Showing posts with label Tagaytay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tagaytay. Show all posts

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Weekend Escape to Foggy Tagaytay

July 21, 2018 0
Picnic grove fogging morning

Even during foggy day, Tagaytay has not lost its charm. It is still a lovely place to loosen up and chill with friends comes weekend. A city of wonder where the elements of nature abound, this quaint place with unspoiled culture has great restaurants, stunning scenery of nature, rolling hills and gorgeous villages.

Indeed, Tagaytay is one of Philippine's most glamorous cities, in the same manner as Florence, or even Sienna, to Italy. Its panoramic view never bores visitors no matter how many times one had seen the place. It has always something new to surprise guests, may it be a latest destination or a newly opened restaurant.

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With its cool weather and breathtaking vista, it is impossible not to fall in love with the natural beauty of this romantic city. And with marketplace junctions almost dangling on the cliff, overlooking valleys, lush greenery and the Taal lake, Tagaytay is one place you would never get tired paying a visit.

Picnic grove Tagaytay

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With all the frills of a well-deserved holiday trip that Tagaytay potentially offers, it is the easiest choice of people from Metro Manila to hop in for a quick getaway. Closer to home, the travel does not require a lengthy preparation and elaborate itinerary. You can just pack your things, go there and wander and still enjoy the adventure.

I've been to Tagaytay a couple of times and still never felt weary of its beauty. I still got the feeling of being there for the first time. The element of surprise is always there. Maybe because the place has so much to offer to nature lovers and gourmand travelers.

I love surprises and I am always excited to try new experiences in traveling. I am a DIY traveler who welcomes challenges during my trip, it makes the adventure more exciting and worthy of a book than when the travel is comfortable and luxurious. I like the thrill of discovery, it provides more learning and allows myself to unearth my courage how far I could go.

Almost zero visibility due to thick fog

I am already used to an inconvenient travel. I normally have inconvenience experiences in my trips (got lost in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, slept in a cot at Saigon airport in Vietnam, soaked up in rain in Hongkong) and I welcomed it as part of the adventure. I am more excited with the learning I would gain out of the discomfort. And this latest Tagaytay weekend escape provided me, yet, with another inconvenient experience - the bad weather condition. Still, I enjoyed the trip. Perhaps because I was with the people whom I love to be with in travel.

This getaway actually had been in the minds of my colleagues long before the weather bureau of the Philippines forecasted an angry monsoon visit in PAR. With the date already fixed, putting it off was not on the cards. And just like most group outings where the initial planning saw a multitude of colleagues joining the trip, then disappear one by one as the date of travel edges closer, we were extremely reduced to a small group when the day finally came. We were only nine (out of almost 20) taking the actual travel.

We left Manila after our shift under a mild weather. The afternoon was not terribly humid but warm enough to feel some discomfort inside the MRT going to Pasay. But when excitement for a fun trip with friends starts to build up somewhere inside your ribcage, the discomfort is nothing but a black pepper accidentally springled into your ice cream. Just take the pepper and enjoy the ice cream. 😝 This is how I would exactly describe my feeling that afternoon while at MRT.

We had our late lunch at McDonalds before hopping in on a bus bound for Nasugbu. And it was half past 3:00 in the afternoon when we left Pasay.  Traffic started getting dense when we reached Imus in Cavite. The anticipated travel time of two hours became three, finally reaching Tagaytay at 6:00 in the evening.

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It was drizzly when we disembarked at the intersection in Mendez. The descent of the twilight fog blended on the splinter of rain, shrouding the environment with a biting cold atmosphere. Still, I was in my usual travel gear - shorts and sleeveless (a travel getup I learned from European travelers 😂

In all my leisure trip, I never wear pants (except in Macau because casino malls required visitors to be in casual/smart attire), I find it uncomfortable to move around with pants, so I always chose light clothes. It also saves my energy from carrying heavy bags. However, it was raining when we arrived in Tagaytay and the night was getting colder so I was compelled to put on my jacket.



Our first stop was at the Skyranch for dinner. But the rain made it difficult to freely explore the area to look for a nice dining area. I could not also think of any fascinating restaurant around this amusement park. Skyranch looks like a wrong place to visit when your only purpose is to eat.

I guess Twin Lakes is more ideal for gourmand travelers because it has an upmarket food strip along its commercial complex. But it was already night time so we stayed at Skyranch with our roving eyes, wondering where to spend dinner.

Tagaytay is known for its savory bulalo (a Philippine specialty dish made of stewed beef shanks and its marrow bones, simmered until fats blended on the broth) so we resolved to sample a bulalo for dinner. It was in Tagaytay where this special Southern Philippine dish touted to have been originated and not in Batangas.

While at Skyranch, we asked a tricycle driver where we could possibly find a good place to have a bulalo dinner, he suggested to visit a part in Mendez where bulalo restaurants mushroomed in the area.




It was just a short ride from Skyranch and before thunderstorm could catch us on the road we found ourselves thronging to Bulalo Capital, a two-storey restaurant with a dim, open interior and a plain furniture. For backpackers, this is a good place to wrap up the night with a warm dinner.

At first I thought it was a bar. Or perhaps it was really a resto bar haha! There were sets of drinks and a karaoke lounge. Some sinister thoughts started crawling in my mind because I don't drink alcoholic beverages, not even beer. And my friends might end up grabbing some bottles. Thank God they did not. 😄



I love this group because I shared the same level of fun and interest with them. We are orbiting in the same wavelength. They are easy to go with. They are the kind of friends I would love to go on a long road trip somewhere with a full tank of happiness.

