Friday, August 19, 2016

See Baguio in a New Light via Azalea Hotels & Residences' Fun Family Tour Package

When in Baguio, where do you frequently go? For many tourists, the regular stomping grounds usually include Burnham Park, Mines View Park, ukay stores, and several popular dining places that you must have seen over and over on your Facebook feed or were recommended by family and friends.

#TeamFloresca at Camp John Hay
The next time you and your family go to Baguio, consider booking a room at Azalea Hotels & Residences (read my hotel review, here) and asking their travel concierge to help plan your Baguio holiday. Azalea can point you to new and not-so-well known destinations in the city as well as suggest activities that you and your loved ones would enjoy doing together.

pine trees and clouds on a beautiful day in Baguio

Recently, my family and I, together with several friends' families stayed in Azalea and had a great time seeing other parts of Baguio that we would most likely overlook if we were the ones who planned the trip. On our first day, after checking in at the hotel and having lunch, we went to Tam-awan Village, Baguio's Garden in the Sky, in Pinsao Proper.

entrance to Tam-awan Village
There, we feasted our eyes on indigenous works of art that feature beautiful Cordilleran craftsmanship. The village is a venue for art exhibits and workshops that aim to foster a deeper appreciation of the Cordillera people's cultural heritage. We were even fortunate to catch a group of dancers who were being filmed for a TV documentary.

a glimpse of Cordilleran culture
It was quite rainy that afternoon so we didn't get to catch the sunset that they say can be magnificent when viewed from Tam-awan (which aptly means vantage point). Our group had individual portraits done, though, by three artists. I honestly couldn't see my resemblance in the drawing made for me, but I am happy how my sons' portraits turned out.

nice portraits of my sons done by artist Ponso Dato
The next morning, we went to go horseback riding. Many of us thought we'd be going to Mines View Park where horses for photoops usually are. We didn't know that Camp John Hay has horses (without the ridiculous colors) for rent and trails to explore.

my friends' son, Ben, confidently handling his horse
I also mistakenly assumed (minus points for not asking questions!) that getting on a horse would be just a few minutes, enough for some photo ops. So I had my hubby hold my phone to take a few shots before my horse's handler led me towards a trail followed by the horses of my other companions. It was minutes later when we were told we'll be riding for about an hour along the Yellow Trail!

mother and son on horseback
Despite feeling quite bummed that I left my phone with hubby, I felt really proud of my son, Gab, who rode his horse without the aid of any handler! I, on the other hand, was worried that my skittish horse might suddenly bolt so I insisted my guide to hold the ropes all throughout the ride. I knew my butt and thighs would hurt the next day but the experience of passing through underneath pine trees and feeling the cold gentle wind on my face was worth the impending pain.

Mommy Emma and Maki
Thankfully, we met the San Juan family at a clearing so I got to ask my friend Ryan to take some photos of us while his lovely wife Emma and pretty daughter Maki rode a horse nearby. Their son, Ben, looks very comfortable on top of his own horse and went ahead with us back to the starting point.

 a lovely "prenup" shot by our son, Gab :)
Before leaving the area, we found a lot of pretty spots as backgrounds for our photo ops. Needless to say, we grabbed the opportunity to take as many as we could and I am very happy with the results. The mommies and daddies even got some great "prenup" shots! :p

a picnic under the pine trees
After the horseback riding sessions, we went to the picnic grounds where Azalea staff prepared a picnic for us. The small kids had fun running around the spacious area while the adults enjoyed the peaceful ambiance that you can only feel outdoors away from the bustling city.

hot and rich chocolate drink that's perfect for a rainy afternoon
Thankfully, we were already replete with good food by the time it started to drizzle as it happens during the afternoons during our trip. We went back to the vans and were brought to Choco-Late de Batirol, a charming place that serves hot chocolate and Filipino delicacies like bibingka and suman. There, I got to chat longer with fellow mom, Nike, who had a lot of good and funny stories to tell.

waiting for the hot choco and local delicacies
We got back to Azalea around 4PM, the ideal time when hubby and I normally go out for practice runs. So we did and roamed the roads of Camp John Hay to clock in 5.4 kilometers in less than an hour. 

one of the best places for a practice run!
After a lovely dinner at Tradisyon, Nike, hubby, our son Gab, and I made a quick trip to the Night Market at Harrison Road where I searched for a bigger jacket for James (scored two at very low prices!) while hubby happily bought a pair of Converse shoes.

parents' night out
We would have liked to stay longer but I was afraid we'd be tempted to shop until midnight and we had to get back to the videoke night bonding with our fellow moms and dads. I had fun chatting with new friends Jana and Amanda and learning that we have a lot of things in common.

bursts of colors as seen from the highway
Early the next morning, we headed out to La Trinidad to go strawberry picking. Before we reached it, we stopped by Sitio Botiwtiw along the highway to take photos of the recently painted houses that look like a huge mural on a hill. It was hard to find a good shot though because of numerous electric cables. We heard the view would be best from the top the hill across where the houses are but we didn't have enough time, nor the permission, to do so. Maybe in a future trip? :)

kids and strawberries make great combinations
Upon reaching the Strawberry Fields though, we found out that strawberries are no longer in season (they were, in fact, being sold at P100 per styrofoam pack!) so we just bought bundles of lettuce, strawberries, strawberry ice cream, and strawberry taho, which delighted the young ones and young-once.

my boys enjoying strawberry ice cream
I admired several beautiful paintings displayed on the side of the parking lot and the artist tried to sell me one but I ran out of enough cash and the ATMs were located in the city center. Too bad, I would really like to have one of those hanging in one wall of our house. Someday, I hope I could come back and help that talented artist earn extra funds for his family.

paintings for sale displayed on a sidewalk
Before going back to Azalea, we dropped by Arca's Yard along Ambuklao Road. It is a charming place filled with beautiful art pieces as well as lots of nooks and crannies for photo shoots. Aside from this nice family photo we got, check the other one included in my Azalea hotel review, here.

#FlorescaFamily at Arca's Yard
We got to try the camote pie and cloud tea at Arca's yard and they are both good! I recommend having those as an afternoon or mid-morning snack (like we did) while enjoying the beautiful views the place has to offer. 

mid-morning snack at Arca's Yard
Pretty soon, we had to go back to Azalea to pack our stuff and get ready to check out after lunch. It was such a lovely three-day trip that my family and I would definitely remember forever. I pray that my sons would cherish the memories we made together and allow those to become inspirations to also take time and be with their loved ones when they already have families of their own :)

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