Text & Photos: Christian Jay B. Quilo
IF YOU know your local natural wonders, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Legazpi is Mayon Volcano. But if you think Mayon is the only thing worth seeing in this city (like I initially did), think again. When my sister and I chanced upon a good deal on a direct flight to Legazpi a couple of months ago, we didn’t really know what to expect. Granted this was a six-day trip, we thought we would run out of things to do halfway through, but we were proven wrong. From the little adventure we had, let me share with you some must-sees, must-dos and must-eats when in Legazpi City.
As a fan of the dish, this was definitely number one on my must-eats list. There’s no better place to try the Bicol Express than in the Bicol region itself, right? But to my surprise, the Bicol Express there was a tad different from the versions we have here in Cebu. Albay’s version is less creamy (made with less gata or coconut milk, I presume) and visibly cooked with more shrimp paste and much spicier, with chilies of different colors (green, red, orange).
Mayon Stuffed Pizza
As one dish — if not THE dish — Small Talk Cafe is known for, we had to give this a try, regardless of the one-hour wait, which your server tells you when you order this dish. Technically, the Mayon Stuffed Pizza is a calzone stuffed with the region’s specialties: Bicol Express, Laing and Pinangat. The moment you slice open this behemoth, all the good stuff oozes out. This is definitely a must-try if you’re looking for something unique to eat.
There are a number of ATV companies in the city but we opted for Your Brother Travel and Tours, which proudly boasts itself as the ATV tour company of choice of Hollywood actor Zac Efron during his visit to Legazpi years ago. My sister was the designated driver while I was seated behind her and his son sandwiched between us as I clung on for dear life in the exhilarating and nerve-wracking journey through rocky and wet terrains.
Mayon Lava Front
The ATV package we availed goes all the way to the lava front. At the halfway point where you park your ATV, you take a quick 10-15 minute trek that takes you to the lava front of Mayon where you stand on lava rocks from one of Mayon’s previous eruptions. Armed with decades of experience, our guide Kuya Caloy went through the trek with ease like it was part of his daily routine (because it probably is). Did I mention he has some creative direction for your photos, too?
Albay Park and Wildlife
To be perfectly honest, it’s not impressive in terms of size or diversity of animals but if you have kids with you on your vacation, they might enjoy a trip to this mini zoo-slash-park. Some of the attractions include a playground, bouncy house, a little Jurassic Park-inspired garden with dinosaurs, and some bikes for rent (which we tried).
Embarcadero de Legazpi
The Embarcadero is a waterfront strip mall near the port area. It was basically a ghost town when we went there in the afternoon as this place truly comes alive at night when the bars and restaurants lining the area open shop. Nevertheless, it’s a great place for a late afternoon walk. And yes, you can also see Mayon from here. It’s also a good place to shop for souvenirs like we did!
One activity you can do here is the raft ride. For P150 per raft, you will be taken around the lake. The experience was quite relaxing, with everything so quiet and peaceful. Free from any building or power cables, you can see the Mayon Volcano from here, just begging for a photo.