Touristing in the City: Places in Manila I went to

I went to the city of Manila recently and took the LRT to get there more than a year since I last time. With COVID cases in NCR falling, I'm slowly finding the courage to step out of my bubble area to explore places in the city. I used one of the days of my mental health break leaves at the office to visit Intramuros with my cousin. I don't mind touristing in the city. In fact, I actually missed doing this. That's the beauty of living in the Metro - there's so many places waiting to be discovered. After all, there's so many places around Metro Manila that would be nice to visit!     


It was a Wednesday, a workday, when we went to Intramuros, Manila and rode the train. I felt glad to be riding the LRT again, something I used to do on a regular basis when I went to the gym in Manila. It's a semblance of normalcy. Since it has been more than a year, my beep card value card already expired. It's a suspicion I was able to confirm when I tried to load up my value card on the machine and it said beep card expired. I bought the one-way ride card instead which was around Php20 going to Central Station. 

Belfry Cafe   

Our first stop when we got to Intramuros was Belfry Cafe located beside Manila Cathedral church. I wrote about this being one of the places in the city I want to visit earlier this year. I'm glad I was finally able to go. 


We went in the morning so we were thrilled to have the place to ourselves. I was actually surprised to see that it was a small cafe. The photos I've seen online had given me a different impression. Not that it matters in the bigger picture of things really. It's still a nice cafe to visit in Manila. 

 

My cousin and I split this chicken and mushroom pasta. It's good pasta. And I had the iced vanilla coffee.


When in Belfry Cafe, a photo dining under the bell (or near it in this case) is a must! That's the eye-catching detail in this cafe. 



Baluarte de San Diego

While my agenda for playing tourist in Intramuros is Belfry Cafe, my cousin's was to visit Baluarte de San Diego. While also in Intramuros, this is far from where the cafe is. If you don't want to walk, you can take the trike going to Baluarte. But we didn't mind walking. I particularly like to walk. I remember doing a walking tour in Intramuros with Carlos Celdran a few years back. 

Remember to bring your vaccination card (if you're already fully vaccinated) guys when you visit so you won't have to fill out a contact tracing form. Entrance to Baluarte de San Diego is Php75 for adults. 


 
Baluarte de San Diego is an open space tourist spot. Made me feel at ease because at least there's good air circulation. Also there weren't a lot of people in Baluarte. This garden area is one of the first sights you'd see when you enter the site. 



This looks like some kind of canon from the old days. Well, Baluarte de San Diego, also known as Torre de Nuestra Senora de Guia, is one of the oldest stone fort in Manila. Its design followed that of a Jesuit architect Antonio SedeƱo, 1586-1587 and integrated with the wall of Intramuros, 1593. 


  

Reinforced by a spade-shaped bulwark and known as the Baluarte de San Diego, 1663. It was breached by the British army during the Seven Years War, 1762 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1863. Ruins of the tower that remained filled-in with earth during the occupation of United States, 1905. The tower was excavated and restored, 1979-1980. Baluarte de San Diego forms part of the fortifications of Intramuros, which were declared as a National Historical Monument, 1951; then as a National Cultural Treasure, 2014. 


Under the new normal, these signs were all around Baluarte de San Diego, a reminder to visitors to practice minimum safety protocols while visiting. 

  

 


Blocleaf Cafe

We ended our Manila trip at another cafe in Malate. It wasn't originally part of our agenda but we felt it was still early to call it a day and we still had energy to explore. Found Blocleaf with a quick Google search of Manila cafes. 




  

Blocleaf Cafe is a Kinfolk-inspired cafe. Its interiors are very nice with its white walls, big glass windows and wooden furniture. It's tucked away in Malate, beside a Hop Inn hotel, it's the perfect spot to hang out when you want to be secluded from the crowd. It's quiet in the cafe too. You could read in this cafe. 



We ordered iced mocha and split this ube cheesecake for snack. Not too crazy about our order though. Well, neither of us are fans of ube but it was the only available snack in the cafe that we felt could go nicely with our coffee. The other only available food was noodles. The iced coffee was okay though I thought for its price, the glass is too small. Oh well. We chucked it up to experience. 


So that's where we ended our touristing in the city of Manila. It was a hot day mostly though it drizzled a bit during our day out. I actually got sunburn on my upper back! Note to self: apply sunblock even on your back next time if you intend to walk on a hot day! I was exhausted from all the walking we did but definitely happy about our trip. It was definitely a good way to spend a rest day; a nice change from being in the house a lot these days.