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The Nagaland was just what I needed after Burias Island … aircon, hot water shower, cable tv, furniture, and clean.
CHANGE OF PLAN:
I was now in the ‘end game’ of my time in The Philippines … and, slowly making my way north to Manila. I was flying out to Mexico on the 12th of July.
I decided to fit in 2 more destinations en route: Marinduque Island and Puerto Galera.
To get to Marinduque, I had to get to Lucena City.
NAGA CITY TO LUCENA CITY:
Google Maps shows a railway from Naga all the way to Manila … it passed through Lucena.
I thought that a train might be a nice change, so I walked down to the Naga Train Station to enquire.
Due to typhoon damage, the line to Manila is closed. Parts of it are open … but not all the way. From Naga City you can only go as far as Sipocot. Sipocot is only about 40kms north of Naga.
I walked to the Central Bus Terminal to enquire about buses.
There are 4-5 companies going to Lucena from Naga. The prices range from PHP450 to PHP850 one way. The quality of the bus and the seats is reflected in the price.
All of them have a bus leaving between 8:00am and 9:30am. I chose the 9:30am DLTB bus. The price was PHP600.
The next day, I was at the bus terminal by 9:00am. The bus was late … we started loading at 9:30am and left at 10:00am. The bus was very comfortable and we watched 2 movies on the way – I much prefer this to Minivan travel! For a 6-7 hour journey like this, GRANDPAckers are best to avoid the cheaper buses.
There was no toilet on the bus itself. We stopped for 30 minutes twice on the way: 11:30-12:00am and 3:30-4:00pm. The latter was a bit frustrating because it was only 5kms out from Lucena City.
The DLTB bus does not stop in Lucena City proper; I was hoping that it would stop at the Central Bus Terminal. But, it drops you off on the main highway north of town. The traffic entering Lucena was congested, so I wasn’t dropped off until 4:30pm. Where they dropped me off was as far away from my hotel as our 2nd rest stop was. If I had known, I would have saved myself 1 hour and caught a Trike from the 2nd rest stop to my hotel.
It started to rain, so I took shelter for 30 minutes and waited for the rain to clear before finding a Trike. There is a Trike stand next to where the bus dropped me off. The first Trike wanted PHP100 to take me the 4km to my hotel. I declined. The second Trike wanted PHP70. I declined. I walked 50m down the road and hailed another Trike. We agreed PHP50 and off we went. PHP50 is as per my rule of thumb.
WHERE TO STAY:
I did my normal thing and pre-booked my hotel online. I knew that the bus to Lucena took 6-7 hours, so I booked 2 nights.
I searched all of my usual online hotel sites. As usual, there were very few accommodation options within GRANDAcker price range.
MY HOTEL – CASTLE BERNARDINA HOTEL:
In the end, I found the Castle Bernardina on AsiaTravel.com and booked a Deluxe Double room.
The room was PHP1,033 / night PLUS 22% taxes (PHP1,300 / night – which is OVER the GRANDPAcking target of PHP1,200 / night). This included 1 free breakfast. BUT, I had an AsiaTravel Discount Voucher worth SG$15 (I got it by reviewing one of AsiaTravel’s new hotels). After applying this voucher, I got the room for PHP1,000 / night.
In reality, it is on a very noisy street next to a very noisy shopping mall.
Even at its full published rate of PHP1,300 / night, the Castle Bernardina is a ‘budget hotel’ standard.
I specifically asked for a room with good in-room wifi when I made my booking.
England were playing Slovakia in the Euros on my first night and I wanted to stream it in the morning … The in-room wifi was so bad it was barely usable.
Otherwise, the room was OK.
The room was clean and comfortable … and it had a little balcony that looked out onto the shopping mall.
The ensuite was a reasonable size and the hot water shower was good.
The free breakfast was good too. On the menu they had a choice of 8 breakfasts. They bring your breakfast to your room on a tray. When I ordered mine the first morning they only had 1 option available: corned beef with rice and egg. That was the one that I was going to order anyway!
I didn’t get to see the city center. I was only in Lucena to get to Marinduque.
But, I did spend a few hours looking around the shops in the SM City Mall.
The trip from Naga City to Lucena City is a long one but an easy one.
It took me 8.5 hours door-to-door and cost PHP670. Two GRANDPAckers should budget PHP1,270.
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