Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Vigan City Travel Journal

My Vigan Home Hotel
We left our home in San Mateo area at 7 AM on Christmas Day. We took our breakfast at Jollibee in one of the gas stations along NLEX and arrived at My Vigan Home Hotel at around 4:00 PM. It was 9 hours of action packed trip to Heritage City.

Traveling from San Mateo up to the tip of SCTEX at Tarlac City was a breeze. It took us less than two hours to cover the entire distance.

After exiting SCTEX, we started encountering rural traffic in major towns and cities north of Manila especially in Pangasinan and La Union provinces. There were areas as well that roads and bridges were under construction and rehabilitation, not to mention several police and animal quarantine checkpoints.

Anyway, since it is our first time to visit Vigan City, our eagerness and excitement to see the so-called Heritage City has overcome the travel fatigue and boredom. Initially, we have TV, AM and FM stations to entertain us but after leaving Tarlac City all of them started to disappear from air one by one. Unfortunately, my son forgot his MP3 collection. I had only my Journey's CD thus after playing it countless of times I started hearing the songs inside my head; my techie kids played their music collections stored inside their mobile phones, MP3 players with external speakers and netbook. After some time, one by one their gadgets (battery) went kaput, LOL. By this time, we have reached Rosario, La Union and took our lunch at Chowking. I remember last 2011 Holy Week, we took our lunch also at the same Chowking before we conquered Kennon Road on our way to Baguio.

After a much needed stop-over at Chowking, we resumed our journey to Vigan City. I was confident that by simply following the main road we would be able to reach our destination. I took a wrong turn and ended near Kennon Road Tollgate. We retraced our path and after several minutes we found the correct road going to Vigan City. We lost at least 30 minutes travel time due to my mistake. I simply explained to family that getting lost was a part of our road trip adventure; they sneered in return. Nevertheless, I decided to swallow my ego and brought out several printed Google Maps. From thereon my wife decided to be my navigator, she identified all the places we have passed and about to pass as marked on my improvised maps. Since then we never got lost. As the saying goes, in every successful man there is always a woman nearby, LOL.

While traversing Santol, La Union at around 80 kph, we suddenly heard a loud chopper-like sound. I thought a chopper suddenly appeared directly on top of our family car. My son told me that the sound was coming from behind our car but I was damn sure that we were traveling alone in that area. It was a creepy place with large trees along the road with a small hill at the left side while there were no houses nearby. In fact the sunlight barely cover the entire road due to thick vegetation. I parked on shoulder road and found out that my rear right tire was severely damaged. Probably those sharp rock edges we passed at roads and bridges construction sites have torn the tire wall.

Having encountered this problem for the first time, I saw fear on my family's eyes. My wife hysterically asked me if I know how to replace a flat tire; piece of cake I replied just to prevent them from further worrying. Father instinct took over and I started assigning tasks to my kids. I asked my daughter and youngest kid to be in a safe place and distance while waving to incoming vehicles to approach cautiously since our car was immobile. While I was jacking-up the car my eldest was preparing the reserve tire. Wife was overseeing all the actions since my attention was focused mainly on replacing the damaged tire. I was able to install my reserve tire but found out that the tire pressure was low. It wasn't a big deal; it took more than a minute for my portable compressor to build up the tire pressure. In less than 15 minutes, we were back on the road and everybody has some stories to tell. However, deep inside, I thanked God it was a rear tire otherwise it could be a disaster. Having no spare tire, I can't afford to have another flat tire or else our vacation would go hay-wire. I drove cautiously and maintained our speed at less than 80 kph; another cause of delay.

In short, we reached My Vigan Home Hotel. Everybody was excited to go out except my youngest kid who was suffering from stomach pain. Actually, I was having a clogged nose and mild cough as well.

Immediately we strolled along Calle Crisologo.

Calesa is the only mode of transportation allowed along CC

A Christmas lantern at CC

Souvenirs along Calle Crisologo

Lagacy Club at Calle Crisologo

After Calle Crisologo, we trekked to Burgos Plaza and searched for the famous Vigan Empanada. You would find several eateries at the other end of Burgos Plaza and some of them are serving newly fried Empanadas. We bought 4 pieces at 30 pesos each and since the place was full we decided to eat our Empanadas in our hotel room while having some rest.



Batman at CC
Dinner time, we raced to Cafe Leona but since it was Christmas day the place was closed. We hurried then to Kusina Felicitas at Granpa's Inn. Unfortunately, the place was full and by reservation only. I remember that Uno Grille, another restaurant owned by Grandpa's Inn, was just across the street. Luckily, we found one table waiting for us. After a sumptuous dinner, we decided to skip the entire Calle Crisologo; my wife was worried with our youngest kid. We brought him his favorite Greenwich Pizza.

Though we have stayed only for a night in Vigan City it was obvious that we fell in love with those centuries old houses and Calle Crisologo's cobblestone street. Not to mention the serenity and surreal atmosphere during night time at Calle Crisologo. Actually, when my family headed back to our hotel after our dinner at Uno Grille, I decided to stroll around and noticed that several centuries old houses can be found in other streets as well. The entire area around Calle Crisologo becomes desolate and creepy at around 10:00 PM. Most of the times I was walking alone; goose bumps started appearing at the back of my neck. Upon returning to our hotel, I told my kids about my experience and they all wanted to go out again but their mother was tired and cautious hence we decided to call it a day and went to bed.

The following day, since I need to arrange for a new tire I asked my family to have a Calesa Tour without me. I brought them to Burgos Plaza where the Calesa station is located. The price was 150 pesos for an hour. They visited Burgos Museum, Bantay Bell Tower, Burnay and other touristy places.


The day after Christmas is my eldest son's birthday. We had a small and impromptu celebration at Max's Restaurant; my wife and daughter surprised him with a small cake bought from nearby Red Ribbon. My son ended up blowing sheepishly his cake at Max's. Another memorable day for all of us. After lunch, we returned back to our hotel since they allowed us to leave our car inside their parking area even after we have checked out.

                                           Baluarte Zoo


a yellow sub at Baluarte
We paid a quick visit to Chavit Singson's Baluarte Zoo. Since the sun is hovering around its zenith we spend just an hour to check the place; entrance is free. Baluarte is another good attraction for the entire family and a must see place when in Vigan City. It is merely 10 minutes drive from the center of Vigan City. Aside from the domesticated local and imported animals, added treat are the "concrete dinosaurs" while nature lovers would be in awe upon seeing the picturesque scenery of mountains at the background.







After Baluarte, it is now time to continue our journey. Our next stop would be Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte. We planned to visit several places with historical connection to former president Marcos. This would be a good and learning experience to my kids who were all born after EDSA revolution.

I am truly elated and proud that we have this kind of place in the Philippines. Given a chance I'd love to travel back to Vigan City and this time I prefer to travel by bus, LOL.

To check our complete travel journal: Road Trip to Ilocos (Vigan/Laoag/Pagudpud)