Sunday, 15 December 2013

Solo Trip to the City of Pines v2.0

Hello! Hope everyone's doing spectacular!

As promised here's day number two of my adventure in Baguio.


I got up at 6 in the morning with Payphone ringing in my ears (my alarm sound). And in the true essence of being fearless and free, I opened the door to the balcony and shouted "Good morning Baguiooooooo!" at the top of my lungs. A neighbor actually shouted 'Good morning' back. Haha! 
I went for a 30-minute run before I took a freezing shower (which was not that bad... ^_^) and headed out.


My first agenda for the day was to meet my friend Aliana, but we call her Ali. She's a friend of mine back when I was still working in CVG. She's pretty and very outgoing. We met at lower Session Road, waving at me as she crossed the pedestrian lane. Unfortunately, it was not her rest day so she was not able to accompany me to go sightseeing. For breakfast, Ali recommended to eat at Volante's.

Meet Ali ♥
Volante is an Italian restaurant located in the heart of Session Road but there is also one near Wright Park. Aside from pasta and pizza, they also serve Filipino breakfast and light snacks at affordable prices. Ali ordered Pasta Pomodoro while I opted to eat Shrimp Pasta, and, upon Ali's recommendation, chose Choco Vanilla Love Affair for dessert.

Photo Op! Smile!
While we waited for our food, Ali and I used the time to catch up. She seemed to be at home here (who wouldn't? lol), she also told me which places to visit next like Wright Park, the White House, Pink Sisters Convent (more on that later. ^__^)

After about fifteen minutes, the smell of garlic bread hit my nostrils and breakfast is served! I'm glad I let Ali choose where to dine because let me tell you that food was great! My Shrimp Pasta was really shrimp pasta! Oodles of pasta covered with medium sized shrimps, the sauce was made of real tomatoes and I can taste the basil in my taste buds. Italian authenticity at its best at a very affordable price.

Choco Vanilla Love Affair
But what really clinched the whole meal was the dessert. Their Choco Vanilla Love Affair is to die for! It's a large brownie served with a single scoop of vanilla ice cream. The brownie was still warm when the waitress served it, it's already good on it's own but when eaten with the vanilla ice cream it's absolutely yummy. A love affair between two flavors indeed! A must for chocolate lovers and those who have a sweet tooth like me. Thanks Ali! ♥

After that wonderful breakfast, Ali and I headed out to hail a cab to my next destination, Mines View Park. I hugged her goodbye and she told me to text her if I'm lost or need help with directions. Sweet Ali :)

So my first cab for the day is to Mines View Park. Cabs in Baguio City are easy and fun. For one, they're all over the city, and two it's very cheap. Cab drivers in Baguio will actually insist that you take your change, even if it's just one peso. 

Mines View Park is one of the frequented places in Baguio. The entrance to the park is lined with stores which sell handcrafted wood carvings, baskets,  brooms, and kitchen utensils. Some stores also sell silver and jewelry which are made locally. There also stores selling snack and beverages. I walked down the winding stone stairway to the observation deck. From the observation deck, I was blown away by the breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. 

It's called Mines View because you can see the old abandoned gold and copper mine used by the early Igorot/Ibaloi people. You can fully see it by renting a binocular from the observation deck, it only costs twenty pesos. The person who rents the binocular told me that it's better to visit Mines View in the late morning or early afternoon because fogs tend to cover the view in the late  afternoon.

There are also two stands on the observation deck who rent ethnic wear. You can rent it for ten pesos and you can have all the shots that you want. I offered to take pictures of other tourists for free so they can have a complete group shot. That was fun~. I took a stolen shot of a couple posing for their picture. Heehee~

Meet Cutie Pie Simon!
When you go back up at the entrance, there are photo booths which you can get your picture taken with horses as well as with St. Bernard dogs. I got to meet King, Casper and Simon.

I decided to take a little stroll and found out that Good Shepherd Convent is just a few minute walk from Mines View Park.  Good Shepherd is known for their products which are sold in the compound and the local market place. The most popular include ube, coco and strawberry jams, and cashew and peanut brittle. The money made from selling these products helps the charities sponsored by the nuns and it is also used to keep the convent up and running. I bought some strawberry jams as take home souvenirs. (they're very sweetastic! ♥)

Ali suggested that I head next to Wright Park and the Mansion since it's near Mines View. The sun was up but not that warm given that the December air is softly blowing so I decided to walk instead of taking a cab. It's a bit of a distance but I didn't notice it because of the scenery and because of my playlist. (I just imagine my walk as a big music video. lol.) Without getting lost (thank you again, Google Map!), I managed to get to Wright Park.  Directly across of Wright Park is the Mansion.

The Mansion was originally built to house US Governor-Generals and was destroyed in 1945. It was later rebuilt as a summer home of Philippine Presidents for any official functions. The gate has an intricate and elaborate design. The person I talked to said it was designed after the gate of the Buckingham Palace in England. I found out that guards in the vicinity are actually contingents of the Philippine Marines. O__O. 
After about twenty minutes of admiring the garden, I decided it was time to head to Wright Park. 

Upon entering Wright Park, I was greeted by what is known as the "Pool of Pines." It's a long stretch of water reaching the center of the park. It reflects the majestic pines scattered around the park, thus the name.  

I enjoyed the long walk around the park but wasn't up to taking  horseback riding. The cost of the horseback riding is charged per hour but they can also be taken out of the park depending on the per hour charge. But I did run up the stairs, (felt like a boxer-in-training, thank goodness I wore my running shoes!)

