Pagudpud, Laoag, Paoay, and Batac… check! And I was more than ready to conquer Vigan! The cliche “Save the best for last” would definitely appropriate for this adventure. We were definitely excited on going to Vigan simply because we have been craving to go and experience a piece of history in our contemporary time. Our expectations were definitely surpassed and we were more than captivated by Vigan.
Vigan is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the Philippines. Strolling around Vigan gave us a surreal feeling, mostly in awe, as if we were transported back in time. Almost everything in Vigan is old but accompanied by a very precious history. The well-preserved Spanish architecture and the kind-of European atmosphere definitely set us into tourist mode.
Combine culture plus great food, and that’s Vigan for you!
First stop was Baluarte. My previous blog entry expressed how much I enjoyed the free trip to the zoo.
To complete the overall tourist feel and Spanish vibe of our trip, we opted to take the Kalesa tour to take us around the sights of Vigan. It charged us 150 pesos per hour, which was a fair price considering that the horse (our horse, named Bonjing) should be compensated properly for all its hard work. And I thought that it was really worth it to take this service.
Our next stop was the Hidden Garden which featured the bounty and beauty of nature all encapsulated in a very scenic garden (well, obviously). Hidden Garden offered such a relaxing atmosphere and such a peaceful getaway from all the worries of the world. For garden lovers, you may find much interest with Hidden Garden as different species of plants are cultivated and are available for sale.
And the best part? It has a cafe inside that features the delectable specialties of Ilocos. Oh yes! We tried the Ilocos Empanada and their refreshing Halo-halo! Yum! Ilocos Empanada usually range from 20-35 pesos (regular and special respectively). The special Ilocos Empanada would usually have an extra ingredient of Vigan Longganisa. Yum yum yum!
Next in our itinerary was supposedly the Pagburnayan Jar Factory. However, we felt that we would want to see the other sights of Vigan before the sun sets (because we somehow started late due to our delayed arrival in Vigan due to a long bus trip from Laoag).
Mira Hills Eco Park is one of the family-friendly parks where families can converge to have their picnics. It has been purposely landscaped for relaxation and invigoration where one can easily commune with nature. It is equipped with picnic grounds, an aviary, amphitheater, swimming pool— all these you can enjoy with a panoramic and scenic view of the city. A point of improvement though, the park may be kept more maintained as during the time of our visit, the park was a little dirty and somehow not very much well-maintained.
As our precious kalesa ride was waiting for us outside the park, we did not want to waste such precious tourist time in Vigan. We were in for such a huge treat as we reached the Bantay Church or St. Augustine Church in Vigan. It was beyond majestic. It felt like literally being transported into the Spanish Era with magnificent Bell Towers hovering over the scenic town. I was in awe as I saw the Bell Tower as it was even spotlighted by the beautiful afternoon sun just before it sets. The orange hues of the sun even magnified the beauty of the Bell Tower. I just couldn’t resist taking trigger happy snapshots of the incredible tower.
I really enjoyed Bantay Church and with happy hearts, we were off to the most visited Vigan landmark or perhaps the most popular tourist spot of Ilocos— Calle Crisologo. And yes, it seems that we were again transported into a different era. We were like in a trance walking through a beautifully-preserved cobblestone street lined with old Spanish style buildings and houses. At the ground floor of the buildings were mostly handicraft, antique and souvenir shops that welcome eager Vigan tourists. We stayed in this very beautiful street as we strolled from the sunset towards a beautiful evening where we decided to dine in Cafe Leona.
I think one of the highlights of our trip was mainly Ilocano cuisine. You can never go wrong with great Ilocano food! Perhaps it was just fate that we entered a quaint, and dimly-lit intimate restaurant called Cafe Leona. It featured all the yummy goodness Vigan food has to offer. But I’d like to rave about Cafe Leona and all the other Ilocano restaurants we’ve tried in a separate entry. My point: Cafe Leona was awesome!!!
Leona Florentino is one of Vigan’s pride as she is one of the foremost Ilocano poetesses, satirists and playwrights.
After eating, we just enjoyed strolling around the streets of Vigan under the very beautiful full moon. What a lovely sight, and what a lovely feeling in an extremely lovely and picturesque place!
As we woke up to another day, we did not waste any time as we immediately did a walking tour around Vigan. We found ourselves wandering in the heart of Vigan, still characterized with Spanish architecture. We wound up in St. Paul Cathedral, Nueva Segovia Museum, Plaza Salcedo, Plaza Burgos, Plaza Maestro, and another round of Calle Crisologo with such happy tourist spirits!
Oh Vigan! What a happy place that you are! 🙂 Thank you for a very wonderful tourist experience! I am totally raving about you! And you only gave me nothing but great memories!!!