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An Alien in Spain - Visits Philippines (Cebu City)

At the end of the 5 hour bus ride from Maya to Cebu City a Taxi cost me 150 pesos (2.35 euro) for the ride to my Hostel of choice, "Food District Hostel"(Booking .com) which was in Cebu Central and a 2 night stay only 1476 pesos (23 euro). It appeared my luck was holding out as on arrival I found I had been upgraded to a private room in a nearby 3 star Hotel that they owned and were renovating although still in my preferred district- Result

The private room turned out to be a family room which would have been great if travelling with others but no complaints from me.

As it was late a quick reconnoitre of the area showed that it lived up to its name of a food district and I sampled some of the delicacies on offer before getting a good nights sleep ready for a full day of sightseeing tomorrow.

My day started early with a ride in a Jeepney. This is a popular brightly coloured Philippine vehicle that is based on a Jeep and carries up to 20 locals along their set route for ridiculously cheap rates . My 30 minute ride cost me 7 pesos (11 cents)

At the end of my Jeepney ride I was at Plaza Independencia where across the road I spotted a sign which summed up the feel of this part of town perfectly. Cebu was discovered way back in the 1500's by a Portuguese sailor in the service of Queen Isabella of Spain a guy called Ferdinand Magellan. Funny to think of a sovereign in Spain ruling a country 7,600 miles away. Weird fact there are 7,641 Islands as of 2017!!

So across the square is what I had come to see, Fort San Pedro, originally made of wood but rebuilt from stone in the early 17th Century. The fort is Triangular in shape and the oldest bastion fort in the country. The fort has been well maintained with an information centre at the entrance and a picture museum set on the first floor above. The entrance fee is only 30 pesos (0.47 cents) and this will include a private guide should you so wish. I was lucky to get a student studying history who was excellent, well informed and allowed plenty of time to take pictures well worth the 100 pesos tip.

The Fort had two walls facing the sea and one towards the land and was heavily armed with cannon that are still in place and recently one was uncovered buried in the fort that still had a cannonball in it and was so old it looked as if made from wood. Now on display in the gardens.

Pictures in the upstairs museum of past life were very interesting and I couldn't resist getting involved between King Lapu Lapu and Ferdinand Magellan

The whole tour took about 45 minutes and well worth the entrance fee.

A short walk took me to my second destination which was designated by the holy see as The Mother and Head of all churches in The Philippines. The Basilica del Santo Nino was founded in 1565, the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country and is built on the spot where the image of the Santo Nino was found during the expedition of Legazpi. The icon (a statue of the child Jesus) is the same one that was presented by Magellan to Chief Rajah Humabon upon the Royal couples christening in 1521. It was lost and found 40 years later by a soldier preserved in a box. The current building was completed between 1739-1740 and Pope Paul VI made the church a Basilica in 1965. The Church is the centre of devotion and pilgrimages to see The Santa Nino from all over the Visayas.

A very short walk will bring you to the exact spot that Ferdinand Magellan planted the cross when he discovered Cebu back in the 1500's and has been a revered spot ever since. The cross is now housed in a structure to keep off the elements with a picture story told on the ceiling.

I was informed that Colon Street which was nearby was one of the oldest and most interesting streets as well as a font of street food, however, i found this not to be true and my only bit of good fortune was to find a young man selling telephone sims on the street from whom I purchased a Smart Sim for 40 pesos (0.63 euro) and then had it topped up in a local shop to give me 2 GB of data and unlimited texts for 7 days for only 120 pesos (1.88 euro) so google maps and Uber came into play - Result.

As it was past lunchtime I searched around the backstreets and unfortunately can't point you to the delicious food I found in one of the said streets but it is worth the voyage of discovery if you are in the area and a soup with pork and side dish of rice, sweet and sour prawns washed down with a sprite set me back 160 pesos (2.50 euro). Thank you Beth & Analyn.

Refreshed I decided to get in touch with Uber Cars which are good in The Philippines and my car found me in the street within 5 minutes and for 171 Pesos (2.68 euro) whisked me off to the other side of town to The Taoist Temple. If your not impressed think Hammersmith to Leicester Square (London) or La Zenia to Torrevieja (Spain) for less than 3 quid - now your impressed.

The Taoist Temple is situated in the Beverley Hills sub division of Cebu Cuty and set 300 meters above sea level has commanding views over the city all the way to the sea. The Temple was built in 1970's by the substantial Chinese population in a predominantly catholic city and is like stepping into another world. Be warned there are a lot of steps to be negotiated to the top but adequate places to stop for a breather on the way. The grounds are kept immaculate and a feeling of peace and tranquillity abound. I took an hour to look around although you could stay longer but be aware there is nowhere to get water or refreshments

so take some with you.

Oh, yes, did I mention there is No admission charge but you are forbidden to take pictures inside the temples.

The Uber back to my Hotel was even cheaper at 125 Pesos (1.96 euro) and a short walk took me to I.T Park which apart from being the I.T Centre of Cebu has a multitude of restaurants to chose from and after dark there is music and entertainment to be enjoyed. This brought me to the time to return to the hotel and start packing in readiness for the journey tomorrow morning to my next destination - Panglao

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