One trip is enough to make you fall in love with a place. But then I thought, once isn’t enough for a more intimate acquaintance. A part two, at least, is much needed.
It was the surge of typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda) in the Visayas region and its strong winds and showers could be felt even in Northern Luzon. Sounds like a not so pleasant time to set off but it was, for us, a perfect visit in the city of pines.
The rainfall was looming but it didn’t rain most of the time. It was just mostly cloudy and—oooh—breezy. And because many people were anxious of the creeping weather and perhaps thought it would disturb their plans if it did rain, we had the city only for me and my buddy and a few other people like us who didn’t mind the weather.
We arrived on a foggy and very chilly morning at past 6. I had underestimated Baguio’s cold weather and dared wear short denim shorts and only a plain shirt underneath my jacket. So, the moment I stepped out of the bus, I was uncontrollably shaking to the bones. Nonetheless, I enjoyed exhaling foggy breaths like an overindulged child.
Baguio is a city adorned with many parks. Our checklist couldn’t possibly overlook Burnham Park, Wright Park, Botanical Garden, Mines View Park and Camp John Hay.
I and my companion were a bit spontaneous and easy-go-lucky. We didn’t have a concrete itinerary. We only had a scribbled list of places, foods and activities.
On our first morning, from the Victory Liner bus station, we headed to the one closest to the city center—Burnham park. Favorite activities here are biking and boating. But that morning we opted to rent a little boat and sail freely on the lake. The air was cool and the lake was green, echoing the color of the trees surrounding it. It was calm simply because we were the only boat sailing there. It felt we were having quality time with the lake.
The next day, we labored on the long and steep sets of steps and extended walkways of Wright Park. We were glad for the cool breeze the trees were whooshing toward us. From there, we relished the breezy, cloudy weather and walked our way finding the nearby Botanical Garden. It was drizzling but the 10-minute walk on Gibraltar Road was no bother for us.
Our visit in Botanical Garden when the weather was gloomy and rainfall was imminent was probably the best time of visit (for us, at least). The surroundings had a misty feel that, though it was early in the afternoon, it’s as if you just woke up early at daybreak when the flowers and plants had a fresh, bright glow and still sweated with dew. It was quite romantic for me and my cherished buddy that, with very, very few other visitors, we walked the garden like Adam and Eve holding hands and appreciating the delightful landscapes of flowers, rocks, woods and ponds.
One part that I was most excited about was going to Mines View Park. It was my most awaited! Yes, the panoramic view of the mountains was amazing. Yes, cheap local buys at the tiangges and baratilyos were exciting. Yes, tasty food trip was not scarce. But really, the main highlight for me was the big and fluffy cuddlers that were almost everywhere—the St. Bernards! Cuddling and taking pictures with them had a price but, hey, what’s 40Php for three photos and a chance to be close to the soft coat of a sweet fellow?
Last on our checklist was the more upscale Camp John Hay which was about 5 minutes of taxi ride. We dropped off at the Mile Hi center where we mostly did window-shopping and dreamy fitting of clothes. We were again Adam and Eve walking among the pine trees until we found our secret garden. The Bell Amphitheatre, a venue covered with well-kept grass and surrounded by rows of colorful flowers, could be found along with other spots in the Historical Core with a small fee of 50Php. I guess the only downside of the weather we felt bad about was that we were not able to try out the 150-foot high cable zip line (which was supposedly my first time) and other activities at Treetop Adventure because they didn’t operate during the rainy days. Even so, we still enjoyed the surroundings and concluded our stroll with a cup of Frappuccino in Starbucks. Cold drinks for the cold weather.
Getting around Baguio wasn’t so hard because of the very accessible and reasonable taxis night and day. I loved walking on the breezy streets at night. I loved that it was less crowded than usual and that gallivanting was easy.
We didn’t think of the weather as a nuisance. I loved cuddling under fat blankets in homey lodgings on those naturally cool nights. I loved getting sprinkled a little while walking outside. I loved that we never really got sweaty and sticky even when we walked a lot.
Baguio City is so familiar but it was a totally new and liberating trip for me. I didn’t depend on someone else’s plans. I simply followed my own impulse. I got a second chance on a second trip. A first time redeemed.