Sunday, February 26, 2012

Discovering More of the Queen of the South Cebu

And so my job at the Asian Poker Tour as an event organizer has brought me back to the Queen of the South, Cebu.  But this time the event happened after the rush of the infamous Sinulog Festival was over, where blessings of rain droplets poured on the parade and spectators and had us all soaking wet last year, not to mention got me really sick afterwards.

This year the number one poker tour in Asia (ehem) went back to Cebu for the second APT Asian Series Cebu, and, of course, gave me another chance, and a longer one, to explore Cebu after the event.  After a taxing week and a successful poker event, it's time to de-stress and unwind!

After more than a week of missing, video calling and desperately counting the days, Yan finally flew to Cebu for  the vacay part my Cebu trip.  Original plan was to visit Camotes Island, but due to the earthquake which shook Cebu and its people, plans got blurry. Yan and I ended up not joining the Camotes trip, and made our own City tour and beach getaway.

When our "most anticipated guests" from Manila arrived at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino (where the APT event was held), we went to Zubuchon in One Mango Avenue to have lunch.  I first experienced this one of a kind cholesterol high when we visited Cebu last December for a series of pre-event meetings. Click here to read the post about this food trip.  

And then Yan and I decided to spend the day relaxing, and just begin with our sight-seeing the following day.  So there we were, lounging at the pool of the hotel just before sunset.

Photo by Yan Suñega

Pool Aquarius
Photo by Yan Suñega

THE ORIGINAL AA BBQ

Came dinner time and we went out to look for the well-known AA BBQ.  Believe it or not, we literally followed the smoke of the barbecue, as how the three kings followed the star to reach Baby Jesus, to get to the restaurant.  Now that sounds silly.  We thought we're on the wrong track and were prepared to have dinner somewhere else until we smelled and saw that smoke. 

The Original AA BBQ
Photo by Yan Suñega

The restaurant was jam-packed, but luckily we found seats in no time (This is me believing that this is truly my year and I am just so lucky in everything I do).

AA BBQ is truly a haven for barbecue lovers!  It is like the seafood-paluto type of restaurants we have in Manila, but this one offers everything barbecued or grilled, from different kinds of meat to the usual grilled organs (isaw, betamax, balunbalunan, etc.) we see in street corners to seafoods to the kids' and kids at heart's favorite, hotdogs. 

You pick, they grill.
Photo by Yan Suñega

AA BBQ is located along Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City.  Just took us about 10 minutes from Waterfront.
To read the full post about this food trip, click here.


TOPS SKYLINE GARDEN

After dinner at AA BBQ we hired a cab to take us to Tops where you can see a nice overview of Cebu.  We paid the cab driver PhP 600 to take us there, wait for us, and bring us back to the hotel.  At first I was hesitant about the price, but when I saw the view from the top, I was happy we decided to push through with it.

Tops Skyline Garden is like a hang out place in high altitude.  There's a store where you can buy drinks and snacks.  There were also souvenir shops and others which were already closed during our visit.  The drive to this place had us hanging on to our seats, it was no joke.  But the view was indeed exhilarating.

Photo by Yan Suñega

Photo by Yan Suñega

There's an entrance fee of PhP 100 per head.  
This is worth the visit I could say.  Night time is the best.

The next day we checked out from Waterfront and had lunch at Golden Cowrie.  This restaurant is also a must-try if you are visiting Cebu City.  The Filipino dishes are superb!  Their Crispy Pata is the best-seller.  We also loved the Blue Marlin dish. 

This is also located along Salinas Drive in Lahug.  From Waterfront, you can take a 5-minute walk or ride a jeepney from the other side of the road (IT Park side).

Golden Cowrie Restaurant

We transferred to a budget hotel in the city called Cebu Business Hotel which is just walking distance to the tourist spots we intended to visit on that day - Basilica de Sto. Niño, Magellan's Cross and Fort San Pedro. I booked our room through Agoda.com for only PhP 1,019 per night.  We stayed here for only a night.


