January Week 4 Photo Challenge: Edge

Home for the Berries
The lake looks badly whitewashed but I’m posting it anyway.

For this week’s photo challenge, I’m posting two images that barely qualify. Hahaha!

The photo above shows the view from the balcony of Taaleña, a restaurant in Tagaytay. Get lost in the relaxing view of the vast Taal Lake and the shroud of greenery surrounding the area with a glass of cold beer and some sizzling pulutan.

I wasn’t able to find a website for the restaurant, so here is the link to the Google search results, for those too uninspired to type and click.

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I don’t know how to describe the photo below without exposing my absolute stupidity with places and directions.

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Manila Bay and uhm…what must be a part of Metro Manila, shot from Yexel’s Toy Museum

The Mediterranean House (Nasugbu, Batangas)

Earlier this year, we decided to take a breather. We didn’t have time for a long vacation so we just squeezed a quick out-of-town trip into our toxic schedules. We decided to go to the Tagaytay-Batangas area. We love those places because they have such calm, relaxing, and refreshing atmosphere despite being so close to the polluted, nasty, and downright chaotic Metro Manila. I’d recommend them to anyone needing a quick respite after a long, rough, and exhausting day (or week–they’re perfect no matter when you visit).

The Mediterranean House Anyway, I was tasked to look for a hotel and I found the lovely The Mediterranean House (Nasugbu, Batangas) right when I was about to book elsewhere. It’s far from the five-star skyscrapers in Makati. It’s not one of those trendy boutique hotels that have been popping up in Tagaytay recently either. But. It’s. Perfect.

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The Mediterranean House (Photo from hotel website)

Now when I say perfect, of course I don’t mean that there’s completely nothing wrong. What I mean by “perfect” is that the good way more than compensates for the bad so I’d still give it a five out of five.

Booking Since our trip was less than a week away, I contacted the hotel immediately to book our stay, hoping that they still had a room available. And they did! There was just a little confusion during the booking process because for some reason, they were not receiving the scanned bank deposit slip that I was emailing as proof of down payment. Good thing they had a WhatsApp account. That worked.

Getting There On the day of the trip itself, though, some unexpected things came up–tasks plus heavy rains and the resulting traffic jam–and we got to the hotel late. We must’ve arrived 7:00 PM. Ugh.

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When we arrived

Good thing we didn’t have too much trouble finding the hotel. If you look at the map they have on their site, it looks like the hotel is quite easy to find along the Tagaytay Nasugbu Highway. That’s wrong, especially at that time of the night and in inclement weather. We wouldn’t have found it if I didn’t know that there was a sign we had to look out for along the highway. (Reading reviews helps!)

When we turned by the sign, it looked like we were entering a typical Manila neighborhood. There was a basketball court, a small church, some sari-sari stores, and a maze of houses separated by narrow passages. When you enter The Mediterranean Hotel’s gates, though, it’s an entirely different world.

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Although the trees are part of why the hotel is difficult to find, they do add charm to the place. (Photo from hotel website)

We’ve Arrived! Let me make it clear that I know absolutely nothing about Mediterranean architecture, food, or culture so I’m not about to comment on whether or not they give justice to their name. However, everything just looked and felt so magical. The moment we stepped into the lobby, all the stress, exhaustion, and annoyance due to what happened earlier that day were instantly wiped out. We just fell in love with the place.

The design was simple. There were no giant chandeliers or overwhelmingly modern interiors. There were just furniture and a few knick knacks right where they’re needed. It made us forget that just a few minutes earlier, we were struggling to drive in, out, and through narrow side streets to get to the hotel. It was the polar opposite of everything that stood around it.

Yummy Food We had a big dinner (ultra PG mode) at their restaurant Le Toit and fell in love with the them even more. We loved the interiors and the atmosphere. Nothing too grand, nothing pretentious. And we loved it that way.

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Le Toit, view from the kitchen (Photo from hotel website)

The food was equally incredible. Sadly, we have no photos. Neither of us is into that, especially when we’re starved and stressed and suddenly served that much food. Sorry to disappoint. I don’t remember what we ate exactly, but I do recall thinking that for us, our food had the right quality and the right serving size for the right price. It was fantastic.

The Morning After The following day, we had breakfast in the same restaurant and relaxed by their pool. It was the perfect morning. We talked and agreed that we just had to extend our stay. Unfortunately, the hotel was fully-booked for the day. So we checked out at 12:00 PM, and headed to the beautiful Caleruega park.

The People The entire time at the hotel, we were assisted by their friendly, polite, and helpful staff. There appeared to be no clear protocol, though. When we checked out, they would’ve let us drive away without a full payment had I not reminded them that we still had a balance!

Five Out of Five All in all, I’d still give The Mediterranean Hotel five stars. They don’t have five-star facilities or impeccably trained staff, but the place manages to be a home to its visitors anyway.