Paradizoo

One of the places we visited during our last sojourn to Tagaytay City is Paradizoo. It is actually located in the nearby town of Mendez, just about 5 kms. from the city center. And while there is nothing more that makes me happy than seeing my daughters happy, I have grown tried from always going to Skyranch, which is Mischa’s favorite, and this visit to the zoo is a refreshing change from this (although we would still end up in Skyranch the following day). She was a bit petulant at first, but as kids are wont to be, she would enjoy herself as soon as we reached the animals.

It was drizzling when we came. Parking was a bit of a problem since the one they have can only accommodate, I think, 3 cars. Parking on the street outside was not an option since the zoo was on a town highway, and it was situated on a sloping part. Oh well, good thing there was only a handful who were crazy enough like us to traipse around a zoo on a rainy day.

What I liked about the zoo is that it is not very commercialized and the creatures that are inside are mostly in their natural habitats, and not caged or fenced, as bigger establishments usually do. Maybe it is because the animals are the tamer breeds – camels, ostriches, llamas, goats, sheep, rabbits, ducks, etc. Mischa was able to go inside an enclosure where she fed the animals. Both she and Maxine had fun observing and interacting with the animals.

But aside from the featured animals, there was also a huge flower garden, a butterfly santuary, a pet cemetery, of course, a souvenir shop, and a cafe. If anyone is interested, there are available cabin rooms for overnight stays.

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Bag of Beans

We celebrated Dad’s 73rd birthday a week before the actual day since we had a long weekend then. After an early check in at one of our favorite hotels in Tagaytay City, we headed off to Bag of Beans for a late lunch. I had no photos of the food we had but we availed the buffet lunch anyway. But more than the food, I enjoyed the surroundings so much. It was light, airy and homey. They have indoor sitting for those getting the buffet, and garden setup for those who are having ala carte dishes. For me, it’s a perfect place for good conversation and light banter among family and friends.

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Balay Dako

Our summer getaway usually happens during the Lenten season break. This is the only time that we are all free from school and work, and our schedules jive. When we were younger, we just stayed at home. But ever since I had kids, we have started making it a tradition to have our family outings. All for making good and happy memories!

Before we got to our final destination, we stopped by Tagaytay for lunch as we know it will be quite a while before we could check in and eat at our resort. I suggested Balay Dako because I had been reading many good reviews about it especially its breakfast buffet. But since we got around 11:00 in the morning, we just had to make do with their lunch fare, which does not disappoint.

Balay Dako is part of the chain of restaurants of Antonio’s so I was so sure that a visit would be terrific. It was a good thing we got there early enough because the restaurant began filling soon enough that it was a a frenzy by noon. Most vacationers and tourists trying to get out of Manila began pouring in Tagaytay by then. We were lucky enough to get a good table right in the middle of the room, which was designed for big groups or families. The whole place was bright and airy, and was not air-conditioned. Only the lovely Tagaytay breeze, passing through large windows, albeit covered by a net against flying insects, cooled the entire place. I have said this about a gazillion times throughout this blog but there is something to be said about old houses turned restaurants. There’s nothing but love for me for these places.

But as expected, what with it being a holiday, the service as a little slow. We patiently waited for everything as we can see that the hands of the staff were full.

We just ordered a package good for 10 persons (although we were 12, excluding the kids). I wished we had their specialty Sizzling Bulalo, but there’s always a next time. Everything was good.

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Fried lumpia
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Vegetable kare-kare
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Inihaw na liempo
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Sinigang na bangus
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Beef steak Tagalog
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Camaron Rebosado
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Chicken Inasal
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Avocado ice cream
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Ian Loves Lucy

This post is so late as this happened on the first Saturday of February. Anyhow, gosh, I am officially a wedding sponsor material. Gone are my bridesmaids days. Sheesh. This makes me feel old more than anything.

But still, I am honored because these two “kids” were my juniors at work before, and I would like to think that I have imparted something good to them and their relationship. I was even more touched that out of their five ninangs, I was chosen to deliver the inspirational message.

So best wishes, my first inaanaks! I will always be here for you.

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Tootsie’s

During our last trip to Tagaytay City, we had a late lunch at Tootsie’s per the recommendation of my aunt. It is one of the restaurants that have sprouted all over Tagaytay in the last few years that made the city one of the go-to places for people who is into food tripping. It sits right on the main highway but really doesn’t have a good vantage point of Taal Lake. The decor was simple and warm, and they serve comfort Filipino food. Specifically, most of its offerings are Southern Tagalog fare, which for a true blood Tagalog like me, is really comfort food. Everything just brought me home since I realized that I miss so much what we serve at my grandma’s home.