At Bulalo Capital, indeed, we had plenty of fun. Despite the angry weather outside, our appetite remained unaffected, both for food and conversation. And as rain heavily lashed through, our vibrant mood for fun talk and humor was deeply picking up. And we had a warm conversation with lots of laughter that night.

Generous serving at Bulalo Capital



Bulalo Capital offers a wide selections of shared meals, with special sets fit for diners who will come as a group. For this dinner, we chose a set worth Php3,500.00. Inclusive of two servings of bulalo, rice, pancit, fried chicken, shanghai lumpia, two large bottles of softdrinks. And boy, it was enough! In fact, we took home portions of the meal selections we did not finish.

We saved a lot during this trip because we did not book a hotel for our overnight accommodation. We stayed at Aira's relatives who owned a property in Tagaytay. They were so kind enough to welcome us into their home, providing us all the necessary hospitality we could ever think for a typical Filipino family. We had a comfortable stay that night. Thanks to Aira and her relatives for this free accommodation and for welcoming us into their house with so much kindness.

Rainy evening dinner at Bulalo Capital

At early dawn, a heavy downpour broke off, which did not subside until morning. And much to my chagrin, it worsened the cold temperature of Tagaytay. When you are on a trip, bad weather is the last thing you could ever think of to happen in the world. It will not only give you a tantamount level of discomfort but also will force you to cancel all your plans dotted in the itinerary to avoid soaking up in the rain. Luckily, we did not have a strict time table, we were just there to strike anywhere and go to wherever we want to go.

The area leading to picnic grove was totally blurry, thank God there was no roadblocks. It was my first time to experience such weather. I have not seen an environment covered with dense fog such as this weekend trip in Tagaytay.





When we arrived at picnic grove, the surrounding appeared as though it had been smothered by a thick smog. A greyish pattern of hues covered the entire area, we almost did not recognize the ferris wheel in front of us.




But the good thing with the atmosphere during this trip, though it was practically foggy, downpour was on and off. It did not go beyond than occasional splattering. It thoroughly subsided when we reached picnic grove. So we still had a good shot taken with the environment.

This thick fog makes you think there was a heavy downpour.[/caption]


Normally, when the weather is at its worst and the cold atmosphere prevents everyone from enjoying the place, people do not come usually to amusement parks or to any outdoor destination to have some dry picnic. I was surprised to see a throng of crowd coming to picnic grove with children in tow. We were fidgeting with other visitors in the narrow eco trail.

Picnic Grove basically is an outdoor park and the usual activities you would normally experience during the visit are related to outdoor adventure - horseback riding, eco trail hike, zip line ride, nature tripping.

Way to eco trail. Slippery but not dangerous for a hike adventure


We took the eco trail hiking adventure. It was damp but the area did not pose any danger to hikers. It was well-maintained with safety support protecting the trail. In fact, the area can be enjoyed during rainy days even with kids around. Just take extra precautions.



The trail has a lovely rose garden overlooking the wood bridges and verdant tropical scenery. During our visit the baby pink roses were in blooms which added a pretty backdrop to our photos. The trail has also a viewdeck where everyone can stop and marvel at the breathtaking sight of nature.




The Eco trail is a 500-long mile curve surrounding the forest reserve of picnic grove. The tranquil scenery reflects a sense of calmness from deep within. Everyone who loves nature will surely appreciate this area.



The trail has been supported with wood bridges for a more comfortable walk under the canopy of nature. Lush tropical trees covered the whole area, making the hiking experience practically cool and cozy.




A zip line ride is also available here but none of us expressed interest since it was raining and the misty atmosphere might have a bad repercussion for this extreme activity. We just went on with the hike until we reached the picnic ground. Picnic Grove entrance fee is only Php50.00 with free entry to the eco trail and picnic ground.

The eco trail ends up at the picnic ground with a stunning view of Taal lake. The thick fog however obscured the view of Taal, we saw nothing but a misty view of the horizon.

At Our Lady of Manaog

We intended to visit the Japanese garden after picnic grove. It's a public garden built in honor of the Japanese and Filipino friendship which was established following World War II, a horrific period in history where Japan savaged the Philippines.

Based on my online research it was just right beside the picnic grove, however, to my disappointment, we were told that it was already closed for reasons I could not understand. For someone like me who adored all things Japanese, it was a bit of a frustration.



So we moved back and dropped by at Our Lady of Manaog, next only to picnic grove. We went inside the chapel for some spiritual contemplation. Then met Ms.Joanna Portales outside the chapel.

After some discussion where to go next, we agreed to travel back to Skyranch for our brunch. Actually, we did not have much plan where to go next other than eat 😂. It was almost 10:00 in the morning and hunger pangs started to build up, definitely thinking where to go next, other than a restaurant, seemed out of the question.

Lunch at Skyranch KFC with Ms.Joanna Portales joining us

We waited for the boys, who had gone somewhere, to join us for lunch. At Skyranch, all restaurants sounded unimpressive when you are trying to balance the flavors and the budget. But we did not have any other options though. It was either we were tired to move a little farther or hungry enough to think of any other pleasing resto.


As with everyone who could not decide where to eat, we ended up choosing an unlikely place a traveler could ever think during an out-of-town trip - fast food. I remember dining also at McDonalds during our Hongkong trip in 2013 and I regretted the decision because it prevented me from experiencing the real Hongkong and discovering the local dish.

