Camarines Sur - Albay Road Trip Adventure

I have been to Albay several times already but this road trip would be a big first for me. Primarily, because it is the first time that I'd be visiting it with my wife and daughter.
However, unlike most of my road trip adventures that requires me to backpack and transfer vehicles numerous times, this adventure requires me to be a mere copilot to my dad. Well the good part about being the copilot is that I'm simply in-charge of the GPS and the sound system. I'm also at liberty to take pictures and nap anytime I want without worrying about the steering wheel. 

My job in this road trip was not limited to just being a copilot though, I was also in-charge of the itinerary. In fact I prepared two itineraries months before the trip. The first one takes us to three provinces in the Bicol Region while the second itinerary focuses only on two. It was the second itinerary which I named Camarines Sur - Albay Road Trip Adventure which we followed.
Start the adventure on an Adventure (Mitsubishi).
Though we'd visit only two provinces in the second itinerary, I made sure that we'd get to see as much destinations as possible. The first itinerary on the other hand included the province of Sorsogon but it would take us on a whirlwind tour of the three provinces. Although time is not the issue (we will be in Southern Luzon for 6 days) we still needed to be mindful of our schedules because my father also had other commitments to attend to in Albay.
Hello Naga City!!!
So how did our 6-day Camarines Sur - Albay Roadtrip Adventure go? Check out my day to day account of the trip:

Day 1 (Wed)
Our trip began very early in the morning. Since it's a weekday (Wednesday to be exact) we expect little traffic. True enough we were in the province of Quezon in just 3 hours. Normally it takes 4-5 hours to reach that province from our place. The trip went out well (with occasional rain showers though) and we arrived in Naga City in the province of Camarines Sur in about 10 hours. 
Nagaland Hotel
We drove straight to SM Naga to have our delayed lunch at RaiRai Ken, then immediately proceeded to check in at Nagaland Hotel so that we could have time to rest and visit some places before it gets dark. 
Porta Mariae
Naga Metropolitan Cathedral
After an hour's rest, my mom and aunt accompanied me to some destinations (actually churches and plazas) that are very near our hotel. We first visited Naga Metropolitan Cathedral with it's very attractive Porta Mariae.
Plaza Barlin
San Francisco Church
Naga Tumber
Afterwards we passed by Plaza Barlin and took some pictures before heading to San Francisco Church then finally to Plaza Quince Martires. We went back to our hotel afterwards but my wife and I took time to visit Starbucks Naga so that I could avail of the city tumbler that I've been collecting. Finally we went back and called it a day in Nagaland Hotel. 

Day 2 (Thur)
After checking out from Nagaland Hotel, we visited the remaining churches in the city. (Yup there are plenty of churches in Naga. Some actually call Naga as the Pilgrimage City.)
Penafrancia Basilica Minore
Our first stop is the Penafrancia Basilica Minore. Although it's not an old Spanish-era church, I still included it in the itinerary because it houses the famous image of the miraculous Our Lady of Penafrancia. 
Penafrancia Church and Shrine
After some prayers, wishes, and picture taking we headed to the Penafrancia Church and Shrine which is just around the corner. However, it was under renovation when we visited it so we gassed up and drove to our next destination.
Pasacao- The Summer Capital of Camsur...
Pasacao beach
From Naga City, it took us two hours to reach the town of Pasacao. Our goal was to visit (and swim) at the Pasacao Beach. Initially the beach was not in the itinerary but days before our trip it was shown in a tourism segment of a popular news show. My father became interested and we decided to check it out. However, when we were in Naga City, we almost passed the opportunity to visit Pasacao because we had to head back to the route going back to Manila ,but my persistence to travel to Pasacao paid off. We swam and had our lunch in one of the many privately owned huts that line up the beach. Good thing about Pasacao Beach is that it's not yet known to many and because of that, there are only a handful of tourists around.
Family time!

After enjoying the sun, we headed back to the road and drove to the province of Albay. It was an hour or two passed noon when we reached the province. There were plenty of road rehabilitation projects and road rerouting which caused our travel delays. It was on one of these road rerouting projects that we had a chance to visit a place that's not in the itinerary. 
Oas Church
Can you see the bats?
The town of Oas is usually missed by tourists because a diversion road directs the traffic away from the town center. Who knew that the town of Oas boasts a beautiful Spanish Era church? Lucky for us the diversion road was under renovation and our bladders were begging us for a stopover. These events led us to our unplanned visit to Oas Church. The church has an eye catching bell tower. I managed to get in the bell tower and to my horror it was inhabited by hundreds of bats. We didn't stay long in Oas, after a brief picture taking we drove to our next stop.
Kawa-Kawa Hill "crater"
Before it got dark, my dad tried to squeeze in one last destination in our itinerary -Kawa Kawa Hill in Ligao City. The place was quite hidden, even our trusted GPS proved useless in searching for the destination. To cut the long story short, we got lost but my perseverance paid off and after asking locals, we got back to the right track and eventually reached Kawa Kawa Hill.

We climbed the "peakless" hill and walked around it's crater following the Stations of the Cross with its (more than) life size statues. After our mini hiking adventure, we had some local ice creams as a treat. Finally, we went back to the road and drove to my dad's hometown of Camalig. It was there that we called it a day.