Pork with kadios
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Deep fried tawilis
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Sinigang na maliputo (what Ma craved the whole time)
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Tilapia cutlets
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And the best version of Turon halo halo I ever had in my entire life! I will go back for more for this!
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The Theodore Hotel

We spent the weekend in Tagaytay City with the whole family in tow. The husband and I were the only ones who were supposed to go owing to my very first stint as principal sponsor in a friend’s wedding (I am getting old!) but Mama decided she wants to go and treat us because Mischa got really good grades during the second term and she performed so well at her school’s 40th anniversary. Because it was a last minute decision, and it was a long weekend, I had a hard time finding a good deal on hotels. Most have also been booked by the time I was searching on the net. So when I saw that the Theodore Hotel still had a family room free, I booked it right away.

Although right on the Tagaytay-Nasugbu (or was that Silang) Highway, the hotel was unobtrusive and you could have missed it entirely if you weren’t looking for it. It looked like somebody’s big family house. Before we checked in, we had lunch at the Ayala Serin Mall right across the street. Then we went straight to its garage instead of doing the front door, and from there, interns helped us with our bags and led us onto the elegant hallways to the reception.

It really seemed like an elegant and well-kept house! It was very tastefully decorated, from the muted tones to the carefully picked decorations. The hotel had a total of six rooms, each with a unique design. We were given the Cherry Blossoms superior room, and as the name implies, had a mixture of modern and Japanese decor. It had two queen-sized beds and a large day bed, which fit us perfectly.

I forgot to take a photo of the bathroom but it was huge and had a very interesting design. Just a little too dark though.

Breakfast, which we pre-ordered the day before, was served on the main dining area, overlooking a well-maintained garden with an awesome view of Taal Lake and Volcano.

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The only downside of this hotel though, it had no proper restaurant. One cannot order anything else aside from breakfast. There are many restaurants in the area but as we left the oldies with the babies when we went to the wedding, this posed a slight problem when they couldn’t go out. But everything else was great in my opinion! I loved the homey and clean feel of the place.

Out of town anniversary

Hooray for another family milestone! We’re officially six years and counting, five of them official. And to celebrate, we decided to go out of town this time. Since we do not have a big budget to consume, the logical choice is Tagaytay City because it is just a little more than an hour’s drive from our place. Also, it gives you a sense of being away “from it all” because it has a totally relaxed, cool vibe as opposed to Manila. It has a year-round cool climate making it the quick getaway place, especially for those who do not have a lot of time to spare but want to escape the city.

We got ourselves a room at the Taal Vista Hotel, one of the oldest and classiest hotels in the city. There are a lot of new boutique hotels that have sprouted in the famous hangout in the last few years. They all seem inviting but I still found it best to have full service that hotels offer. Our room was a bit old but furnishings are still okay. Baby immediately found her place in the king-sized bed.

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Since we just drove around lunchtime in time for check in at 2:00 p.m., we had lunch first at Leslie’s at the Sky Ranch. By the way, we just walked from the hotel as the complex was just next door. We feasted on inihaw na tawilis, hubby’s favorite, and bulalo.

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Sky Ranch is another relatively new project of SM holdings. The theme park is quite new, and is home to the tallest ferris wheel in the Philippines. the Sky Eye. It has a variety of rides for kids and adults alike, a sizable area for horseback riding, restaurants, and other food stalls.

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The little has been insisting to ride a real horse even before we left the house. So happy she got her wish.

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And played and rode to her heart’s desires.

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Here she is while waiting for me to get dinner, which we had at our room. By the way, the Kenny Rogers restaurant there sucks big time. Took us more than thirty minutes to get our food.

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Winding down after an afternoon of fun.

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The hotel also boasts a sumptuous breakfast buffet ranging from healthy choices to tasty but cholesterol-full food. Guess who chose which. harhar.

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Mama and Lolo also followed and spent some time with us. We all wanted to go to church together but it was early for the three of us (hubby, Mischa and I) so we settled for mass held in the hotel premises (good thing they have these!).

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She happily ran around the wide expanse of grass. A good respite from always sitting around the house or in school. The only thing she wasn’t able to do was swim in the hotel pool. Unfortunately, it was brrrr-ery cold during our stay. We promised her we’ll come back a second time.

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After checking out, we drove a little further still to Sonya’s Garden in Alfonso for lunch. Will tell you more about it in my next post.

I wish we could always do this, steal time and hide from the world. So good to be with just family and nature. Thank you Lord God for giving us another year together, and looking forward to the next big things You will give our way.