My second cab ride took place when I decided to go to Leonard Wood. A Baguio trip isn't complete without any ghost hunting experience. Ali told me about the Laperal White House. It's an old house painted all white, hence the name. Looking at the outside already gave me the creeps *shudder*. It's the local Amityville in Baguio. It was said that it was also a scene of a gruesome murder and spooky incidents have been happening in the house ever since. When Ali and her friends visited the place, she recalled taking a picture of her friend. The camera has a face detector and as she readied herself to take the picture, the face detector detected six faces, including her friend's. Yikes. *Goosebumps*
Too bad they were closed though. I was hoping for a good scare. I just managed to take a picture of the house and hopefully I captured the spooky aura with it.

With all the exploring and walking I've done, I hadn't realized it was waaaaay past lunchtime. Don't worry, I went to a local restaurant this time. Haha! 

Welcome to the 50's!

The 50's Diner is a small restaurant located in Leonard Wood but a new branch has opened near the Military Cut-off. Their decor reminded me of "Grease." They have old posters framed and decorated as well. There was an authentic jukebox in the corner but I'm not sure if it works because I forgot to ask. (Boo!) The couches and seats have vinyl upholstery that really give off that fifties vibe. Even the waitresses are dressed in the old sailor uniform. So coool!

The place was already packed when I got inside but luckily they also have bar style stools near the counter. I didn't mind sitting there since I was alone. Tables and chairs will be much better used by large groups. As I settled myself in the farthest corner, to my right are pictures of my fave actresses,  Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn! Goodness knows  I just haaad to take a picture. ^_^ ~ ♥

Marilyn Monroe
Audrey Hepburn

There were a lot to choose from the menu. They have snacks for a light meal to the "heavies". Plus, they have very affordable prices. And in the spirit of American diner, I ordered their 50's burger and a large chocolate ice cream milkshake.

Took about ten minutes for my food to be served but Holy Crap on Cracker! That hamburger was huge! Bun, patty and everything. Even the fries!

I found the bun too big and the patty a little dry. But the taste was still delicious. I was eating and keeping tabs on my FB when another fellow sat down at the counter. Backpack and a DSLR camera on hand, he took the menu from the waiter and looked at it.

While I was eating I took the picture of the waitress creating the shakes (see photo above) and the jukebox at the corner. He looked at me funny but then smiled. He asked if I was alone as well. I hesitated but still said yes. He removed his bag and put on the floor. Turns out, he was also braving Baguio alone.
He introduced himself as Sean and he was in the quest for the best burger in town that's why he chose to eat there as well.

I told him what I thought of the burger and he decided to try it himself. And just like that I made a new friend. His order arrived and we talked about NBA and how D.Rose is going to spend the season on the sidelines again, we talked about anime and how much SnK is riveting, we talked about TBBT and how much we think Sheldon Cooper is a riot! haha! He can do a mean beatbox and he even managed to get me singing inside the diner. (*oh the embarassment!*)
Laughing out loud made my tummy feel full that I wasn't able to finish the whole burger. I ate all of the fries though, dipped in a mixture of ketchup and mustard, ate half of the burger and washed it all down with that chocolatey goodness. Not letting good food go to waste, I asked a waitress to wrap the rest of the burger so I can take it home or snack on it if ever hunger pangs strike, They accommodated my request with a smile. Another plus point for friendly staff, :)

 Sean and I parted ways when we exited the diner but I was too shy to ask for his FB page so I simply shook his hand and went on my way. (I do hope to ran into him in again on  my future backpacking adventures.)

All the way from 50's Diner, I walked to my final stop for the day, "Baguio Botanical Garden."

The Botanical Garden is located near Teacher's Camp along Leonard Wood. I can't believe how far this park stretches. It seemed like it goes on and on. I navigated through the entire park and this where I spent most of the day snapping pictures. I enjoyed the scenery as well the relaxing and peaceful environment, There was a group of students who were practicing some dance moves when I passed by. I especially liked the arc with yellow flowers hanging overhead, it was like I entered Pan's Labyrinth.

Aside from flowers, there were also small landmarks inside the park. Hope you guys don't get bored with my pictures. :)

And though I didn't get the Haunted House experience, I managed to scare myself stupid when I entered the Japanese Memorial Cave. My flash refused to work for some reason so I was forced to walk inside the cold and dark cave by myself and without any light. There were intersections but I only walked straight ahead so in case I need to get back I'd just walk straight back outside. After 5 minutes, I could only hear the sound of myself breathing and my stomach churning, When I felt the hairs at the back of my head stand up, I made a run for it and claimed daylight as ran out, feeling my heart thumping wildly in my chest.
 -___-" Yiiiiiiiiiiiii. Creepy.


And for dinner? My tita's family and I went to Sizzling Plate. It's a restaurant near Burnham Park, a minute walk from Eurotel. Their food is a bit pricey but you get what you pay for.

I ordered Fillet Mignon and (Do my eyes deceive me? Cali? IT IS CALI!) one bottle of Cali Shandy.

The noodle soup served as an appetizer and it was amazingly good. Light but very tasty, the noodles kind of melts in your mouth so no need to chew. The main meal  was served with minimal wait time and you get to pour your own gravy! Be careful when pouring though, the plate is still hot and they gravy will surely splatter when it sizzles. 

*Burp* Ahhhh. Perfect way to end the day's escapade.

Stay tuned for Day Three.
Will update soon! Ciao ~ ♥

Kisses and love,

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