Last June 7, 2013, with friends Ting and Dadong, I embarked on a tour to historic Vigan in Ilocos Sur. From Iloilo, we boarded a Cebu Pacific plane to Manila, and from there we took a Partas bus in Pasay. The bus left the station at around 4:00 pm and its a 10-hour ride with at least 3 stopovers passing through Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and La Union provinces. Look for accommodation in Iloilo, Manila, Pasay and Ilocos Sur.
Upon arrival, we checked in at Green R Hotel. It is a cost-effective hotel located near the Partas Bus terminal and in front of the public market. The only negative thing about the room is there’s just enough space for an extra bed which makes moving around cumbersome. Exhausted, everyone immediately went to sleep. Search for the best hotels in Vigan City.
The very next morning, after taking breakfast early, the excitement prodded us to immediately explore the city. We haven’t even taken bath or changed our clothes!
The first notable place we stumbled upon is the Vigan Convention Center with its impressive mural. Satisfied with this “appetizer”, we decided to seek the famous Calle Crisologo. While searching by foot, we encountered the first ever calesa. We asked the calesa operator who is named Rowel for guidance and found out that we are in the very same road going towards Calle Crisologo. With the heat building up and happy with the friendly exchange with Rowel, we hired him to tour us around.
True to the information we got from friends and the web, Calle Crisologo is a cobbled street. The clunking sound generated by the horse steps slowly transports us to the Spanish era as the antique houses showed up one after the other. The feeling I get marveling at the old tile roofs, large hardwood benches, balusters and balconies lining the road is magical. We noted some of the places we plan to come back later in the evening.
From Calle Crisologo, we proceeded towards the Bantay Belfry which offered us a 360-degree view of Vigan City from the mountains to the sea. Beside the belfry is the St. Augustine Church which was built in 1590.
Next, we went to Pagburnayan or jar making factory where earthenware jars are still crafted by hand and potter’s wheel. This is followed by the traditional looming/weaving factory.
After purchasing some souvenirs from the jar and loom factories we headed to Baluarte, which is a private mini zoo open to the public. This is where I first saw in real life “midget” horses, friendly ostriches, camels, gorgeous pheasants and peacocks, deers, peking ducks, tigers, a boa snake, flying lemur, and colorful parrots. We also have a glimpse of the imposing mansion of Ilocos Sur’s political kingpin Chavit Singson atop a hill.
Hungry, we agreed to go to Hidden Garden which is another privately owned place with a large collection of plants. It was here while waiting for my turn to use the toilet, I heard somebody saying “hello”, I looked around and there’s nobody near me. A few seconds passed, the voice became louder and louder until it became an outright shout. Starting to affect(not really freaking me out) me, I took a closer look around and found just behind me, a pair of parakeets. Man, do they sound like humans. Within the garden is the popular restaurant. We had lunch there trying out their Sinanglaw soup, Bagnet and the mouth-watering Ilocano Pinakbet.
Already full, we went back to the hotel, took a bath, changed clothes and rested for we plan to go back to Calle Crisologo in the evening.
Calle Crisologo is more enjoyable strolling at night because of the much cooler temperature. If its magical in the daytime, the street lights make it enchanting.
To cap the day’s tour, we had dinner at the well known Cafe Leona Restaurant in the open. We tried their Japanese Tempura, Longganisa, Sinigang Malaga and their version of Pinakbet.
For the next day, we plan to go to the next obvious place, Laoag!
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