I headed out on a last minute whim to Subic a couple of days ago. It is still rainy season in the Philippines, for another couple of months. As a result, not many tourists so there are a lot of really great Hotel deals available. I got 2 great deals. My first night was at the Grand Hoya, I think. My first day was mostly looking around to check the availability of rental properties for a possible relocation from Tarlac Province. Tarlac is okay, but it is a boring place in many ways. Not much to do. I will also look at Angeles City here at some point but a shortage of availability for rental housing has driven prices up some. Personally though I really want to be by the ocean, where I find myself more peace and relaxation. Another reason I like the Subic Bay is for the Subic Bay Photography Society, a group I will have to check out if I relocate there.
Now my timing was not exactly ideal, as there was a typhoon/tropical storm moving north of Luzon island where of course I live now and where Subic Bay is located. I drove through a bunch of rain on the way to Subic and was beginning to have second doubts about the trip. As I approached Angeles City, the storm let up and from Clark on, the road was cloudy but clear. Entering Subic though I could see though that the rain was building over the area. I arrived late, after 6 PM, so I got some dinner and hunkered down for the night. Rains did arrive during the night, and it was a real doozy in places. Fortunately my Hotel had both a restaurant and a bar, so no need to go out anywhere.
The next morning I began my travels exploring Subic Freeport, what used to be, until 1992, the US Naval Station Subic and Naval Air Station Cubi Point. Much of the old military housing has been turned into rental or long term lease properties. Some good deals there. But as I feared, without a car, it would be a difficult place to live as public transportation is very poor other then by Taxi’s which cost at least twice as much on Subic as anywhere else. There are some shuttle buses but they appear to be few and far between and from what I hear, not on a reliable schedule.
After my initial looking around I decided to Visit Vasco’s Hotel, bar and Maritime Museum. The food is great, the ambiance superb. It is a roofed open air restaurant and is a pleasant place to eat at any time of year. The breeze off of the bay provides “natural” air conditioning. The food is very good. I like to go by there any time I am in Subic. The most relaxing place I know of to have a good meal and enjoy a beer in a totally relaxing and unique environment.
As usual the food was great. Following are a few photos taken from the railing at Vasco’s Restaurant. You can see how the water comes right up to the edge and the restaurant actually extends part way out into the water. I need to make a trip just to properly photograph the place and all their decorations.
ON TO HARLEY’S PUB AND HOTEL, BARRIO BARRETO
I had originally planned to return to Tarlac at the end of the day but the storm was building over Subic Bay and I didn’t feel up to driving over the mountains in a Torrential downpour, not so much do to my driving skills but to the fact that other drivers and trucks in big vehicles don’t slow down at all, even when there is no visibility. So I hopped on my computer and began comparing hotel rooms again. This time I found a great deal at Harley’s in Subic, Barrio Barreto. Now Barrio Barreto is not my favorite place, it is known for its “Entertainment District” along the beach road. Entertainment as in “Adult entertainment”. Harley’s however is off the main road and I had heard a lot about them before. Plus the discount online was too good to refuse. When I was checking in, the manager told the receptionist to upgrade me to a bay view room since they had few other customers. A nice upgrade at no charge.
Harly’s is pretty much a Sports Bar type of place as far as the bar and restaurant go. It’s name is inspired by the world famous “Harley Davidson” Very popular restaurant with a wide range of expats, but you find a lot of European’s here and a great many Filipinos have told me about how good the food is. I think it is Swedish owned and the menu has a number of Swedish dishes among others. Sports there normally mean Rugby, Soccer and that kind of thing. They sometimes have some US sports like NFL. The photos below I borrowed from their website since I was too busy eating and relaxing to remember to take any of my own. Yeah, the food is THAT good. Portions were nice size but didn’t exceed my weight loss standards. I had a Chicken Mushroom Stew that was just incredible, along with a small salad. The next morning before I left I had a fairly standard American style eggs and bacons with potatoes breakfast but even that seemed to have more flavor then usual, but then again it could have been that I hadn’t had a breakfast like that in a very long time.
Oh, and the staff is very friendly and helpful if you ask them.
Here is the website for Harley’s
Now the following are a few I took from the balcony outside my room. Right before the downpour started. A power transformer blew while I was there but it only took them about 10 minutes to get their backup generator online. I was surprised though as the Electrical repair teams were out there with in an hour and working in the off and on rain. Amazing! Of course that whole area is mostly hotels, so I imagine it demands a high priority.
Harley’s is in an old building, the rooms are small but clean, but the service and food makes up for any shortcomings. And yes they do have cable TV. Of course if you are used to staying in modern American hotels and motels you might not enjoy the more basic lifestyle. The Philippines is laid back. You do have to ask the waitresses for service, they won’t bother you otherwise. Some foreigners, especially Americans seem to find this to be bad. It is just the way it is. They will seat you and give you menus. You have to get their attention when you are ready to order. After you finish eating, you will have to request your check, otherwise they will let you sit there as long as you like. This is true of most Philippine restaurants I have been in outside of major hotels. It is the nature of the country.
A few final photos. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.