Legazpi at a glance: A quick guide on what to do, eat and see in the city

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.

Bicol Express

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.

Cagsawa Ruins. This is an iconic Albay landmark, after all. A quick history lesson: The Cagsawa Ruins are the remnants of the Cagsawa Church, built by the Franciscans in the 17th century; first erected in 1587, burned down by Dutch marauders in 1646, rebuilt in 1724 and then destroyed once again by the violent eruption of Mayon in 1814. Today, the bell tower of the church stands as a reminder of Mayon’s power and the dangers of it.

ATV Tour

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!

Sumlang Lake

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.

Sili Ice Cream. 1st Colonial Grill prides itself to serve the OG sili ice cream, a dessert you can buy almost anywhere in Legazpi. We went to the Ayala outlet, one of its many branches in the city. There are four heat levels to choose from; erring on the side of caution, we opted for Level 2. While I didn’t really know what to expect taste-wise, I was pleasantly surprised: think creamy vanilla ice cream with a kick. Before you frown at the idea of spicy ice cream, try it. You’ll thank me later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *