Overnight Stay at Catadman Lodge

Typhoon Ramon forced me to get stranded at Danao City. The Philippine Coast Guard doesn’t allow any vessel to leave the pier. Because of this, I was forced to look for hotel that is affordable and located within the city. I asked one of the crew of Jollibee Danao and he told me to try Catadman Lodge.
Catadman Lodge entrance

Catadman Lodge is located in Barangay Sabang, Danao City. Visitors had to walk along a poorly maintained dirt road to get to the lodge. Catadman Lodge can easily be reached from center of Danao City. Just go to the public terminal across Gaisano Mall and ride the Sabang bound tricycle there. Tricycle fare costs 8 pesos per person. Buses from Cebu City pass by the entrance of the dirt road to the lodge.

 The Jollibee employee is correct when he said that Catadman Lodge is an affordable hotel in Danao City. Overnight stay at lodge cost me 350 pesos. I chose the cheapest room that is not air-conditioned and doesn’t have its own bathroom. The large ceiling fan in my room is enough to give me a cool night’s sleep. My room is clean and has a bed that is big enough for me. I can say that it is perfect for 350 pesos. Visitors who chose the cheap room can use the shared bathroom, which has three separate toilets and three separate showers.
Catadman Lodge chairs and table

Any visitors of Catadman Lodge can use any of the facilities like the dining table and the bamboo shed. There is also a garden that can be used for group activities.
Rocky beach of Catadman Lodge
The rocky beach of Catadman Lodge.

Catadman Lodge is located beside the sea and visitors can go to the beach and take a swim. The beach beside Catadman Lodge is not developed, however, and is rocky. There are parts of the sea that is deep enough and suitable for those who want to take a dip.
Swimming near Catadman Lodge

The sea is cold during my stay at Catadman Lodge that’s why I did not swim. I just went there to take some photo like this ruined boundary wall of Catadman Lodge. I am practicing the rule of threes when taking a photo.
Catadman Lode seawall

Anyone can check in anytime and the check out time is 9 AM. So, if you are in Danao City and looking for an affordable place to sleep then you should try Catadman Lodge. You can call the cellular phone number 0919-6950588 for inquiries. Catadman Lodge is open 24 hours.

Rainy Day Stroll in Danao City

I said in a previous post that Typhoon Ramon forced me to be stranded in the City of Danao. Instead of skulk and be pissed off by the typhoon, I used the whole day to roam the center of Danao City and see what the city has to offer.

Danao City is located in the Province of Cebu. It is connected to Cebu City by oversized multicab (Cebu version of jeepney) and public utility buses. Danao City is famous for its cottage industry of hand guns that started before the Second World War. Gun making is currently illegal but many people still flock the city to buy paltik and other hand guns.

Danao City doesn’t look like a city for me because it is far cry from the cities in Metro Manila. The town has one mall, which is Gaisano Mall. The mainstream restaurants in the city are Jollibee and Mang Inasal. What I like about Danao City is the fact that it is cleaner as compared to Metro Manila. The sea beside the city is still clean and resorts abound in the coastal barangays.

There is not much to see in the center of Danao City. There are few public parks in the area and most of them have monuments. An example would be this World War Two monument located inside the public playground:

I am not sure if the statue is angry because of the death of his comrade or he is jubilant because he is standing on the body of an enemy soldier.

Of course, the Filipino icon’s statue will never be absent. Jose Rizal is guarded by a big gun in Danao City.

Located behind the Rizal Park is the Santo Tomas College, which is run by the Augustinian Sisters. Short distance away from Rizal Park is a very old church. I will talk about the Danao City church in the next post.

My walk around Danao City is exhausting. The only means of transportation around the city is the pedicabs and tricycles. Visitors to Danao City should be wary with pedicab drivers because some of them are sly and may ask 50 pesos fare for just a short distance of travel.

I would also like to praise the crew of Danao City branch of Jollibee. They are very helpful when I am looking for an affordable accommodation in the city. They pointed me in the right direction.

Little Discoveries Inside NAIA Terminal 3

I usually choose the early flights whenever I travel. The reason for this is that I want to spend maximum time to the places that I will be visiting. The more time that I have means that I have time to roam around.  More time means more travel experiences for me.

