Moments of Serenity near Buzzying JY square

“Tops My friend, where do you go? Tops?” The Habal2 driver is shouting, and so are his five colleagues, but I almost still can’t hear them over the honking of dozens of cars that desperately try to make it across JY square before the traffic light switches back to red. Kids run by screaming with joy, the vendors advertise fruits, peanuts, sunglasses and music is blaring from McDonalds.

JY square is many things, but it’s not quiet.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a break from all the buzz, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place of Serenity nearby? You’re in luck: there are a bunch. These three are our favorites.

Marisse Patisserie

Hidden inside the 32 Samson compound, you need to gather the courage to enter the gate of this fancy place to find the oasis that is Marisse Patisserie. It’s a quaint little café, situated in green surroundings at a pool, which separates the Patisserie from KAYU Kitchen bar, an upscale restaurant.

Of course Marisse has the usual coffee and tea specialties, but where it really shines is with pastries: a whole array of self-made, delicious pastries. Here a small selection and we’re not even showing any of the cakes:

Three of the four outer walls are glass, so there is plenty of sunlight, even if you choose to sit indoors. If you occupy one of the outdoor seats, you’ll be rewarded by the smell of trees and the sound of the wind.

Definitely a retreat like few others in the busy town of Cebu.

Circa 1900

From JY walk to Jollibee and turn left into the dark alley that is Sanjercas Ville Road. Now keep walking down the dimly lit road all the way to its end … haha that sounds like a bad idea, right? Trust me, you’ll be delighted.

You probably have seen the gleaming church of the Latter Day Saints and you might have been to La Vie Parisienne for a glass of sparkling wine—tucked away behind both of them is Circa 1900, an upscale restaurant compound with two houses and a swimming pool. More important than that, it’s without a lot of other things: there is no traffic, no karaoke and no crowd.

circa 1900 in Jy square

Sudlon Tophills

You already feel a bit of solemnity seep in, when you pass the Sudlon bridge and turn left towards the Ecotech complex. Less traffic, less people, mostly government offices. Breathe.

Then, right in front of the Ecotech gate turn right and climb up the hill and you suddenly find yourself on a hill overlooking Peace Valley: Welcome to Tophills.

Tophills is home to sitio [NAME OF SITIO/VILLAGE] and side-lining as a golf training ground. During the day you can go here for some green and for the view. Don’t expect it to be quiet though: there is a basketball court and people are living nearby.

But when Tophills really shines is at night. Head there with friends, sit on the lawn and enjoy the view over Cebu, a sea of lights spread before your feet. With plenty of dark places, Tophills serves as a retreat for couples, too. And on a cloudless night, it’s also a decent place for stargazing.

All in all, I was amazed to find realms of quiet near this ever busy hotspot of JY square.