But it was all what we could think at that moment, to have lunch and enjoy a familiar food. It was a fair choice for each one of us. But I only chose pasta and mashed potato because I don't like the chicken selections at KFC.

As a travel blogger for 8 years I always find it odd to dine in a fast food when taking an out-of-town trip. It is always an unspoken rule in traveling to try local dishes of the place you are in to delve better into the local culture. But during this trip we were already tired and extremely hungry to think of local dishes to try. 😂



We wrapped up our adventure with a pizza bite at Greenwich in Olivarez, a special treat courtesy of Ms.Joanna Portales, one of our leads.

So cool! We're very grateful with this pizza treat, Thank you Ms.Joanna!!!😘 We left Tagaytay at 2:00 in the afternoon aboard a bus bound for Pasay.

It was a fun adventure with colleagues I love to go with. And despite the fog tempest, I enjoyed the trip. Hope we could embark into another leisure travel somewhere in the days to come!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Twin Lakes: A European-inspired vineyard strip in the Philippines

April 05, 2018 0
If there's anything I can rave about this latest "It-place" in Tagaytay, it's the stunning view of the ridge and the relaxing atmosphere!

Spectacular view of the ridge and valleys

Twin Lakes estate, a stretch of land spanning across 1,300 hectares of rolling hills and valleys, is currently  creating so much hype in the social media due to its spectacular landscape and breathtaking view of the Tagaytay vista, prompting tourists and Philippine locals to throng to the area to experienvelope and see it for themselves.

Gorgeous garden atop the hill, the outdoor view of Starbucks

It is touted to be the first vineyard resort complex in the Philippines with wine producing community that would surely remind us of Europe's most popular wine-producing regions, Burgundy in France and Tuscany in Italy.   

This breathtaking commercial strip has numerous reasons to stun visitors. With its natural scenery of nature, rolling hills, an unobstructed view of the majestic Taal Lake and exquisite restaurants, no doubt Twin Lakes is an ideal destination for nature and food lovers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the metro. It is also home to a flourishing business center with numerous high-end food establishments lining up the cliff.

Stunning ground where visitors can relax and enjoy the view

One of these food establishments that has been reaping quite a number of praises due to its terrific location above the hill is Starbucks. Dubbed as "The Most Beautiful Starbucks in the Philippines", this branch in Twin Lakes has a good reason to fascinate coffee and likewise not-so coffee lovers. Perched above the hill and surrounded with a manicured garden and LED-glowing white roses in full bloom, the place provides a perfect venue to loosen up while sipping coffee or enjoying frappe! This Starbucks branch is set on a quaint Mediterranean architecture with a homey outdoor feel that truly relaxes tired senses.

Spending the last leg of my first solo travel adventure in Twin Lakes 

However, Starbucks is not the only food strip that lined up the edge of the Twin Lakes ridge, there are numerous bistros and restaurants that find its home above the hill, overlooking the magnificent valleys and Taal Lake. Some of these establishments offer the best of Filipino and international cuisines diners can choose on. This makes Twin Lakes a spectacular destination for food lovers and adventure-seekers.

Spending my late lunch in Starbucks. And chose this outdoor location to see the best view of nature. Terrific atmosphere!

Diners can chill at one of the restaurants and coffee shops, breathe the smoothness of the valleys and enjoy the incredible view of nature. Or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while waiting for the sun to set. Or simply just let hours pass while emptying your mind from toxic thoughts. Twin Lakes estate is a perfect destination for a tired soul. Tranquility at its best! So even if you're traveling alone it doesn't matter, you won't feel isolated.

I visited this amazing complex on my birthday - alone, and had a great moment of "me" time. The view was simply magnificent and relaxing. Everywhere was a charming natural beauty of the countryside that I thought I would never see for as long as I lived in a highly urbanized city like Metro Manila.

Incredible! Simply incredible. Twin Lakes charm is so fascinating I thought I was lost temporarily to its majestic appeal. The stunning view of the valley brought so much relief and helped my thoughts to unload anxiety. I didn't feel the awkwardness of being out there alone, in contrast, I felt a unique calmness within myself. I was able to enjoy my first solo travel on my birthday.

The best time to visit Twin Lakes is in the afternoon when the sun is about to set. It's pretty cool to watch the environment turns subdued without the glare of the harsh sun. The atmosphere is a lot softer and very relaxing. It helps you to slow down a bit. And enjoy more the place and its scenic ground.

How to get there?

Twin Lakes is located along Brgy. Alfonso in Cavite, passing Ayala Serins and Sky Ranch. It's almost on the boundary of Tagaytay and Batangas. And can be reached through a Tagaytay-Nasugbu bound bus or jeep. Travel time is more or less one hour from Olivarez. Jeepney fare is Php20.00. However, if you're coming from Bag of Beans, travel time is more or less 40 minutes.

Additional suggestions if you want to go solo traveling to Tagaytay and experience the best of the city alone. In fact, you can really enjoy this beautiful city in one day following below itinerary:

Disembark at Olivarez/Rotunda and look for jeep bound to People in the Sky, from there, you're free to explore.

1. People in the Sky - don't expect too much here, this is just an abandoned building with rust all over the place, but you can get a perfect view of the Tagaytay vista here. Souvenir shops are also available. Entrance fee is around Ph40.00.

2. Picnic Grove - a spacious ground for people who come as a group. You can brought food here and enjoy the calm atmosphere while having your barbeque. It offers a good view of the Taal lake.