So, for my second visit to Cebu I chose a flight around 7 AM so I can reach the Queen City of the South early. The problem with early flights is that I am forced to go to the airport very early. Airlines usually require their passengers to be at the airport two hours before the estimated time of departure (ETD). I am fortunate because I chose to fly with Cebu Pacific and used their Web Check-in that allowed me to go to the NAIA Terminal 3 forty-five minutes before ETD.
NAIA Terminal 3 - airplanes

NAIA Terminal 3 is the newest terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and other airlines use this terminal. The old NAIA terminal is currently being used by the Philippine Airlines. I like NAIA Terminal 3 because it is cleaner and better looking than the old terminal. Another plus points for this terminal is it is spacious enough to accommodate the passengers that come and go in NAIA.

I got time to roam around NAIA Terminal 3 before my flight to Cebu City and I saw many interesting things.


NAIA Terminal 3 – the Unofficial Hotel


Going to NAIA for an early flight is a hassle, especially for those who live in places that are far away for the airport. Because of this, many people choose to go NAIA Terminal 3 the night before their flight and do this:
Sleeping in NAIA Terminal 3

If you have an early flight then I suggest that you sleep in NAIA Terminal 3 instead of checking into some hotel. The advantage of this is that all you have to do is to wake up few minutes before your boarding time. There is no need for you to rush from the hotel to the airport. This is also perfect for those who don’t have money for a hotel room. All you have to do is to find an unoccupied floor anywhere in NAIA Terminal 3, place some cloth and use your traveling bag as pillow. Voila! You have an instant “hotel room” right within NAIA Terminal 3. Just make sure that you stick to the wall so that you don’t block the path of other people.


NAIA Terminal 3 – the Mini-Mall


Passengers got bored when they wait for their flight. That’s why I think it is a good that NAIA Terminal 3 was developed to have a space for stores and food shops. NAIA Terminal 3 is now a mini-mall thanks to the presence of various restaurants like ever-present Jollibee, 7-11, Ministop, Pancake House and Yellow Cab.
Jollibee inside NAIA Terminal 3

Ministop in NAIA Terminal 3

Shopaholics can spend their waiting time by visiting the Mini-mall of NAIA Terminal 3 at the third floor. Assorted things can be found at the mini-mall.
Shopping in NAIA Terminal 3

Bags for sale in NAIA Terminal 3
Looking for a bag? Find it in NAIA Terminal 3.

ATMs of BPI and BDO can be found inside the terminal. RCBC also has a branch in NAIA Terminal 3.
An RCBC branch in NAIA Terminal 3


NAIA Terminal 3 Chapel


I am delighted to discover that there is a chapel inside NAIA Terminal 3. I took the time to pray inside the chapel. I asked God to keep me safe during the whole duration of my travel.
NAIA Terminal 3 chapel
Inside NAIA Terminal 3 chapel.

I highly suggest that you visit this chapel before you board your plane. 

It is time for me to leave after my visit to the NAIA Terminal 3 Chapel. I went to the boarding gate confident that God will be with me throughout my voyage.

Giant Bells of Manila Cathedral

I attended a wedding of a friend at Manila Cathedral last week. It was the first Catholic wedding that I attended and I am moved so much that my heart skipped a beat or two. My beloved commented that she felt a heavy feeling during the wedding. Me and my beloved got “emotional” while the bride is walking toward the altar. That scene is still imprinted on my mind. A bride, all adorned in white, walking slowly in a cavernous cathedral to bind herself, for life, with the man she loves. I almost cried during that long, slow, walk to forever.
Manila Cathedral

Suffice it to say that my friend's wedding went on smoothly. His guests also enjoyed the reception that they hosted in an events place inside Intramuros. What delighted me, aside from my friend's wedding, is the discovery of something big in Manila Cathedral.

While we were waiting for the wedding to start, I decided to walk around Manila Cathedral. I noticed a signboard on the left part of Manila Cathedral. The signboard points to interesting parts of the cathedral grounds like the souvenir shops, basilica office and the carillon bells.
Signpost pointing to bell garden of Manila Cathedral.

