Legazpi City: More than Mayon

Back in Legazpi City, I immediately resume my walking tour, this time walking to Ligñon Hill from the main highway. However, it turns out that the park is closed due to renovation. All’s not lost, though, as I am rewarded with this shot of Mayon as it starts to hide behind a blanket of clouds:

Without much to do for the rest of the morning, I go to Kalayaan Park, and spend a few minutes here. It’s not a special place, especially with the clouds now covering much of Mayon’s top. But it’s a quiet pocket of the city and a good place if you’re in your anti-social phase.

It’s forever linked to Mayon Volcano, but Legazpi is an interesting city in its own right. Old Albay District, with its nostalgic buildings and bustling activities (still tame by Manila standards), exude a charming character, especially when you have a chance to interact with the warm and friendly locals.

Kalayaan Park is a quiet space just out of the Old Albay District center.
The provincial capitol fronts the Penarda Park at the center of Old Albay District.
The Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Great (also known as Legazpi Cathedral and Albay Cathedral) is the seat of the Diocese of Legazpi.
The old PNR station is a remnant of the once famous Bicol Express, a train line that connects Bicol region with Metro Manila.
Pinarik Viewdeck provides nice views of Legazpi and the sea beyond.

In the afternoon, I climb a hill just south of the Old Albay District to Pinarik Viewdeck. The area is surrounded by food trucks and stalls, although most are closed presumably because of the quarantine restrictions. It’s a really nice place to spend the afternoon, with the sea breeze blowing and the sight of the city below providing a relaxing vibe. I stay here just before dusk.

The seaside Sawangan Park is a popular spot for local families.
Its coastal location makes Legazpi vulnerable to rains and storms.
The Embarcadero is a large mall by the Legazpi port, though most stores have since closed.
1st Colonial Grill, which has branches in the city’s malls, serves Bicolano dishes, including sili ice cream and sili shake.

The weather the next day is not as ideal for exploring, with heavy clouds bringing occasional rainshowers. Nevertheless, I spend the morning exploring a bit of the Old Albay District again before moving on to the Port District. A long strip of beach south of the Embarcadero mall is bookended by the spacious Sawangan Park and the Puro Boulevard. The park is especially spacious and ideal for various activities, though the lack of people outside as well as the weather make it forlorn, not unlike one of those lonely beaches in Iceland. A few fishermen, though, are braving the large waves to catch fish.

Before going back to the city center, I take shelter in Embarcadero and explore the mall a bit. It was here, in an adjunct hotel, where we stayed more than eight years ago, so there’s a sense of nostalgia. But much of the stores are closed now – I don’t know if it’s due to the pandemic or because more malls have sprouted in the city since then.

I conclude my city tour later back in Old Albay District, this time spending my time inside a mall due to the rain. I can’t end my Albay tour without having another sample of Bicolano fare, so I have sili (chili pepper) ice cream and sili shake.

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