IF YOU are looking for some place to get away from the ordinariness of your day, or to have exclusive time with your family or friends with lots of photos to take and save, head to the Cebu Transcentral Highway (TCH).

At the TCH, you will find along its route restaurants overlooking mountains, flower and vegetable gardens, vacation houses, and adventure parks.

A leisurely drive or ride at the TCH on a weekend is good, but it’s better on a weekday when there are fewer cars and much fewer motorcycles and bicycles. Bikers, cyclists and vintage car enthusiasts do their rides at the TCH on weekends, so the TCH gets crowded.

On the advice of health professionals to stay outdoors if you are with a group, people now prefer establishments with open-air amenities to enclosed and air-conditioned restaurants and function rooms.

At the TCH, open-air places abound.

Take for instance Sirao Garden-Little Amsterdam and Lakeview le Jardin Botanical Gardens. Just about every space in these lovely gardens is picture-perfect.

Sirao Garden

The Sirao Garden-Little Amsterdam in Barangay Sirao, Cebu City has a year- round abundance of flowers of various kinds. At this time of the year, sage and pink queen are in full bloom. A lone red sunflower plant stands tall among the dandelions.

Owner Helen Chua, a former Cathay Pacific flight attendant, can give you trivia about Sirao Garden, which gives a much compressed version of Amsterdam through iconic symbols such as Dutch clogs, windmills, bikes and bridges.

Entrance fee is between P50 and P100 and a pre- nup shoot costs P2,500.

Best time to go is 8 a.m. when the sun is not yet harsh, or after 4 p.m. when the sun has yet to set. You will get the best lighting for your pictures.

Lakeview le Jardin

Lakeview le Jardin Botanical Gardens in Barangay Tabunan, Cebu City is a sight to behold and a good stop for heavy breakfast.

The staff will advise you to take your breakfast ahead of the tour because you will be walking uphill to see the entire garden of myriad of colors.

Adlawon Vacation Farm

A more secluded place is the Adlawon Vacation Farm, about five kilometers from the main road or the TCH and located in the mountain barangay of Adlaon, Cebu City. The closer you reach Adlawon Vacation Farm, the weaker your mobile signal.

You have reached your destination when your signal is lost.

But there’s wifi at the Adlawon Vacation Farm.

Here, you are truly on vacation. It’s an exclusive world and you are removed from the reality of city life and work.

The Department of Tourism has listed Adlawon Vacation Farm as part of its pilot circuit of farm tourism in Cebu.

The tourism program called “Farm-Fork-Fitness: A Mountain to Sea Circuit to Wellness” allows you to have an experience wherein you eat only what has been produced at the farm and you keep yourself fit through cardio exercises within the property.

Adlawon Vacation Farm can be a 50- or 100-peso walk-in experience. But it will cost you more if you stay overnight or two.

A pre-nup pictorial at the farm costs P3,000.

This is the mountain part of the circuit. The sea circuit part is in the western town of Asturias.

Asturias Beach House

Like the Adlawon Vacation Farm, Asturias Beach House in Barangay Owak in Asturias town is in the DOT farm tourism pilot circuit.

It promotes maritime tourism and culture under the auspices of Barangay Owak and the Owak Fishermen’s Association.

Owak Barangay Captain John Carl Dupal-ag says you can avail yourself of activities at the Asturias Beach House such as kayaking, dolphin watching, snorkeling and diving, a marine tourism cruise and chilling at a floating cottage.

And, while at the Asturias Beach House, order the halohalo and the bingka nga dawa because, he says, these are Asturias’s pride.

Pilot circuit

Sirao Garden-Little Amsterdam, Lakeview le Jardin Botanical Garden, Adlawon Vacation Farm and Asturias Beach House are just among the many eco-tourism business establishments along the Cebu transcentral circuit that DOT is promoting to help their economic recovery after a harsh beating from the Covid lockdown and limited operation.

All four establishments are strictly imposing the health and safety protocol in accordance with the standards of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, simply known as the IATF.

In these places, you can be sure you and your family or friends are in a safe environment.