The 9th – City Garden Grand Hotel

We celebrated our 9th year anniversary this May! ♥ Instead of going far away this year, we opted for a staycation instead in Metro Manila. I’ve decided to divide the posts into smaller parts. For the first entry is our hotel! We checked in at City Garden Grand hotel for 3 days and nights. I would like to note that this is the City Garden Grand Hotel. They have a sister hotel which is just nearby.

Reception area.

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Check-in was a breeze. You need to present your ID and pay a security deposit at the reception. Then you’ll receive your room card. We got the Superior King Bed room on the 29th floor.

Lobby.

Ceiling details. Love the 3 huge capiz chandelier!

I love our room!  ♥ The bed and pillows were so comfy. Both side tables have equal numbers of power outlets, switches, and telephones compared to others. Wifi was also free (up to 3 devices I think). It has a sophisticated feel to the interiors through the use of dark & neutral tones, accentuated by the use of lights.

Our king size bed with the comfiest pillows. ♥

Bathroom.

Bath tub : the #1 reason that we chose this hotel.

Left: View from our room ♥ | Right: Trump tower! (I did some of the interior plans in my previous job)

For our last day, we had breakfast at Spice Cafe on the 7th floor. You could go ala carte or do the breakfast buffet worth ~800php.

Sadly, the only photos that I took were below. I was too shy to take photos of the others because there were a lot of foreigners that morning HAHA. The breakfast buffet consists of the following: Bread station, fruit station, cheese, chocolate fountain, cereals and yogurt, salad bar, noodle station, egg station, maki station, viands from the Philippines and different countries.

I was satisfied of the buffet because of the bread station with blueberry jam. ♥ He was satisfied because of the unlimited olives & bacon. Service was very nice.

Overall, our staycation was great! No complaints on the room except for the aircon (which took a while to cool, but apparently they replied at our review on Agoda & said aircon was repaired). The hotel was nearby Century City Mall and other food establishments which was a plus for us. If we had a bigger budget, I’d like to try the Presidential Suite next time.  ♥

City Garden Grand hotel website.

Vanderlust

Not all those who vander are lost.

Corny. HAHA. Anyway. A few weeks ago, we were looking for a place to have coffee & dessert long Tomas Morato where we found Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie. A European cafe hidden at the corner of Tomas Morato & Sct. De Guia. Curious, we went in to see the display case showcasing European desserts: German Schneeball, Italian Cannoli, and Spanish Churros. The well-trained, friendly staff explained each dessert to me and recommended their best sellers.

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Second floor. Or maybe Mezzanine? Ceiling height is a bit low. You could say that this place is “cozy”.

How to enjoy the Schneeball.

Our order.

I ordered the calamansi schneeball for us to try. Coffee was Mocha for me and an Americano for him. I loved the procedure to eat the schneeball! You put it in the paper bag, and wack it with the mallet. It felt like my frustrations with work were being wacked away. HAHA.

Overall, our stay was really nice. We didn’t get to try their non-dessert food. But there’s always a next time. ♥

Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie : Menu | Facebook page.

Crystal Beach

Our group went to Crystal Beach Resort over the weekend. Reasons for this trip were instagram shots, photoshoots, surfing, and s’mores. Picture heavy post ahead!

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And of course a much needed trip for all of us since its been a while since we last got together. ♥ This place was one of the most recommended trips from the DIY Travel Philippines Facebook group. I discovered that a weekend trip is doable and cheap. Thankfully most of us were available. I reserved the following for our group:

  • Malachi2,550php for Inggo. This is an airconditioned room for 2pax. It has its own bathroom with toiletries, tv, and bed. It comes with free breakfast buffet stub for two.
  • Shem (They got transferred to Micah) 1,700php for Ruth & Joy. This is a bahay kubo type accommodation. Comes with a bed, electric fan, electric sockets for charging. It also comes with free breakfast buffet stub for the next day. Its at Kampsite 1 and near the public shower area.
  • Tent (Mariel) – 750php/pax. If own tent its 550php/pax. 250php of those are consumable within the resort. You could instead add 35php at the dining hall for the breakfast buffet. Tent comes with mat & pillows. Its at Kampsite 2.

After confirming the availability of these rooms via phone call, I reserved the same day via online banking. We paid 50% of the total rooms. We just printed the email confirmation & deposit slip and presented it at check-in. We also paid the remaining 50% on site. There’s a 1k deposit per room (in case of damage) and a 500php deposit for the tent. This is refundable at check out. The deposit for the rooms we knew, but we didn’t knew about the tent deposit. It was a good thing that Inggo had extra cash.

