Travel in the Time of COVID-19: Quick Tagaytay Weekend [2020.11.28-30]

Even before November, Celine and I have been talking about doing a staycation for our birthday this year since we had to cancel our annual birthday trip. We did a survey amongst our friends and given the circumstances, obviously, not everyone is comfortable with that. So during our birthday brunch back in mid-November, Celine, Irick, and I decided that we still wanted to do this. We initially scheduled this for the Dec 5-6 weekend, but seeing that Nov 28-30 is a long weekend, we decided to do it then instead. That way, we can stay at least 2 nights instead of just one.

Everything was planned at the last minute. So we left on Saturday morning because I still had work until 6am and everyone is probably going to Tagaytay for the long weekend on Friday night. I literally booked our Airbnb on Tuesday afternoon, and Irick managed to get her older brother to take us to Tagaytay and pick us up the following Monday. That’s all we needed to get in order anyway – accommodation and transpo.

Before anything else, I would like to share an experience we had with one Airbnb host. We were happy with the first Airbnb I booked because it had a Moroccan theme and we were glad we were able to find it the same week we’re supposed to leave. However, the host canceled on us at the last minute – on Friday at midnight! This totally pissed me off because we already didn’t have a lot of options when I booked on Tuesday, so what more on a Friday, when we are supposed to go to Tagaytay on Saturday morning! She messaged us saying that she needs to follow the condo’s rule and the government’s rules. Well, obviously. I mean, I totally understand that, but this could have been avoided if she were a more responsible host. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Apparently, the condo (Cityland) is only allowing 2 people strictly. If that is the case then change your listing from 4 to 2 people. So if something weird happens to the app and you don’t get the option to approve the booking, there wouldn’t be any issue.
  2. Respond to the messages immediately. When you book on the app, you need to send a message to the host. It took her almost 3 days to respond and notice that someone booked her place. And she replied at midnight! WTH? How the heck are you going to get hosts to reply to you at midnight if you need to look for another place?!

Good thing, Celine found another place on Friday morning and the host was really responsive and I would say more prepared to accept guests. It was not the best place aesthetically I guess, but at that point, we were okay with anything as long as we get to stay somewhere in Tagaytay for the weekend. Airbnb also provided me with a coupon code so we got almost the same price as the first Airbnb we booked.

We really only had two places we wanted to visit when we said we wanted to go to Tagaytay for a weekend – Bag of Beans and Greenhouse Cafe. We didn’t have an itinerary and we literally just winged the whole weekend.

Accommodation: Wind Residences

This is my second time at Wind! Celine and I booked an Airbnb here as well during Holy Week a few years back. This definitely has the best location because it is close to a lot of commercial establishments and tourist spots. There is a Robinsons Supermarket right next to it, it has restaurants on the ground floor, and it is walking distance to places like Sky Ranch and Taal Vista Hotel. Jeepneys bound to neighboring towns also pass by right in front of the building. It was also just a trike or a tuktuk away from the places we were planning to visit.

We stayed in Tower 2 this time around. Unfortunately, the clubhouse is under renovation, so the pool is closed. I mean, it was super cold that weekend anyway and it was raining so I don’t think anyone would actually want to swim. And there is, of course, the reality that we are still in the middle of a pandemic.

Our room is actually not so bad! It was very minimalistic and it had everything we need. There were a few issues with the plugs and sockets and we couldn’t get the TV to work but it’s not a big deal.

This fog situation thoughhhhh
This was my bed for 2 nights! Obvs, I have folded it back to a sofa because this was during check-out day.

Wind Residences is still obviously very windy. I feel like it catches all the wind and the rain and blocks the rest of that area in Tagaytay. LOL. We took photos here in the morning after checking out and I seriously don’t have any decent photos because my hair’s all over the place!

Transportation

Getting in: Like I said earlier, Irick was able to get her older brother to take us to Tagaytay and pick us up 2 days later. We are so so thankful because that made it so convenient for us. I had work until 6am on Saturday, so I didn’t have a lot of sleep that day. I woke up at 8am, which was when Irick left her home in Pasig. I literally changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, and walked to Market Market, where I will be picked up. I wanted to take a nap in the car on the way to Tagaytay but didn’t really get to do so.

Making our way out of town~

Getting around: You can definitely commute around Tagaytay because they have jeepneys, tricycles and they have their own version of tuktuks! We were able to take all three during our short weekend in Tagaytay. Even if it was a long weekend with so many tourists, it wasn’t really hard for us to use public transportation. I think most tourists brought their own vehicles anyway. Will talk more about these separately when I get to the places we visited.

Getting out: We were picked up on Monday at around noon after our lunch at Josephine. We took a different route, instead of SLEX, we went to Cavite and took Cavitex. I was home at around 5pm.

Ok, I have definitely not traveled for a long time, I definitely did not take a lot of photos during this trip. Good thing, my friends did.

Day 1: Bag of Beans (Main Branch)

So Europeyo!

