It has been a very hot summer in Metro Manila. And at least one day in the Summer Capital would be a delight. So, the Baguio Weekend happened.
It was not really a tourist kind of break. And apologies, I didn’t really take a lot of photos in this trip. Because we stayed in Baguio for some years for college, so it was like merely visiting “home” for the weekend. So we skipped all the tourist-y items and just went straight to the food trip. Because that’s what you do when you come home for the weekend–enjoy home-cooked meals, watch TV, eat take-home dessert in bed and squeeze in a massage.
A little warning for those who want to go to Baguio via Victory Bus Liner: get your tickets as early as possible. And by early, I mean days before, or even weeks. There are A LOT of people going to Baguio. I got our tickets for the Saturday trip three days before. We wanted to leave at midnight but the closest time with available seats was at 2 AM. There was a long queue for chance passengers when we boarded the bus. So if you don’t want the hassle, get your tickets from the bus station early. Online reservation is not yet available.
Kiwing na Kahoy Food Community at Ili-Likha Artist Village
We arrived in Baguio at around 8 in the morning. It was too early to check in our hotel, and a good breakfast after a long bus ride was a must. I stumbled upon this food place a month ago and the moment I learned it’s an artist haven (read: arts all over the place), I knew I have to go there.
I learned that it opens early, so it was the perfect place to commence the Baguio Weekend. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), the only food spot that was open that early was Balbacua at Urban Kamote. It boasts of organic food at very affordable prices. We ordered balbacua, of course, and longganisa with red rice. The balbacua was tasty. I would have preferred a slightly toasted longganisa, but it was fine, together with the refreshing Fresca Chia drink. They also serve this interesting coffee concoction called Bulletproof Coffee that has grass-fed butter. It was a bit bitter for my taste, but it seemed oozing with healthy goodness.
I was wishing to see blue-eyed Kawayan working on one of his masterpieces, but no, he wasn’t there. We saw lots of artworks, though. It made me remember the Ponce Suites Gallery Hotel in Davao, which was covered with Kublai’s artworks. There are other shops in this little community and they are set up strategically and artistically to look like a tree house. It’s not the safest place to be especially in a high-altitude city like Baguio, which is prone to tremors. But it is worth a try.
Ili-likha Artist Village is located at Assumption Road. From Victory Liner, walk to Lower Session Road. Stay on the right side of the road where your landmark would be the Bohemian Cafe, which was featured in That Thing Called Tadhana. It’s a long walk (we could testify), but you’re in Baguio. Walking should be fun!
North Haven Spa
Okay, sige na, burgis na kung burgis. Eh, gusto ko talagang magpa-massage because the past few weeks have been tiring. Good thing I wasn’t the only one who wanted to de-stress. And so we went to the North Haven Spa in Ferguson Road, a bit farther away from the city center. Opted for this main branch instead of the one in Casa Vallejo (Upper Session Road, which was featured, too, in That Thing Called Tadhana) because of the location. It offers a more relaxing ambiance because it’s located inside a village and a prettier view that is more like the Baguio I fell in love with. You can see the mountains from this area.
We got there early. I actually called in advance to make a reservation, and because I am OC, yes. It turned out we got the whole spa to ourselves. We took time in choosing what treatment we would want. The friendly staff was very eager to help and recommended that we try this particular massage that I forgot the name of (sorry!). But it’s 1 hour and 45 minutes long. It was almost two hours of bliss! Which was capped off with cups of refreshing lemongrass tea.
I would have really wanted to try the Strawberry Bliss package, which involves scrub and jacuzzi (bubble bath!) but I just couldn’t at that time. Well, it’s a good reason for me to go back.
I discovered this place last year. I was curious about the dark beer cheesecake. I’ve told him about it and he was able to try the place when he was in Baguio for work. It’s fine, was what I gathered from it. Plus the location is far from the city center. So, I was actually ready to skip it. Good thing he insisted that we go here for lunch.
We got lost because Manong Taxi didn’t know where the place is. But here’s a tip, tell your cab driver that’s it’s near SLU Mary Heights Campus. It’s in Bareng Drive. The 100-peso taxi fare is worth it, I tell you. Look for this red door. But that’s not the entrance. It’s downstairs, via the side door.
I was not that hungry when we got there, so I ordered a burrito–the most inexpensive and humongous burrito I’ve ever had. The beans are real. Hindi sila nagbibiro. We also ordered half spring chicken with biscuits, which were heavenly. I would go back for those biscuits and those spiked milkshakes (they call it “adult milkshakes”). I managed to take a sip of the Grasshopper, and I liked it. I was just wary to order one for me. Baka kasi hindi sila friends ni beans.