BASILICA DE STO. NIÑO and MAGELLAN'S CROSS

After checking in and leaving our luggage in our room, we started the day's city tour.  We walked to Basilica Sto. Niño, and luckily found a mass ongoing.  There were just so many people.  The mass was being held outside the church with a very big screen and an altar on the stage. 

Photo by Yan Suñega

Photo by Yan Suñega

Photo by Monique De Jesus

Photo by Yan Suñega

We lit candles, and prayed. And then visited Magellan's Cross. which is located inside the Basilica's patio.


Photo by Yan Suñega

FORT SAN PEDRO

And then, conveniently located 5 minutes away from the Basilica de Sto. Niño, Fort San Pedro was our next stop.  There's an entrance fee of PhP 30 per head.  

Photo by Yan Suñega

Photo by Yan Suñega

Photo by Yan Suñega

They were preparing for an event when we got there.  And we saw a group rehearsing a traditional dance.

Photo by Yan Suñega

SKY EXPERIENCE ADVENTURE AT CROWN REGENCY

After the historical sites visit, we decided to go to Crown Regency Hotel and Towers for the Sky Experience Adventure.  We took a cab which cost us only PhP 60 to get there.

We took the Sky Trio package for Php 990 which includes: Sky Walk, Edge Coaster, buffet dinner and a 4D Movie Show.


Photo by Yan Suñega





The entire day was just so fun, and left us really exhausted.
For more details and to view my full post about our Sky Experience Adventure, click here.

TABUAN MARKET

The following morning we started the day early and went to Tabuan Market to buy some pasalubong.  We just took a cab from our hotel, we paid PhP 75.

Photo by Yan Suñega

Mountains of dried fishes and other dried seafoods welcomed us.  First thought was: this is exactly what we wanted!  And so we happily shopped for Cebu delicacies to bring home.  No worries if you plan to bring to your flight some of these delicious danggit as they come in thick plastic packs and sealed properly.  Don't forget to haggle! ☺

Photo by Yan Suñega

PORTOFINO BEACH RESORT MACTAN

After an hour of haggling and shopping at Tabuan Market, we went back to our hotel to check out, and then took a cab to Portofino Beach Resort in Mactan.  We paid the cab driver PhP 400 (fixed rate).

It took us about 45 minutes to get to Portofino from Cebu City.  Weather was not what I expected for a nice afternoon at the beach.  We had lunch at the restaurant inside the resort called Beach Point Lounge with an awesome view of the sky and ocean. Wonderful.

Photo by Yan Suñega

Their standard room has one king size and one single bed which costs Php 3,500 per night and includes breakfast and entrance to swimming pool.

Photo by Yan Suñega

We spent our two days here hanging out by the beach - drinking, reading, munching on chips, listening to music, bonding while our toes were dipped into the sand.  Heaven. :)

Chillin' like a villain... again.
Photo by Yan Suñega

Portofino Beach Resort
Photo by Yan Suñega

For more photos, details and contact info, view my post about our stay at Portofino, click here.


Here's the summary of our unplanned and spontaneous Cebu itinerary:
(which is very strange to me, it's a first!)

9 Feb (Thu)

1:00 PM    Lunch at Zubuchon in One Mango Avenue, Cebu City
2:30 PM    Back to Waterfront Cebu City Hotel to rest and swim at the Pool Aquarius
7:00 PM    Dinner at AA BBQ
9:00 PM    Tops Skyline Garden

10 Feb (Fri)

1:00 PM    Check out 
2:00 PM    Lunch at Golden Cowrie
3:00 PM    Check in at Cebu Business Hotel
3:30 PM     Basilica de Sto. Niño
                  Magellan's Cross
4:30 PM     Fort San Pedro
6:00 PM     Skywalk Extreme
6:30 PM     Edge Coaster          
7:00 PM     Sky Observatory       
9:00 PM     4D Movie Show

