warming up in cool pine city

I wore a few layers of clothing. Wrapped a scarf over my neck. And drank a bottle of wine each night.

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At first we were reluctant to go on a long planned trip to Baguio City with Turo’s family early this month. Known as the “summer capital of the Philippines” because of its high altitude and cool weather (well, cooler than most parts of this tropical country), Baguio City is a favorite destination by those who feel like cooling down.

Turo’s sister, who now lives in Singapore, came home for a short visit, and wanted to go way up to the City of Pines. Reluctant travellers we may be, because the kids had school and I had tons of work, we packed our family-sized duffel and were all set, just a few hours after we decided that we were coming along for the trip.

We travelled for about 10 hours from where we lived in Los Banos, nearly half of that spent on seemingly endless stopovers. Hey, stopovers are great family bonding and a perfect excuse for sipping a cup of good coffee. Then maybe we spent an hour stranded along Marcos Highway, just inches from the vacation house waiting for us in Legarda Road in Baguio. Our van broke down (and never got fixed until the time we went home) in the wee hours of the morning. Our vehicle had no early warning device, and were waving buses and cars off our tail while freezing in the cold at the same time.

Thankfully, we were in Baguio City, and nobody ever seems to get hot-tempered in here. And so even without our vehicle, we enjoyed our several days of ‘cooling down’. Riding taxis to any part of the city is ultra-convenient. Although, we didn’t do too much sightseeing because they’re the same places anyway. And we didn’t want a share of tourist-filled spaces. We were happy to be lying around in the cold, chatting away, and taking things really slow. The way vacations are supposed to be.

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The kids went biking in Burnham Park. Turo and I shopped for vegetables, strawberries and Sagada oranges at the city market, and cooked lunches for the rest of the pack. Still, Camp John Hay remains our Baguio favorite. Uri was eager to hunt for pine cones, which we are supposed to put up in our Christmas tree by the end of the year, as per our children’s orders. Turo and I were eager to stretch out on the grass and watch our kids grow their pine cone collection.

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But the best part of wandering about in Camp John Hay while looking for clean toilets close by, is stumbling upon a branch of Titania Wine Cellar, right beside Le Monet Hotel. Titania is our favorite wine shop. And being able to get a familiar bottle of good ol’ wine so far away from home is just lovely. And so we walked away with Piccini Rosso Toscana, just to be safe, so even the non-wine lovers who were with us on the trip can take a nice little sip.

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Oh the power of good wine. Suddenly we were warm and cozy, and our Baguio misadventures just melted away.

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