3. Bag of Beans - from Picnic grove, catch a jeepney ride back to Olivarez then look for another jeep bound to Mendez or Nasugbu. Bag of Beans is just along the road. What I like about this place is its fresh and sumptuous dishes. If you're a coffee lover, this restaurant offers one of the best coffee concoctions in Tagaytay, you can choose the freshly brewed too and get the aroma you desired.

4. Puzzle Mansion - If you love art and images and intrigue how mosaic put together to create fantastic portraits then this place is right for you. This can be reached through a tricycle ride. Fare can be negotiated with the driver.

5. Sky ranch - A 5-hectare Leisure park with amenities similar to a playground. Plus a great view of Taal lake. Entrance fee during weekdays is Php80.00 and Php100 during weekends and holidays. Here, you can ride the Sky eye, touted to be the tallest Ferris wheel in the Philippines, ride fee is Php150.00. Sky ranch opens at 10pm on weekdays and 8pm during Weekends and holidays.

6. Twin Lakes - From Sky ranch, you can take a bus or jeep bound to Nasugbu, Batangas. It has no entrance fee but you need to dine at any of the restaurants lining along the cliff to get a perfect view of the vineyard and to explore the ground and  beautiful garden. The best time to visit Twin Lakes is in the afternoon when the sun is about to set.

There are still plenty of areas and parks to visit in Tagaytay but if you're running out of time and taking only a day trip, the above suggestion is the most ideal to experience the best of Tagaytay.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tagaytay: Favorite Weekend Escape!

July 06, 2014 0
I love Tagaytay!!

It could be the city's cool climate or its natural scenery that lures my interest to make a repeat trip, whatever it is, Tagaytay is always a convenient choice for a quick weekend getaway. The place is very ideal, aside from its proximity to Metro Manila, it has so many things to offer -- food, relaxing atmosphere, gorgeous tourist spots and breathtaking view of the romantic skyline at night time.

And yesterday was another day of fun and leisure at the country's second summer destination! It's no longer summer season in the Philippines though but I still love visiting Tagaytay because of its ultra-relieving vistas!

Had been planning for months to dine at Bag of Beans and visit Sonya's Garden to buy herbal plants but kept stalling the idea due to other weekend tasks until yesterday when we finally decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, due to drizzly weather, we're not able to go to Sonya's Garden, so we went to Puzzle Mansion instead.

BAG OF BEANS

Address: 3650 Aguinaldo Highway, Mendez Crossing WestTagaytay City, CaviteTel.No. (046) 413-4356
Truly impressive! I'm referring to its very relaxing ambiance, cool tropical setting and delectable dishes! If there's one coffee shop outside Metro Manila that I would love to spend my leisure time talking with closest friends while enjoying meals, it should be Bag of Beans.

The refreshing environment sets the mood and provides relief, and I love the homey feel that this restaurant provides to diners, quiet, idyllic and relax, as if I was just chilling at the balcony of someone's house, enjoying a home cook meal and having a care-free conversation with a friend

Shop of Goodies
View from the top 
The homey atmosphere of the restaurant

Bag of Beans Coffee Shop reflects an atmosphere of a European restaurant with oriental touches, it has a natural backdrop of lush tropical plants, Asian-inspired furnishing and garden and a classy architectural design. I love the structure of this restaurant, table arrangement is segregated in different junctions that suit the style preference of the diners. My favourite area however is the one on the balcony because it reflects my choice --- homely comfort. The soft breeze that rustles above the trees made the environment more tranquil and soothing.

Lasagna! Php 245.00
Caramel Macchiato Php 110.00

Basically a coffee shop, Bag of Beans has expanded into a classy restaurant over the years offering international cuisine and pastry concoctions, it has a special buffet section with more food options in bulk sets for diners. The comfort of being at home is visible in every corner of the restaurant where delicate arrangement of tables and chairs are accentuated with ornament details under the heavy influence of an authentic oriental garden.

It has a special souvenir's shop for visitors who may want to bring home goodies, most of the products are organic and freshly made so spending your hard-earned money for pasalubong is not that bad.

Asking if I still love to come back to Bag of Beans some other time, my answer is YES! It's worth of my money!



PUZZLE MANSION

Address: Purok 4 Cuadra St. Barangay Asisan, Tagaytay City, Philippines
Tel.No.+632 661-0019
Operating hours: Monday to Saturday: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Straddled between the farm area and the uncultivated grassy fields of Brgy. Asisan, Puzzle Mansion probably is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in Tagaytay for visitors who love arts and paintings.

Started as a hobby of solving jigsaw puzzle by businesswoman, Gina Lacuna, Puzzle Mansion houses the museum of the world's largest collections of jigsaw puzzle. In 2012, Lacuna beat Brazilian hobbyist, Luiza Figueiredo, in the Guinness World Records for having the largest collection of jigsaw puzzle.


Originally, Puzzle Mansion, is a tourist inn facility with 11 rooms offering bed and breakfast accommodation to tourists, it has an infinity pool, a function room for special celebrations and a beautiful garden with a wishing well fronting the puzzle collection museum.

Portrait of St. John Paul II
The royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

There's a puzzle portrait of St. John Paul II placed right at the entrance area of the museum. It was a beautiful feeling having seen the face of the late beloved pope among the portraits. Other famous works of arts I saw among the puzzle collections: Monalisa, Van Gogh Painting among others.

The puzzle collection covers almost all sections of the society from famous people to popular landmarks and paintings of rennaisance artists. Entrance fee is Php 100.00.


