It was a beautiful Sunday morning the day before Spain beat the Netherlands and won the World Cup when I decided to bike around the downtown Manila area. Nice to know bikes are allowed on Roxas Boulevard. It was also nice to see that it was pretty clean and had "masajistas" and "manicuristas" practically every twenty feet. A Sunday morning foot massage and pedicure by the bay? Um. Ok.
First stop, Luneta Park. Not quite sure what the rules are regarding bikes in the park but I wasn't bothered by any security force. I was pleased to notice a little restaurant for "rent" at the area behind the Rizal monument though. A cool little gazebo with a kitchen ready to be turned into a cafe (above). Yo! Secretary Lim of the DOT. There is mondo potential for tourism at Luneta park. This would be an awesome Manila branch for "Cafe by the Ruins" or "Le Bistro Vert" or something like it. Just a thought.
This is the view of the Rizal monument from the cafe entrance.
A really cool anti-drug and pro Rizal Park poster.
Second stop, the National Museum of the Filipino People at Agrifina Circle (view of Agrifina Circle from the NMFP. Really cool architecture. Really cool aircon and great exhibits (check out The Spoliarium of Juan Luna). And best of all, it's FREE on Sundays (as in, you don't need to pay a cent to get inside). A great place to go for a cheap date.
Third stop. Intramuros. Checked out the Puerta Real gardens. I gotta say, former Intramuros Adminstration Director Ana Maria Harper did an excellent job in reviving the gardens around Intramuros. In the last ten years that I have been going to Intramuros, I have never seen the landscaping of Intramuros look this good.
While I was there, I bumped into a nice couple who recognized me from the blog. I totally forgot to get their name. So rude of me. I hope they read this blog and tell me who they are. Apparently the lady's sister is getting married and having her reception at the Puerta Real. Good choice.
The chambers of the Puerta Real have also been converted into a little museum where much of the IA's collection of carved granite is on exhibition. Nice touch. Very organized.
Also checked out the new gazebo at the Bamboo Garden of Fort Santiago. Another great project by Bambi Harper. Director Lim. I hope you reappoint her. Just sayin'.
Third stop. The new hotel in Plaza San Luis called the White Knight Hotel. Interesting. I like the new color scheme and the bright chairs. Looks like a nice mix between hip and historical. They open at the end of the month I hear. I will definitely check in. Of course. Once again, done under the watch of former director Bambi Harper.
Fourth stop: Ristorante dela Mitre. Which I think translates into: "Restaurant of the Miter". Located at the CBCP building (formerly Immaculate Conception High School) in front of San Agustin Church, apparently RDLM will be an Italian restaurant and cafe.
Ristorante Dela Mitre will be run by the Catholic Church I hear. And I believe it. When I checked it out, there were nuns helping out in the decorating. There was also a piano and a flat screen TV showing Catholic documentaries. The last touch was a bit odd. I hope the food will be good enough to overlook it.
It will open on the 15th of July. Pretty cool to see Intramuros beefing up it's tourism infrastructure and nice to see the Catholic Church helping out. I hope we can keep this momentum going. I'm seeing major leaps and strides in the improvement of the walled city. I would love to see some continuity.
Final stop: Santa Clara Street, a nice little alley around the corner from Fort Santiago. Looks pretty authentic. The building to the left is a dormitory/hostel.
The Madrigal Dormitel (Tel. 5211123 or 5212151 or 91758217510) Great architecture. Built in accordance to Intramuros Administration's official aesthetic standards, it really looks like a building from the 19th century. Hard to believe that it's got air-conditioning, wi-fi, and a back-up generator in case of brownouts.
Then I biked back home. All in all, it was great to see that downtown Manila's potential for becoming world class still exists and that biking REALLY is viable in downtown Manila (let's make a bike zone/radial garden/seaside and parkside pedestrian zone all the way from the CCP to Chinatown. It's totally possible.
Will go biking out again next Sunday. I'll see what else there is to find. Feel free to join me if you wish.
Next stop: Ermita. Gotta explore that. I'm sure it's the next big thing.