Unlike some, I have never really bitten by the travel bug hard enough that I really do save up to travel. The last time I traveled via airplane was two years ago, and more often than not, I end up going on day trips with either family or friends. These trips are usually food trips or cultural and historical trips, but more often than not, I go on day trips to just escape the hustle and bustle of the city and to spend quality time with people that I love and care about. However, regardless of whether its a short or a long trip, there will always be some issues that one ends up facing. It may be the same issue, or it could be a completely different one. So, because of the quick holiday getaway that my family and I just had, I decided that whenever we go on a trip, be it overnight or a short day trip, I will be writing about the experience here, and talk about some of the difficulties that I experienced and how I dealt with it.
One great thing about the Philippines is that one doesn’t have to look too far to plan something, whether it be a cultural or historical trip in one of the nearer cities, food tripping in the city or in the province, or escaping the hustle and bustle of the city in one of the country’s many beaches or unwinding in areas with cooler climate. And sometimes, one doesn’t even need to spend a lot of time to do this. My family and I usually head to Tagaytay, which is less than two hours away from where I live for good food, cooler weather and a great view of Taal Volcano, something that we never get tired of. However, recently, on a whim, we decided to spend the long weekend that consisted of Mother’s Day and local elections to head up north for a change to even cooler climates in Baguio. As soon as I heard of the plan, I immediately got excited because it would be something different from the usual, as it would be an overnight trip, and as I hadn’t been to Baguio in over a decade.
For those that don’t know, Baguio City is located up north in Luzon, in the Cordillera Administrative Region, and located within the province of Benguet. Baguio is a “mountain resort city”, and has been dubbed as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” as many go there during the summer due its cooler climate. It is also called “The City of Pines”. This highly urbanized city is a big tourist spot in the Philippines, and has a number of tourist spots such as parks and Camp John Hay. The city was developed by American urban planners in the 1900s.
Normally, I would be all in when it comes to planning, but it had already been established for my own emotional self-management that I don’t. In the end, I just gave suggestions,and left it up for my dad to decide what to do, since we technically had a day to go around and do things.
This time around, we decided to book a four star hotel, Azalea Residences and Hotel, for our overnight stay, as unlike the rest of my family, my mother and I need a little bit of a sense of comfort and cleanliness in where we are staying. It’s just the kind of travelers we are. However, I do recommend the place as the rooms and bathrooms were clean, the breakfast was good, and we had good service. Aside from that, it wasn’t that bad for the price, especially if you are sharing a room with others.
We also rented out a car as our van conked out last minute on us. Our car came a bit late, so all we had time to do on Sunday night was to have dinner, visit the night market, and go to Baguio Craft Brewery. However, as local elections were going to be held the next day, we couldn’t taste their Strawberry Beer due to liquor ban, but enjoyed ourselves to some great mocktails instead.
The next day, after breakfast, we drove around and went through different places such as The Mansion, where the President stays when he is in Baguio; Camp John Hay; Teacher’s Camp; Wright Park; and Baguio Country Club. We also bought some raisin bread from the food camp at Baguio Country Club. We also went to Good Shepherd Convent, which is known for the products that the nuns make there. Of course, we came home with Benguet Coffee, a jar of Ube Jam, Peanut Brittle, Strawberry Jam, and a small jar of Blueberry Jam. We also spent a few minutes visiting St. Joseph the Worker Church.
After checking out at noon, we went to Casa Vallejo, an inn that also houses a wonderful restaurant called Hill Station, and a bookstore chock full of Philippine Literature called Mt. Cloud Bookstore.
For lunch, we had a Hill Station Green Garden Salad; Chorizo Bilbao with Sauerkraut and Picado (Portuguese tenderloin tips w/ Piri-piri sauce) as tapas; Lengua Estofado con Vino Tinto that was served with Mashed Potato and string beans; Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Spinach and Mashed Potato; and Cambodian Coriander and Garlic Chicken with rice. For desert, we tasted three of their home made ice creams- Dark Chocolate with Cayenne, Vanilla Cinnamon, and Mango Rum. Out of the three, my favorite was the Vanilla Cinnamon as it tasted like apple pie. The food was great, and all of that was enough for all six of us!
Before eating lunch, we checked out the bookstore, which sold different kinds of Philippine literature, from text books, to novels, to graphic novels and the like. They also sold beaded necklaces and earrings that had a distinct Cordillera design.
After lunch, we headed out to the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad. I was a little bit disappointed as I was expecting to be able to pick strawberries, but I guess they weren’t in season as I only saw tiny ones. They also grew other vegetables there such as lettuce. However, we were able to buy several packs of fresh strawberries, chili garlic, wild honey, Lengua de Gato, fresh celery, broccoli and lettuce.
From there we headed to the Easter Weaving Room, which has been around for a long time now. When you enter, you’ll immediately be greeted by the sound of looms clacking, while on the side, there is a lady spinning a wheel in the warping area.
Upstairs are three entire floors of products that they make, all the way from traditional costumes, to dresses, shirts and polos. They also make bags, hats, shoes, and priests vestments. You can also find some jewelry here too. If you are looking to by souvenirs from Baguio, I would definitely recommend coming to this place as there is a myriad of choices for you to select from.
Afterwards, we began the long journey home. However, as compared to before, it is now way easier to go back and forth from Manila to Baguio. It used to take six hours long before, and now it only takes around three hours or so.
Our stay in Baguio was a quick one, and we didn’t get to see everything, but it was a memorable trip and I think that we were able to maximize our time there.
Cleanliness of bathrooms is an issue that I will always have, and that will never go away. I usually end up not going to the bathroom at all if it is a bathroom that is too dirty and smelly. I know that this may seem too much for some people, but I really can’t. However, I didn’t have much of a problem with this during this trip.
Interestingly enough, what I did have a problem with was going up and down from our rental car. We had a Toyota Fortuner, and most of the time I was seated way at the back. Only one seat among the two middle seats could be lifted all the way, and I always couldn’t seem to gain a foothold before going down. However, at a certain point, I was able to get the hang of it. I think this happened because I wasn’t used to the car, and it took several moments of practice to get the hang of how to go up and down from the car.
I kept myself comfortable in the car with my neck travel pillow, my phone chock full of music, and I made sure I had enough data to watch some episodes of a show I’m following as well.
My emotional self-management was surprisingly okay during the trip, as there were no meltdowns of any kind. I think that this was because I wasn’t so hell bent on seeing particular tourist spots because I am not really supposed to plan anything. I did help plan a little bit, but there wasn’t any sense of being so hung up on a particular place to go to, which really helped with my emotional self-management. I was a little bit upset at the beginning of the trip though, but that was mostly because our rental car came late and we left later that expected due to unforeseen circumstances. This is a big difference to the last overnight trip I went on last December, where I ended up having a panic attack in a small boat going back to our resort from the island we spent a day at as the waves were strong and we had no life vests at all.
All in all, our really quick overnight family weekend trip was a success and a memorable despite all the hiccups that happened in the beginning, and everything went smooth for me as well. Emotionally speaking, I was alright, and the only major problem I had was my horrible balance and coordination when it came to going up and down the rental car.
I cannot wait for the next time I go on a trip, whether it be a day trip or a longer trip, and I cannot wait to share my experiences, and how I dealt with particular challenges that came my way then!
I hope that you enjoyed the very first travel related post on my blog!