The long road leading to Puzzle Mansion

The road leading to Puzzle Mansion is not an easy one, though the infrastructure is good and the environment is well-maintained, finding its direction is quite a challenge. Private cars are welcome inside the vicinity of  the Mansion so there's no worry of taking a long walk from the road to the museum but for us who just came hiring a tricycle, we laboured quite really hard trekking the hilly side of the narrow road leading to the museum but the effort was worth it, we enjoyed the experience walking along the windy road.

Tips when visiting Puzzle Mansion:
  • If you are commuters, the only way to reach this spot is through a tricycle ride. Fare is Php60.00 (for two)
  • Make an arrangement with the tricycle driver to fetch you after your visit.
  • The largest jigsaw puzzle made by the owner that gave her an accolade in the Guinness Word Records can be found at the upper stair of the museum, so don't miss the opportunity of visiting this area.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tagaytay Backpacking Adventure!

April 03, 2014 0
They say, you’re not a certified travel adventurer if you never tried backpacking!

The idea of backpacking does not confine mainly in mountain hiking, trekking unexplored trails and valleys or diving a cliff. It also refers to travelling without a well-coordinated and organized travel plan, you're just out there and see what you'll be getting. 

Most travel bloggers defined backpacking as travelling to a place you have never been before without a proper itinerary and travel organizing and planning, no hotel booking, no tour guide, no specific budget, you'll just go to a place, explore the area, sleep anywhere and find out what you’ll discover.


My first backpacking adventure!

At the Picnic Grove with my bestfriend, Rowena Tagaan

Backpacking is every travel blogger’s dream, because it reflects freedom, courage and extraordinary determination plus there are lots of things to share in the travel diary. Somehow, it defines one’s ability to handle complications and discomfort of being in a completely strange place without anchors, without no one to turn to and without the presence of luxury. For thrill-seeking travellers, backpacking is an ultimate blaze of adventure.



I am no exemption. I also dreamed to try backpacking and experience what’s life beyond fears of getting lost. It’s a crucial test of my courage and strength and how sharp and tough I am when confronted with risky and obscure encounters in a totally different place.

Last weekend, March 29-30, together with my friend, Rowena Tagaan, finally I was able to fulfill this dream! And because it’s our first time to try this adventure we chose a place that’s not too threatening to first time travelers – Tagaytay! ^_____^

We’re not familiar where to catch a bus going to Tagaytay so we ended up like Dora the Explorers haha! I’ve been in Metro Manila for just nine months so I’ve no idea where to go and Rowie is not a sort of person who loves exploration, so we’re in the equal footing of discovering stuff.

We went to Araneta Center Terminal in Cubao looking for a bus going to Tagaytay but we were told the terminal no longer accommodates routes bound for Tagaytay, we proceeded to EDSA still we got the same response. Finally, the dispatcher told us to go to Coastal Mall. And there you go, the adventurers got the first taste of getting lost finding a bus haha!

We boarded a bus liner going to Tagaytay at the coastal mall around 1:00 PM, we’d no lunch so we just agreed to take a bite the moment we arrive in Picnic Grove. My friend kept on asking where to go first, what hotel we’ll be checking in. I told her we would just find something affordable around the area to spend the night. We would also disembark at the Tagaytay Rotonda which I have no idea at all where it is, I just got the information from the internet. From there, we will determine where to go.

And yeah, did I told you I was not familiar with Tagaytay Rotonda? So as our bus travel progressed from one hour and forty minutes to two hours and a half I began sensing that we already passed the Rotonda and we’re edging on the danger zone of being lost again. When we asked the conductor, indeed my intuition proved true! LOL!

Rotonda in Tagaytay is at Olivarez and we almost reached Mendez by that time! We alighted at the unfamiliar place to get back to Olivarez, we asked someone how to get there, a lady told us to go to the opposite side of the road and wait for PUJ, while crossing the street, we could not help but really laugh hard with our bloopers! But that’s what adventure is all about, you've got to be courageous in order to discover something and I love the idea of discovering things because there are so many lessons to learn and knowledge to gain!

We finally arrived at the Olivarez terminal and the driver told us to catch a jeepney ride with a signboard of People in the Sky to get to Picnic Grove. So there we go, after almost 40 minutes we finally arrived in the Picnic Grove. After entering the place, the first thing we looked was a restaurant because we’re very hungry, it was already 4:30 PM. But it seemed there was only one restaurant inside the area – Alamat Restaurant which offers sets of menu with eye-popping prices! Duh!!

PICNIC GROVE

For travellers, the only thing I can suggest is really bring food and drinks when visiting Picnic Grove, because meals here are ridiculously expensive! Gosh!! One serve of vegetables (without rice) alone costs Php 200.00! What’s with that high-heaven price? Argggh! We ended up sharing one serving of vegetables hehe! One fresh buko juice will cost you Php 45.00

Picnic Grove is not your typical, you know, ideal mountain resort stuff, it’s just a small area composed of rolling hills, pavilions, tropical plants with horse-back riding and sight-seeing of the Taal volcano crate as the highlights. If you have this child-like sentiment, you may try Kite flying hehe!

Picnic Grove! 
From the name of this landmark itself, it is easy to predict
that the best thing to do here is having a dry picnic.
It is surrounded with rolling hills and pavilions, you can bring food and drinks,
visitors are free to cook their meals along the pavilions, there are available
spaces for grilling meat and seafood. The best time to visit this place is around
afternoon when the sun is not at its harshest rays.

