"Travel is never a matter of money but of courage." - Paulo Coelho, Aleph


May 29, 2012

Dining with Style at Manila Pen’s Escolta

ambisyosang frog
It was an invitation, a treat from our superiors to have a luxury dining experience in one of the five star hotels in the country situated at the heart and busy roads of Makati City. Excited, I prepared my Canon PowerShot digital camera and started picking out my outfit three days before the planned dinner date. And now, is too excited to share the experience through this blog. Sorry if I’m not that really good or confident when it comes to writing. But the idea of sharing my own experiences and thinking others might learn from those or in some case inspire others are extremely rewarding.

Upon entering the hotel, you will be enthralled by their big lobby lounge and picturesque interiors. From the lobby entrance to your right is the direction towards Escolta where they serve the dinner or even lunch buffet.

ambisyosang frog

Table reservations were made beforehand. Our tables are located on the elevated part of the dining area. I took this photo while everyone was busy getting their plates.

ambisyosang frog

Starting April 10, a number of different themes are available for lunch and dinner. There’s a choice of finest delicacies from around the world, from the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mexico to the German Rhineland, the Mediterranean (our theme for that night) and all the way to the Sea of Japan.

The food is scrumptious. I’m not much of a picky eater but I had difficulty choosing from their wide buffet selection. Each meal had its own labels but most of it sounds unfamiliar since it’s a Mediterranean theme. But I was not reluctant to ask the chefs around the area for they seemed friendly and approachable.

ambisyosang frog
ambisyosang frog

I was in dire need of this. Good thing it was free and there were choices between green tea, chamomile and jasmine tea. I ordered the first one.

We had a short stroll around the pool area after we'd finished our dinner. I really wanted to share a few photos I took from the hotel outdoor swimming pool but the shots were dark so it was not desirable to upload. I wish I have a DSLR camera (haaay..).

Before we left, we went to The Peninsula Boutique. My boss told us that the breads and pastries were 50% off in the bakeshop at that time.

ambisyosang frog

This shelf caught my attention (yummy!). I didn’t buy of course, it’s too expensive for me and besides it will only just add up to my choles (weh?).

ambisyosang frog
ambisyosang frog

I just bought a few breads and it cost me less than 200 pesos. Anticipation led to disappointment the moment I’d tasted those. But my judgment is insignificant since I haven’t tried most of their baked goods.

Btw, my boss has this Manila Pen’s membership card. If you’re a member, you will be charged half of the buffet price (actual price is almost 2,000 pesos), plus a complimentary one overnight stay and other freebies (vouchers).

ambisyosang frog

It was a great experience and I owe this to my superiors. I wish I could check-in at The Peninsula Manila someday (sponsors please..haha!). Smile

May 13, 2012

Bag of Beans Not Just Coffee

Our delightful stay (overnight) in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City was over.  It was a sunny twelve o’clock noon, check-out time.  No more itinerary that time, just have our lunch and buy pasalubong in Good Shepherd Sisters, Maryridge Tagaytay City afterward.

I have read and heard a couple of times about a not so new coffee shop/bakery/restaurant named Bag of Beans.  This statement alone convinced me that we should have our lunch there before we head for home to Manila.  It was a late lunch by the way.  We were still full from a sumptuous breakfast buffet we had at the hotel that’s why we only ordered sandwich, fries, pie, cheesecake and frappes.

Grilled cheese sandwich and fries for my son.  The plate/serving is big. I knew he can't finish it so I didn't order another meal for myself.  My calculation was accurate, I almost ate half of it.

Black forest frappe for hubby and mocha frappe for me.

I'm a coffee lover.  I wanted to try hot coffee served in their signature mug (right photo) but I ordered mocha frappe (left photo) instead since time was past 1 p.m., the weather was hot and we were at the open cafe part of the establishment.  The mocha frappe is good but I would still prefer the one in Starbucks Coffee.

