It used to be that Baguio City was such a pain to get to. Without the new SCTEX and TPLEX expressways cutting the journey short to a good four hours, a trip to the City of Pines some years ago would take up to eight hours to accomplish because you had to go through the bustling provinces of Tarlac, Pangasinan and La Union—a scenic route that gives you glimpses of Northern Luzon rural life. With only two lanes on each side of the road to contend with, however, it can be quite the stressful experience especially when you’re the one behind the wheel. Imagine taking over a slow-moving truck while dodging an approaching vehicle on the opposite lane ahead—it will set your nerves on edge…and sharpen your Formula 1 driving skills.
While the city’s golden years have long since passed (read: I’m looking at you, mindless property developers), people from Manila would gladly make the 254-kilometer trip to this neck of the woods.
Whatever your persuasion, there are endless reasons why Baguio City remains one of the most visited destinations in the country. Off the top of my head: year round clement weather, stunning sunsets that turn the sky into a riot of colors, the picturesque sight of pine trees blanketing the cold mountains, the array of fresh (and cheap!) produce at the public market, gorgeous flora in full bloom at the February Panagbenga Festival, a steadily booming contemporary art scene, food glorious food, and a central location that leaves you in close proximity to the rest of the mountains of the Cordilleras (a big plus if you’re a hiking geek like moi) and to La Union for some weekend surfing or shoreside sunbathing.
For this perennially stressed writer, the summer capital is the perfect escape to slow down the rhythm. Luckily enough, I’ve been able to isolate myself from the rest of the milky way in this impossibly peaceful location: The Manor at Camp John Hay.
While not exactly the cheapest of accommodations, when it comes to this holiday hideaway inside the sprawling grounds of Camp John Hay, you get what you pay for. If it’s blissful escape you’re after, you’ll find it here.
See how happy my sister is:
What got me out of bed, however, was the glutton fest waiting at Le Chef where Executive Chef Billy King whipped us up a deliriously good lineup of dishes…Okay the following did not necessarily happen in one food coma session. Just felt like making everybody drool over the lip-smackin’ goodies that come out of his kitchen. The cheese plate that will end all cheese plates:
This fork-tender rack of lamb with goat cheese salad:
These pretty, delectable things:
And the strawberry shortcake my sister and I never leave Baguio without:
Yep, the girl you see wiping drool off her face is me. Ever been to Baguio? What keeps you coming back? Drop me a comment below :D