Sunday, June 29, 2008

"I LEFT MY LONGGANISA IN VIGAN"

I went to the World Heritage Site of Vigan, Ilocos Sur more than a month ago with my friends Aileen, Tin, Charo and Jako. We've been planning the trip for so long so we are glad that it finally happened. The trip was was such a blast from start to finish so it will be a waste not to blog about it (albeit a month late). It is probably our best and most memorable vacation and road trip to date!

Click on the thumbnails to view the pictures!

May 15, Evening - The Adventure Begins

Our adventure started on the evening of May 15, a Thursday. We all met at the bus station of Partas Bus Lines in Pasay City. We opted to ride the bus for the ultimate non-expensive-roughing-it road trip instead of bringing a car. Tin got there first (accompanied by her, ummm, officemate), then Aileen & I arrived second (fresh from work) and the coosome-twosome otherwise known as Charo and Jako arrived last from SM Mall of Asia bearing with all kinds of snacks for our long trip.

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We left Manila before 12:00 midnight after waiting for almost two hours at the terminal for our ride. We talked and gossiped about David Cook, our lovelives and Cindy Kurleto. The trip to Vigan from Manila was 9 and a half hours with a short stop-over in Pangasinan. We slept almost throughout the entire trip with the help of an ergonomic bus seat designed for long trips ala sleeper trains in Europe. We also had our individual iPods playing non-stop for us. I started with Guy's Sebastian's "Angels Brought Me Here" and ended with David Archuleta's "Think of Me". Vigan welcomed us with drizzle of rain before 9:00 am the following day.

May 16, Morning - Good Morning, Vigan!

Two tricycles brought us to the very Vigan antique "hotel" of Grandpa's Inn, our home for two days. Grandpa's Inn is located at #1 Bonifacio St. cor. Quirino Blvd., which is just a stone throw from Calle Crisologo and very near the heart of the city. We booked ourselves in one of the "Kalesa" bedrooms with extra beds to accommodate all five of us.

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We immediately went out after checking-in to have some breakfast. We passed by for the first time the famous Calle Crisologo. The street is lovelier than I expected. The stretch is surrounded by old Spanish houses and cobblestones. There are also several souvenir and antique shops along the alley which I so love. Vehicles except for several kalesas are not allowed to pass to properly preserve and maintain the beauty of the place. We cannot help but take a few snaps of the calle despite the light drizzle.

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Forget the famous Vigan Longganisa and other local yummies, our first Vigan meal was in McDonald's Vigan near Plaza Burgos. We arrived quite early and most of the local shops and restaurants were still closed. We had a feast over our McDo meals while we check the map and plan our day.

We went back to the hotel after breakfast to sleep and rest a bit, shower and freshen up. It was the week before the American Idol Finale so we were all happy when we chance upon the American Idol marathon on Star TV. We are such David Cook fans and we cannot stop talking about him in the entire time we were in Vigan.

We went out after a couple of hours and took the tricycle again to Baluarte. Good thing the sun was already shining by then! Baluarte is owned by former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson which is located in the outskirts of Vigan. It has a zoo with several exotic animals and birds. I am not too outdoorsy and fond of animals but I had a fabulous time taking photos of my friends at the mini-butterfly farm.

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May 16, Afternoon - Cafe Leona, St. Augustine and Kalesa!

We went back to the city after a couple of hours for a late lunch. This time we tried Cafe Leona at Calle Crisologo for some authentic Vigan delicacies. Cafe Leona is just like the usual Vigan establishment built in an old Spanish-styled house. We were famished from our busy morning so we ordered Bagnet (which is actually just like Lechon Kawali or Crispy Pata), Morcon (which tasted just like Embotido) and some good ol' Pinakbet. We don't like the foodies and preferred our moms' cooking over them. The tab is also quite 'astronomical' given the small serving of the dishes thus we called it Cafe Rip-off. Good thing Charo paid for it as a treat to us!

