Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cebu: History, Thrills, and Good Food

My family went to Cebu and Bohol almost a year ago but I didn't get a chance to write about it when I got back. So this blog post is very late but hopefully it's better late than never. :)

I decided to take my family to Cebu for my grandmother Nanay's birthday because it was her first birthday after Tatay passed away. I have been to Cebu once before, about 10 years ago, but my time was spent in Mactan. This time around, we spent a long weekend in Cebu City. We arrived on Friday around lunchtime and checked into the Crown Regency, where we had a filling lunch buffet in Wang Shan Lo (if I recall correctly, the lunch buffet is a bit more than P400). We then walked over to the nearby Robinsons Cebu to do some shopping before taking a taxi to go to Magellan's Cross.

The cross that we can see is made of tindalo wood and is supposed to encase the original cross planted by Magellan in Cebu when he first arrived here back in April 21, 1521.It's awe-inspiring to think that this cross has been here for almost 500 years now!

Right next to it is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. This beautiful church is believed to have been built using wood and nipa back in 1566 but was destroyed by fire. After being rebuilt in 1605 using the same materials, it once again burned down. After a failed attempt to rebuild it in 1628, Father Provincial Bergaño, Governor-General Fernando Valdes, Bishop Manuel Antonio Decio y Ocampo of Cebu and Juan de Albarran Prior of the Santo Niño, started the foundations of the present church in 1735. The facade itself is simple yet elegant, and the interior of the church, especially the alter, is quite ornate. There is a museum, a pilgrim center, and a religious store in the church grounds. We decided to purchase a few items like Sto. Nino souvenirs and rosaries from the store while we were there.

We headed over to Casa Verde, an American-style casual dining restaurant which was just around the corner from our hotel. I think this restaurant was a house that was transformed into a restaurant, much like Romulo's, Adarna, and La Cocina De Tita Moning here in Manila. The awesome thing about Cebu is that the food here is very cheap. I ordered steak which cost only P218. Wow!

After getting back to the hotel, I went with my brother and his sons to the Sky Experience Adventure at the Crown Regency Hotel. We all got on the Edge Coaster, a rail seat that goes around the edge of the top floor of the hotel. You can tilt the seat up to 55 degrees forward which gives you full view of the sheer drop from the top of the hotel to the ground, and it does make you a bit acrophobic. As if that wasn't enough, we also tried the Sky Walk Extreme, where you step outside the building (with harnesses of course!) and walk all the way around on a platform that has some transparent sections that allow you to look all the way down yet again. My nephews got a bit rattled from the edge coaster so we just told them to keep looking straight ahead and not down. I think the fact that one of my nephews joined my brother on the Tower Zip right before the walk added to the fear. The Tower Zip is a zip-line that takes you from the top of one tower (which is 437 feet high) to the top of the other tower 250 feet away. I didn't have the nerve to try this myself so I'm pretty impressed that my nephew actually braved this.

While I enjoyed these Sky Experience Adventure thrills, I feel almost like it was a bit of highway robbery. Guests aren't allowed to bring cameras while on the Edge Coaster and the Sky Walk, so you have to buy the photos that they take of you. And the photos are pretty expensive (I think they were about P300-400 each). The Tower Zip was the only thrill ride that allowed us to purchase a CD of the digital copies of the pictures while the rest required us to get the actual printed-out photos. (The guy at the Tower Zip photo section very nicely gave us an extra picture.)

Most of our Saturday was spent in Bohol (which I will write about in my next post), and when we returned to the hotel late at night, we decided to have another meal at Casa Verde. This time, I ordered Brian's Ribs (baked pork ribs with a sweet, tangy sauce served with rice and corn and carrots), which cost only P208! (Note of course that this was a year ago so the prices may have changed since then.) The quality of the food is pretty good and the portion sizes are pretty hefty. That, along with the cozy and homey ambience, wide selection of menu items, and good service, make this place highly recommended.

The one thing still missing from our Cebu Experience at that point was Cebu lechon, so while my brother and I took my nephews swimming in the hotel before we checked out on Sunday, my mom headed out to get some lechon that we brought back with us to Manila.

It was a pretty short stint in Cebu and there a few things in the Sky Adventure Experience that we didn't get to try, like the 4D theater and Melvins Reef Black Light Mini Golf. There are some restaurants that my friends suggested I try that I didn't get to visit. Maybe in the next couple of years, I can take my family here again. Either that or I save enough money to bring my family to Shangri-La Mactan.

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