Strawberry Chronicles: Impromptu Trip to Baguio!

I have been going through a lot of stress lately.  It’s funny that I haven’t had this much stress when I was doing regular office work.  I guess real life is more stressful!  And because of that I just decided to have a quick getaway.  Two options were in my mind: the beach or the mountain.  And by the title of this post, you can already guess which one won.

Dawn in Baguio City

This is part of a series

This sudden out of town getaway was decided on the last minute.  I brought along overnight clothes both for the beach and the mountains.  Admittedly I was leaning more towards the beach, specifically Puerto Galera, but convenience won and we’re off to Baguio!  I originally thought of going solo, but a trip, for me at least, is a bit better if you have some company (to help split the bill :D).

And so shortly before midnight at a bus terminal in Cubao we were off to a six-hour trip to Baguio.  I admit I really missed the weather and the food of Baguio.  There were some places I haven’t visited, and this time it’s revenge!

The bus ride was around five and a half hours in total.  We arrived in Baguio just as the sun’s rays were slowly lighting up the skies.  And we arrived in a chilly 16°c which was a bit too cool for someone from Quezon City like me.  And so upon arrival, my first meal of the day was a hot spicy seafood-flavored noodles from a nearby convenience store.  I discovered that at that temperature, you’d hardly notice the spice in the food.  And you only notice the heat of the soup when your tongue gets scalded!

The light of the sun not yet touching ground

As I was more inclined towards the warmth of the beach instead of the chills of the mountains, my clothes were more suited for the warmer climate.  I thankfully brought along some collared shirt but I didn’t bring any long pants or even shoes so it was a challenge to walk around the breezy Baguio climate in shorts and flip-flops.  The sun still hasn’t risen yet so the temperature continued to drop.

The top of the hills receiving first light

Our first agenda was to visit Burnham Park, on foot of course.  Walking in Baguio is a challenge because of the high elevation and the hilly terrain, and because of this I managed to stay warm despite my “light” clothing.  We walked around the very active park to keep ourselves warm and observe how the locals fare so early in the morning.  And after a while the sun finally showed up—and I’ve never been so glad so see the sun!

People are pretty active here in Burnham Park, even before sunrise!

All that walking took its toll on our stomachs so we visited Zola Café right along Session Road.  The great thing about having a cool weather is that air conditioning is unnecessary as you just have to open the windows, but on the downside in this café, open windows lead many patrons to believe that it’s okay to smoke indoors.  I’ve had more than my quota of second hand smoke during that brief visit.

First breakfast in Baguio

Our next agenda was to find a hotel.  Our guardian angels must’ve been watching over us as we found the “perfect” hotel, in the “perfect” location, and with an excellent rate: City Center Hotel also right along Session Road.  Session Road, aside from being historic, is arguably the heart of Baguio City as most terminals in the city are just hundreds of meters around it so its location was just perfect.  City Center Hotel is a relatively new hotel so you’re assured that everything in the room is quite new, and it was just our luck that they’re offering 30% off their regular rates bringing a room for two to a mere ₱1,470!  And that already includes breakfast for two from their own café, Beans Talk.  Their receptionist was quite accommodating that we were even allowed to check in early!  As a regular hotel, check in/out times are 2:00PM and 12:00NN.  How lucky can we get?

City Center Hotel along Session Road corner Mabini St.
The interiors of Beans Talk
At ₱15, this has got to be the cheapest, good tasting leche flan I’ve ever had! This can be found in a store along Mabini St. just behind City Center Hotel.

After settling in and catching some snooze, it was time for lunch.  The first Baguio restaurant that we “conquered” was the famous vegetarian restaurant Oh My Gulay!  Baguio is also famous for fresh vegetables from the mountain provinces so it’s quite fitting that we eat vegetables.  It’s a good and healthy break from the usual meaty diet of Manileños.

Oh My Gulay! (literally, Oh my vegetable! :D)
Our meal: Oh my gulay rice (top), OMG salad (bottom left), and Bulaklak Tempura (bottom right)

After that sumptuous meal we decided to give thanks and visit Baguio Cathedral.  Personally, I always make it a point to visit a church, even at least once, wherever I go.  This is to give thanks for the safe arrival and ask for guidance for a good trip ahead.  For those of other religion, Baguio Cathedral is one of the city’s icons so it’s still a must see.

Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral, better known as Baguio Cathedral

The thing about runners is that just about everything is within running (or walking) distance.  Most especially if you’re an ultra-runner!  I don’t believe it myself but we actually managed to walk from Session Road all the way to Camp John Hay!  It wasn’t planned so I don’t know exactly how far we went, but it was a good chance to discover the location of the “other” Glenn 50’s Diner, and see some amazing views along the way!

The “other” Glenn 50’s Diner branch
Imagine just walking along and finding views like these 😀

I believe I’ve ran through Camp John Hay during my TNF100 Baguio days but I’ve never been to the “touristy” spots.  To my surprise there was an ROX branch in the camp, and there’s such a place called Baguio-AyalaLand TechnoHub!  (I used to work in UP AyalaLand TechnoHub so this was a pleasant surprise!)

This is a very nice branch you have, ROX!
One of the buildings in Baguio-AyalaLand TechnoHub
Selfie! 😀
Where to?

The sun was starting to set when we decided to go to a popular Starbucks Coffee branch in the area, near The Manor, and there was hardly any sunlight by the time we got there.  Just as Baguio gets light earlier in the morning, so too does it get dark earlier!  The branch was quite unique but it’s also quite small so I can’t imagine how it is during weekends.  I don’t usually include shops that we have in Metro Manila as part of my itinerary during out of town trips, but this one is an exception as this was where I got my complimentary birthday cake slice, courtesy of my Starbucks Card, making for an extended birthday celebration for me.  And as if we weren’t lucky enough, we were treated to a fireworks display as we were leaving!

Cake slice courtesy of Starbucks Coffee, Frappuccino and coffee courtesy of ourselves 😛

For dinner we were back to our favorite Glenn 50’s Diner.  The same old branch that we always go to, not the “newly found” one we discovered earlier.  Yes, the one with the car!  As much as I wanted to try something new, I reverted back to old time favorites.

My favorite Glenn 50’s Diner branch
This one is called the “Gambler.” Don’t ask me why. 😀
And this one is called “Guys on the Hood,” a bestseller!

It was quite an interesting first day.  And we still have two more!

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