Category: Trips

Viaje del Sol

You need not travel far to escape from the heat and noise of the city…. And you don’t need to spend so much money to enjoy this trip in San Pablo, Laguna.

Via del Sol (Way to the Sun) has been getting a lot of attention lately. Travelers rave about the unique experience combination – of being close to nature, good food, relaxation, the slow pace, and homey ambience. We didn’t actually complete all the attractions in the map – because we only have a day and a half, and we wanted a more relaxed pace for this vacation. Action-less nevertheless, we had a great time.

Easy Transpo:
Even if you don’t have a car, San Pablo is still very accessible. JAC Liner in Kamuning along EDSA has buses going to Lucena every hour. Just inform the driver to drop you off at San Pablo Medical Hospital. It’s hard to miss because it is beside a big Chowking fastfood restaurant. You may want to sit in the right side of the bus to easily spot the landmark. In front of the hospital are tricycles that can take you to the resort.

Sulit Stay:
There are a few resorts and hotels in San Pablo, but Casa San Pablo, for me, stands out because of its affordability but quality service, friendly staff, and unique rooms. We availed of the overnight stay with two meals for only Php 1,750 per head.

You may read about my Casa San Pablo review here.

Fun Food Tripping:
For both our Lake Pandin and Casa San Pablo experience, we were served home-style traditional Laguna cooking. You may also try Kusina Salud (owned by Patis Tesoro), or Kinabuhayan Café for a more vegetarian alternative.

Tours and Treats:
The Viaje del Sol map suggests several possible tourist destinations. Due to time constraints, we tried the local cruise at Lake Pandin and spent the rest of our time inside the Casa San Pablo compound.

Click here for my Lake Pandin story

Our budget? only Php 3,000 per person!

Enchanting Casa San Pablo

 

This overnight trip is the first part of my elaborate surprise for C on our first Christmas together. If there’s one thing that we have in common, that would be our love for travel – and the adventure and photo opportunities that go with it. And Casa San Pablo was able to give us all that – and more!

I’m dividing this story into three parts. I’ll start here with a tour of the surroundings, our room, and the food. The next blog post will be about my suggestions on how to enjoy your stay at the Casa, and the last will be our amazing local cruise balsa-style in Lake Pandin.

Accomodation:

Casa San Pablo has interesting artistic rooms inside the Kay Inay Resort compound. Each room is unique in the sense that they have different inspirations and themes in various sizes. We were billeted in the Hot Wheels Room.

Don’t expect five-star accommodations here. The rooms are very basic, some furnitures are old, including the air-conditioning unit in our room. But for me it adds up to the overall appeal of the place. It’s very homey, like you’re just n a vacation in your grandmother’s ancestral home.

The guestrooms don’t have TVs and refrigerators as well. If you want cold water inside your room, they will give you a cooler with your choice of drinks inside. Those that will be consumed will be charged separately.

The Food

The Php 1,750 per pax package already includes our overnight stay with two meals. Like the room, the food also tastes like home. I read that they serve meals buffet-style, but since there were only two rooms occupied that night, they just prepared food for two tables for both our dinner and breakfast.

Our Sumptuous Dinner

Yummy Breakfast

I love the room! I love the food! But what’s happening inside the Casa? Find out here.

Activities in the Casa

Now that you’ve already seen the Casa San Pablo compound, had a peek in our room, and savored the food, let me give you some ideas now on how to maximize your stay here.  Let me remind you again though that Casa San Pablo is all about relaxing and cuddling, and bonding. So if you’re looking for a getaway that offers adventure or other active activities, this might not be the place for you. It gets very quiet here, especially at night, and it’s a good chance to catch up over coffee chitchating with your companions and loved ones.

Activity # 1 – Swim, Swim, Swim!

The hike and the tour left us feeling tired and dirty, so a dip in the pool was perfect to keep us recharged.  There weren’t many guests at that time – which is good because we have the pool all for ourselves. The downside is, it looks like the water wasn’t cleaned/filtered of dirt and fallen leaves that day. I just hoped water was clean. Nevertheless, we still had fun in the pool.

Activity # 2 – Have some quiet time in the hammock

The vast garden has about six hammocks where guests can lie down, relax, and perhaps read a good book or sleep. We love it! We were there for hours while waiting for our dinner. We talked, took photos of the pine trees and the clouds, and watched how the sky magically changed its color from blue to orange to black.

