starbucks

Baguio 2013 (Part 1)

It has been five years since the last time I went up north. As evidenced by my previous posts, I’d want my first “official” getaway to be with my family. Since Mama hasn’t been in Baguio, ever, I’ve decided to bring her to the city of pines.

January 25, 2013

We booked a bus ride at Victory Liner Pasay at 1:15 AM. We took the deluxe bus for P715. For a P300 difference from the regular bus to Baguio, you’re in for a comfortable ride. You can sleep soundly in their reclining chair. There’s a comfort room along the middle part of the bus as there are no stopovers.

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Usual travel hours from Manila to the summer capital is six to eight hours but it only took us 4.5 hours! The sun hasn’t risen yet and we’re already chilling because of the early Baguio breeze. It was just a few steps away from the terminal to the hotel we’re staying at. Check-in time for Microtel Inn & Suites is at 2:00PM. But you can check in early without extra payment subject to room availability.

As soon as we stepped inside this modern hotel, we were escorted by the guard to the lobby. My sister went straight to the front desk to inquire about an early check-in. Luckily, there’s an available room. She’s doing this while I’m busy looking around the lobby. It’s a small place. There are only 4 sets of couches and chairs and one fireplace that’s not lit.

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I’m quite disappointed when nobody assisted us to our room since we’re bringing a number of bags. But I didn’t complain just to keep the good vibe flowing.The interior of this hotel looks very chic. But we had to keep our curtains closed the whole time as the view outside is the residential part of the city. But their queen-sized beds won’t make this a problem. There are other parts of Baguio where you can enjoy the view. As posted in their website, Microtel beds meet the American Chiropractic Association specifics. Honestly, sleeping here was so good it’s become a problem. You almost don’t want to leave and explore. My sister even ditched our second day trip because she just wanted to sleep all day.

There’s a complimentary breakfast care of Te Quiero Tapas Bar and Restaurant located just beside the hotel. It’s a breakfast buffet with main dishes of Spanish origins (hence, the name of the establishment). The bar is quite small and tables are practically squeezed in to accommodate everyone.

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I love the dominating color of deep red though I think it made the place even smaller than it really is. The food looked great but it’s bland for my taste buds. My sister even joked about wanting to sprinkle salt in their pork peccadillo. But, thanks to our saviors — minatamis na saging na saba with orange and pineapple slices and their home-made peanut butter — I didn’t feel like I’ve been robbed with the brekky.

Food at Te Quiero

After breakfast, we succumb to our body’s need of sleep. The itinerary I prepared was shaken up fully but I didn’t mind. We won’t enjoy it anyway with a tired physique.

It was past 1PM when we take turns to shower. The water heater was perfectly working. The staff has become attentive to our needs. It’s quite a turnaround from what happened earlier. We asked for extra towels and in less than five minutes, somebody’s knocking in the door. People in the front desk are all smiles when we’re heading out. They even provided us a map of the city (but only if you asked).

It’s a short walk from the hotel to SM Baguio. I wanted Mama to see the view from here. We stayed for approximately thirty minutes there.

SM

We, then, rode a cab to Camp John Hay which costed us P60. It’s the quieter side of Baguio as the city is swarming with people and blaring vehicles. I only wanted to visit the Starbucks branch here ( I learned that there are two branches inside). But we’re famished and grabbed late lunch at Little John’s, Mile Hi, CJH.

Little John'sPrices to smile about… That’s their tag line which they live up to. Delicious fish and chips with perfectly fried potato wedges for only P165 and baby back ribs for P155! The ribs are tender but the taste is just average. What caught our attention are the frames hanging in one side of their wall which show different doodles and drawings from customers. In each table, there’s a blank brown paper and crayons. Serving would take quite a while and having these materials would surely kill the boredom.

Before heading farther to find Starbucks, we took a detour and visited outlet stores adjacent to Little John’s. Found and bought a shirt almost for $18 in Adidas! I’m a happy kid. We asked for directions on how to get to the nearest Starbucks branch and the quest is on! It’s painful to walk up the slope but we found it after fifteen minutes of walk.

StarbucksWhat sets apart this branch to any Manila shops? Cheesecake in strawberry sauce! It’s just your normal cheesecake drowned in Baguio’s freshest strawberry puree. It’s bloody yummy! We even bought two slices to-go to binge on in our hotel room. Also, I bought my own memorabilia of this trip – Baguio mug. From afar, this looks like a country house. We stayed outside as it just made us feel like we’re home. Pine trees everywhere and I can’t help but take a photo of ’em.

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We headed back to the hotel just before the sun sets. Mama dozed off quickly while I watch an American Idol episode. Our itinerary is not fully packed so we can have plenty of time to relax or even hit the sack. It was already around 9PM, after watching Confessions of a Shopaholic in Studio 23 with my sister when we decided to go outside and buy dinner. We left Mama with her dreams as we rode a cab to Lower Session Road (which by the way blew me away!) We can actually walk from the hotel but it’s quite late and we don’t wanna take any chances.

