Before I started my lakwatsa’s in 2008, Vigan has always been on my bucket list of places I always wanted to visit. Vigan is best known as the town trapped in time. Every time I see a picture of Vigan, it is of a Spanish-colonial architecture with cobblestone streets and antique furniture. The little town is actually the capital of the province of Ilocos Sur.
View Vigan in a larger map
The roadtrip starts with us leaving Manila at around 5:00 am as I headed northward with travel companions RD Cimafranca (“Kaladkarin”) and Patrick Mineses (“Bakasyonista”). The route was fairly simple. We headed north via NLEX and then on the SCTEX, exiting Tarlac then heading northward towards Baguio along McArthur Highway through Pangasinan then turning left just before heading to Kennon Road. We passed through La Union just following the signs towards Laoag and Pagudpod.
After around 8 hours of driving and stopping for Lunch in San Fernando, La Union we got to Ilocos Sur. And around half-an-hour later…
Jollibee… este… Vigan!
We were so excited to be in Vigan, we quickly looked for a place to park and walk around. As we were looking for a place to park, RD made a comment which would stick with me through the weekend… “Oh, it’s like Intramuros… only farther". I laughed my head off and agreed. But while the similarity in architecture holds true… its definitely not as dirty or crowded as Old Manila.
Spanish-colonial architecture! Cobblestone Streets. Calesas! We’re back in time!
And lined with shops everywhere. All of them selling generally the same stuff.
The all sold an assortment of hand-woven items, bagsm baskets, blankets, colorful walis.
Food items included Bagnet, Longanisa, Chihcacorn, Ilocos Suka.
After walking around for a while, a Calesa passed by and asked if we were interested. P150 for hour, the driver/guide said. Seemed reasonable.
We hopped on and we were on our way.
As we made our way through the streets of Vigan. One thing which caught my eye was this McDonald’s in Vigan-esque architecture. Complete with its own bell tower. The picture above was taken from the Calesa. We would later pass a number of “new” buildings which were built with the same architectural requirements. This was nice to see as I remembered how little value for history the people in Manila had as they destroyed many of the old buildings in and around Intramuros for out-of-place newer structures.
Along the way we stopped at the Vigan Cathedral. This empty courtyard would be full of people the next day which was Palm Sunday.
We saw more Old buildings. This is actually a National Museum. I thought to myself “looks like an old house.” We weren’t up to going inside though. It seemed rather unkept.
Hmmm… though I did not wonder about it… an interesting fact
We then passed by the St. Augustine Church. Impressive structure as it is… the Bell Tower was more majestic.
Sitting high atop a hill, the all brick structure was quite beautiful.
After a few more stops we asked to be brought back to Calle Crisologo… the street we started at earlier…
The tour around the town did highlight something to me. Not everything is “old” in Vigan. It was mainly… Calle Crisologo. Sure, a few structure here and there. Calle Crisologo reminded my of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans. If you have never been to New Orleans, you would think that the entire city looked like those pictures of Bourbon Street. When you get there, you find out… it is just Bourbon Street. That is generally how I saw Calle Crisologo, thinking the entire town was trapped in time. Not to say that there weren’t a lot of old buildings. Just that not every building is old.
Though it was indeed quite pretty.
After walking around, it was now time to find a place to stay. We left for Vigan without any set place to stay. I had decided to just find one when we got there. And yes, there were a lot of options for us. Each place seemed decent and various ranges of prices. We decided to stay at the Vigan Plaza Hotel. (Website)
It was a nice hotel. Looked like an old retreat house inside. Though I must say. The place was indeed very nice and neat.
We rested a bit. Took a bath then had dinner. We took advantage of the hotel buffet. For P300, we got to eat some great dishes. My favorite (which I forgot the name of) tasted like "big sisig"… where instead of giniling, the meat was in strips. I kept on drinking iced-tea until I noticed they stopping willingly refilling my glass.. hehe, I had to ask after a time.
We took an evening stroll back to Calle Crisologo. It was a nice cool evening.
The above and below shots were taken during "Earth Hour" from 8:30-9:30pm on March 27.
The first day in Vigan was quite a great day. The road trip itself was quite eventful, though that is a topic for another blog post.
More Photos on my Flickr Page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lakwatsa/sets/72157623603166299/
End Day One
Onwards… to Day 2