My husband ordered this Steak and Mushroom Pie.  He put hot sauce in the meat & mushroom fillings while  eating.  He was so stuffed that he can't almost try the blueberry cheesecake.

But who can't refuse with this delicious desserts anyway.  My son loved it too.

Actually, my son didn't want to leave the place yet because of this duyan.

And he was astonished with this big birdcage.

I'm looking forward to a next or more visit in Tagaytay's Bag of Beans.  I would as well try their brunch buffet and all-day breakfast meals.

May 12, 2012

Celebrating Mom's Day at Taal Vista Hotel

Tagaytay is one of the best places to plan a summer getaway aside from being the second summer capital of the Philippines.  A place to choose instead of Baguio if you're on a budget, I mean lesser gasoline expenses.

It was April 2012 when I decided and booked our reservations for an overnight stay at Taal Vista Hotel.  I didn't plan but it turned out that the date I chose was actually Mother’s Day.

Why in Taal Vista Hotel?  Besides the hotel promo (Diamond Cut) which is until end of May this year, we were offered a much lower rate being employed in the bank whose owner (leads Filipinos in Forbes’ richest list) made Taal Vista one of his previous acquisitions.  Moreover, Taal Vista Hotel is still has the best view of the Taal Volcano.

Picnic Grove
I, together with my husband and kid arrived in Tagatay around 10 a.m., an approximately two hours of travel time from Metro Manila.  Our first destination was the famous Picnic Grove.  It was long time ago since I last visited the place.  There are zipline and cable car ride now.  A cost of P300 per person for a one way ride and P400 for a two way ride which in my humble opinion are pretty expensive.  That's why we didn’t try to ride or I didn’t insist either maybe because I had this experience in my recent tour in Palawan together with my colleagues.  But to all the readers who haven’t experience yet this exhilarating ride, I would suggest that one in Picnic Grove.

Mahogany Market
Mahogany Market

After an hour, we headed ourselves to Mahogany Market to have our lunch.  We ordered Bulalo, good for 1-2 persons for only P120; half order of Tawilis and Isaw.

Taal Vista Hotel Lobby Lounge

It was around 1 p.m. when we checked into the Taal Vista Hotel.  We were quite exhausted and welcome drinks (free of course) which we had in the hotel lobby lounge were just in time.

Taal Vista Hotel Superior Room West Wing

Our hotel room was Superior Room West Wing which I think is their lowest room rate and it's situated near the hotel outdoor swimming pool.  There’s a choice of 1 king size bed or 2 single beds in which we picked the latter.

Taal Vista Hotel Superior Room West Wing
Taal Vista Hotel keycard/slot

The hotel uses keycard to open the door (just hold the keycard against the sensor, located directly above the door handle) and to switch on the main power (just insert the card at the key slot located at the door entrance).

There are complimentary bottled waters, coffee, creamer, tea and sugar; electric kettle, personal ref (that's why we brought some refreshments), cable LCD TV, Wi-Fi internet connection, electronic safe for your valuables, slippers, towels, extra pillow, morning newspaper, hair dryer, hot & cold shower and bathtub.  Toilet and bath are complete with basic toiletries.  Closet is large and spacious.

Taal Vista Hotel complimentary drinks
Taal Vista Hotel personal ref 
Taal Vista Hotel toilet & bathroom
Taal Vista Hotel bathtub
Taal Vista Hotel toiletries
Our stay includes use of hotel amenities such as the outdoor swimming pool.  As we had planned, we brought our swimming outfits and didn't pass this opportunity to enjoy the summer.

Taal Vista Hotel Swimming Pool

In front of the Taal Vista Hotel is the Casino Filipino and McDonald's in which we had our dinner, my son’s favorite.

Taal Vista Hotel Entrance
Taal Vista Hotel Superior Room West Wing
The hotel room has centralized air conditioning.  Sheets and comforters are really comforting.  We did sleep early that night.

I set the alarm of my mobile phone at 5 a.m. for us to have an early morning stroll through the hotel grounds.  But the beds are too inviting, we woke up past 6 a.m.