After exploring the area for more than 10 minutes, I felt I had enough, my stomach lurched in queasiness as I walked around the slopes, we just arrived from a tiring travel so I was a little bit disoriented. Fascinations lost, the smell of the horse was too much for my woozy stomach and the 5:00 o’clock afternoon sun was pricking on my skin so we decided to leave the area early.

We originally intended to proceed to People in the Sky, but we were told that the park’s closing time is 5:00 PM, and it was past five when we left Picnic Grove, so the next step we’re supposed to take was look for a transient inn. But we saw this attractive offer for a room to stay from someone outside the gate of Picnic.

We talked to a lady and we found out there was a room for two on the slope of the mountain, just a walking distance from Picnic Grove, overlooking Taal Lake, it’s ideal for backpackers who just want to stay overnight and enjoy the scenic environment, room per night is only Php 500. Since we’re really into this backpacking adventure and eager to discover many amusing things in life, we gave it a go.

We’re just so adventurous really, because we never felt any doubts, worries or fears going to this very remote area to spend the night. We knew no one in the neighbourhood and the place is completely stranger to us but we never thought of any sinister things of disaster that might happen, we just want to enjoy the moment. We walked few miles, passed the rugged slope and felt the spooky silence in the environment before reaching the hilltop.

The location is a bit far from the highway and very laid back. The topography is in a very provincial setting, lush tropical plants, plateau, native shanties, no signs of modernity, no electricity, no buildings, we saw only one small hut store selling basic commodities. But we’re not afraid, in fact we love it because aside from cutting more than half of our travel budget, the room is facing the breathtaking Taal Lake. There’s a view deck within the area where visitors can freely use. This top deck will allow visitors to marvel the panoramic view of the Tagaytay skyline.

The room where we stayed overnight on the hilltop :-)

But don’t expect too much from this accommodation. If you are a techy person who seems cannot live without the blinking and snarling of electronic gadgets, this is not for you. The room has no electricity, we were only provided with two candles and a match. Naturally, there were no toiletries and bath towels, the room has this yucky container of water for bathing and a small bathroom which I did not dare to look, afraid I might see horrid insects in the corner, I did not bring a candle to light the area when I used it. LOL !

So readers, if you are looking for a comfortable accommodation and not a backpacking adventure then look elsewhere. Anyway, there are lots of tourist inns and hotels in the area.

Surprisingly, we had a wonderful experience, we laughed on top of our lungs! We frolicked in the view deck like we owned the world! We’re like children again, as if the magic of innocence never ended. 

We loved the kind of freedom we had, freedom to live, freedom to explore the world! We jumped, we giggled, we cartwheeled, we talked ridiculous things,  haha! That was totally amazing!
Candle lit dinner!

Beautiful morning!

During the night, we had this candle lit dinner in the view deck, no, not that sort of a romantic thing you imagined in a restaurant where a boyfriend is ready to pop a question, it was a candle lit dinner probably because there was no electricity and we were forced to use a candle haha! But it was truly a magnificent experience, having dinner outdoor overlooking the Taal Lake before the stars and the sleepy sky where the evening air was whooshing like an intrepid intruder to two girls who had never into a romantic candle lit dinner in life. 
Having fun at the viewdeck ^_____^
Witnessing the beautiful sunset at the view deck facing Taal Lake

And while lighting the candle, covering it with our hands while squeezing the kalamansi juice to our soy sauce, we kept wondering if that sort of romantic eklavo would ever come in both our lives. We talked about it endlessly during the night and burst into laughter. 

As the breezy air became extremely aggressive making us to chill in cold, we decided to go back to the room and slowly felt the discomfort, but we tried ignoring it and went to bed right away.

Lessons we learned: Always look on the brighter side of life, don’t count the bad things, only the good ones. What do we expect for a 500 room per night for backpackers? Naturally – inconvenience haha! But we dared because we’re into this adventure thing.

My comments: Picnic Grove is very ideal for dry picnic, yes. So to ultimately enjoy the area, bring food and a sheet/cloth to spread on the ground, try also Kite flying it’s a little bit fun. There are lots of souvenir’s shops around the area. The only warning I can give you is that foods are really expensive inside.

You have a choice to rent a pavilion or a cottage inside the resort or just bring sheet to spread on the ground while you are enjoying the scenic environment.

Good things about Picnic Grove: If you are a nature lover, you will really admire this place, you’ll get a beautiful view of the Taal Lake and the volcano. The place is surrounded with trees and tropical plants. The landscape is so cool and soothing.

There are lots of vendors, agents (seemed-like, but don’t worry they are not swindlers) offering for a boat ride activity to Taal lake and a room to stay overnight. They serve breakfast and dinner too, just inform them ahead of time. Our dinner meal consists of two rice and two grilled liempo Php 150.00 all, which is not bad :-)

Entrance Fee at the Picnic Grove: Php 50.00

Nearest landmarks:
·     View Park Hotel – just in front of Picnic Grove
·     Keni Po Tourist Inn
·     Famous Inn (Transient hotel)
·    Adam’s Café
·    Bistro Restaurant
·    Our Lady of Manaog at Tierra de Maria
·   Development Authority of the Philippines
·   People in the Sky

PEOPLE'S PARK IN THE SKY

Amusingly, despite the bizarre accommodation we had, we slept soundly and walked up feeling great and refresh! The bright morning sunshine beckoned in the horizon somewhat telling us that everything is perfect and right. We took a bath early and later our coffee and bread were delivered at the doorstep. We brought it to the view deck and spent another round of giggling embracing the warm sunshine and soothing morning air. 

