Almost all of us have a keep a happy memory of Baguio somewhere in our brain. Most of it, we would mostly relate with our childhood. Like Tagaytay, Baguio will always be a place that never gets old. It will always be a familiar place that could never satiate us. We can’t explain why, but maybe because of its friendly weather, or the comforting atmosphere, or maybe just because of the good memories. But whatever it is, we always find comfort in seeking refuge in the solitude that Baguio always brings, 5000 feet above sea level.
One random weekend, our spontaneity made our feet itch and made us hop on a 7 hour trip to Baguio. Pao did all the planning since I was so busy with the year-end requirements for my class. Weekends are always rewarding for me because I always make it a point that it will be my perfect time to relax and unwind. Pao made all of it possible by planning a spontaneous Baguio trip for both of us. With a last minute itinerary that I prepared, we were good to go!
Good thing we visited during the weekend before the Panagbenga Festival, when Baguio was not crowded and the weather was all sunny. With only our backpacks and bus-reclined-rested-bodies, we reacquainted ourselves with wonderful Baguio memories as we started off with Mines View Park to meet Baguio’s famous dog, Douglas the Saint Bernard. Mines View Park is perhaps one of the tourist friendly spots in Baguio as caters mostly for recreation and sight-seeing. It gives a breathtaking panoramic view of Benguet’s mountains along with its copper and gold mines.
Little did we know that we were about to discover one of Baguio’s best kept secrets– the Strawberry Taho. And it came as a sweet surprise as we chanced upon one in Mines View Park. It was definitely not the last one we had! We got so addicted and had 4 servings of it in less than 24 hours. Talk about sugar rush!
Following Mines View Park were quick trips to the Mansion House, the Wright Park, and the Botanical Garden. These three places are at close proximity to each other, so you can hit many birds with one stone if you decide to make a trip in this area. The Mansion House is the official summer residence of the Philippine President (Yes, summer. History books teach us that Baguio is known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines). Wright Park fronts the main gate of the Mansion house. It is known for its horseback rides, the rectangular pool of water reflecting the rich foliage of tall pine trees, and the native Igorots waiting for photo opportunities. As the name suggests, Botanical Garden showcases a wide variety of flowering plants landscaped beautifully in a garden. Native Igorots are also waiting for eager tourists wanting snapshots with them, of course, for a fee. But at the time of our visit, the Botanical Garden was being renovated and we were only able to visit a small part of the garden which was open for tourists.
We were famished by the time noon approached. We intentionally did not eat breakfast, just nibbled a couple of snacks, following our 7-hour bus trip to prepare for a hearty lunch in 50’s Diner where we stuffed ourselves with more than our tummies could handle. 50’s Diner is a place to remember when you’re in Baguio. It serves American diner comfort food at very reasonable prices. By the end of our scheduled lunch time, we could not even finish our orders of steaks. We could have shared had we known the servings were that big!
From being famished to being full, we hailed a cab, our primary and glorious means of transportation around Baguio. A little past lunch time, we checked-in at our hotel, Chalet Baguio, a new and chic hotel that we give our two thumbs up! After checking in, we immediately left as we took a leisurely stroll in Panagbenga Park which was just nearby. Panagbenga Park, located at the Upper Session Road Rotund, is difficult to miss because of its very colorful and eye-catching sign welcoming all eager visitors who happen to pass around it. This is the area where Panagbenga Festival participants assemble and gather before the parade hence its name.
After a few, brief moments around the park, we finally decided to hit Camp John Hay. We hailed another cab that would take us to Camp John Hay. We did not anymore make it to Tree Top Adventure in Baguio inside Camp John Hay because we were already able to try it in Tree Top Adventure Subic. We were not able to play mini-golf and skating anymore because we felt that lazing around with the pine trees and having another round of wonderful photo opportunities was more meaningful. If you know me, taking pictures is a part of my being which very well completes my
existence visit to a novel place. And with our camera tripod, shutter clicks just began to fire away!
After a lovely photo op in Camp John Hay, we ended our afternoon at Burnham Park. Burnham Park is one of the popular tourist destinations in Baguio City. Burnham Park, an urbanized park located at the heart of Baguio, promises affordable leisure activities for all ages, be it families, couples, or soul-searching individuals! We started off as we went boating in Burnham Lake. For a fee of Php 100.00, we were able to smoothly cruise (yes, cruise hahaha) through the man-made lake. There’s really not much to see in the lake, but for the love of new experiences, it was worth a try. We didn’t consume the entire hour since we felt that it was too long a time to go boating. Plus, we were motivated to eat more strawberry taho in the process because we knew peddlers were selling Strawberry Taho in Burnham Park!