Waiting at the reception. It was hectic that day. They were at full capacity! But the receptionists were friendly & helpful.

So pretty. ♥

Hugot wall. HAHA.

Esther. This is near the Micah bahay kubo.

LOOK AT THE TREES.

My signature travel pose. HAHA.

This is where Mariel (our tent) is located.

Our view with the Agoho trees. ♥ #ItsMorePineInThePhilippines

I found Mariel. HAHAHA.

To the beach! ♥

For your (Cigarette) butts.

One of the most Instagrammable shots in the resort. One point perspective guyssss.

The beach ♥. The other side of that mountain is Anawangin cove I think. One of the islands in the background is Capones island.

Pretty ♥

The beach has two areas: the surfing area & the swimming area. Check the signages! You could only swim between the colored flags. The waves were huge during our stay. It was fun screaming & jumping at the waves. Para kang nasa Splash island HAHA. I urged Ivy and Inggo to try surfing. It’s 400php per hour with an instructor. It was soooooooo much fun! ♥ Those two had aching muscles after though. HAHA.

S’mores night. ♥

It was only for a while but we had some s’mores at the bonfire after dinner. We didn’t get to eat as much s’mores as we want since the staff added more logs to make a bigger bonfire, huhu. There’s also an acoustic night during weekends, so it was a nice night eating s’mores and listening to music. ♥ If only we brought a large mat so we could sit here. Oh well, lesson learned! We stayed at Micah for some girl bonding before sleeping. ♥

The next day, we ate breakfast at the dining hall. I didn’t get to take photos because I was hungry or something. HAHA. After that, we explored the resort and took more photos. These are our italic shots:

Ivy.

Hannah. Her italic shot I think is too embarrassing to post here. HAHA.

Ruth. ♥

Me. ♥ Can you see my jacket? It has wings on it HAHAHA.

Check out was at 12 noon. We packed our bags and off we go back to Manila. ♥ We managed to ride a bus at the town bound for Caloocan. Lucky! And that’s our #WeekendWarrior trip. After all these years, one outing finally went out of the drawing board. lol.

Itinerary:

  • Ride the Cubao Victory Liner bound for Iba, Zambales. Tell the teller that you will alight at San Narciso, ticket price will be cheaper. (310php compared to 380php). Terminal guide here.
  • We were supposed to ride the 7am bus. Unfortunately, we were too late & the tickets for the 7am ride were sold out. We took the 9am bus ride instead.
  • Travel time is 4 hours with stops in between.
  • Alight at San Narciso. You will know its San Narciso if you will see the San Sebastian Church to your right.
  • Ride a tricycle to Crystal Beach. Fare is 15php per person.
  • Going home depends on which bus you will ride. The Caloocan bound bus fare is around 272php.

General idea of expenses:

  • Bus roundtrip (310php) = 620php.
  • Tricycle roundtrip = 30php.
  • Own tent = 550php.
  • Total = 1,200php for these. You could do a weekend trip for less than 3k/2k. This will depend on your food budget

Other expenses:

  • Surfing with instructor = 400php. Board rental = 200php.
  • Additional for breakfast buffet = 35php.
  • Rentable sports equipment also has a price per hour. Ask the staff for this.
  • You could also do an island hopping to Capones island. Ask the staff for this too!

Crystal Beach Website | Facebook

Hope this helps!

Genki Sushi

We had another art tambay last Sunday. But before I get to that post, a few weeks ago we had another food trip with our friend. This time we tried Genki Sushi at UP Town Center.

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They had a different way of ordering here. There are touch screens on every table with their complete menu. You can browse & order through the touch screen. It can even compute your total bill. Orders are then delivered via train:

4 orders per delivery.

Ohhhh my chirashi don. ♥

Sushiiii. ♥ Different colored plates mean different prices.

Our bill amounted to 3k php+! Their sashimi were certainly fresh. But I don’t think we’ll go back here again. Its too pricey.

Coffee was at Negative Space Cafe. Speaking of this cafe: this is currently one of our favorite cafes. I haven’t done a proper review yet of this place. Sooo many pending blog posts!

 

Digital Walker x Recession Coffee

One random Saturday, Inggo & I met with a friend for a food trip at Eastwood. After eating at 2 restaurants (Ramen Kuroda & Beef Barn), we wanted coffee. I suggested we try this place because of its unique selling point. This is Recession Coffee, which is located inside the Digital Walker store in Eastwood mall.