At the small ground of People's Park in the Sky

We got to see the breathtaking view of the Taal Lake and the volcano crate, the beautiful morning sunrise stirred our energy and rejuvenated our mind to be inspired more and to be thankful that God indeed shows miracles everyday in so many ways. He let us see and appreciate the beauty of the environment, provides us another day to live, to dream big, to seize opportunities, to experience life in a more meaningful way, to be hopeful, to enjoy the details of circumstances and to be optimistic!

An hour later, we changed clothes and prepared for our next stop: People's Park in the Sky. Unusually and with all our oddness, unlike other backpackers, we decided to wear a dress for this day adventure, even in the middle of our backpacking exploit, we wanted to remain fashionista haha! And maybe, we’re just some of the fewest lady backpackers in the world who wanted to keep in touch with our feminine side in the middle of adventure J

We arrived at People’s in the Sky around 8:00 in the morning, and by the time we entered the place, I began to feel this strange phobia deep inside, you know, I am a little bit acrophobic, that is, having this fear in heights stuff.

People in the Sky is on top of the Tagaytay vista and my energy started to sink the moment I looked back at the cliff. I tried to remain calm and continued walking to see the place, the unfinished, dilapidated mansion of former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos.

My Comments: It’s a breezy place, but poorly managed. The structures are already decaying and the whole place is a bit messy. From the entrance gate, visitors must have to walk at the spiralled road to reach the area, it’s a bit effort on the knee part, so not good for senior citizens hehe! But there are jeepneys available at the entrance area where drivers ready to take visitors on top at an affordable rate. (Php 40.00 per group of four persons)

Good things about People's Park in the Sky:
Visitors are greeted in the doorstep with a tower wall of the mansion where a large statue of Jesus Christ erected. On top, there’s a prayer area for our Lady of Fair Love.

Upon reaching the mansion, visitors will enjoy the beautiful scenery of Tagaytay uplands, the topography of the entire city and the neighbouring towns is a sight to behold! The Tagaytay vista is so breathtaking and spectacular. There’s a small park on the ground of the mansion, a little bridge and a simple garden with pavilions where visitors can take a rest and enjoy the spectacular view of the Taal Lake. There are food stalls and souvenir’s shops around the area.

Entrance Fee: Php 30.00
Jeepney fare from Picnic Grove to People in the Sky: Php 8.00
Opening time is 7:00 in the morning and closing time is 5:00 in the afternoon

Our Lady of Manaog at Tierra de Maria

After staying for forty minutes at People’s in the Sky, we left the area for Our Lady of Tierra Madre. Special note to travellers: In order to really save, do not hire a tricycle going to Manaog or Picnic Grove, they charged higher rates almost four times the normal PUJ fare, just wait for jeepneys, transportation fee is only Php 8:00.

Our Lady of Manaog is just a walking distance from Picnic Grove. No Entrance Fee. It’s more like a praying/healing worship place. Inside the chapel, you can write your intentions and drop it at designated drop boxes near the religious statues.
At the adoration chapel of Our Lady of Manaog at Tierra de Maria

There’s a wishing well at the entrance area, according to the epitaph, it’s a Wedding at Cana wishing well, so I assumed this is for people who are tirelessly seeking a partner in life lol! You can make a wish here, nothing is wrong with it anyway, I even make a wish for myself, not sure if Rowena did the same thing hahaha!

There’s a souvenir’s shop of religious items also. I bought one for myself, a bracelet rosary with intricate beads depicting the image of Mother Mary. According to the lady inside the shop, this bracelet rosary was imported from Italy and the beads are really authentic, so I did not mind the price and just bought one as a gift to myself because my birthday is about to come (April 3) and the last thing I want to do is really give myself something very special and this is timely because this bracelet rosary directly imported from Italy!

Best religious finds at Our Lady of Manaog
A bracelet rosary composed of delicate beads from Italy! 
The beads feature the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Chillin at Adam's Cafe just in front of Our Lady of Manaog

I find this bracelet ultra-lovely, it has a small crucifix attached and a gold-plated embossed of Mama Mary’s face, plus each bead features the image of the Blessed Mother, this is one of the most special and sentimental finds I have in my travel adventure.

SKYRANCH

We went back to the rented room to check out then we’re off to Sky Ranch. Again, another adventure because we’re clueless were to catch a ride, we’re not familiar with the location, the only thing I know, this attraction is located at the Aguinaldo Highway en-route to Nasugbu, Batangas!


Sky Eye, the highest Ferris Wheel in the Philippines


At the ground of the Super Viking ride

We rode a PUJ from Picnic Grove to Olivarez Plaza. From there, we caught another PUJ ride (on the opposite side of the road) with a sign board Nasugbu, Batangas via Mendez. Finally we reached the area. We dropped by at the Praying Hands to take a pose for souvenir J then walked a mile to Robinson’s Supermarket to withdraw. BPI atm is located at the second floor of Robinsons.
My friend, Rowie Tagaan

We walked back to Sky Ranch. It was around 12:30 noon, so we decided to take a lunch first before proceeding to the ticket booth. When I am very hungry, the only thing that always crosses my mind is to gorge oriental foods J so we chose Tokyo Tokyo.

