Sunday, October 18, 2015

i gotta go! throwback: arriving in bath

taken four years ago at a pretty little cafe across the bath spa train station. a welcome respite after the morning we just had: faulty trains breaking down, hurriedly trying to figure out how to get to bath using a different route, kate finding out her things were soaking wet because of a bottle of water in her bag.

all those issues magically disappeared when we stepped inside this cheerful little place serving warm soup. shame i can no longer remember what its name is. it set the mood for our wonderful day in bath.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

staying at the discovery country suites

i'm very happy with how my 2015 is turning out in terms of travel. this month, i got to stay in discovery country suites in tagaytay. 

susie and i have always loved restaurant verbena in discovery country suites, and we've always been curious about the rooms in the property. last october, the discovery group was offering rooms at their various properties at huge discounts. so i checked out their website and found that their suites were at half off (if you check in on sunday-thursday). i hurriedly booked a random date in february, booking the nantucket suite for just Php 6,388 net, with complimentary country breakfast for two, milk and cookies at bedtime, complimentary wi-fi access and parking.

for those who will be booking their rooms for this property online, discovery country suites will send you a confirmation of your reservation by email. you have to send a signed copy of this back to them by a certain date, otherwise "the Hotel Management will have the discretion to release your room blockings as deemed necessary." i just thought i'd mention that, because most of our reservations these days are deemed confirmed, and don't usually require a response.

fast forward to that random date in february. since i had reserved in a hurry, i wasn't able to think things through and booked us on a wednesday, the day susie's car is under the number coding scheme. so that morning, i gave our little blueberry baby a hurried kiss goodbye at 630am so we could make it out of makati before seven.

on the road again.

we cruised along the skyway and were out of manila pretty quickly. we stopped for breakfast at petron along SLEX. we lingered and talked for a bit while the rain poured. i took my time finishing my oatmeal and hot chocolate, susie did the same with his coffee. i'm actually not used to not being in a hurry, and this was such a welcome pace.

at around 8am, we got to tagaytay. check-in at discovery was still at 2pm, so we had a lot of time to kill. susie drove up to palace in the sky, and we were hoping to check it out, since i had never been there, but it was too foggy to see anything. on our way back, we saw a coffee bean and tea leaf with a windmill on top, and thought it was a good place to stop and kill some time. 

cafe voila at crosswinds, tagaytay

as it turned out, the coffee bean and tea leaf is still being constructed and won't be open for a few more days. luckily, beside it was cafe voila, a restaurant with a rustic asian feel. it was so inviting, we couldn't help but take a seat and order drinks.

lovely, right?

such a shame we were still full from breakfast, because they had a pretty extensive menu.
after taking a few more photos, we went back to the car and drove around tagaytay some more. it was great to be in the city on a weekday--traffic was so light, so we were zipping back and forth between random places we wanted to see. we checked out the area where marcia adams tuscany was; sadly we didn't think to reserve a table.

we drove back and had brunch at breakfast at antonio's. susie was happy with his steak; i wasn't so impressed with my morcilla roesti (which, in hindsight, was probably the chorizo roesti, they may have served me the wrong dish). i was very happy with their banana macadamia nut spread, though! i took a jar home (P250) for the office folks, and they loved it.

we took our time with brunch, and drove back to verbena to finally check in. gela, who was at the concierge desk, received us warmly. we were checked in in a matter of minutes. it took them a while to open the door to our suite, though, there was a bit of a problem as the wooden door had expanded due to the humidity from the cold weather. this is what we saw when we entered: 

the nantucket suite

since we had booked months ago, i had completely forgotten about the room i chose. i remember favoring this particular suite in case we wanted to take the blueberry baby with us. it was even more spacious than i had expected, and tastefully decorated. even with the space, it still exuded a cozy feel; i just wanted to burrow under the covers and read a book then.

the room also had a large desk--in case you'd be foolish enough to do any work in this beautiful getaway. our suite also boasted a balcony, and an enormous bathroom. this is the room to book if you want quick access to the concierge or the restaurant, as it is on street level. it's also perfect for those who need PWD access, as you won't need to use the stairs to get to this room.

i also valued the sweet, little touches that they offer all guests. at sundown, they served us two glasses of wine and a platter of cheeses. when we got back to our room after dinner, there was a plate of yummy cookies and a pot of warm milk waiting for us. 

happy campers.
it was such a treat to wake up in such a comfy and cozy bed. we got even more excited when we realized we had complimentary breakfast at verbena! we got our pick of the restaurant's breakfast menu. the choices are pretty interesting; there were omelettes, different takes on eggs benedict, a selection of filipino breakfasts, among others. this was on top of the bread and butter that you can take from the buffet area, where you can also find cereals, milk, and juices. it was a very satisfying meal.

for the rest of our stay, we just hung out in the room and enjoyed it to the hilt. at around 12, we reluctantly checked out and bid the place goodbye. we vowed to go back. it was wonderful to find that the outstanding service we get in verbena matches that of discovery country suites. all the staff members we encountered treated us warmly, and were very professional and accommodating. 

so don't find it surprising if i post about staying in this place again. i was able to purchase accommodation vouchers for an overnight stay for P6,628.50 net. i'm very excited at the thought that i can book a stay anytime (until november 30, 2015, that is). 

check out more photos of our brief tagaytay fling

accommodation details
discovery country suites
address: 300 calamba road, san jose, tagaytay
phone number: +63 2 529.8172 / +63 46 413.4567

Sunday, February 8, 2015

disney's beauty and the beast at the CCP manila

my friend kc and i almost didn't get to see the first eleven minutes of disney's "beauty and the beast." we had made it just in time, but the first few notes of the overture was already starting to play, and the usher wouldn't let us in. we were horrified. luckily, another usher told usher number one to just let us sit on the seats close to the door; we can move to the seats we paid for during the intermission.

it didn't matter where we sat, though, as the show was highly entertaining from start to finish. i actually enjoyed being high enough to see the orchestra. as the familiar story unfolded, i tried to keep myself from singing loudly along: "there goes the baker with his tray like always..."

the voice of belle was incredibly spot on, the timbre of her voice was enchanting. gaston was appropriately annoying. initially, i was put-off by the portrayal of the beast as a whiny teenager--his movements were less than regal, a far cry from the skulking, stalking beast of the movie. but as the show went on, i came to accept this version of the beast; i also realized it made sense for him to act this way--after all, he was quite young when he was cursed by the enchantress, and being stuck in a castle with living inanimate objects probably didn't contribute much to his maturity. (sige, i-justify pa natin.)

the production design was also impressive, especially the economy of the set. there were so many things and cast members pulling double duty without sacrificing the presentation. it was all so amazing to see how they made it work.

the whole show was such a treat, kc and i enjoyed it so much. one of the numbers i was so entertained by was the beer mug dance during the "gaston" song. i also got to hear "human again," which was cut from the original movie and replaced by "something there." the song fits very well into the live production.

the entire musical ran for almost two hours, but we hardly felt it, as it was such a wonderful show. for a thirty-two-year-old like myself, seeing lumiere, cogsworth, the wardrobe, mrs. potts, little ol' chip riding on a cart tray, and even the feisty babette in the flesh (but as inanimate objects), dancing and singing the songs etched in my mind from all the rewatches, was such a thrilling experience.

i'm certainly looking forward to the next disney production coming our way.