Wednesday, 8 June, 2011
The merry month of May brought us one too many surprises that left us drained we needed to get away even for a weekend to recharge.
Yes, life knocks you down once in a while. In our case, it knocked us down so many times in such a short span of time we needed to catch our breath and snap out of this shroud of sadness. So we went out to find a little sunshine.
Except that it was drizzling when we did.
We headed to our “going away without going too far” default destination- Sofitel along Manila Bay.
Getting there was an adventure by itself. Let me take you there.
Manila has a charm all its own it’s always fascinating. Quiapo, for one, holds treasures if you care to stop by and take it all in. In the middle of chaos are the gems. The “manghuhula” or the palm readers just outside the Quiapo Church. The “pito-pito” and its family of herbal concoctions. The steaming hopia that came in different flavors. The cute little dogs being sold. Howa near the police station and its signature “pancit canton.” The di-bi-di vendors. The native finds just under the bridge. Raon, the wonderland of electronic stuff. Now we could only gape as we drove by.
After we went down Quiapo Bridge was the old Metropolitan Theater which cried out, begging to be saved from its rundown state.
As we neared Roxas Boulevard, we were greeted by streamers bearing our national hero’s face. Jose Rizal sparked a conversation on Philippine history.
Then we came upon a familiar sight- a man carrying two distinct Filipino traits on his shoulders- diskarte and the Filipino ingenuity. He was hawking Mickey Mouse snow globes and those nodding dogs. He was one of those making a living selling unusual “finds” like fishing rods, bonsai cactus, helmet or bubble-makers in the middle of the street!
We passed by the American Embassy and this- not the Diamond Hotel but the one beside it. RM Center was where I spent 6 memorable years as a copywriter.
Then we knew we were near when we passed by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Then finally, Sofitel.
Why do we love Sofitel?
Because it’s peaceful out here.
The view of the bay is soothing and the breeze here is much cooler. That particular afternoon was made even more beautiful by an intimate wedding. Lovely.
We booked a Luxury Room but the charming Front Desk Manager, Ron Manalang, gave us a room in the Club Floor. The rooms were more spacious and the view was even more breathtaking. Thank you.
I’m a sucker for little things like a good robe and a soft pair of slippers.
Those little things that make you feel good, I fall for those. Like a beautifully made-up bed.
A side bed made for quiet reading and endless munching.
The Club Room was beautiful, thank you.
Our youngest loves the pool. There’s a kiddie pool and a slide for the kiddies so he’s usually left alone in the deeper side of the pool. And the lifeguards stay until 10PM.
Look how the pool is set against the view of the sky and the bay. It felt like we left Metro Manila.
And there’s a once a day magnificent show- the spectacular Manila Bay sunset.
We make it a point to wake up from our afternoon nap to catch this.
The sunset is always capped by favorite drink from the Sunset Bar. I think they now call it the Treasure Island. Still… priceless!
After the sunset and the swimming, there’s always a surprise waiting for us as we go back to our rooms. The view. Manila by night.
No wonder we always sleep like babies.
Waking up is always a challenge and that morning we woke up late as usual and missed the breakfast crowd. So you could say we were just in time.
Ralph, the friendly face in Spiral, told us it was crazy earlier that morning. We met Ralph during our first stay in Sofitel and he made us take with us those little bottles of jam and jelly on our tables, saying, “So you could have the Sofitel experience at home.” Because of Ralph, coming here always feels like coming home to friends. Thank you, Ralph!
The coffee is pressed in front of me. What a day starter!
The bacon is always oh-so-crunchy I could cry. That morning, I caught the last serving. My youngest missed it.
The Spiral Breakfast Buffet is a favorite. The bacon, the Chef’s Special, the pudding, the danggit, the fresh juices. It’s the no-fail-breakfast buffet.
That particular morning, I discovered something new- the wonderful world of cheese!!! This was my plate of liverwurst, cold cuts and cheese. Later on, it was just cheese.
After breakfast, we went back to our beds.
It’s always nice to be left alone and to do nothing for a change.
Life sometimes leaves you exhausted and bruised.
We like it here because it’s quiet and the people are warm and friendly. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
And it feels good to find home away from home.