The location is good. But there was an ongoing construction outside, so the noise could be disturbing. It bothered me a little because diners tend to talk in loud voices. Dining out means chatting over good food so it really bothered me. Buti na lang walang nakaisip mag-date dun at mag-propose noong mga panahong maingay dun. Major bummer kapag nagkataon.
Anyway, of course, we had to order a slice of the dark beer cheesecake, but unfortunately, we had to have it to-go. No more space! I only managed to eat half of my burrito, and I was so full. I was able to taste the cake in the hotel. It was fine, nothing very fantastic about it. I still don’t like beer after eating it.
Holiday Park Hotel
There was a downpour when we were on our way to our hotel to finally check in at half past 2 in the afternoon. Checking in was a breeze because I have booked it a week ago. I chose this hotel over Veniz Hotel, which I have stayed at before, because of the location. It tends to be noisy at Hotel Veniz. The first choice was actually Baguio Holiday Villas, which I’ve stayed at last year (a bit noisy, too) but they didn’t have a room that’s good for two. I was so glad I booked Holiday Park Hotel. It is the best one in Baguio so far. It’s a bit pricey at P2,200 for a de luxe twin room, with free breakfast for two, but I love it.
I love the room. It’s spacious for two. There was already an extra pillow inside the room, I love it. The bathroom is nice and clean. Basic toiletries included; no hair dryer, though, but it’s available upon request. I have a thing for hair dryers. Dapat lahat ng hotels sa Baguio meron kasi malamig. The location is good. It’s not too far from the city center, but not in the busy part of Kisad, so it’s quiet at night. Plus, the staff is great. I would love to stay here again. And the longganisa is da bomb, by the way. Cooked just the way I like it. Free-flowing coffee, too, all day!
Mt. Cloud Bookshop+Cinematheque
We were supposed to watch some documentaries by UP Students at the Baguio Cinematheque, but it was raining. And the bed was so conducive to sleeping. We missed the 4:30 showing of the six documentaries that I am sure are worth the while (go, UPB!), but we still went to the place after resting in the hotel, on foot. I repeat, on foot! I don’t think I would do that again, but let’s just say that it’s in preparation for an upcoming major travel, practice lang. Goodness, I thought I would faint walking from Kisad Road to Lower Session to Upper Session. I used to enjoy walking up and down Session Road thrice non-stop. It’s a sign of aging, I know.
Canto at Ketchup Food Community
We’ve both been here before, but he hasn’t tried the baby back ribs and I was craving the freshest greens there was in Baguio. And so it’s Canto for dinner.
The Ketchup Community comprises of different restos. I’ve only tried Canto, so I cannot say anything about the other ones. It’s located in Romulo Drive, near the St. Joseph Church, in Pacdal Circle. I don’t know how to get there via jeepney, but the cabs are all familiar with this popular place.
Anyway, we ordered half slab of the famous lomo ribs. It’s better than that of The Pilgrim’s daw. But RUB’s is still the best. And we also had the Veggy Pizza with lots of alfalfa, arugula and basil goodness. When in Baguio, eat vegetables because you can’t go fresher than anywhere else. Skip the burgers, please. Manila has lots of those.
By the way, the Garapon Craze has invaded Baguio, too. It’s very hipster, but it’s forgivable. The Lorna Iced Tea was unforgettable. And with some jazz on the side, it’s one of the best dinners I have had.
Choco-late de Batirol
We dropped by this little cafe near (or was it inside?) the Baguio Country Club, which I think would be perfect for breakfast or afternoon snacks because it’s actually a garden. It was dark, so I couldn’t really appreciate the ambiance. But they serve good chocolate de batirol drinks. I had the strawberry-infused one called Baguio Blend. It was good, but too strong, I wasn’t able to finish it. I would want to go back to try the Kahlua, though.
Cafe by the Ruins
To cap off what has become a Baguio Food Trip Weekend, we had lunch at Cafe by the Ruins (which was also featured in That Thing Called Tadhana, why not?!). We ordered pinikpikan because it’s fun to enjoy torture sometimes. Hehe Good thing I’ve overcome my allergies, I can eat chicken now. It was delicious. I’ve had a cheaper version of it, and it wasn’t that delectable. Mas masarap pala talaga kapag mahal. I chose Gado-gado for salad, and boy, it was nagado (a lot, in Ilocano). It has fried tofu bits and is served with interesting peanut dressing. I would have loved to try the strawberry cake we saw from the other table or the Pavlova for dessert but I was full. My tummy was very happy about all the green goodness I’ve consumed by this time. For drinks, we ordered a strawberry milkshake and ginger fizz, which comes with a stalk of lemongrass. This established the theory na ayaw kaming lubayan ng tanglad.
It was a fun travel. Looking forward to the next one!