Monday, September 2, 2013

Vigan: The Heritage City

Date: AUG 31 - SEP 01, 2013

The city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it seemed like I traveled back to the Spanish colonial period when I managed to set foot on this charming old city. The remains of the past are very evident in every corner of the city – from the cobblestone laid roads to the old houses that lined up Calle Crisologo. Good thing that the locals managed to preserve the beauty of their city and Vigan is genuinely something we Filipinos can be proud of.

The world famous Calle Crisologo in Vigan

Welcome to Vigan!
It was already dark when we reached Vigan, and the first thing we did was to look for a hotel where we can stay for a night that’s near the city center. I remembered what my officemate recommended – he told me to stay at Green R Hotel because it is conveniently located in the city center. We walked away from the bus terminal and found the hotel right in front of the city market.

We chose a room suitable for four persons that cost P1350 per night, which was cheap – because divide it by four and I only have to pay P337.50. After we placed our things inside, we changed our clothes and went outside to eat dinner.

Tricycles were the primary form of transport around the city. We rode one from the hotel going to Calle Crisologo, and we began walking around. The place is quiet, and the bright street lights illuminate the area. I’ve also seen a few tourists who were walking that time. We saw Max’s Restaurant when we reached Plaza Leona; however, the guard told us that they were already closed. Good thing that there was another restaurant just across the street which was still open that time – CafĂ© Leona.

An old building from the outside but a hip night club on the inside
I ordered tapa with rice that evening, and when we finished eating, we headed directly to Legacy Bar and enjoyed the night. The entrance only cost P60 (a single drink included), and there were lots of people inside. The old vibe of the city suddenly changed as laser beams shoot up into the club’s ceiling, and loud music began to play. That moment was awesome!

I am not really into parties, so I chose to stay at our table and just began browsing the internet, while my friends went straight to the dance floor and dance like crazy! Time passed quickly as we enjoyed the night and went back to the hotel later on.


"Calesa" is the main form of transport in Calle Crisologo
After waking up, I saw my friends eating their breakfast. I didn’t realize that they ordered breakfast while I was still sleeping. After I ate, I went outside and headed to the market to buy pasalubong. I purchased bagnet, longganisa, and cornic at a very reasonable price, and managed to buy cheap souvenir shirts, bags, wallets, and cell phone pouches.

I went back to the hotel after I got my souvenirs and started packing my clothes because we would have to check out at 12:00 noon. We left all of our things at the hotel’s front desk and started to roam around the city once again. Calle Crisologo was the first thing on our list. We went there during the day, and the vibe was very different from what we saw last night. There were lots of tourists in every corner of the street. There were also horse driven carriages or what we call calesas, and a sign that prohibits motorized vehicles from entering Calle Crisologo. There were also souvenir shops located on the first floor of the antique houses.

Cafe Leona facade
Lunch came, and we went back to Plaza Leona to eat. I loved their food here because aside from being affordable, they also serve in big servings. After eating lunch, we hopped into a tricycle parked nearby and asked the driver to take us to Baluarte.

Baluarte was just a few minutes drive from the city center, and it only cost P15/person if you will be riding a tricycle going there. Several tigers and a bright red macaw would greet you at the entrance gate, and everything else inside the park (except for the photo with the tigers) is FREE. Tamed animals were free to roam inside the park - ostriches, horses, and deer included.

A carriage being pulled by miniature horses was the first activity that tourists can participate in. The carriage took us to two camels who were seeking some rest under a big, shady tree. It was my first time seeing a camel, and I was able to touch them! After visiting the camels, the carriage brought us to the Baluarte sign, where giant dinosaur sculptures can also be found. From there on, the carriages left us and went back to the entrance.

Giant dinosaurs inside the park
Not far from the Baluarte sign was a hall where animal shows were being held. We checked out what was going on, and what we saw was an animal trainer who was carrying a giant albino python around his arms. He gave everyone a chance to hold the snake, and so my turn came. The snake felt like a giant, cold rubber wrapped around my neck. He also let us touch the Bearcat, but it was so shy and just hid behind his back.

It felt like cold rubber
After the show, my friends and I decided to walk further and what we saw were free roaming miniature horses grazing and a herd of reindeer enclosed in a huge cage. As we walk further, we realized that the edge of the park would take us back near the entrance. We decided to leave the park and went back to the city center. There were lots of vendors outside who were offering souvenirs and pasalubong, but I just ignored them since I already purchased mine earlier. We rode another tricycle that took us to Plaza Burgos, where lots of stalls selling empanadas can be found. I ordered a special empanada for P30 (regular cost P15), and that tasted good! Partner it with a cold soft drink or gulaman, and you’ll get yourself one delicious merienda.

Plaza Burgos
Vigan Cathedral was the next site we visited as well as the plaza in front of the church – Plaza Salcedo. We went to the Ilocos Provincial Capitol too which is right in front of the plaza. After the tour, we rode another tricycle and asked to be dropped off at the hotel to get our things. The bus terminal is located near the hotel, and before entering the bus, I bought a box of Vigan Royal Bibingka for only P155.

It was already dark when the bus left, and I slept all throughout the journey. I initially thought that we would be arriving at Manila early in the morning, but it didn’t happen. The bus had an issue in Tarlac, and we had to get off the vehicle. This was my second time to set foot in Tarlac, and after 2 hours, the replacement bus came. We managed to get back to Manila safe, and I would never forget this trip around the Ilocandia because the places I only get to see in the books before were already seen in real life. Ilocandia has a different charm, and you would wish to go back. J

Plaza Salcedo with Vigan Cathedral at the back
This post is part of my Ilocandia Trip that took place between August 28 - September 01, 2013. This is the last entry. Read the first entry here. Read the post about the previous destination here.

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