I love walking in cities, there is no better way of getting to feel, the atmosphere, pace, culture and senses of a city than to walk its streets and interact with the people and places you see. Manila is considered to be the most densely populated city on earth, bisected by the Pasig River, which flows into manila Bay. One of the best parts of the city to walk is Intramuros, the site of the original Spanish occupation of Manila. Intramuros sits alongside the banks of the river so that is a good place to move onto.
Literally Intramuros means within the walls, the walls having been built as defensive walls by the Spanish beginning in the 16th century, and the community within the walls is a vibrant, alive one, mixing the traditional Spanish architecture and history, with universities, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago, as well as a hive of streets combining old Spanish buildings and street signs, with the densely packed urban life of Manila.
The area was badly damaged at the end of the second world war during the capture of Manila from the Japanese, but restoration work has recreated the ambiance of the place.
Wander through the streets and admire the old buildings and their Spanish streets names, turn a corner and come into rows of small shops, cramped buildings and alley ways, which is the modern poorer Manila. In a street is a chicken chained to a fence alone, standing on the pavement, turn another corner and find a shop that makes bicycles with the frame made of bamboo, the working parts recycled from the remains of discarded bikes, eco sound and ideal for sale to poorer parts of the world.
Everywhere is colour and variety, these small crowded buildings festooned with clothes, washing or endless varieties of items, contrasting with the traditional gray walls of Spanish style classic architecture.
Everywhere you will be offered a tricycle ride and guide to show you Intramuros, but honestly they are way over priced and anyway a walk through this variety is infinitely preferable.
For the historically minded Manila Cathedral, the Church of St Augustin and the famous Fort Santiago are there all within walking distance. Stop and watch the world go by in one of the many restaurants and sample some great Filipino food. At the end of it you feel good and awash with the sounds sights and sensations.