Cafe Leona - Bagnet Cafe Leona - Morcon Abbie, Charo and Jako at Cafe Leona Cafe Leona - Pinakbet


We strolled again at Calle Crisologo after lunch and checked out some of the souvenir shops and took MORE photos. We also had the "required" Vigan kalesa ride which is Php 150.00 ($3.00) for an hour. The kalesa took us to a nearby town called Bantay where the St. Augustine Church is. The church is unfortunately closed but we were able to take photos and go up to the nice bell tower. Photographers will have a fun time in the tower because it gives a good bird's eye view of Vigan and nearby towns. Too bad it's not well-maintained and there are writings and vandals all over the walls. We had a fun time in Bantay and even made a few friends. :)

Vigan Afternoon Aileen and Tin in a Kalesa St Augustine Church - Bantay Bellfry in Bantay

Aileen, Tin and I at the bell tower Tin and I with the bell The Glorious Tower Charo and Jako at the bell tower


The rain started pouring again just right after we left Bantay. The kalesa took us all around town to view more of Vigan's famous sights. We passed by at Villa Angela, a hotel famous for being a favorite location shoot of some Filipino historic movies, but we were not able to go inside because it was closed to the public at that time. We ended in a place called Hidden Garden which is very far away from the center of city thus the "hidden" on its name. The place is actually nice but it was still raining when we got there so we were not able to fully appreciate it. We just rested a bit and had some Ilocos wine called Basi. I love its taste so I bought a bottle.

May 16, Evening - Cafe Uno and Sitio Bar are the Best!

We had dinner at the hotel's coffee shop called Cafe Uno. It's a quaint little cafe with just 4 or 5 tables that serves delicious dishes and sweets. Aside from the delicious food, I also love the mix of modern and old details of the place. I especially love its cool red mug rack which I want to have for my growing Starbucks City Mug collection. We ordered a lot of food but I cannot remember most of them at the moment (I wasn't able to take pictures so I cannot recall). What I remembered was this crunchy cracker that was served with a yummy Dinuguaan dip. It was so delicious and we all loved it! It was definitely our best Vigan meal ever. Include it in your must-do and must-eat if you're going to Vigan.

Cafe Uno - a mix of old and new Happyness at Cafe Uno The Cracker and Dinuguaan Dish The Mug Rack I Want


We went out for a night's stroll after dinner at Calle Crisologo to take more pictures (what else?). It was raining that night so we were practically alone in the street with our cameras. Vigan doesn't really have a rockin' night life so we ended in the only bar near Crisologo named Sitio Bar (which is actually the resto-bar of the very nice Vigan Plaza Hotel). We had a couple of rounds while we grill Jako and Charo about the past, the present and future. We went back to the hotel after midnight to rest for more Vigan adventures the following day.

Tin and I at Crisologo Vigan by night Lovers in Vigan Aileen at Charo at Crisologo Poopoo Gang's Endorser


Vigan by night


To be continued. More pictures here and here.

Watch out for the 2nd day of our Vigan adventure and the unexpected 3rd day of misadventure! Photo credits to Aileen (the nice Baluarte marque shot was taken by her), Charo and Tintin.

[For the benefit of my foreign readers, longganisa is a Philippine sausage-like food with ground pork, beef or chicken inside. It can be sweet or sour depending on where you get them. Vigan is a city in the province Ilocos Sur famous for its preserved Spanish-style colonial houses built during the Spanish occupation here in the Philippines. Vigan is also known for its "Vigan Longganisa" thus the title of this post. Credits to Jako for the blog post's title.]


2 Comments:

tin said...

ngyon ko lang natapos basahin yung post mo! haha! astig part don, wala pang 2nd day! haha! haba! pero astig! hehe.

Abbie said...

Thanks for the comment! Buti na lang nag-comment ka kasi mega-effort ako. Sana yung IBA mag-comment din! Haha!

I just want to "preserve the memory" of Vigan. I so love the place though I know it's already ruined for some of us.