After lunch and resting for about 10 minutes, we got in and so surprised to know that the entrance fee of Sky Ranch is only Php 50.00 even though it was weekend! I thought it was Php 100.00

It was a grueling Sunday afternoon and my skin seemed roasted under the harsh heat of the summer sun, still it did not prevent me from exploring the area, walking around and wandering inside the amusement park. There are cottages/pavilions inside but these are not free, visitors must pay for it, so we just strolled around and took pictures. We did not avail any of the rides because it was extremely hot and the temperature was repulsive, we might get headache if we would push through.

After staying for just 15 minutes, we left.

My comments: Sky Ranch is not yet fully developed. The area is just very small with a horse-back riding activity located near the park. Inside the amusement park, rides are very limited. There are food stalls inside the small park. High end restaurants and food chains are located within the ground of the ranch before you enter the park.

Good things about Sky Ranch:
·         Sky Eye – This is the tallest Ferries Wheel in the Philippines 
       Amusement rides inside the park that adults and children will enjoy
       You can get a closer look of Taal Lake and Volcano
       Horse back riding at the nearest ranch

Entrance Fee: Php 50.00 (excluding the rides)

Each ride costs Php 50.00 while Sky Eye is around Php 150.00
Overall: Sky Ranch attracts visitors maybe because of the hype of the Sky Eye as the country’s tallest ferries wheel.

If you want to experience the best of Sky Ranch, visit this area in the mid afternoon and stay until evening, the environment is cool, breezy and relaxing and the sparking lights at night offer the best opportunity for souvenir’s taking.

PINK SISTERS

The last stop of our adventure.

From Sky Ranch highway, we went back to Olivarez terminal, then rode another jeep going to Dasmariñas, Cavite because this will pass to the crossing where Pink Sisters convent is located.

You maybe wondering why we had included Pink Sisters in our backpacking activities, hmmm, because we just love it, and it’s a little crazy going to another place on a Sunday without passing at any religious landmarks.


Rowie posing in the beautiful ground of Pink Sisters

We wrote our intentions and prayers and dropped the sealed envelope in a designated box (near the right wing of the chapel). We only had few minutes here because we’re extremely tired. We visited the convent’s souvenir’s shop and the garden then went off to the road to catch a bus back to Manila.

We had a full day indeed and a fascinating experience of exploring the place with no guide except sense of direction and courage. 

Backpacking adventure is very exciting, amusing and thrilling, plus the discovery and experience are so fabulous and memorable. Life itself is a beautiful journey and those who don’t dare to take an adventure has never fully live life yet! So start taking a daring adventure now!

MAP of our TRAVEL and BUDGET:

From Cubao, Quezon City to Coastal Mall: Bus going to Baclaran    
From Coastal Mall to Tagaytay: Depends on where you would want to go first:
·     If directly going to Picnic Grove, drop by at the Olivarez terminal
·     If directly going to Sky Ranch, choose the route going to Mendez and Nasugbu, Batangas, Sky Ranch is just along the highway.

The expenses we incurred for this adventure (in Philippine peso) per head excluding expenses on souvenirs shopping:

Bus fare from Cubao to Coastal Mall: 35.00
Bus fare from Coastal Mall to Olivarez, Tagaytay: 74.00
PUJ from Olivarez terminal to Picnic Grove: 11.00
Entrance fee in Picnic Grove: 50.00
Lunch at Alamat Restaurant: 165.00
Room for rent: 250.00 (per room is 500 good for two persons)
Dinner (we requested food delivery from the owner of the room): 85.00
(two rice, two grilled liempo, one bottle of mineral water = 170.00)
Coffee in the morning plus bag of pandesal = 35.00
PUJ fare from Picnic Grove to People in the Sky = 8.00
Entrance fee = 30.00
PUJ from People in the Sky to Manaog = 8.00
PUJ from Picnic Grove to Olivarez terminal = 11.00
PUJ from Olivarez to Mendez (Sky Ranch) = 8.00
Entrance Fee at Sky Ranch: 50.00
Lunch at Tokyo Tokyo = 99.00
PUJ from Sky Ranch to Olivarez terminal = 8.00
PUJ from Olivarez to Pink Sisters (Dasmariñas signboard) = 8.00
Bus fare from Pink Sisters to Coastal Mall, Mania = 72.00
Bus fare from Coastal Mall to Boni, Mandaluyong = 20.00

TOTAL EXPENSES: 1,027.00

Remember, our accommodation is cheaper, if you want to travel in comfort, try looking for tourist inns and hotels around Brgy. Sungay, this location is just around Picnic Grove. The accommodation rate per night of these inns ranges from 1,000 per room to 4,000.00.
·         
For pasalubongpurposes, a budget of 1,000.00 is just enough or you may increase it for a comfortable shopping spree.

Some of the most famous local delicacies sold around the tourist attractions in Tagaytay are the following:

  •     Colette’s Buko Pie (very famous because of its yummier taste!)
  •       Aspasol (more like Tikoy)
  •     Piñato (peanuts)
If you’re a coffee lover, don’t miss Bag of Beans along Aguinaldo Highway. I heard they are offering freshly baked goodies and pastries and this cafe  is quite famous with their luscious and aromatic coffee beans, their coffee varieties had been receiving great hype among travellers. I was just wondering why we forgot to drop by at Bag of Beans. We’re planning to go back there some other time because we missed lots of interesting landmarks.

Hope to drop by at these following places the next time we visit Tagaytay:

  • ·           Bag of Beans
  •        Sonya’s Garden
  •        Ilog Maria Bee Farm
  •        The Puzzle Mansion
 




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