“Hatch” – What a Match!

Being a resident of the City of Pines, I am in constant search for a cafe that suits my taste — one that serves good food, unforgettable drinks, and a “hard-to-leave” ambiance. Hatch Coffee is a cafe with a pretty laid-back vibe that is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Baguio City life. If you are up for some peace and quiet, this might be your “perfect match”.

I was in Europe when I have heard of Hatch from a friend of mine. I was told that they serve some really nice cold brew and horchata that is why I was eager to try. I was planning to visit the café when I got back home, but then, covid pandemic happened forcing most (if not all) establishments to close or limit their service. So when cafes, restos and the like were allowed to operate again, I decided to finally push my long-overdue plan of trying out Hatch Coffee one Sunday afternoon.

Prior to my visit, I had to send them a message (IG account @hatchcoffeeph) to make reservations or to ask them for seat/ table availability. You have to do this because they are for everyone’s safety making sure that social distancing would be properly observed and that over-crowding will be prevented. As of the moment, they only accommodate around 10 people at a time.

It was raining when I arrived at Hatch with only 2 other people dining. I would have wanted to stay at the garden area but since it was raining, that wasn’t a good option. So I decided to stay by the bar which offers a pretty nice view of the entire place. It is a residential home converted into a café – just lovely!

Hatch offers several cold brew (black, latte, mocha), but the star of their café is the much talked about “hatchata’, Hatch’s version of horchata which is a traditional Mexican rice drink with cinnamon, and sugar. This was my outright choice since I ain’t really a fan of coffee and that for the longest time, I have been hoping we will have cafes in the city that offer more non-caffeinated drinks, in this case, horchata.

I got to try this drink for the first time in Madrid wayback 2018. The horchata they served me then was made of tiger nut instead of rice. Then, I got to taste the classic rice derived horchata in Barcelona last year. Both are actually good but the rice one tastes better at least for me. So, how did Hatch’s horchata fair? It’s pretty good – very refreshing even if it was a rainy afternoon, it didn’t bother me that I was drinking a cold horchata. It is something I don’t mind drinking all day long. Next time I come back, I will definitely try the “dirty” version of this drink.

So what food did I order to go with my horchata? A friend of mine suggested that I get their grilled cheese but being an avid fan of anything ube (purple yam), I was ready to ignore that suggestion and from the get-go, excited to taste their ube grilled cheese. So yes, I had ube grilled cheese which was truly palatine-satiating! The ube filling in between is generous. They also have longganisa and kimchi grilled cheese, something I would want to try next time.

I also ordered a piece of their calamansi tart, and calamansi muffin. The tart taste of these calamansi pastries came in as a surprise as they came off very natural. I prefer the muffin form over the tart though. They also have several cookies, and I bought a bag of their snickerdoodle cookies as a takeaway snack.

Hatch also serves burgers and sandwiches that you might want to pair up with various cold brew — which to some maybe an unlikely combination.

My tummy and my palate are happy that we have a new café in the city that is worth the moolah – from its drinks, food, and vibe… totally a match for my taste and liking.

Hatch Coffee is located along Easter Road (#135 to be exact), around 10-15 minutes away from the city center (depending on the traffic).

Update: You can also order from Hatch via FoodPanda. So in times like this, having these delicious drinks and food at the comfort of your own home, is a really good (and safe) idea.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take eat easy.

Flower Power

Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.”

According to a behavioral research conducted at a State University in New Jersey, one way of improving the emotional state of a person – is by sending flowers. It is believed that the presence of flowers can stimulate happy feelings, and brings about positive effects on one’s social behavior and emotional being.

Here are some of my favorite flower photographs. Seeing them doesn’t require a study to convince me that they can alleviate one’s mood. These flowers are indeed nature’s way of laughing and providing laughter to people around them.

TULIPS: These flowers are often associated with Holland/ Netherlands. But do you know that they actually originated from Turkey? This quintessential spring flower, is colorful, cheerful, and a sign that warm weather is finally coming. One of the largest groups of tulip varieties, the Triumph tulip, is a classic. It is sturdy and great for cutting but also creates beautiful borders and clumps in spring flower beds and comes in a wide range of colors.

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Tulips at Emirgan Park in Istanbul, Turkey during the annual tulip festival.

ROSES. The National Flower of Morocco. Roses are considered the floral symbol of Morocco since there is a rose festival in the country every year. Roses are not just decorative flowers, but they actually have a number of health benefits too. Here are some interesting facts about the rose.

  • There are about 100 rose species and they have different colors, shapes and grow in different climates.
  • The most common species of roses is Tea Rose.
  • Roses were of great importance to Romans and Egyptians.
  • In ancient Rome, roses were grown in order to ensure that there was a yearlong supply of ingredients for cooking, ornaments and medicinal extracts.
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These are roses for drying which in turn are the source for rose oil and rose water. This was captured during a visit to Marrakech in Morocco.

