Casa San Pablo.
My friends Edeena, Joy, and I went on a weekend roadtrip to San Pablo. It's known as the Viaje del Sol, a route from San Pablo to Quezon. Let me just quote the brochure/map because it describes the Viaje del Sol route beautifully --
"...a gentle arc with rays pointing to unique soulful places. Follow our route, trace the highway from San Pablo, Laguna to Tiaong, Quezon and catch the sunlight as it runs through charming country inns, off-the-beaten-path cafes, and inspiring artists' studios. We call this charming route Viaje del Sol: the way of the sun. Take it as a simple suggestion, a witty road map, a guide to a cultural loop, a lure to an adventure, or just a reason to run away. We've linked these special places because we'd like you to experience Laguna and Quezon in the most unexpected ways -- its magical tales, its creative spirit, and its deep roots in plantation life."
PLACES TO GO
Colette's Pasalubong (San Pablo City): Drop by Colette's on your way home for some freshly baked Buko Pie. It is open 24 hours (the main branch, that is. It is beside Caffe Curio). If you want a tour inside their baking facility, call Nory Malimban at 049 5626754.
Casa San Pablo (Brgy San Roque, San Pablo City): This is one of my favorites. Quite charming and the service, quick and friendly. It's a cozy bed-and-breakfast, although they also accept visitors for lunch or merienda. Casa San Pablo has a country charm with beautiful gardens. Rooms are decorated in shabby chic style and has nostalgic feel to them.
According to the brochure, "Casa San Pablo is also a writer's retreat. Each room has a writing desk, a collection of Philippine literary works, and enough serenity to help the words find their way any writer in residence."
Casa San Pablo accepts workshops and seminars for groups up to 40 people and families on vacation. They have sprawling grounds, basketball court, family pavilion, and a swimming pool.
For reservations, call or text Boots Alcantara at 0917 5268628 and 0920 9624083.
Patio Verde (San Pablo City): If you love ihaw-ihaw, this is the place to be. They do it with perfection here, so go, order some pork liempo or tuna belly.
They are open from Mondays to Saturdays, 10am to 10pm. Call them at 049 5627346.
Kusina Salud (Brgy Sta. Cruz, San Pablo City): This rustic, charming resto is owned by the renowned fashion designer, Patis Tesoro. The food is exquisite, prepared in organic ingredients.
They also offer spa services. How perfect could it be? On Sundays, they offer lunch buffet for P400++ (adults) and 250++ (kids).
For reservations and inquiries, call 0921 7726985, 049 2466878, 02 7265058.
Carlito's Workshop (San Pablo City): Meeting the artist, Carlito Ortega, is nothing short of an inspiration. He is smart, hospitable, and quite an amazingly soulful artist. His home sits in the middle of a beautiful garden which he designed and landscaped. Enjoy rice coffee here and breathe fresh air and art.
Open on Saturdays. If you want to visit on weekdays, please call them to give prior notice: 0919 8377755, 049 5620351.
Villa Escudero (Tiaong, Quezon): Experience coconut plantation living and go back in time. See the grand mansion of the Escudero family. Enjoy the Labasin lake.
Lunch is served at the waterfalls of the hydro-electric plant while your feet is soaked in running water. How cool is that? You can swim at their fresh water swimming pools or go lake rafting.
Overnight stay is P3000 per head, day visit is P800 per head with free lunch at the waterfalls. Visit the museum for free! Call 02 5210830.
Other places worth-visiting in the Viaje del Sol route --
Sampaloc Lake Tour (Sampaloc Lake, San Pablo City): Call 0917 5016694.
Pilar's Plants and Novelties (Brgy Sta. Cruz, San Pablo City): Call 042 7105753, 0917 8737982.
Kinabuhayan Cafe (Dolores, Quezon): Prior Booking required. Call 0917 3680054, 042 5656828.
Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden (Brgy Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon): Reservations must be made with a minimum of five persons. Call 042 5459144, 042 5458689.
One more thing: Take lots of pictures! These places are enchanting with lots of charming little nooks. Enjoy!