Activity # 3 – Indulge in a competitive board game

Several board games are available for guests to borrow for free. We had a fun game of scrabble while waiting for dinner. Guess who won? 🙂

Activity # 4 – Stargazing

Lie down in one of the “banigs” in the garden for a doze of stargazing and some quiet time. At night, the whole place lights up, thanks to the candles scattered all over the place.

I heard they also have massage services here. But we didn’t get to try it already because of the very limited time that we have. Overall though, I think the trick is to be with someone who you really enjoy spending time with. And I’m just happy I AM with that person.  🙂

your triphunter | I love quiet bonding opportunities, therefore, I love Casa San Pablo! 🙂

Cruisin’ Lake Pandin

This tour is part of our christmas getaway following the sun in San Pablo via Viaje del Sol. View related post here.

If you’re out to try something different, try the local cruise on a balsa in Lake Pandin. A project of the local government of San Pablo, this initiative aims to promote the beauty of the “seven lakes” and help give additional income to the women of Pandin.

The lake tour rate is pegged at Php180 per head. There’s really no minimum number of persons required. I think they will be open even if you are a solo traveler. Better to make prior reservations though. Call or text Mr. Mandy Marino at 09175016694 and he will refer you to the people who will arrange the tour.

Our adventure started with a 15 to 20 minute-hike to the lake. It’s a difficult walk, (especially for someone without any exercise) but I had no choice but to endure it.

A few minutes later, we were welcomed by such breath taking view!

Lake Pandin is one of the famous seven lakes of San Pablo. The local “balsa” will tour you around the lake for a view of the surroundings. What makes it unique is that the community women serve as the paddlers. They were also the ones who prepared our food.

We made arrangements to have our lunch in the balsa. For an additional Php 180 per head, we were served delicious and fresh Laguna delicacies!


How to go there:

From Casa San Pablo, we took the tricycle going to Lake Pandin. Unfortunately, the driver didn’t know how to go there! It took us almost an hour before we reached the place. And the driver was charging us more than the Php 100 that we have agreed on.

The jeeps would be a safer alternative. In front of Casa San Pablo, jeeps bound to San Pablo town proper from Tanauan pass by. Get off San Pablo Plaza and ride another jeep going to Ilog Sambat in Barangay Sitio Angel. Get off the Lake Pandin parking space. Your guide should meet you there.

your triphunter | I love my “batik” hat-fan from Indonesia!

A Lovely Weekend in Alaminos

Happy Weekend in Alaminos: September 19 – 20, 2009

The famous Hundred Islands in the town of Alaminos, Pangasinan is one of the places I have long wanted to visit but couldn’t, primarily because of the boat rides. I don’t know how to swim and the thought of capsizing boats scare me to death, but I know this is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. So I bravely faced my fears when I started planning for this trip. This was also my gift for myself since I recently celebrated my 27th birthday. 🙂

Easy Transpo:

We boarded Victory Liner Bus going to Alaminos at 5am on Saturday. Six hours, a bumpy ride, and occasional heavy traffic later, we reached Villa Antolin Hotel. Our plan is to relax the whole day and explore Hundred Islands the following day (if the weather permits).

Sulit Stay:

After doing exhaustive research of the hotels in the area, we decided to book a room in Villa Antolin. We don’t have photos of our room nor the hotel but I highly recommend the place if you opt to stay in Lucap. (Lucap is the jump off point of boats going to the islands. Since the weather was very unpredictable the past few weeks prior to the trip, we decided to just book a hotel room here so that we won’t encounter difficulties in case it rains). The rooms are small and basic, but it has its own TV, aircon, and CR. When we arrived, the place is packed of students from UP Baguio (field trip).

I suggest, though, that you call Philip beforehand to get a reservation (075 551 3604), as the place runs out of space especially during peak season, including long weekends and holidays.

Fun Food Tripping:

Maxine at night

There are very few restaurants in Lucap. Good thing, there’s Maxine by the Sea, and it’s so good we had our three meals here! Because I love Maxine’s so much, I wrote a special blog entry.

You may read it here.