This was our first stop! We arrived in Tagaytay at around 1pm, and since our check-in is not until 3pm (and I couldn’t get in touch with the host’s Airbnb caretaker), we decided to have lunch first. We were definitely hungry and it was actually super traffic on the way. Since it was technically after lunch, we were hoping that there wouldn’t be a long queue outside or something. Also, the restaurants we were passing by on the way weren’t full either, but that could also mean that they might be all in Bag of Beans!

Luckily, there was only one group before us waiting. And, they have free refreshments in the waiting area! They have cookies and coffee so that is pretty amazing. They have the usual procedures, temp check, health declaration form, etc. It is not my first time in Bag of Beans, but I swear, it’s so different from how I remember it! It has become so Instagrammable! However, you need to tread carefully and not disturb those that are dining. By the way, there are different branches all around Tagaytay and each has a different theme, but I think it’s still best to go to the main branch.

We ordered a few different dishes to share: seafood pasta, fajitas chicken, veggie rolls, nachos and our respective drinks. The food is definitely pricey, I think our bill was around PHP2000. But I liked the food, we were actually surprised that we were all really full by the end of the meal considering that we just kept getting a bit of each dish. My favorite though was the fajitas!!!

I am just so happy about the fajitas. LOL!

After our meal, of course, we took the chance to take photos around. ^^

LOL, even the manongs in the truck were looking at the camera.

Taal Vista Hotel

We ended up checking in to our Airbnb so late because of course, there are other people checking in at the reception. And due to what we are facing right now, of course, there are additional precautionary measures. Also, due to the limit on the number of people allowed in the elevator, there was also a long queue going up. There were several factors really. This is why we weren’t able to see the sunset from Taal Vista, and dammit the view from here is to die for. It was already dark when we got there. But we still had an amazing experience, quite different from when we went here last time.

We went to the outdoor dining area first and there was a band playing for the diners, we hang out there for a bit, took photos until the band’s set ended.

Just chilling ^^
LOL! This was painful!
Behind the scenes. Char.

When that ended, we decided to go to the outdoor dining that’s closer to the restaurant to have put bumbong, bibingka and hot chocolate. But it started raining, so we decided to move inside where we were sat in the lobby. Right after we settled, another band started playing. So there we were, watching a band perform in a hotel lobby while sitting our warm drink and having our Christmas favorites! Love that for us.

At this point though, I totally was fighting off the sleepiness. And man, that chocolate was damn thiccccc, I started coughing. Because of that, I sadly wasn’t able to finish it and also didn’t get to eat much of the bibingka and puto bumbong.

Falling asleep in this cage.

It was my first time dining at Taal Vista Hotel though – we didn’t last time. We literally just took photos and left. Their service was topnotch, whether you’re there for a full meal or just for a drink or for some evening merienda like us.

#MoreChristmasContent

It was only around 8pm when we decided to call it a night and go back to the Airbnb but it felt to me as if it was super late at night because it has been such a long day and I only had two hours of sleep – not even continuous because I was afraid I’d fall in deep sleep and miss the whole trip.

It was freaking cold so glad we didn’t have to walk back to our Airbnb. We were able to see a trike and asked the driver to take us to Robinsons Supermarket were we bought our necessities for the weekend. It was a quick grocery run because they were closing at 8:30pm.

Day 2: Bernabeach Resort (Nasugbu)

We started the day a bit dry… It was already raining a bit, but we were still able to take photos at Summit Ridge without needing any umbrella or poncho.

Love this photo! But in reality, that is a small alley between Summit Ridge and Robinsons. LOL.

But the rain got heavier so it was a little rough that morning. We planned to leave for Nasugbu at 8am but because of the rain, we ended up leaving at around 10:40am. We actually decided that if we’re not going to be able to leave by 11am, we’ll just scrap the whole plan. We had to buy ponchos from Handyman to at least protect us from the rain. It is very effective though – we knew it would be. We’ve used trash bags at EK years ago – we’re pros at this. LOL.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? LOL!!!

A thing to note though: Given Tagaytay’s location, it will take you more or less an hour if you would like to go to a beach somewhere, whether that’s in Batangas or Cavite. I estimated that it will take us 2 hours, to Nasugbu, considering the fact that we’re taking public transpo and I was right – it took us 2 hours. It is also worth mentioning that these jeepneys bound to Nasugbu do not go straight to Nasugbu. They take you to the boundary of Cavite and Batangas, where you will take another jeepney to Nasugbu.

The plan for the day was to go to Nasugbu, since you can just find a public beach there. In no way we planned to go to Bernabeach Resort – it was the first resort we found and decided to just have lunch there. We were supposed to have lunch at Kainan sa Dalampasigan but they were no longer accepting visitors because they were completely full. So we continued walking to the direction of the beach and Bernabeach Resort was the first resort we saw. At that point, since it was almost 1pm, we just wanted to have lunch. Bernabeach Resort was not available for day tours because they were full as well, but their restaurant was empty.

It was the best decision ever, because not only we had the most amazing seafood lunch there, we were also able to take photos at the beach, use their restrooms (to change after because I was wearing a swimsuit underneath my clothes), and take some photos by the pool. I definitely ate a lot during lunch – I had two and a half servings of rice. Love seafood lunch!

