Friday, January 7, 2011

Family Getaway in Tagaytay on New Year’s Day of 2011 (Part 1)

Family Getaway in Tagaytay on New Year’s Day of 2011 (Part 1)

Planning a family getaway in Tagaytay is relatively easy. The important things that need to be arranged are: house (we stayed at a family’s place in Royal Tagaytay); transportation (using an L300 which accommodated 6 people, 1 baby and 1 cat including the driver and baggage); and most importantly SNACKS!!!. When traveling to the south you can opt to eat at fast food chains beside gas stations or you can just pack breakfast with you to be eaten in the car. Luckily, it was New Year’s Eve the night before so there were lots of leftover food for us to re-heat. We had mac and cheese (thanks to our very generous Tita Zen) and cold spaghetti (there was no time to heat it anymore).

People's Park In The Sky

The first stop in this trip is People’s Park in the Sky (also known as Palace in the Sky). I originally thought that my siblings have not been here yet that’s why we went at People’s Park in the Sky. On our way to People’s Park in the Sky, I found out that all of us have visited the place before when we were much younger. On the other hand, what made this trip better was that People’s Park in the Sky was covered in fog at high noon.

Foggy Midday at People's Park in the Sky (photo c/o Mrs. Boo)

People's Park at the Sky (photo c/o momochan)

It was definitely a cold and windy day to visit People’s Park in the Sky which made the place different. There were a few changes when I visited this time compared to what the place looked like two years ago. First there were several huts where you can eat a meal together with your companions while overlooking Tagaytay plains and mountains. There’s also a store selling animal hats and ice cream. What I enjoyed the most is eating our very own “taho” or hot soy drink mixed with melted sugar and gulaman. For a family getaway on a budget, this stop is perfect because the entrance fee costs a minimal amount of P25 each per person. Children 5 years old and below are free to enter the People’s Park.

View from the viewing deck of People's Park in the Sky

When I visited the People’s Park in the Sky before, I did not see the wishing well nor the Pineapple. These are located on the left side of the area if you are facing the two-storey palace. Manage your expectations if it’s your time to visit People’s Park in the Sky. It’s not really a palace. It’s more of an unfinished building that was originally made for the Marcoses but was left undeveloped when they were unseated from power. Now, it has become a tourist attraction in the area because of its location where one can see Tagaytay’s lush greenery and beautiful houses on a hill.

View from the road going to People's Park in the Sky

Our next stop brings us to one of the things Tagaytay is known for, which is its famous BULALOHAN. For our first meal in our family getaway, the restaurant “Diner’s” was recommended to us. Everybody was definitely hungry by the time we arrived at Diner’s and that was a little over lunch time. We chose to eat outside in one of the huts provided at Diner’s. Although the breeze was still definitely cooler than in Metro Manila, it wasn’t that cold. The place would definitely need some aesthetic improvements to make it more pleasing to the eye but that was all forgiven after we were brought our first Bulalo meal. We ordered bulalo (of course!), adobong pusit and liempo. For this group of 6 people, we were able to consume two platters of rice and drinks for everyone. If you need more bulalo soup, you can request the waiter to give you some (of course provided you ask nicely). For the entire meal, it costs us about P1400 including tip or about P233.33 per person.

Diner's Bulalohan and Seafood Restaurant (Near Save More Tagaytay)

Before going to our family getaway residence, we stopped over Save More to get a couple of groceries mostly for our breakfast the next day. We know that we cannot cook at our residence at Royal Tagaytay so we bought stuff that we can easily prepare such as sandwiches and cereals. We wanted to buy softdrinks but we were told by Save More Tagaytay staff that softdrinks were out of stock for the last two days already but there were still softdrinks in can if we really wanted. This is quite befuddling to me since the Coca-Cola plant is near Tagaytay. I am assuming its closer to arrange a delivery compared to the establishments far from Tagaytay.

To save money, what I did was buy one 5-gallon water and one 1 liter of water. I brought with me Iced Tea powder good for 1 liter of drink. In this way, we have juice and water at the same time. I bought the additional 1 liter for the container actually. Of course you can do this also using other powdered drink that you like. The containers were handy especially when I made fresh orange juice the next morning. Our breakfast groceries cost P750 or about P125 per person.

And our last stop before we go to Royal Tagaytay is none other than one of my favorite Tagaytay restaurants, Bag of Beans. We went to Bag of Beans early to make a reservation for our dinner. Bag of Beans management will definitely appreciate it if you make an early reservation so they can reserve the place you want to stay. This time we chose one of the gazebos. We were a little cramped for a group of 6 people but it was not too tight that we couldn’t move anymore. The place provided a very cozy and warm atmosphere amidst the very cold air outside. If I may say so, the night’s setting was perfect. What I could do better next time is to even advise the management what we plan to eat. I will tell you the reason in a little while.

Bag of Beans, Tagaytay

Finally, we arrived at Royal Tagaytay. We unloaded our stuff and placed our things in our rooms and spent the rest of the afternoon – SLEEPING!!! Sleeping is for me still the best way to spend your vacation which is the purpose of getting that much needed R&R time before facing another busy year. We slept a lot that we woke up just in time for dinner. If I may estimate it, we slept that afternoon for FOUR hours!!! That’s what you call siesta. We dressed up and went to Bag of Beans for our sumptuous dinner.

At Bag of Beans, we found that our place has been reserved. We settled at our gazebo and started to order. We had two orders of roast beef, chicken parmigianna, one kid’s burger, one cheeseburger with fries, a pitcher of iced tea, and two slabs (not slice!) of cheesecake (one strawberry, one blueberry). We wanted to end the night with a cup of brewed Coffee Alamid but it was out of stock. We also wanted to order other stuff but the service crew had to return three times to our table just to tell us that the things we ordered are out of stock. We also had to settle to rice instead of mashed potato with our main meals because well guess what it was out of stock.

Blueberry cheesecake at Bag of Beans

But what the heck, it was New Year’s Day. Everyone is in a jolly mood. It is our choice if we want to become upset or enjoy our meal. We chose the latter. We were supposed to end the night with a hot cup of cocoa but the order took an hour. After more than 60 minutes, I had to cancel the order because our baby is very sleepy. The manager apologized for the delays but apparently two other sets of customers were leaving Bag of Beans also due to the long wait. I felt bad for the staff because they are generally nice and warm people. But as my husband said, this is a happy problem – being the victim of your own success. For 6 people, our bill was P2000 including a 10% service charge or about P333.33 per person. A recommendation to the staff would be to put a waiting station or at least advice incoming guests that there is a long queue even before they enter Bag of Beans and that several food items are not available. Or maybe Bag of Beans can stock up for holidays like this to give way for the influx of guests. Except for the long delay, the food was still great, the ambience was amazing and the experience was great!

Reservation at Bag of Beans

Coming home, full but not yet sleepy, we decided to watch The Cove, a documentary about the slaughter of 23,000 dolphins in Japan every year. The word “slaughter” is an understatement for this documentary. It is one of the most inhumane deaths I have seen in my life and I cannot believe that there are people like that in Japan who cannot feel anymore or realize the horrendous things they are doing to these dolphins. The pool of blood will be forever etched in my mind.

Slaughter of Dolphins in Taijing, Japan (horrific pool of dolphin blood in The Cove)

After watching past midnight, we decided to call it a night as we slept with the cooing sound of the wind outside our house in Royal Tagaytay.

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