Tours and Treats:

This is a no-brainer. You came to Alaminos to see the world famous Hundred Islands. Rent a boat and explore the islands. Start the tour preferably in the morning for a more forgiving weather. If you won’t linger much in the islands, it should last for about five hours tops.

Note: We were lucky because the following weekend, Ondoy hit the Metro and then Pepeng followed suit.

Follow our trail in the islands here.

Inclusive of transportation, accommdation and tours, we spent more or less Php 3,500 per pax. 🙂

Note: I guess we were lucky because the following weekend, the super typhoon Ondoy hit the Metro. The following week, Pepeng followed suit. These two typhoons caused great damages in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Maxine by the Sea

While doing my research prior to our overnight trip in Alaminos, I’ve come across several blogs about this seafood restaurant in Lucap. And boy, now I’m going to be one of the restaurant’s satisfied customers! 

Maxine by the Sea is a really good find. They serve really good food – fresh ingredients and superb cooking! Imagine, for all our three meals in Lucap, we ate at Maxine’s! We can’t get enough of their delicious offerings!

LUNCH ON OUR FIRST DAY: the highly recommended calamares and curried shrimp

DINNER ON OUR FIRST DAY: C’s steamed crab and my favorite inihaw na bangus

LUNCH ON OUR SECOND DAY: Seafood Kare Kare (with oysters even!)

Don’t forget to include Maxine’s in your itinerary. Trust me, it’s worth every peso. 🙂

More than a Hundred Reasons to Love Hundred Islands

We arrived Alaminos in September 19 but decided to rest and relax the whole afternoon and just tour the islands the following day.

We woke up the following day with a gloomy sky and slight drizzle. But since the water was calm, we decided to go anyway. Philip (of Villa Antolin) referred us to a bangkero who charged us 1,200 pesos for the guided tour of the three developed islands. Armed with our cameras, our binalot breakfast from Philip, and prayers for a safe trip, we left Lucap at 7am for the 45-minute boat ride to our first island destination.

Our first stop: The Governor’s Island, home of the Pinoy Big Brother House (where Teen Housemates Kim and Gerald were brought on the final weeks of the competition). There’s a view deck (of 100 steps I think) were you will get a nice view of all the islands.

Children's Island

Next, we went to the Children’s Island. This is where the rain stopped and out came the sun! They call it Children’s Island because of the shallow waters. We soaked ourselves in the cold waters before we started to journey to our next island.

Quezon Island

The Quezon Island is the most crowded and my least favorite. I think since this is the most swimming-friendly island, people seem to linger here. There are established cottages already with grill options, there are snorkeling gears for rent, there’s even a bridge connecting the island to the next! I was hoping for some privacy and so was C, so even if this should have been the last stop, we urged our guide to bring us to two other islands where we can swim and relax.So after agreeing on the additional 300 fee, he showed us Marcos Island. There were a few people swimming, and there’s a cave with bats all over! We spent some time swimming again, but still unsatisfied, we left and hoped for a better last island adventure.

Bat Cave at Marcos Island

AND WE WERE NOT DISAPPOINTED. We loved Romulo Island! It’s the only island with super fine white sand and awesome view. And most of all, we were the only people there! (talk about romantic. hahaha). The sands are almost as fine as Boracay’s, C said. This was also where Marina shot most of their scenes.

Romulo Island

After the island hopping, we went straight to the hotel to freshen up and pack. We were able to catch the 2pm trip back to Manila and were home before 9pm.

“Tiring, but worth it.” Amen.

Search for the Best B&B:Surprising Mi Carlo at CASA DE CARLO

I’m a big fan of short but sweet weekend getaways near the metro. It’s a cheap and effective way to relax and de-stress, and most especially, bond with C and/or my family and friends. During these trips, I love exploring hidden and cozy BED AND BREAKFAST INNS! This series will guide you through our search for the best B&B in the Philippines. Let me know if you have any suggestions! 🙂
While searching the internet for the perfect most affordable value-for-money place where we could relax over the weekend, I chanced upon Casa de Carlo website. It says that it’s a Spanish-inspired bed and breakfast cum restaurant in Tagaytay, and is still considered as one of the city’s hidden getaways.

 

Sounds good, but I must admit, that I got interested initially with the name of the place. I thought it would be cute to surprise C and stay in a place with a name just like his. 🙂

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