We have had picture taking sessions before we had our breakfast buffet.

Taal Vista Hotel
We couldn't view the volcano that time due to fog formation.

Taal Vista Hotel
Taal Vista Hotel Cafe-on-the-Ridge
Included in our availed hotel accommodation (promo) is breakfast buffet for 2 adults at CafĂ©-on-the-Ridge, located beside the hotel lobby lounge.  Since my son was not included, we paid half of the buffet price for P339 as the waitress suggested.  Said buffet price is almost the same price if we ordered a la carte.

Taal Vista Hotel Cafe-on-the-Ridge
Their hot choco for me is the best.

Our overall stay in Taal Vista Hotel is indeed memorable and unforgettable one.  We loved the food, the place, the views and the weather.  The hotel staff are courteous and friendly. They also immediately attended to our room service needs/requests.  

At present, my son keeps on asking me and my husband as to when are we going to return to Taal Vista Hotel.  But for now I'm thinking of other hotels to stay.  So watch out for my next blog. :)

Taal Vista Hotel
Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway
Tagaytay City 4120, Philippines
Tel No: +63 (46) 413-1000
Fax No: +63 (2) 886-4325
               +63 (46) 413-1225
Website:  http://www.taalvistahotel.com/

May 1, 2012

Places to Visit in Baguio

Baguio City.

..the summer capital of the Philippines.

..the coldest amongst all the provinces in the country especially during months of November-December  and January-February.

I have been to Baguio three times and still counting (if given a chance).  The succeeding statements and illustrations depict and summarize all of those visits.

Lion’s Head.

It's along Kennon Road and this could be your first or last destination.  They say that a trip to Baguio City would not be complete without taking home a souvenir photo with this famous lion’s head.

Camp John Hay.

The cold weather in the morning was so pleasant to have a walk around the camp.

The Mansion.

The elaborate main gate of the Mansion is said to be a replica of that at Buckingham Palace in London.  With its beautiful gardens and a well-manicured lawn, it is a favorite site for sightseeing and picture taking.” (an excerpt from  http://www.cityofpines.com/mansion.html )

Mines View Park.

I guess Mines View Park would top in the “ang pinaka” or most desirable places to visit in Baguio (if a survey will be conducted).  Aside from the breathtaking and magnificent views it offers from the deck, there are stalls selling native handicraft, locally made silver products and jewelry, baskets, brooms, sweaters, blankets, and a variety of other items at the entrance.  There are also canteens, snack stores, and street vendors selling food and beverages.

Botanical Garden.

Besides plants and trees, Botanical Garden also features native huts typical of the type of Igorot dwellings found in the CordillerasAccording to Kuya Ed, my husband’s relative, this place was far better during Marcos era than today.

Phil. Military Academy.

We were lucky to have watched the parade and had photos with the handsome (according to Ate Ann) cadets.
Tam-Awan Village.

We were escorted by a tour guide from inside the village.  He has showed us some of the Igorot huts and allowed us to see how the homes of the mountain people really look like.

Lourdes Grotto.

We actually climbed the steps but only from the middle, half of the journey to the shrine.  There was a Catholic Mass ongoing at the time we'd reached the top.

Burnham Park.

There are lot of activities to do in the park.  We just had a boat ride on the man-made lake.

Pilak Silver Craft and Gift Shoppe.

This is where I bought my favorite solid silver Charriol inspired bangle.  Prices there are really cheaper than the kind of shops found here in Manila.

SM Mall Baguio.

There's a stunning view from the mall’s terrace.  While the open air retail, dining, and entertainment destination that rely almost exclusively on natural ventilation are nicer than in any SM malls here in Manila because of the weather.

Good Shepherd Convent.

The place where we bought our pasalubong, mostly sweets and my favorite ube jam.

Bell Church.

Don’t miss to see this place when you’re on your way to La Trinidad.

La Trinidad Benguet.

Where you can find and buy the best fruits such as fresh strawberries and vegetables at a very low price.