Impromptu Baguio

When you suddenly have a long weekend ahead of you, what do you do?  Normally, I’d just catch some sleep but since the Labor Day weekend became unexpectedly longer, a quick getaway is in order.

Hello, Baguio!

This is part of a series

While most people were off to the beach, we were headed somewhere much cooler—at the highlands of Baguio!  I just returned from the beautiful beaches of Palawan then so I already had my quota of sunburn.

We were planning on going to Baguio around midnight or so, but as our luck would have it, tickets were sold out so we had to wait until the morning, the earliest trip we could book.  Bus tickets could be booked online but it had to be a week early so we had no choice but to buy the tickets in person on the terminal.  Our planned morning arrival had become morning departure!

I was expecting that with the opening of the TPLEX, travel time to Baguio from Manila would be much faster.  This is true if you’re travelling by car, but not by bus!  Apparently, unless you take an ‘express’ route, the bus will take the old, slow route with a few stops along the way.  We departed from Cubao at 7AM and reached Baguio past 1PM!  You could just imagine how exhausted we were.

It was such a relief when we finally got into our room!

Our first agenda upon arrival in Baguio is to have lunch.  The only meal we had for the day were some very light snacks so we were really famished.  As soon as we were able to secure our things in our hotel room, we were off to Glenn 50’s Diner—the first place to pop out of our heads.

I came to know about Glenn 50’s Diner years ago during the first TNF100 in Baguio.  It had been somewhat a tradition for me to visit this place whenever I’m in the city (time permitting).  I’ve always gone to the branch in Leonard Wood Road, the one with the cute buggy car at the front, so I was a bit disappointed when our taxi brought us to the Military Cutoff Road branch.  I thought this was a misunderstanding but since we’re hungry and it’s still the same diner, we didn’t mind.

Glenn 50’s Diner Military Cutoff Road branch
S/S” (Steak and shrimp)

As much as I’d like to stay positive, Glenn 50’s Diner lost me.  While their prices remain very affordable, the food is just sad.  It seems like it’s on the right path but stopped midway to being just good enough at best.  It’s like the one who prepared it is uninspired.  Our hunger was satisfied, somehow, but our palates were left wanting.

On our way back to our hotel, we learned that the Glenn 50’s Diner at Leonard Wood Road was already demolished.  No wonder our taxi took us all the way to Military Cutoff Road!  But they now have a more accessible branch in Porta Vaga Mall along Session Road.  Hopefully, the food and service there is better.

Later that day, we visited the Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral (better known as the Baguio Cathedral) and Burnham Park.

Baguio Cathedral
A child mesmerized by a fountain at Burnham Park

As expected, Burnham Park is filled with tourists.  The weather was pleasant for walking and doing just about anything under the sun!  And as coincidence would have it, I stumbled upon my high school classmate whom I’ve not seen in person in years!  What a small world!

The man-made lake of Burnham Park

That evening, we had our dinner at one of my more recent “discoveries,” Café by the Ruins.  They have another branch near our hotel called Café by the Ruins Dua, but we insisted on the original branch near Rizal Park.  Lucky that we did as days later, we sadly learned from the news that it burned down.

I never saw the ruins this restaurant was pertaining to until this picture…
Sadly, the café is also now in ruins after the fire.
Our dinner composed of meat and vegetables.
We also had their kamote bread but I ate it all before I realized I was not able to take a photo. 😀
Also had their mint chocolate

Everything that we had were good!  It seemed like it’s our redemption for the lackluster lunch that we had.  But we’re not done yet.

We capped our first day with a quick trip to the night market.  It’s not my first time to visit the night market but it’s the first time I really got to explore what’s on sale and we learned that they have some really good selection of street food!  We were already stuffed so we weren’t able to buy any food, but I got myself a pajama!  It’s an unusual purchase out of necessity as our hotel restaurant (where we would have our breakfast) has a dress code, and shorts, among others, are not allowed (and I did not bring any long pants on this trip).

The night market of Baguio

Our hotel wasn’t that far from the night market so we just walked back.  It’s a great way to stay warm as the nights at the time were a bit chilly.

The following morning started with breakfast at our hotel’s in-house restaurant, Hill Station.  Here you may find some interesting finds like tinapa, macapuno balls, “pinoy caviar,” chocolates, etc.

Having breakfast in my pajamas that I got from the night market 😀
The nice interiors of Hill Station
From the hotel lobby, you will need to go down that staircase to get to Hill Station
My breakfast: corned beef hash
Some interesting items you can get here

We originally planned on just staying overnight in the city and head off somewhere else after but due to concerns about transportation that Labor Day long weekend, we decided to cancel our side trip and extend our stay by another night.  But since I only booked for a night at our current hotel (and an extra night would cost so much more than I’m willing to pay for), we moved to our next hotel before lunch time.  But until checkout time, we just enjoyed the remaining hours inside our room.