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VSCOcam goodness, lol.

The unique way of ordering. You pay what you want! I paid 150php for mine. Inggo paid 100php in coins.

Cute.

It was okay. But it didn’t satisfy our caffeine cravings. So we went to another coffee shop after this HAHA.

Facebook page | Menu from Zomato

Restaurant Roundups

If I did a Cafe Crawls post last time, what would this be called? Restaurant roundups? Yeah, that would do HAHAHA.

I’m not sure if I already mentioned it on this blog, but I used to do a food blog with Inggo back then. I would take photos of the food & he would write the reviews. Sadly, we don’t do that anymore due to time constraint. But we still go out for food adventures every week. Asides from taking photos of the food, I also take photos of the interiors. So here’s a compilation of restaurant & cafe photos for the year 2016.

Caffe Dolce Buffet, Banawe street.

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Coco Ichibanya, Eastwood.

Happon, Maginhawa street.

Kitchen of Cakes & Coffee, SM North Sky Garden.

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery, Mother Ignacia street.

Not a restaurant or cafe. Just thought that it looked good after the Kitchen of Cakes & Coffee photo. Life After Breakfast‘s booth during Manila Fame.

Makansutra, SM Megamall.

Mongkok Bistro, NAIA 3 Terminal.

Starbucks, Eugenio Lopez street.

Same Starbucks branch during their Teavana drink promo.

St. Marc Cafe. Forgot which branch. Love the dramatic lighting.

Thaipan, Sct. Dr. Lazcano.

 Most of the photos are edited in VSCO, tweaked a bit & watermarked in Photoshop.

Roxas – Palina River Cruise

During the research period for our trip, I found out that there were 3 river cruises in Roxas City. Since doing 3 river cruises seem too much, I only chose Palina River Cruise. Why this one? The shallow reason that it sounded similar to my name. (I’m so sorry).

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Reserving for  the river cruise was such a breeze. We just texted their number 0948 131 4147 for our registrations. We also informed them that we would like to have lunch there after the tour and their arranged our preferred seafood for us. During our visit, they  were offering a weekend promo of a 1 hour river cruise with snack for only 100php per person. Travel time from plaza to Palina Greenbelt Ecopark is around 30 mins by tricycle. We paid 150php for the one way trip. I think thats expensive! But we don’t know the regulated price, sigh.

We enjoyed the relaxing river tour. The boatman told us the history of the place, their fishing methods, and their culture. I really felt that they were hospitable & accommodating to us. I felt bad that I didn’t get to eat as much for lunch because of food poisoning. This is a recommended tour for me. You are helping a community that’s doing good for the environment. Kudos also for the Capiz government for supporting this. If we were to visit again, I’d go back here because I heard you can opt for the floating bamboo raft to station at a sandbar for swimming.

And that ends our Roxas vacation. It was an okay experience. It was inexpensive, yes. But I felt that we should’ve gone to Olotayan island or visited Sta. Monica Church to see the largest bell. We attempted to do the day tour of Gigantes group of islands but a certain famous travel agency didn’t entertain us. They replied to our private message on Facebook, even called us through phone and promised to send out the tour details through email but no follow through. Why should I be the one to follow-up when I did that during the private messages? I’m the interested customer. Is it because we were only a couple? Oh well. If we’re going to do the Gigantes tour, we’ll go with another travel agency or go DIY.

Thanks for reading! Next post will be about my art works. I’m trying to catch up on pending blog posts. Whew!

Roxas City – Plaza

The second post for my Roxas series is about the city itself. For the first post about Roxas City’s food, click here. Since our hotel was near the plaza, we just walked there instead of hailing a tricycle. We don’t mind walking since the river is clean, there’s no funky smell here compared to Metro Manila. There were even fishermen in the morning fishing in the river for tilapia. Some of the houses here are old, which I appreciated since this is also a rare sight.

Daily walk to the plaza. The bridge there is around a century old!

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As I’m not an architect, I’m so sorry I can’t describe in detail the houses in these photos. But I appreciate their design still. You could do a mini city tour by yourself since these areas are just a few steps away from each other.

City Hall with classic architecture improved with modern twists.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

Ang Panublion Museum. Entrance here is free – visit here to know more about Capiz & Roxas City.

Current exhibit featuring Jovita Fuentes.

We also attempted to visit President Manuel Roxas’ ancestral home. We thought it was closed so we texted the number at the door to see if we can visit the next day. Unfortunately, they replied too late. They were apparently open when we went – but we didn’t know because from the outside it looked like it was closed for the day. Maybe we should’ve shouted “Tao po?”.