Its long busy stretch reminds me of downtown Manila. It was a Friday night so everybody’s outside to have a fun night. We went inside Volante, a homegrown pizza chain, and ordered sardines and mushroom and pepperoni pizza. We paired it with a seafood pasta. It is a go-to place for Baguio people as evidenced by the packs who consistently comes in. They also serve 24/7.

photo(2)It was an early night for the three of us. After dinner, I spent a few minutes watching TV before turning into a pumpkin. I was excited for the next day’s trip to La Trinidad! Our bus ride back to Manila is at 4:00PM, Saturday. We took the regular ride as the available deluxe trip is too early for us.

Good night!

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Pictures are mine and can be found in Instagram (@franzdomasian). Thanks! 🙂

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Very Berry Hibiscus

Over the weekend, I thought about starting to blog about coffee shops and their beverages since it’s my thing. This isn’t the official start of it but, I guess, I gotta make a post regarding this new drink. I haven’t posted in weeks!

Even before my day started, I thought of buying myself a coffee smoothie from Chatime. It’s a block away from my workplace which is not that long a walk. But it rained! And it poured hard! So, I thought of splurging and just buy a Hojicha with Earl Grey Tea Jelly Frappuccino at Starbucks which is located in the building next to ours.

Little did I know that my favorite coffee shop launched their new beverages today! New non-frappuccino drinks named Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus. Refreshing beverages! They don’t quite fit our local weather as it’s raining all day for the past few days! But it’s summer in the States so I guess that’s why they offered it now here in the Philippines. But a little cold drink in this season won’t hurt you, would it? 🙂

So, I tried Very Berry Hibiscus with green coffee extract and real blackberry fruits. I ordered the tall one for P115. I’m not a fan of sweet drinks. Well, lucky me it’s not that sweet. Of course, it’s got its fruity taste on it but it’s just right for my taste buds. But if you want it sweeter, ask your barista to add a little classic syrup. You gotta love it with more ice! I might as well try Cool Lime the next time I visit.

It’s a great alternative if you’re palpitating from ordering frappuccinos, lattes or macchiatos! Well, that’s why it’s called a refreshment, right? 🙂

Plus, I got a complimentary beverage at the store opening nearby! It pays to be a good customer!:) Go, try it and be refreshed!

(Branch I visited: Starbucks, Net Quad Bldg, 4th Avenue corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig)

Three Shots of a Holiday Treat!

BELATED HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY, STARBUCKS PHILIPPINES!

I was supposed to post this days ago but I’ve been busy with sleep-overs, parties and other Christmas bizarre. But, as they say, it’s better late than never. So here…

For the past 4 years, I’ve been collecting Starbucks planners for myself. My family and friends know that I’m a great coffee addict. And as evidence, I got three planners this year! Yay me! I got the first one just 19 days after the promo started. Then, I started collecting for my sister’s. Halfway through, Starbucks celebrated its 14th year in the Philippines and the number of stickers needed to get a planner went down to 14 (from 17 for Option 1 and 23 for Option 2). I have two cards, then which I plan to combine to get my sister’s gift. But with the promo which lasted for only 24 hours, I managed to get not one but two planners!

This is the design I choose for myself: SPRUCE. My friend named it Spruce Willis!:D

This is what I gave to my sister: CHERRY.

This is my extra planner: OAK.

I’d like to thank all of my friends who contributed in the completion of my Starbucks cards – my CAT officers, high school friends and college buddies! ‘Til next year!

(I don’t own any of the pictures.)

Starbucks U.N.

It was the summer of 2008 when I first set foot in this place which is located just almost near the north end of Roxas Boulevard in Manila. Since then, it has been my third home. My refuge. My haven.

It is still clear in my mind the very first time I went here. It was a scorching hot weekday and a venti frappuccino was really a great refreshment. I was with my ‘superfriend’, a high school friend whom I never got to hang out with anymore since college started. I fell in love with the place right away. Seriously, just after I had my first sip in a comfortable couch in that two-floor shop, I knew that this place would be a home for me.

And I was right. College started and this coffee house with all its friendly baristas and jazzy music has been a haven for me and for some of my friends. We had spent hours here working on Algebra and Statistics problems, English and History papers, Econometrics models and a lot other school shitloads. It has also been a place where we celebrate and just chill whenever school permits us to, a destination after school.

But above all those, this place has been my refuge – like my evacuation area whenever I’ve been devastated by a great typhoon or like a concert hall every time I want to reward myself for a job well done. It has been a place to crash for me. Well, almost.

Now that I got to think of that three years of good and bad memories I had in this humble place, I can’t help but be nostalgic about how it has witnessed my transformation as a man. I remember all those people I shared a table and a cup of coffee with. Some of them are still here but most are gone. It’s a lot to take. I look in every spot here – couches, tables, corners – and I still clearly remember some unforgettable moments with those people who had been here with me.

Now, I’m about to finish college. And I am still here. Somebody told me that I need a new environment because of the present situations in my life. But no matter what happens, I will still be coming back here. I don’t care if I’ll be sitting all by myself or with somebody new. It’s a part of me. This is my home. My refuge. My haven.