Book of Days

Travel Up North for the 2013 Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: Not Your Usual Itinerary


I went to see the Hot Air Balloon Festival this year with batchmates. I have no idea I was the one in charge of itinerary and don’t get me wrong, I didn’t complain. In fact, I kind of like it.

Anyway, I was super busy with my project that I did not notice it was 3 days before the festival. So I hurriedly asked google for good places to visit in Pampanga. Most of the search results were restaurants and I took note of the ones with good review. I drafted my itinerary and send it to the group. I presented two options but they loved the second one. Hehe.

Disclaimer: I’m not really good in making itineraries. This is actually my first time to draft one.

I just feel the need to said that. So the itinerary went like this:

Feb 22, 09:00pm-09:30pm :: Assembly at SM Megamall
Feb 22, 09:30pm-Feb 23, 01:00 am :: On the road to Pampanga
Feb 23, 01:00am-03:00am :: First stop in The Coffee Shop at Barangay Barretto in Zambales
Feb 23, 03:00am-04:30am :: On the road to Clark for the Hot Air Balloon Festival
Feb 23, 04:30am-05:30am :: Queue for the tickets
Feb 23, 05:30am-06:30am :: Stand by for the show
Feb 23, 06:30am-10:00am :: Hot Air Balloon show
Feb 23, 10:00am-11:00am :: On the road again. Find a good place to eat lunch. I suggested Jun-Jun’s
Feb 23, 11:00am-01:00pm :: Lunch time!
Feb 23, 01:00pm-04:00pm :: Find Xtremely Xpresso then head back to Manila

My batchmates, after reading what I sent to them, were lost and did not understand my itinerary. They thought it was a joke. And I don’t blame them. Haha. It was indeed crazy. Silly me for not knowing the geography of my own country.

However, I didn’t know that we are really going to follow that itinerary. So come Feb 22 after having dinner in SM Megamall and buying some chips, Tere picked us up and off we go to find The Coffee Shop. We got there at 12:30am if I’m not mistaken and took a look at the menu. Most of us ordered the giant taco and a hot chocolate. When our order came, the taco was literally GIANT. My next problem is how to take it all down to my system. The serving is really big but the taste is just average.

After our encounter with the giant taco, we headed back to Clark Pampanga. I was really sleepy that the moment I sit in the car I fell asleep. My batchmates were teasing me because of it. They were doing all they can to keep our driver awake but there I was sleeping like a baby.

I’m glad it did not rain and that most of the balloons took off. We did not stay long in the field. At around 08:00am we hit the road again to look for a place where we can have our breakfast. During this time it was also decided that we’re going to the beach and we’re just brainstorming where to go exactly. Sorry guys if beach was not on my itinerary.

We had our breakfast in Razon’s since most of the Jun-jun restaurants we passed by were still closed. After our breakfast, we headed to Zambales. When we get there we checked some resorts but did not find one that suits our budget so we headed farther more. At 11:00am and still no luck in finding a resort, we stopped at Mang Inasal’s to have our lunch. We asked the crew if he can recommend a good resort but not that expensive. He suggested we go to a town called San Narciso.

So, off we go to San Narciso. We decided to check in Crystal Beach. Most of the rooms were booked already so we were left with a native-style cottage located near the beach. It wasn’t grand but we like it.

Here are some of the good points in Crystal Beach Resort:

  • Simple and cool cottage. Our rooms did not have air conditioning. There were only electric fans to freshen us but it was more than enough. The cottage is very near the beach thus very relaxing.
  • Breakfast is yummy. We loved the food.
  • Accommodating staff.
  • Night entertainment. The band who played was really good. One of us even thought that it was only a CD playing.

And here are my not-so-good point

  • The common Restroom. When I’m checking in resorts or looking for a room I’m very particular with the comfort room. It has to be clean.
  • Sandy wave. We didn’t enjoyed our swimming because when you dip in the beach, lots of sand will get into your swim suit. The water is clear but it is very sandy and will give you a hard time rinsing off.

Before going back to Manila, I insisted to visit Xtremely Xpresso. I don’t know what’s with the restaurant but I felt that time that we just have to be there. So after going around Clark looking for the place, we finally found it. The restaurant is not that big for an Italian restaurant but it has a cozy aura. Too bad most of the tables inside were occupied so we were seated outside.

We ordered an appetizer, pastas, a pitcher of lemon iced tea, and a gigantic pizza (so much for the giant servings :D). The pasta was superb and very tasty. I forgot the names of the pasta we ordered but they were equally delightful. The iced tea was also refreshing. I really enjoyed the food on that windy afternoon and promised myself to go back and bring more friends.

So that’s our weekend getaway up North. We spend a lot in petroleum thanks to my itinerary but it was all worth it. It was fun being with my batchmates again. It’s nice to note that after all these years we still enjoyed the company of each other.

Till our next getaway guys! I’ll try my best to keep awake by then. 🙂

So, what do you think ?