Info.

And that’s it for the this entry. Next one would be the one & only tour that we got for this trip: The Palina River Tour!

Roxas City – Food

First of all, Happy Holidays! I finally had time to sit down & blog about our Roxas trip last month. While editing the photos, I thought maybe I should separate this entry into 3 posts. So the first one that I’ll do is about the food.

We bought our Roxas tickets just days after our Davao trip. It was a really good deal – around 1500php per person. That’s the price for a one-way ticket to Davao. Why here? Well, aside from being a good deal, we both love seafood and I researched that Roxas City is the Seafood Capital of the Philippines.

Once we arrived at Roxas airport. We took a tricycle to Baybay beach. Famous for their fresh seafood dishes.

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One thing I didn’t like though, is that we took a tricycle outside the airport gates to go to Baybay beach. He charged us 50php per person each. In our future trips, it was only 50php for both of us. Maybe the city should enforce stricter regularization of prices? Sigh. The tricycle driver took us to his relatives’ restaurant instead of the famous seafood court. Since we’re there already, might as well eat here. Note to self, be firm with people.

Fresh oysters for 40php!

Meat comparison. HAHA.

Prawns for 240php

Lato salad for 80php. Lato is also called Sea Grapes.

Cat fish.

Our first lunch at Roxas was a pleasant experience. After that, we checked in our hotel. We chose Wallabies Hotel for our stay. It’s only a few minutes walking distance to the plaza. For dinner, we went to Cafe Terraza. It’s located at Pueblo de Panay, just a tricycle ride from Robinsons Place Roxas. After dinner, we learned that there’s a roundtrip jeep to Robinsons Place. I chose this place because we didn’t get to do a “dinner with a view/mountains/hills” at Davao.

This is the view. Not that nice in the photo. But it really pretty. With the fresh air & cool breeze lol.

Seafood karekare! 265php.

Baked scallops. 195php.

Iced mocha & blueberry cheesecake.

Inggo’s dessert. I forgot the name.

The next day, we woke up a bit late. We explored the plaza looking for a place to eat. We ended up at Spanggo – a Spanish+Ilocano restaurant just near our hotel. Apparently this place is famous for its pies.

Spanggo interior.

Dragon balls. 180php.

Palabok. 99php.

Beef Caldereta. 165php.

Bacon Meal. 110php.

The most delicious apple pie I’ve ever tasted! 55php.

Crumbly goodness.

Fried Halo-Halo. 85php.

After this huge lunch. We rested for a bit back at the hotel. After a while, we decided for some reason to walk to Baybay beach. Yes, walk. It took an hour, but we did it HAHA. It wasn’t tiring, since we got some refreshments at City Mall. And we enjoyed the scenery.

Baybay Beach at dusk.

For dinner, we decided to eat at Coco Veranda. It’s one of the top ranked restaurants on Trip Advisor. They have a huge board with the current prices of seafood, but I didn’t get to take a photo of that. Same with the other restaurants at Baybay, this one is also a cook as you order setting.

Clam soup.

Garlic crab.

Baybay at night. This is the seafood food court. We didn’t get a chance to eat there HAHA.

I got food poisoned the second night. I didn’t know from where though. So the third day was awful for me. Maybe it was from too much clams and oysters. They were so cheap here HAHA. Yes, they were fresh. It was too bad that we didn’t consider the season of other seafoods like the diwal – a native shellfish famous here, and crabs & shrimp we also not in season so they were not as cheap as we imagined.

But it was still a nice experience. Next post will be about the town.

Conrad Hotel

One of the things we did during the long weekend (Oct 29-Nov1) was celebrate my cousin’s birthday at the Conrad Hotel. It’s located behind the SMX Convention center. Well, we entered the hotel through a secret door from S Maison mall and ended up below:

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Ground floor Main Lobby

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This wasn’t the main lobby where you check-in. This is the receiving lobby I think. The main lobby is on the 3rd floor. But first lets admire the pretty sculptural focal point:

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Ballroom / Function room area. Pretty carpet!

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That ceiling design.

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Master bedroom T&B.

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Cove light details.

One detail that I liked about this hotel is the curves of the interiors. The cove ceilings, walls, furniture all have curved edges which is rarely seen in interiors here in the Philippines. It’s also amazing to finally see the motorized curtain track in action. HAHA. This hotel has a good view of the sea. Perfect on weekends due to the fireworks display at MOA.