Hot Chocolate, Cool Weather

by Dana Smith

Boots, Scarves and Hot Chocolate

While I was planning my first trip to Baguio City, one of the things I looked forward to the most was enjoying a soothing cup of hot chocolate. Baguio is given the moniker “Summer Capital of the Philippines” for a reason, and that’s because of its cool weather thanks to its high altitude.

My friend and I arrived in Baguio City past 4am. We stepped out of the bus, still wiping sleep from our eyes. We were greeted by the smell of pine trees and a relaxing morning chill, a welcome reminder that we were no longer in smoggy Manila.

We slept for 6 more hours, and at around 10am we excitedly made the trek to Chocolate de Batirol in Camp John Hay, one of Baguio’s most famous tourist spots.

The taxi dropped us off at the entrance of Camp John Hay. We opted to walk it and take the scenic route, which was actually a rocky path of jagged little pebbles. We came prepared wearing boots and dressed in layers and scarves.

Each step we took filled me with excitement, although I have to admit I was a little distracted by the pretty flowers in bright colors in the manicured gardens beside us. I felt giddy finally seeing the brown wooden sign hanging that said “Chocolate de Batirol“, which stood out as it was framed by delicate lush leaves from a nearby tree.

The smell of hot chocolate wafted through the air as we stepped in to the quaint restaurant. We were greeted by smiling staff who asked us to pick a seat. There were long benches and beautiful tables made from stunning wood, but we opted to enjoy our breakfast outside.

We chose a small native hut covered in emerald vines and adorned with several plants, and behind us was a large garden, part of the Camp John Hay grounds that beckoned visitors to explore while waiting for their orders to arrive.  The verdant scenery was inspiring especially if you live in an urban jungle that is constantly plagued by bumper-to-bumper traffic on a daily basis.

When our steaming cup of hot chocolate arrived, we were ecstatic – truly nothing was more comforting for weary travelers who had just arrived in a cold destination. We slowly savored every sip of this comforting drink, carefully blowing air in the cup so as to avoid burning our lips.

With my cup in hand I set out to discover more of the restaurant which served as my first introduction to Baguio. Chocolate de Batirol also sold many local delicacies including hot chocolate in tablet form, peanut brittle, jams, and candies all of which are popular souvenirs.

I sat down for a few minutes in one of the wooden benches and quietly observed the other diners – groups of families and friends talking in hushed tones, smiles on their faces and sipping the same wonderful drink that I was. It was clear why Chocolate de Batirol is a must-visit destination while in Baguio: their delightful chocolate brew will bring a smile to your face.