SWEET ALISON. aka sweet alyssum or Lobularia maritima — a mat-forming annual or short-lived perennial native to the Mediterranean, and the Iberian peninsula (specially the Canary Islands and Azores), where it grows along the coast in rocky, sunny areas. Some says that the flowers and leaves are edible and can be added to salads, and the plant has been used medicinally in the past but people with sensitive skin may develop a rash when handling the plant, so it is probably best not ingested. This herbaceous plant in the mustard family is commonly used as a bedding plant, and is widely available in market packs at nurseries and garden centers in the spring.

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I think this variety is called “Carpet of Snow’ — a short, compact white-flowering form I got to photograph during a visit at a beach in Lisbon, Portugal.

PURPLE FOXGLOVE. From among the flowers I opted to feature in this post, this one is the closest to my heart as I have studied about this flower since my Pharmacy years at the university. My love for Pharmacognosy as a subject is due to interesting plants like the foxglove. The common foxglove, (Digitalis purpurea), is a biennial or short-lived herbaceous perennial from the figwort (some says, its plantain) family). This pretty plant is such a wonder as it is the source of various cardiac (heart) stimulants like digitoxin or digoxin, digitalin, and digitonin (collectively called cardiac glycosides) that are now used in modern medicine in the preparation of the drug digitalis.

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The purple foxglove. While it is of European origin, we actually have this in the Philippines. This one was captured at Norther Blossom Flower farm in Atok, Benguet.

Enjoy these lovely visual therapy! Take it easy everyone.

Be Benguet.

Whenever someone asks me which among the 76 Philippine provinces I have been is my favorite, I without batting an eyelash, would quip — Benguet. Bias as it may sound, but no one gets close to a place you call home.

Benguet is one of the 6 provinces that comprise the Cordillera Region. The province has 13 municipalities and 1 city. I have been to 9 of the 13 towns and it is quite a shame that I still have to set foot on 4 of them.

Anyhow, be amazed with its picturesque landscape, cool climate, and warm, friendly people — Beautiful Benguet. 🥰

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy.

SAGADA Beyond the Usual Itinerary

For a couple of weeks now, I have been feeling stressful at work. I have been planning to go somewhere the past weekend to just chill and relax but I always end up staying in bed or just giving in to the whims of my family and some friends. Also, I have always been eyeing on a possible return to Sagada because it has been a while since the last time I was there. I guess the thought of that long bus ride during weekends is just to tiring. However, after acknowledging to myself that work has been really burning me out, I made a spontaneous decision to push my long overdue Sagada return. This was further ignited when a friend of mine recommended me to stay at a seemingly relaxing place that is not yet known from among travellers and tourists.

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The next thing I know, I was already inside the 3a.m. Lizardo Lines bus, sleepy and no concrete itinerary at all. However, at the back of my mind, my goals for this trip are: to gather my thoughts and have my dwindling supply of motivation be rejuvenated.Having been to Sagada 8 times between 2007 and 2014, I have to say I have done the usual “tourist activities. So here is my “beyond the usual Sagada itinerary” over the weekend.


Staycation. Staycation at a relatively unknown (slightly operating) accommodation a good friend offered me to stay at. They call it “Shire of Sagada” Looking at the photos, you will automatically decipher why it is called such. To my friends who’ve been asking about details, I will post soon contact number and possibly rates as the owners are yet to officially launch it.

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Bring a book to read. I brought with me a Haruki Murakami book that I get to read from time to time, even in between walking and resting while trekking my way to some unknown Sagada woodlands near my accommodation.

Explore off the radar restos. I went to eat at restos/cafes that are off the tourists’ radar. It is nice to try the unpopular one’s and you’ll be surprised as to how cheap they can be. Although I went to eat yoghurt at the Yoghurt House and have a slice of lemon pie at the Lemon Pie House because I can’t help myself not to. You can’t blame me if my palate misses them after not visiting Sagada for 5 years and 4 months.

Walk – whenever, wherever. I just walked around whenever I feel like doing it. I did not want to pressure myself that I should go see this or that place. I literally just walked wherever I wanted to without a certain pace. I walked the main street stopping every now and then checking out what is new, grab some street food to munch or just go randomly take photos. I even trekked my way to a relatively unknown pine trail passing by some rice paddies.

Sleep. Rest.Having just arrived from a 3-month Europe trip, my sleep hasn’t been going well. Jetlag must’ve hit me terribly. So, I promised myself to grab as much sleep as I could while in Sagada though it was tough not to wake up really early for the sunrise. But yes, I did a lot of lazing around while reading a book.