What caught my attention are the words “carillon bells” because it made me recall my visit to Cebu Cathedral Museum, which showcased very old bells collected all around the island of Cebu. I pulled my beloved to where the carillon bells are due to excitement. What I saw made my jaw drop.
Two giant bells of Manila Cathedral.
Giant bells of Manila Cathedral

The bells is truly gigantic! The bells that I saw in Cebu Cathedral Museum can be considered as baby bells compared to the bells of Manila Cathedral. The bells, which are seven in total, are housed inside the Jaime L. Cardinal Sin Ground Belfry. The ground belfry was inaugurated in April 2011 in honor of Cardinal Sin, who is the archbishop of Manila during the turbulent historical events like the Marcos dictatorship and the first EDSA People Power Revolution. The seven big bells were taken down from the adjacent Bell Tower to deload it of 17 tons of weight as a safety measure.
Manila Cathedral's bell tower
Manila Cathedral's bell tower

The seven bells of Manila Cathedral were foundered by Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling, who is considered as one of the best bell-founders in Germany after the Second World War. This fact explained the word “teutonicus” that I saw embossed on one of the bells.

According to the plaque outside the ground belfry, the bell of Manila Cathedral dethroned Pan-ay Bell in being the largest bell in the Philippines. Pan-ay Bell can be found inside Santa Monica Church in the province of Capiz. I haven't yet seen the Pan-ay Bell so I can't validate if what plaque said is true. What I can ensure is that the Manila Cathedral is very big. The bell's clapper is thicker than my fist.
Manila Cathedral - giant bell clapper
My hand touching the bell's clapper.

What delighted me more is when I discovered that the ground belfry is operational. The belfry guard told me that the seven bells can be rung for just for a small amount of donation to the cathedral. An idea struck me, I want these bells ring during my funeral.
Manila Cathedral- machine that operates the bells
The machine that makes Manila Cathedral's giant bells ring.

The ground belfry also serves as a souvenir shop of Manila Cathedral. Available inside the souvenir shop are religious items like the Rosary, images of saints and devotional books. The ground belfry is the centerpiece of the Rufino J. Cardinal Santos Bell Garden. Anybody can enter the bell garden and the ground belfry for free. Taking photos of the giant bells are allowed and the person who mans the souvenir shop is courteous.

I highly recommend that tourists visiting Manila Cathedral to also visit the ground belfry. Your visit will not be complete if you only saw the giant pipe organ inside Manila Cathedral. You should also see Manila Cathedral's giant bells.


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Other Parts of Intramuros

Working in Manila gave me the benefit to be near the historic Intramuros. I have visited the “walled city” for three times already. My last visit is when I brought an office visitor on a tour inside the “walled city.”

I always go to the usual spots during my previous visits to Intramuros. The spots that I never fail to visit are the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, the canons on the walls and Fort Santiago. Most tourists go to these spots because it is the ones listed on the itineraries of tour guides and even of pedicab drivers, who double as unofficial tour guides.

I visited Intramuros again last year to run an errand for a friend. Instead of taking the usual route, I decided to enter Intramuros through the path least taken by tourists. I entered Intramuros through Magallanes Drive. This road is directly connected to Jones Bridge and stretched along the National Press Club office. Since I am walking in front of the National Press Club office, I was not surprised to see a statue of Graciano Lopez Jaena.
Intramuros - statue of Graciano Lopez-Jaena

Graciano Lopez Jaena founded La Solidaridad, which is the newspaper used by propagandists pushing for reforms in the Philippine colonial government under Spanish rule. Being one of the propagandists and a journalist earned him the right to have a statue in front of the National Press Club office.

There is another statue on the other side of the street, just across the National Press Club office. It is the monument of Queen Isabel II, which marks Puerta Isabel II.
Intramuros - statue of Queen Isabel II
Statue of Queen Isabel II

Puerta Isabel II, which was opened on 1861, is the last gate to be built in Intramuros. The gate was part of the route of tranvia (streetcar) in the 19th Century. The statue of Queen Isabel II was originally unveiled at Plaza Arroceros. The statue was removed, stored and then placed in front of Malate Church. It was finally placed in front of Puerta Isabel II in 1975.

