find their food that good. Sure, you pay what you get because it’s so cheap but so filling but the quality and taste is not for seconds. The burger though I think was the best part of the meal. The milkshakes lacked creaminess and flavor for me. Personally, it’s not somewhere I’ll be going back to or would be craving for. But if you want a big meal for an affordable price, I recommend this to you.
PNKY cafe. A few steps away, we chanced upon this quaint top-of-a-hill spot called PKNY Café. Right beside it is their own B&B. The place is small but super nice, with pretty details like retro Samsonite luggages, lomo photos of the owners around the world and little trinkets here and there. I summed up that the owners were Christians (from the music) and were hard-core travelers (from the decors). Their menu was a collection of travelling photos and they even put the bill in a customized wooden mini-luggage. We ordered their ube crepe (P120), apple pie ala mode (P145) and two brewed coffees (P50). Their ube crepe is a must try because it’s unique and actually tasted good – with yam and macapuno as the filling. And it’s so pretty too, looking violet and all. Haha! They also serve meals if you’d like to try those out. I recommend this place if you want to stay somewhere quiet and quaint.
VCF Baguio. We had a light breakfast at our place then went to the 10am service at VCF Baguio, located inside the CAP building near ABS-CBN along session road. What’s nice about VCF Baguio is that their music team has a saxophone. What a refreshing way to worship!
Pizza Volante. After church, we walked towards the main session road and had lunch at Pizza Volante. Another option would be a Baguio original, Don Henrico’s, though they already have branches in Manila. At Pizza Volante, we ordered four of their smallest pizzas so we could taste four different flavors – Salmon, 4 cheeses, sardines and their Mediterranean pizza. Smallest pizzas range from P70-P100. We also added their regular Pasta Alfredo (P120) and organic lemongrass iced tea (P25). Everything was really good and I highly recommend eating at this place. It seems like they didn’t scrimp on the toppings, especially the cheese. The resto is not too fancy but not too drabby either. Plus, their lava cake (P80) with ice cream on top is to die for! Better then Café by the Ruins’ lava cake. You have to try their lava cake and pizzas at Pizza Volante.
Ukay. Of course, what’s a vacay to Baguio without a trip to their famous ukay-ukays? You won’t miss them since they are scattered everywhere. We just concentrated on the ones in Session Road and though I have allergies, I pushed through my constant sneezing just to go through racks and racks of clothes.
Pubic Market. Another must-do is to go to their public market near session road to buy fresh vegetables, pasalubongs such as peanut brittle and lengue de gato as well as their famous walis tambo.
Commissary/ outlet stores. At around 5pm, we went to the Commissary/ outlet stores near (or inside?) Camp John Hay. If you’re into shopping, I guess you’ll enjoy the things there. Prices are in dollars and are not bad, actually. I found their 2+1 Maybelline Volume Mascara only costs roughly P700 when in Manila malls, that’s the price for only one mascara. Another tip if you’re taking a cab going to this place: make sure you make a deal with the cab driver to wait for you while going around the area because it’s quite hard to hail one once inside. A lot of people were approaching our cab asking if they could ride. From our house to the commissary (with about 30minutes waiting time) to the Forest House cost us P300 cab fare.
Forest House. Another first for me. This was highly recommended by my mom and is quite on the pricey side. The place looks like a lodge and was actually already decked in holiday décor. Make sure you call in advance and make a reservation because each table was already allotted to someone and even had personalized table names. They’ll also ask for your reservation code so make sure to call ahead of time. The ambiance is cozy, perfect for bonding and storytelling moments. We ordered their baby back ribs with mashed potatoes (P450), vegetables with shrimp (P250), lengua (P300), soup (P80), house tea (P100), hot chocolate mint (P120) and their double decked moist cake ala mode (P120). Everything was good, especially the super tender and falls-off-the-bone ribs. The lengue was creamy and melts-in-your-mouth. The cake was fudgy and super chocolatey, plus it looked pretty with its butterfly décor. I found the shrimp and veggies a tad bit bland but I guess it works best for senior citizens like my mom. The drinks were really good too. By the taste (and the price), you know they weren’t cheap with the ingredients. I highly recommend this place if you want something fancy yet offers value for your money.
We started our trip with a bang and ended our trip with a bigger bang. Two days of sight seeing and food tripping in Baguio was good enough a refresher for me not just to get away from the stresses of work, but also as a mini-celebration with my two favorite gals. And with the convenient commute, cool weather, clean air, affordable meals and friendly cabbies, I’m thinking of going back again soon. 😀