11 Feb (Sat)

8:15 AM    Tabuan Market
9:00 AM    Breakfast at Colonade Supermarket (near our hotel)
11:00 AM  Check out, Departure to Mactan
12:00 PM   Arrival at Portofino Beach Resort

12 Feb (Sun)

1:00 PM    Departure from Portofino Beach Resort
1:30 PM   Arrival at Mactan International Airport
                 Lunch at Kiosk in Waterfront Mactan 
                 30-minute Massage at the airport
4:40 PM   Departure from Mactan International Airport
6:00 PM   Arrival in Manila

As seen in our itinerary, we had a quick massage at the airport before our flight.  We we're expecting this massage the whole time we're in Cebu, and quite frustrated we did not get any decent one.  Massage at the airport was not bad at PhP 130 for 30 minutes, especially if you're killing time.  Before that we took our lunch at this cafeteria located at the parking lot of Waterfront Hotel Mactan, just across the departure gate.  Most of the patrons here were employees.  Food's really cheap.

This Cebu trip gave me a whole new different perspective and feel about this place.  It's now not just a mere venue location of an event in my job, it's a fun place filled with awesome memories. ♥

See all TRAVEL posts.

Beach Love at Portofino Mactan

My Cebu getaway with Yan ended in a beach.  We spent our last two days munching on chips, drinking beer, reading a book, listening to music and just enjoying each other's company by the shore of Portofino Beach Resort in Mactan, Cebu.

Photo by Yan Suñega
We did not book ahead at any resort, so we had last minute look up of possible resorts on the internet the night before the beach day.  I was able to phone Portofino's landline number the next morning, and, again, luckily we got a room!

After our quick trip to Tabuan Market early in the morning, we checked out from the hotel where we're staying at Cebu City and hopped into a cab to take us to Portofino in Mactan.  The cab ride to the resort cost us PhP 400.

Their standard room has one king size and one single bed.  It costs Php 3,500 per night, and includes:
  • Welcome drinks for two
  • Breakfast for two
  • Entrance to swimming pool (where you can only enter once as you have an entrance stub)
The resort was huge with cottages for guests' rooms all around which I found really spacious.  This place was truly relaxing with all the space and the greens surrounding you.


Photo by Yan Suñega


Photo by Yan Suñega

The resort is beach front, with several tents which mostly were occupied by day tourists during our stay.  I guess this is a common situation at the resort because there's no restriction in bringing in food and drinks so many tourists bring pots and baskets of food for the whole family to share.  Had we known, we should have brought food from the city for lunch as the food in the restaurant was quite pricey.

Photo by Yan Suñega

When we arrived, we had lunch at their restaurant called the Beach Point Lounge.  The food here was really good I must say!  Food prices range from PhP 200 to Php 500 per order.

Photo by Yan Suñega
After lunch we headed to the beach and found an unoccupied tent at the far end of the shore with no tables and chairs, which was perfect because we really wanted to sit on the sand and hang out.  After a few minutes we moved out from the tent and closer to the water.

Photo by Yan Suñega
Photo by Yan Suñega


We had dinner at the same restaurant in the evening where we found ourselves as the only dining customers they have.  There was a 3-man acoustic band performing love songs in time for the upcoming Valentine's Day.

Photo by Yan Suñega
Photo by Yan Suñega
We had Sinigang na Baboy and Blue Marlin Teriyaki Steak for dinner which were both very delicious.
We spent around PhP 600 - PhP 700 for each meal in this restaurant.

Photo by Yan Suñega
Photo by Yan Suñega
The next morning we had breakfast at the same spot where we had our lunch the previous day.  Breakfast was superb too!  Breakfast for two is included in the room rate.  We both had Filipino set breakfast.

I love this spot!

We hang out by the beach again, and then had a quick dip in the pool before taking a shower and preparing to leave the resort for the airport.