A short walk from Puerta Isabel II is a dilapidated building that is located near the Bureau of Immigration building. The building is called as Aduana, which acted as the Customs House during the Spanish Era. It also housed the Intendencia General de Hacienda (Central Administration), the Treasury and Casa de Moneda (Mint).
Intramuros - ruined side of Aduana
The ruined side of Aduana.

The building experienced numerous destruction and restoration. The last catastrophe was in 1979 when it was destroyed by fire. It was partially restored by the National Archives in 1998.
Intramuros - restored side of Aduana
Restored side of Aduana.

Just near the Aduana is an interesting monument that is composed of a concrete pole that has a cross with nailed body of Christ at the top. That monument is called as the Cruceiro and is popular in Spain.

Intramuros - the Cruceiro

Cruceiro or wayside stone cross are monuments established Catholics in Autonomous Region of Galicia in Northwestern Spain. The Cruceiro serves as a marker for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of Saint James the Apostle are located. The wayside cross also serves as a reminder of Divine Protection and place of prayer for Catholics. The Cruceiro inside Intramuros was donated to the City of Manila in 2002.

Before I went out of Intramuros, I managed to get a snapshot of San Agustin Church.
Intramuros - San Agustin Church during the night
San Agustin Church during the evening.

I believe that there are more things to discover inside Intramuros. All I have to do is to go to the areas that are beyond the usual routes of tourists. The Puerta Isabel II, the Cruceiro and Aduana are just few of the many things that are in store for travelers who are willing to unearth the rich history of Intramuros.

If you are a tourist and tired of the usual Intramuros spots like Fort Santiago, then I suggest that you walking to other nooks of the walled city.


Want to read more posts about Intramuros? Read my visit to San Agustin Museum. You can also read on my visit to the usual spots in Intramuros like Fort Santiago and Manila Cathedral.

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Another World at Lacson Underpass

The area around Quiapo Church is not what it seems. Beneath its grounds is another world where hidden people lurk and await humans who are kind enough to give them their cash…

 …and it is cash that they will get if you like what they sell. Pretty creepy, eh? I hope not because I am just talking about Lacson Underpass.
Welcome to Lacson Underpass

Lacson Underpass is a circular underground complex that connects the roads around the Quiapo Church. Pedestrians use this underpass to cross Quezon Boulevard. I, on the other hand, usually go to Lacson Underpass to pee because the public toilet is located there.

I got the chance to visit Lacson Underpass again one early morning. I also managed to get few photos.
Lacson Underpass is still empty of vendors

Lacson Underpass is quite empty in the early morning. Come in the late morning and you will see that vendors fill the whole area, making it hard for pedestrians to pass through.
Lacson Underpass underground stores
Still sleepy vendors in Lacson Underpass.

Lacson Underpass was named after Arsenio Lacson, who is a former mayor of Manila. This guy is quite popular because an avenue, located beside the University of Santo Tomas, was named after him. He also has monument located near Santa Cruz Church.

Since Lacson Underpass is located right beside Quiapo Church, you can expect to see Catholic religious items for sale.
Lacson Underpass - religious items for sale
Looking for image of Santo Nino? Black Nazarene? Mama Mary? You find them here.

Lacson Underpass exit
Lacson Underpass exit. To the right is Quiapo Church. To the left is Carriedo Street.


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Ikaw na Nga My Househusband

I only managed to watch two movies in the 2011 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). I am interested to watch Asiong Salonga's biopic at first because it was a long time since I saw a Pinoy action movie. I heard the issue of Manila Kingpin with its director and the botched up editing, which made me decide to avoid watching it. My beloved wanted to see Maricel Soriano starrer “Yesterday Today Tomorrow” but it was already pulled out of the Trinoma Cinema because it is at lowest end of the box office ratings. In the end, we decided to see Bong Revilla's movie, “Panday II,” and “My Househusband” that stars the real life couple Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos.

Panday is terrible because the movie was used as a political propaganda movie for Senator Revilla. I will not talk about Panday. I suggest that you to this review of the movie to understand how terrible it is. It was fortunate that we chose to watch My Househusband because it made up our afternoon that was wrecked by Bong Revilla's movie.

I expected My Househusband to hinge its story on the love triangle between Judy Ann Santos, Ryan Agoncillo and the comedienne Eugene Domingo. This expectation was borne out of the movie's TV commercial that hinted on such story. Thus, it was a relief to discover that Eugene Domingo's character is not a mistress of Ryan Agoncillo's character.