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Try local beer! Go drink a glass of beer… At a brewery… Inside a pine forest. I may have been to Sagada several times but it was my first time to go see the Sagada Cellar Door, known for their craft beer. And even though I ain’t a beer drinker, I just had to try it since a Php250 fee is a must pay (but is consumable). I had my beer with a delicious, spicy sausage!

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Wait for the sunset and sunrise.I wanted to watch the sunset at Lake Danum, something I have done during my 2nd Sagada trip. BUT, my legs were too tired from walking so I didn’t push through. But lo, and behold! The sundown was visibly stunning when I was at Sagada Door Cellar. Despite the high pine trees, the tangerine hue from the drifting sun swathed the forest.So yes – to watch the sundown somewhere I didn’t intend to watch it – CHECK!

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As an early bird, waking up early isn’t really much of a problem. Just like my initial plan for sunset watching, I wanted to wait for the sunrise at Kamanbaneng Hill (aka Marlboro Hills). However, the same excuse as to not going to Lake Danum applies. Marlboro requires extra time and effort of walking. So when I woke up the following day, I gazed outside my window and I was greeted with a pretty sunrise. I guess my wish to view the sunrise from some place no one knows happened! Yay!

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Laugh with locals.What makes an experience unforgettable is our encounter with people we meet along the way. As I was staying at a local family’s house (being turned into a homestay), I had a great time talking with the owners. It was a happy feeling laughing my heart out while sharing stories with locals around a fireplace, which in turn kept my sometimes cold heart and feet, warm.

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It was a short but relaxing weekend in my happy place. I pray that all these good things would happen again. So there, I hope you would have the courage to treat yourself a well-deserved getaway. Believe me, the mind, the heart and the body will love this kind of pampering.

Shout out to Mitch Pelayo’s fam for having me, and to Robin for the recommendation.

Cheers to spontaneous weekend getaways! Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy.

G.O.T Memories in Dubrovnik, Croatia

I did not go to Croatia (Dubrovnik specifically) because of the series, “Game of Thrones” or the relatively new Pinoy series, “Make It With You”. I was never a fan of  GOT and I am just recently liking the latter. My desire to to visit this Balkan country came about because a friend of mine had awesome stories (years wayback) prompting me to include this country in my travel bucketlist. The next thing thing I knew, I was already booked and the rest is not history, but is shown in this post.

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And so before I am totally corrupted by my laziness, feast your eyes on how charming Dubrovnik is through these photographs! Taking it from the GOT reference, Dubrovnik as an experience is Great, Otherworldly, Tantalizing (G.O.T)! The moments I had are now some of my all-time favorites.

Both the sunrise and the sunset are magical in Dubrovnik. The Adriatic Sea is just lovely when the golden glow wraps its waters.

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Old Town Dubrovnik is probably one of the most beautiful “old towns” I have visited in Europe! Every corner is picturesque!

They also have lovely beaches with crystal clear, turquoise water that is very inviting (only that it is freezing at this time of the year – December).

I was, for a moment, lost for words… and truly happy I got the chance to experience this place.

PS: All photographs were taken using my phone camera.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy.

 

Malmö o Mahal Ako (Sweden)

Malmö is a coastal city in southern Sweden that is in close proximity to Copenhagen, Denmark. It lies at the eastern end of an amazing man-made wonder, the Öresund Bridge, a long road and railway bridge–tunnel running to Copenhagen, Denmark. It is the largest city of the Swedish county of Skåne, the third-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg, and the sixth-largest city in the entire Scandinavia.

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Some noteable sights in the city are: Lilla Torg, a cobblestone square with cafes, half-timbered houses and shops selling local handicrafts; the Malmö Castle which is a 16th-century fortress that houses nature, history and art exhibits. The Turning Torso, commanding, neo-futurist residential skyscraper and the tallest building in all of Scandinavia. It was built and is owned by Swedish cooperative association HSB and is regarded as the first twisted skyscraper in the world.

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Here are some photographs I took during a day trip to Malmö from Copenhagen via train through the Öresund Bridge.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. take it easy.

BAGA: A Spanish Medieval Village

Bagà is a Spanish municipality located at the head of the valley of the Llobregat river, at the foot of the high mountains of the Cadí range in Catalonia, Spain. The town itself is at 785 metres above sea level making this medieval community chilly in temperature.

My day trip to this place was a quiet, serene one. The town is really small with some of the following as the places that might interest you. Plus the small streets/ alleys are very picturesque too.

  • Sant Esteve de Bagà — is the parish church of the town, built between the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Paller is a neoclassical sanctuary two km outside town, dedicated to the town’s patroness, the “Virgin of the Haystack”
  • Plaça Porxada, the town’s central square, built in the 13th century
  • Placa Galceran de Pinos, another interesting gathering area of the town.
  • Parc Naturel de Cadi-Moixero, which is a lovely hiking destination in the area.