While trying to look for more strawberry taho, we chanced upon the biking area of Burnham! Being ever so spontaneous, all we could say was, “Why not?” So off we rented two bicycles for Php 40.00 each, a mountain bike for him, and a girly bike with a basket for me (I had a bag, I had to put it somewhere). And off we went with our bikes to make faster search for that crazy taho that we crave for so much. The biking route seemed smaller now, comparing it to the memory of my glorious biking days during my childhood. The route was small and not even a bit challenging. But nevertheless, we still savored the moment and biked our way to happiness.
And it was in Burnham Park where felt our blood pressures raise in excitement as we saw another peddler selling strawberry taho. Without batting an eyelash, we called for him, and requested for two cups EACH of the tasty and succulent snack!
After a long day of refreshing our memories with Baguio activities, we had extra time to rest for a while back in Chalet Baguio before we go to the Baguio Cathedral to attend Saturday’s anticipated mass. When we were finally recharged, we had to get up and head to Baguio Cathedral to hear mass and make a wish! (It’s been customary for us to make a wish every time we visit new churches).
After hearing mass, we couldn’t help but consider the idea of having steak dinner again! And with another round of hearty steak cravings, we decided to head to Sizzling Plate, a delicious but very affordable steak house in the heart of Session Road. We were definitely seasoned first timers in Sizzling Plate and we just savored each bite of each slice of the tender meat drenched in yummy gravy! Like always, after an aftermath of
devouring munching on dinner, we felt so full that we just found the need to walk it out. We literally walked the entire Session Road up to our hotel just to make all the food go down. We somehow ended up getting lost, but eventually found our way. Thank God! Maybe the ghosts of Baguio were playing with us too. Awooooo!!!!
The next day, we woke very early as we prepared to go to La Trinidad in Benguet to see the Strawberry Farm! And with another taxi cab, we were transported from Baguio City to Benguet in a matter of 30 minutes. And lo and behold, it is in this Strawberry Farm that we discovered the best strawberry taho there is in the whole world! Yes, succulent fresh strawberries at its finest mixed with rich sugary syrup and chewy sago. We were found ourselves in heaven amid the strawberry fields! We did not anymore handpick strawberries since it was pricey and too fragile to transport. We just took advantage of the scenic landscape and fired away with endless photo ops once more.
After satisfying ourselves eyes, nose, and tastebuds with everything Strawberry, we headed to the Bell Church, located at the border of Baguio City and La Trinidad in Benguet. This compound of Taoist temples and beautifully manicured Chinese gardens were already off the beaten track, but it was still worth it to give it a visit because we never shut our doors to opportunities which allow us to immerse ourselves to different cultures and ways of living.
Like most of our trips, we had to satisfy the artsy fartsy side in us as we admired the indigenous art of Baguio’s premier artists set amid a charming collection of genuine Ifugao huts brought to the city in Tam Awan Village. Tam Awan Village is located at the outskirts of Baguio City. It is known as Baguio’s premier artist colony for the main reason that it is where artists converge to showcase their sublime artworks. You have to see it yourself. Imagine yourself in an artist’s exhibit outdoors complemented by the lush greens and beauty of nature.
Just next door was another gallery and a boutique coffee shop and the home of the renowned artist Benhur Villanueva. The coffee shop, Kape Diperensya, is esteemed for the best-tasting hot chocolate (which we failed to taste because we were in a rush to get to the next stop in our itinerary).
Next in our itinerary was supposedly Ben Cab Museum. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the Ben Cab Museum anymore as we were victimized by one reckless cab driver who literally just wasted 1 hour of our lives. 😦 He just drove us aimlessly around the busy streets of Baguio but did not take us where we wanted to be taken. He just wasted our time and energy. But nevertheless, we are still thankful that we were able to do so much in two days, ate so much in two days, and enriched ourselves with more experience in two days. It was still time well-spent after all.
Before heading back to Manila, we sampled O Mai Khan’s Mongolian Buffet, which was just right to fill our hungry stomachs before a long trip back home. 🙂
Going to Baguio:
- Baguio is easily accessible by public transportation. Victory Liner buses depart from Pasay and Cubao every hour (with the regular airconditioned buses) and 4 times a day (with their deluxe buses)
- In going around Baguio, taxi cabs are readily available anywhere. Baguio cab drivers are known for their honesty and good nature. (Welll, except for that inconsiderate driver that we happened to chance upon)