My Househusband is a story of a man who was forced to be a stay-at-home husband (Ryan Agoncillo) after he resigned on his job as bank manager. His wife (Judy Ann Santos) took the helm in earning money for the family. The movie was spiced up by the presence of their “crazy” neighbor (Eugene Domingo) who acted as their conscience, of sorts.

What I like the most with this movie is that it made me laugh. Eugene Domingo is excellent is saying her punchlines. Her scenes is not “pilit” (forced), which is unlike the way Benjie Paras was used in “Ang Panday”.

Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos' acting in the movie are good. Being real life husband and wife made them act naturally as a couple in the movie.

Of the many Pinoy movies I watched last year, I rank My Househusband as one of the best. I believe that it is one of the best movie of the 2011 MMFF.


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Carriedo Street – the Little Divisoria

I talked about the ever-crowded place called Divisoria in a previous post. I mentioned that Divisoria is the place to go to if you are looking for cheap (and bootlegged) items. My Facebook friends reacted on that blog post and they shared their own blog posts about the [in]famous Divisoria. Willy Jose talked about his Divisoria experience when he did his last minute Christmas shopping. Resty Odon posted about his thoughts about Divisoria.

The usual comment that I hear about Divisoria that it is crowded, alongside with other adjectives like cheap and affordable. The set-up in Divisoria is not unique. In fact, being crowded and chaotic is common to marketplaces around the country. Majority of palengke (market) around the Philippines is disorganized with vendors placing their wares in the middle of the streets. One place that is very similar to Divisoria is Carriedo Street, which connects Quiapo Church and Lacson Plaza or Santa Cruz Church.
Carriedo Street - Road to Quiapo Church
Carriedo Street as viewed from LRT-Carriedo Station.

The whole stretch of Carriedo is occupied by street vendors. You can buy pirated DVDs, t-shirts, toys, fruits, religious figurines, and other items just by walking along Carriedo.
Carriedo Street - street vendors
Looking for shirts? Find it in Carriedo.
Carriedo Street - street vendors
Street vendors block the entrance to some buildings like the Carriedo Arcade.

Carriedo Street is the most direct route from LRT-Carriedo Station to Quiapo Church but the pedestrians have to pass through a maze. They should be also wary of the presence of criminals who are looking for ways to snatch people’s cellphone and wallets.
Carriedo Street - crowd going to Quiapo Church
Prepare to pass through this crowd to reach Quiapo Church.

There was a time when the mayor of Manila cleared Carriedo Street of street vendors. Well, it seems that the mayor failed because they are back and Carriedo Street is full to the brim with vendors. If you are looking for an easy way to reach Quiapo Church, I suggest that you avoid Carriedo.


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Why Don't They Fix Picnic Grove Tagaytay?

Last month, My family and I went to Tagaytay City for our very first family outing. It is my nth visit to this so-called “Baguio of the South” but I still decided to bring my family to Tagaytay City. The reason for this is that it is the first time for my family to visit the place.

I brought them to Picnic Grove Tagaytay and People’s Park, which are the two most popular tourist spots of Tagaytay City. They enjoyed the trip even though they felt tired of so much walking and photo taking. Our last stop is Picnic Grove Tagaytay, where we set up our mat and had our picnic.

My father noticed many things while we are in Picnic Grove Tagaytay. He said that the toilets are not clean. The park is not well-maintained and the Picnic Grove Tagaytay admin building is dilapidated. He also lamented about the many persistent hawkers that keep on pestering the park visitors even they receive a “NO” answer. Hawkers are plenty in Picnic Grove Tagaytay and they offer many things from horse rental to “overnight rooms.” What’s not good is that these hawkers are inside Picnic Grove Tagaytay.
Picnic Grove Tagaytay signboard

I have the same sentiments in my last article about Picnic Grove Tagaytay. Many tourists, foreigners included, are complaining about these problems. The question is why the Picnic Grove Tagaytay admin taking so long to solve these problems. The entrance fee to park is a hefty 50 pesos. I believe that the hawkers inside the park also pay the admin some fees.  Why doesn’t the admin use the money to improve Picnic Grove Tagaytay?