Photo by Yan Suñega
Generally, I enjoyed our stay in Portofino.  Even if we found the room lacking of amenities like electric kettle,  phone, glasses, and other toiletries, we still managed to request for some of these.  The staff were really friendly and accommodating.  

The downside of our room was it has no phone which made it difficult for us to contact the front desk or housekeeping for any inquiries or needs.  We had to go to the restaurant, which was not that near from our room, to call for the front desk.  However, not all rooms do not have phones, only those at the far back side of the resort.

Check in time is 2PM, and check out time is 12PM.  We managed to extend ours up to 1PM.


You can reach Portofino through this mobile number: 0922 822 0672.
Portofino Beach Resort is located at Bo. Angasil, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines. 


We just asked the front desk to call for a cab to take us to Mactan International Airport.  It cost us PhP 250.

Photo by Yan Suñega

And that ended our Cebu getaway.
To read our entire Cebu trip, where we stayed, where we went, how to get there, where we ate, how much we spent, click here

Till the next beach escapade! ♥

See all TRAVEL posts.

Altitude Rush at Sky Experience Adventure in Cebu

Nothing exciting to do on a city tour?  In Cebu City, that could not be true.
The tallest tower in the Philippines, Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, boasts the first in the country Sky Experience Adventure, right at the heart of Cebu City, Philippines.

I have always heard and seen photos of Sky Walk Extreme, and it did not really stir much curiosity or excitement in me. But as we actually walked the "walk", it seemed too real, scary.  It seemed easy, but when you step out of the building and into the narrow ledge where you have to complete the 360-degree walk, you'll discover who's really afraid of heights. (ehem)  Only geared with an overhead safety harness, a guide will lead you around the edge of the 37th floor of the tower, stopping at each corner for a snapshot and to take it all in - the spectacular view, the surreal moment, the adrenaline rush.  



The time of the day when we had our walk was just perfect.  We started out with a bit of day light, and still walking when the darkness of the night completely enveloped the city.  Best of both worlds. (Again, I think this was because I am just lucky this year☺)

Another attraction which will make you heart stop is the Edge Coaster, located at the 38th floor of the tower, was more nerve-wracking for me than the Sky Walk.  This is the first in the world. It's a coaster for two that goes around the edge of the tower to let you enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the entire Cebu landscape.  It has a control lever that lets to tilt the coaster forward up to 55 degrees.  


And to let you experience the thrill of the 55-degree tilt (without your consent!), the coaster will automatically tilt forward, whether you like it or not, in the beginning of the ride.  And then you have the control to tilt it backwards if you're too scared. Like us!


The Edge Coaster goes around the Sky Observatory, a viewing deck where you can marvel at the city view and watch the frightened passengers of the said ride.




There are many packages to choose from. We took the Sky Trio package for PhP 990 which includes:
  • Sky Walk Extreme
  • Edge Coaster
  • 4D Movie Show
  • Buffet dinner at Sparkz Restobar
The 4D Movie Show lasts for 15 minutes, and runs different films with a 15-minute interval.  The theater is small, and just like in the 4D movie attraction of HK Disneyland, expect the sense of touch to work during the film.  But not at par with Disneyland's of course.

Dinner was pretty good too!  It's nice to seat by the glass window of the restaurant for a wonderful view of the city at night.

Buffet dinner at Sparkz Restobar

To see the prices and for more details, you can visit skyexperienceadventure.com.
Sky Experience Adventure is located at Tower 1 of Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, Fuente Towers, Fuente Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City, Philippines.  It is open daily from 2PM to 12MN on weekdays, and on weekends from 10AM up to 2AM on Saturdays and up to 12MN on Sundays.

To read about our entire Cebu trip, where we stayed, where we went, how to get there, where we ate, how much we spent, click here

Thanks to Crown Regency for throwing in a thrilling experience to spice up our city tour. ♥

See all TRAVEL posts.
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