YUUUUM!!!!
Just took a photo, no swimming.

Ahhh, I definitely missed the beach! It’s been 8 long months! We were wearing swimsuits underneath our clothes, but after the wet morning we had, we were kind of not really in the mood to swim anymore. Also, it was really cold and windy at the beach. We realized as well that we probably wont have time to go home before going to Greenhouse Cafe so it would be a bad idea to swim and not take a shower after. I was wearing a long sleeves shirt and I was thankful I did that because it was damn cold. Needless to say, my feet were very wet because the slippers I used that day is not the type that should get wet. My feet were pretty damp the entire day.

Tampi-tampisaw lang!
Beach selfies ^^

We left Nasugbu at around 3:30pm, because we needed to get back to Tagaytay before sunset. We took a tricycle to the bus station – the bus is Manila-bound (PITX) but it will pass by Tagaytay. We decided to take the bus this time thinking that it would be faster. Well, it was actually faster. It only took us around 40 minutes to get to the boundary, but freaking Twin Lakes was evil. We were wondering what was causing the traffic when we got to the boundary and when we passed by Twin Lakes, we realized it was their fault! Literally, there are vehicles parked on both sides of the road. The distance between the boundary and Twin Lakes is around 2km. We were in traffic for an hour in that very short distance! It was freaking annoying. I mean, if you are going to make your spot a tourist attraction, at least have a decent parking lot for all your visitors. It was so annoying. Also, if you were one of the visitors to Twin Lakes that weekend that caused this traffic – shame on you. Imagine being a local who just wants to get to Tagaytay from the boundary, and sitting in traffic for an hour. That is just so crazy.

Greenhouse Cafe

The Manila-bound bus passes by Mahogany Ave (instead of continuing on to Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway / Sky Ranch / Taal Vista) which is perfect because we could just get off the street where this cafe is located. From the main road, we only had to walk 300m to the cafe. It’s not that hard, but factor in the fact that it’s very cold and it was dark – there are no lights on this street. We were so relieved when we finally saw the place.

I actually was very worried that we might not be able to make it. According to Google, it closes at 8pm and is closed every Monday. It was our last chance, but luckily, we got there at 6pm. No more sunlight, but we still have the plants and the food. LOL. We can still dine while being surrounded by plants. Honestly though, I wasn’t very hungry then because I ate so much during lunch and it has only been a few hours since we ate. But I was definitely in the mood for some warm drink, so we all had hot chocolate again. I ended up ordering a sandwich that I didn’t get to finish.

Ah, it’s so nice to be surrounded by plants while eating! The place is really small, I think they only have about 6 tables inside. It’s a cute little place and definitely Instagrammable. I would love to go back during the day next time.

Serious mowdelling of the buntot ng tawilis and garnish. HAHAHAHA. Effort sa finger heart.
Sneaking in a pic with the plants!

Greenhouse Cafe is only around 3kms away from Wind so we can just take a trike going back. We were lucky to have befriended a lady at the waiting shed when we were about to go home. We haven’t been waiting that long but thought I should ask the lady if there are trikes passing by in that road. She offered to take us home because her husband is going to pick her up. Sometimes, it really pays to talk to strangers! If not, we would have waited there, in the dark, for God knows how long. Her husband drove a tuktuk (so we were able to try it). The back part of the tuktuk is really spacious! We were dropped off at the back gate of Wind Residences and just walked up to our building.

Fondue Night at Cafe Le Wind

Ok, this is a totally made-up place. Cafe Le Wind is literally our room at Wind Residences. LOL. I have a chocolate fondue set that I’ve had for a while but haven’t used. I decided to bring it on this trip so we can have a fondue night. We weren’t very prepared with our ingredients, and just bought what we can find at the supermarket. We ended up buying marshmallows, croutons, pear, and breadsticks. It was just a cute nightcap and we totally felt the vibe because Celine was playing random French songs on Spotify.

Day 3: Josephine Restaurant Tagaytay

We planned to go back to Taal Vista, but this is such a perfect alternative because the view of Taal from here is freaking amazing! This was our last stop before we were picked up because we wanted to have lunch first prior to leaving. Which was a really good decision because we would have been hungry in the car since we got back in Manila in the afternoon.

We ordered three dishes: crisp kangkong, chopsuey, bagoong rice, and adobo. For dessert, we had a fruit coconut bowl. I think the adobo was just your usual adobo, but I really liked the chopsuey and the crisp kangkong! I want to remake this and try it on my air fryer. ^^

Lahat ng nakikita ko ay akin! HAHA!

Bag of Beans (Summit Ridge)

We briefly visited this branch to buy some bread. It has a different theme from the main branch.

Whew, the weekend went by so fast! It was nice to take a break though and I believe we were very careful. We had our face masks and face shield on the entire time, except when we were eating and taking photos. We also used public transpo and we had our masks and face shield the entire time as well.

I am now quarantining again and had to decline some friends’ invitations to go out. I’m posting this on my 14th day of quarantine and I have been successful so far!

Talk to me~