The park’s only redeeming factor is its great view of Taal Volcano. Many people flock Picnic Grove Tagaytay and pay the expensive entrance fee just to enjoy this view. I hope that the Picnic Grove Tagaytay admin will not be contented with mediocre maintenance of the park. May they renovate the park so that people will not only enjoy the view of the volcano but also the park as well.


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A Special Moment at Sonyas Garden

Many of you correctly inferred in a previous post that me and my beloved took our relationship to a higher level. That special moment in our lives happened in a restaurant that is popular for its romantic ambiance. That place is Sonya's Garden.

People mistakenly thought that Sonyas Garden is located in Tagaytay City. The truth is that Sonya's Garden is located in Alfonso, which is about 45-minutes’ jeepney ride from Tagaytay. The garden can be reached by riding a Nasugbu-bound jeepney at Olivarez, Tagaytay. Tell the driver that you will embark at Buck Estate or Sonyas Garden. You must look at the left side of the street so that you will not miss the big signboard of Sonya's Garden. Ride a tricycle at a terminal near the signboard to finally reach Sonyas Garden.

Sonya's Garden looks like a private mansion. The reason for this is that Sonya initially intended it as her private getaway. The place was open to family members and friends only. Many people discovered the beauty of this getaway and soon the owner was convinced to open the place to the public.

There was a sort of comedy when we entered Sonya’s Garden. We entered the area where only the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) guests are only allowed. Sonya’s servants chased and directed us to their restaurant.

The area open to non-B&B guests are limited to the parking lot, the restaurant and a short walkway leading to Sonya’s spa center. The walkway is interesting because it is lined up with numerous flowering plants, benches and the “outdoor” bed that has been the icon of Sonyas Garden.
Photos of Sonyas Garden B&B, Tagaytay
This photo of Sonya's Garden B&B is courtesy of TripAdvisor.
Of course, we didn’t miss taking photos on that bed.  Sonya’s Garden also has a panaderia (bakery) where freshly baked bread are being sold. We entered the restaurant to do what we went to do, which is to eat a sumptuous lunch.
Sonyas Garden restaurant
Sonya's greenhouse styled restaurant
Sonyas Garden way to the toilet
The other end of the restaurant where the toilets are located.

Sonya’s Garden offers a three-course meal of salad with freshly-baked bread, pasta and dessert. The food is unlimited so guests can ask for more food ala Mang Inasal. Bottomless dalandan juice is included. Dining at Sonya’s costs 610 pesos per person.  The first food that was brought to our table is the salad.
Sonyas Garden green leafy salad
Green, leafy and freshly picked from the garden.

The salad tastes good, especially Sonya’s Secret Dressing. Our salad was accompanied with sliced mangoes, egg, cucumber and pineapple. What we didn’t like with our salad is the purple oxalis, which tastes bitter. Our salad was also accompanied by a piece of bread straight from the panaderia.
Sonyas Garden bread

What came next is pasta. This can be mixed either with sun-dried tomato or chicken cream with mango. The toppings are shitake mushrooms, black olives, salmon belly and cheese.
Sonyas Garden toppings
My dalandan juice, sun-dried tomato sauce and salmon belly.

My sauce of choice is the chicken cream, while my beloved chose the sun-dried tomato sauce. I tasted both the sauces and I like the pasta with sun-dried tomato sauce better.
Sonyas Garden pasta in chicken cream
Pasta with chicken cream sauce on my plate.

The last course is dessert. They served a slice of home-made chocolate cake, turon (banana roll) with sesame seeds and langka (jackfruit) and glazed camote (sweet potato). The turon and glazed camote were fine but my favorite is the chocolate cake. They also served tarragon tea, which the waitress said is good for digestion.
Sonyas Garden chocolate cake
Yummy chocolate cake.

All in all, we enjoyed dining at Sonya’s restaurant. We took our time eating and chatting and we don’t feel being rushed by the staff. I guess it took us more than an hour eating and talking about a lot of things. We felt a bit out of place at the start but that was because we don’t usually eat at a formal restaurant. The ambiance of the place, the good food, and courteous staff made us more relaxed and allowed us to focus on our food, and of course, on the special moment that unfolded for both of us.


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