I was in Barcelona when I did this day trip trip. It is approximately 1.5 hours from Barcelona.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy.

Hallo, Oslo!

Oslo – Norway’s capital since 1814, is also its largest city and is regarded a cosmopolitan hub. Without any expectation in mind, I visited this year’s European Green Capital with a “surprise me” attitude.

The picturesque Oslo Opera House

According to the city’s official website, Oslo is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities this decade. It is a diverse centre with a richness of top-notch architecture, museums, restaurants and shopping.

Vigeland Sculpture Park
The Viking Museum, one of the many museums within the city.
Some interesting sculpture one gets to see while walking around the city.

My trip to Norway completed my desire to set foot on all 5 Scandinavian countries. I got to visit Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark wayback 2017.

Anyway, here are some of the landmarks that captivated my heart during a brief visit in Oslo, Norway.

Beautiful Frogner Park

Don’t be wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust! Take it easy.

Glamping at Valleypoint (Tuba, Benguet)

Valleypoint is a camping ground and event center situated in the mountain valleys of Tuba in Benguet, Philippines.

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They offer the following services:

Prices may changed without prior notice:

A Daytour Package will cost 500php ·

What are included:

  • – Unlimited brewed coffee
  • – Free all-day breakfast
  • – Airsoft coupon: 150 rounds rifle; or Archery
  • – Access to camper’s chill area, board games, card games, darts, books, campsite, restaurant and bar, view deck, rest rooms
  • – Free parking
  • – Up to 70% cash discount on archery & airsoft maze.

Tent Package or Glamping Experience.

The rate varies depending on the number of people. Rates are as follow: Solo – 1,350 php 2 pax – 1,250 php/head 3 pax – 1,000 php/head 4 pax – 850 php/head

  • Inclusions:
    – Waterproof, dual layer, all-weather tent
    – Uratex foam/s
    – Blanket/s
    – Pillow/s
    – Bed sheet/s
    – Flat sheet
    – Shoe box
    – Unlimited brewed coffee
    – Free breakfast
    – Airsoft coupon: 150 rounds rifle; or Archery
    – Access to camper’s chill area, board games, card games, darts, books, campsite, restaurant and bar, hot and cold shower, view deck
    – Free parking

The Backpackers Package with an overnight stay that costs Php750 per head · Check in – 2:00 PM | Check out -12:00 NN

  • Inclusions:
    – Bed bunk, blanket, pillow, curtain divider
    – Personal lighting – Personal locker
    – Unlimited brewed coffee
    – Free breakfast
    – Airsoft coupon: 150 rounds rifle; or Archery – Access to camper’s area, board games, card games, darts, books, campsite, restaurant and bar, hot and cold shower, view deck
    – Free parking

NOTE: They have 3 types of rooms available for backpackers with capacities of 4 pax, 6 pax and 10 pax. The room may be shared with others if a group is unable to fill the maximum capacity of the room.

How to Get to Valleypoint:
If you’re driving, you can search Valleypoint Campsite on Google Maps or Waze.
Campers coming from MANILA by BUS:
  1. Tell the driver that your drop off point would be at GREEN VALLEY, PETRON STATION. No need to go to the bus terminal station.
  2. Once you reach GREEN VALLEY PETRON, take a TAXI and tell the cab driver SANTO TOMAS CHECKPOINT.
  3. Once you reach the SANTO TOMAS CHECKPOINT, tell them you have a booking at VALLEYPOINT. VALLEYPOINT is 10 to 15 meters after the CHECKPOINT.
Campers coming from BAGUIO CITY (Town)
  • by TAXI – tell the driver GREEN VALLEY, SANTO TOMAS. Fare is around 120 – 150 Php.
  • by JEEP – take any jeep from BAYANIHAN (Green Valley, Dontogan, Santo Tomas.)
  • by CAR – search VALLEYPOINT CAMPSITE on Google Maps or Waze
***Note: Upon arrival at the Santo Tomas Checkpoint, tell the guards that you’re heading to Valleypoint Campsite and they will let you through.

OTHER AMENITIES:

A Camper’s Area

This is located on the level directly above the restaurant. It is considered as the visitors’/camper’s chill areas, a common space where everyone can socialize, read a book or play games. There are available board games, card games, and books. Some guests would come here primarily for photo ops, then go (which isn’t surprising because of the large bean bags in the area). However, no food is allowed here.

In-house Restaurant

While the choices of food are quite limited, the servings are generous (maybe good for 2-3 persons). The brewed coffee though is unlimited. AND the view is AMAZING!

They also have their own Art Gallery, by the way.

Take it easy. Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.