Day 3 (Fri)
Since our laundry already piled up, the women of the family decided to take half the day washing clothes. I spent it taking care of my baby daughter and bonding with my grandmother. After having lunch we finally continued with our road trip. We did what I call Mayon 360. 
Mayon Planetarium 
From Camalig, our goal is to go around Mayon Volcano with a stopover at Mayon Planetarium which is formerly known as Mayon Resthouse in Tabaco City. It is located midway up Mayon Volcano and it offers a great view of Tabaco City and parts of Malinao. We spent some quality hours admiring the panoramic beauty from our vantage point. Before we left, we watched the tourism video of the City of Tabaco and some historical documentaries about Mayon Volcano.
Embarcadero De Legazpi
Really?
After a two-hour drive to Legazpi City, we finally arrived at the pride of Legazpi City which is the Embarcadero De Legazpi. We had our early dinner at Bigg's before driving home. Sadly, that dinner was the worst one that we had. Even worse than that of the Clover flavored chicken that I forgot to tell you about when we stayed in Naga City. Imagine, we had to wait for almost an hour for our stone-cold dead burgers... anyways we spent the night back in Camalig wishing we skipped dinner.


Day 4 (Sat)
Probably the longest day in our 6-day adventure. We woke up early to try to ward off the negativity of what happened during the previous day. Everything seems fast paced and the next thing I know was that we were on the road to Daraga
Ortega's Pilinut Candy (the best store for pasalubong)
Ella's wondering what those things are...
My father was scheduled to attend a pre-reunion meeting with some of his classmates at Bicol University but before we reached the university we had a stopover at Ortega's Pilinut Candy. The women of the group had a great time buying pasalubong. On the other hand, I had a great time taking pictures of my daughter.
Daraga Church
After what seemed like forever, we continued on our way, but this time it was my plan that was fulfilled. I begged my dad if we could pass by Daraga Church since we were still early for his meeting and he obliged. We admired the beautiful view of Mayon Volcano from the vicinity of the historical church. After several minutes of praying and exploring the old church, we headed back to the road to reach our intended destination.

Bicol University was just a few kilometers away from the church and we reached it still quite early (despite the side trips) for the scheduled meeting of my dad. It took my dad several hours reconnecting with his high school pals so we took the opportunity to tour the campus. I had some quality time with my daughter running around the wide field and checking out the century-old tree. 

Can you see the Mayon volcano?

Tinapa rice
Chili Ice Cream
Finally, after several hours chatting with his former classmates, my dad decided to  invite his classmates out for lunch. We then drove to 1st Colonial Grill which is just beside the university. I have heard of the restaurant before and I was very eager to try out their famous chili ice cream and tinapa rice. To my amazement, they also offer other unique flavored ice cream like taro, Bailey's, pili nut and others that we also tasted.

Cagsawa Church Ruins
My wife checking out the locally made products
My sister Aya and daughter Ella in Galeria de Cagsawa
Our day didn't end there, after the hearty lunch, we headed off to Albay's most famous landmark -Cagsawa Church Ruins. We didn't just enjoy the view, we also enjoyed shopping for pasalubong and souvenirs. While everybody was busy buying stuff, my sister and I went out to check Galeria De Cagsawa which is also in the vicinity. Although it's small and requires an entrance fee, it is still worth visiting because of the numerous paintings and vintage photographs you could find (and buy) inside.
Great, it's like blowing a birthday candle 
We were planning to go on an ATV ride to the volcano but, time did not permit us, so we just spent the remaining time taking pictures of the famous Mayon Volcano (and it was fun!).
Avia Inn
After a tiring day touring the town of Daraga, we decided to check in at Avia Inn which is also in Daraga. We had to rest early because our 5th day in Albay would be the busiest.

Day 5 (Sun)
Today my dad will be attending the 1st Grand Reunion in his school. I was asked by his former classmates to be in-charge of the photography for their group (which I obliged). My parents and I went to dad's school in Baligang Elementary School in Brgy. Baligang in Camalig, Albay very early. We left my wife, sister, and aunt in Avia Inn so that they could have a longer rest (or have their own adventure).
My dad (rightmost) with his former teachers and classmates.
We spent half the day attending the said activity. It was fun to see my dad having fun with his former classmates. I got the chance to meet some of his teachers too. After the scheduled activities, we went to visit some of dad's relatives who also resides in Brgy. Baligang. Afterwards we went back to dad's house to get our stuff before heading back to Avia Inn.
Camalig Church
While we were busy, I later found out that my wife, sister, and aunt went back to 1st Colonial Grill to try the other dishes that we missed out. My parents and I , on the other hand, went to Camalig Church instead. We got back to Avia Inn late in the afternoon and started to load all our stuff to the car so that we could drive home as early as possible. 

Day 6 (Mon)
Finally, after 6 days in Southern Luzon, it's time to go back home. We checked out of Avia Inn very early in the morning. We decided to have our breakfast in a famous Filipino fast food restaurant in Ligao City.
St. Stephen Protomartyr Church
However, we arrived quite early and the fast food crew was still preparing to start the day so my sister and I went on a little walk. We reached the nearby St. Stephen Protomartyr Church and decided to have a little pilgrimage in it.

After admiring the old church, we went back and had our breakfast. Then as like any adventure, we ended our road trip with a long drive back home.

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