We luckily found a room at one of my favorite hotels in Baguio, despite the hordes of tourists in the city.  This is the hotel that I was originally aiming for but was sold out when I tried to book online.  There’s a catch though why this room was not taken—it’s got no windows!  Technically it does, but it just opens up to this opening for the air-con with no view whatsoever.  We’d be out most of the time anyway so it doesn’t really matter much.  What’s important is that we’re based in a great location in the city, with free breakfast.

Our “windowless” room

After our early check-in into hotel #2, we went straight to Lourdes Grotto.  This time around, we took the jeep to get there instead of the usual taxi.

Kapilya ni Jesus at Maria.  My first time to see this chapel.
Inside this chapel

I guess it was that long since I was last at Lourdes Grotto that I didn’t even saw this new chapel being constructed.  I think it’s a great addition as a mass can now be held on the hill.  They also built public toilets so you won’t have to panic when you need to go and you’re up there.

Lourdes Grotto
You could get your candles from vendors below or get one in the area as well

Since it wasn’t that far from the city and the weather was pleasant, we decided to walk back towards Burnham Park.  Our next itinerary: lunch at Good Taste.  Again, I had fond memories with this restaurant and again, somehow, we got into the “other” branch.  I just typed in the name into Google Maps and blindly followed the instructions without validating if it was the same branch we were thinking of.  It turns out that the branch we were thinking of was another two kilometers away and this was the closest from where we were.

My late lunch: chicken curry
Halo-halo for dessert 🙂
Meet Daniel Hudson Burnham, the designer of the city of Baguio, Manila, and numerous others.
We passed through the park named after him on our way back to our hotel.

That evening, we were back at the night market to finally have a taste of the street food!  We sampled a variety of dishes but my favorite was the sisig which also served as my dinner.

The street food area of the night market where you can ind a lot of interesting dishes
I really like the improvement they did at Malcolm Square, just across the public market.
I think it is now cleaner and more functional than before.

Our last day started with another round of good breakfast at our hotel’s in-house restaurant, Beans Talk Bistro.

Start the day with a good breakfast.  This is their really good longanisa.
Another good option is their corned beef

Again, it’s the day we’d be checking out, but our hotel is very accommodating that they allowed us to leave our things for the rest of the afternoon.  This allowed us to continue roaming the city past checkout time, and that lead us to Camp John Hay.

There was an activity at Malcolm Park when we passed by the following day.

I always love going to Camp John Hay primarily because of the fresh air and all the greens.  I also have a lot of fond memories here, most recent of which was my 50K ultramarathon last year via TNF100.

The lovely trees of Camp John Hay

Late lunch was the common theme for this trip, and for this day we had it at Chocolate de Batirol, also inside Camp John Hay.

Chocolate de Batirol inside Camp John Hay
You are surrounded by plants of all forms when you dine in here like this one that doesn’t even look real!
Our late lunch.  Aligue rice goes really well with the fish.

We explored the sights and attractions of Camp John Hay afterwards to burn some calories.  When we got tired of walking, we went back to our hotel, at Beans Talk Bistro to be exact, to rest, pass the time, and have some snacks.  But before we finally leave the city, we still have one more agenda: dinner!

Our last meal in the city would be at another one of my favorites, Oh My Gulay.  Their menu had totally changed since the last time I visited, but I still was not disappointed.  Mind you, the names of the food I listed below are as they appear on their menu. 😀

This curious fish pond greets you upon entry
Always a visual treat to visit here.  There’s just no shortage of interesting items here.
Heneral Luna’s Punyetang Shitake” (₱150)
Mushrooms, béchamel sauce, cheddar cheese
Lapu-Lapu Lumpia” (₱150)
Tofu rolls, bed of mixed greens, honey mustard, Asian dressing
Pancit Gulay ni Pepe” (₱150)
Egg noodles, tofu, vegetables, pancit sauce

More than the “controversial” names, the food is really good!  I feel like there aren’t that much variety and I was missing the vegetable dishes but nonetheless, the ones we got were all delicious and quite affordable.  It was an excellent way of closing this trip.

As we had learned our lesson, we took the “express” (First Class) bus on our way back to Manila.  This is almost twice the regular fare (₱750 as compared to ₱445 for the “regular”), but the comfort and time saved is much more valuable.  We booked our tickets as soon as we arrived so our travel back was hassle-free.

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Impromptu Baguio:

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