After my overnight girls-only Shangri la Mactan getaway, I discovered the priceless benefits of what 24 hours away from it all can do for one's sanity.
I have since dubbed this as my much needed and deserved "mini break".
Something to turn to when the going gets a little too rough.
This July, I was able to do my second 24 hour mini break -- very different from the chic, colorful, sunny, snazzy and sophisticted Shangri la experience but extremely gratifying nonetheless.
The mini break started right after lunch on a Friday afternoon. My friend and I were off to Tagaytay, to spend a night at the much vaunted and talked about Sonya's Bed and Breakfast. Since we would be passing along the Sta. Rosa road, I made sure that we would stop for a late lunch at this restaurant that I had been wanting to try.
Cecil's Cafe is just past the strip malls of Sta. Rosa and Nuvali and is tucked away into a little two story building -- don't drive too fast or you'll miss it completely.
The interiors are warm, homey and have this "country" feel. The walls are decorated by souvenirs from the owner's travels abroad. Everything is done to enhance a comfortable and cozy atmosphere.
When we arrived, the chef and owner, Cecil, was busy behind the counter, but she still called out a friendly and welcoming hello.
This is the real reason why I wanted to try Cecil's Cafe. The sign outside said that Cecil's was the new home of the (then) famous Green Patio fresh lumpia. And true enough, the coasters are still from that now defunct restaurant. I have many yummy memories of Green Patio, which used to be in the old Greenhills Arcade in the 1990's. They served very good Chinese food but the killer draw was the fresh amoy lumpia.
We ordered the lumpia and it was as filling and tasty as I remembered it -- with a freshly made egg crepe wrapper and all the wonderful vegetarian filling. Cecil came over to our table and said that her mother in law used to own Green Patio Restaurant and passed on the lumpia's secret recipe to her. In addition to the lumpia, which is listed as a specialty of Cecil's, the cafe also serves pasta, salads, cakes and pastries.
But of course, nothing beats this fresh lumpia -- this will make me come back to Cecil's again and again!
After the late lunch, it was onward to Sonya's Bed and Breakfast.
I had been to Sonya's Garden before, but had never experienced staying overnight.
My friend warned me there would be no t.v., no air conditioning, no swimming pool --but there would be a spa, vegetarian food, silence and solitude. That would be more than enough for me.
As we entered the bed and breakfast area, closed off to all except those actually staying there for the night, a riot of shrubbery, flowers and this pretty little fountain set the tone for the rest of our stay.
A sign reminds everyone that this is a place where loud laughter, boisterous talk and karaoke (all mainstays of Pinoy week-end getaways) are anathema to all.
An overnight stay at Sonya's includes dinner and breakfast. The meals are served in a pretty cafe, surrounded by greenery. Starched linen tablecloths, mismatched but colorful china, polished silverware and vases artfully decorated with flowers freshly picked from the garden give mealtimes an old fashioned and genteel elegance.
Dinner consists of Sonya's famous all you can eat salad, greens grown in her gardens are garnished with fresh fruits like mangoes and jackfruit plus there are singkamas strips, eggs and my favorite, dried pop beans or patani.
I am a little too greedy and make myself a huge portion, drizzling Sonya's secret dressing on top. So good and guiltless too!
After the salad, the friendly and efficient waitstaff bring the pasta course, again it's mix what you want and eat all that you can. There are two pasta sauces, one that is tomato based and one that they call cream of chicken. Small saucers of mushrooms, capers, sun dried tomatoes, strips of salmon belly and a vegetable ratatouille are also on the table -- so you can mix and match the toppings with your chosen pasta sauce.
After dinner, we take a walk towards the spa where we have booked treatments for tonight. Sonya's Garden offers so many nooks and crannies like this daybed draped with a lace canopy. Throw pillows with colorful crocheted covers make this a comfortable and inviting place to sit, to talk or just to while away the hours.
Sonya's has this wonderful spa that offers relaxing and stress relieving treatments. Tucked away in a corner of the garden, it's something that you mustn't miss.
The signature massage is unique and different and took out all the kinks and knots in my neck and back.
After the massage, it was time to head to the room. As this sign says, "enter and find a world of beauty".
My friend and I stayed in a villa which had its own little garden with a stone fountain. So quaint and so pretty! Fairy lights lit up this path at night which made it even prettier.
We enjoyed this huge and spacious room -- with three queen beds and the most comfortable and soft pillows and mattresses. Three beds are too much for just the two of us but we loved the abundant space.
The next morning, this large basin of flowers floating in water made for a lovely start to my Saturday.
It was back to the cafe for breakfast -- this wall along one side features different types of china in various patterns and designs.
Breakfast is Filipino and home style -- there is a talong omelet, daing na bangus, scrambled eggs, a mango chutney and chicken and pork adobo along with garlic fried rice. As in dinner, eat as much as you want and they will refill the plates with what you like and need.
After breakfast, this 24 hour mini break was about to come to an end. Before leaving, we made sure to stop off at Sonya's Country Store that sells organic products grown in her garden, items like bed spreads and pillow covers made by the women in the nearby community and even the gorgeously scented soaps and lotions used in the spa.
Then it was time to drive off for the road back to Manila and to real life. This second 24 hour mini break was vastly different from the Cebu break but both served to remind me that no matter how busy I am, there should always be time to stop, smell and enjoy the flowers!