With only three hours before our scheduled bus ride back to Manila, we tried to make the most out of our visit at Ilocos Sur’s capital, Vigan City.
Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vigan is formerly an island colonized by the Spaniards during the 16th century before the three rivers isolating it connected it back to the mainland. It boasts of unique blend of Filipino-Spanish building designs that is maintained up to this day. Most of these structures can be seen at the turn-of-the century Calle Crisologo.
The centerpiece of the city; its streets are paved in cobblestones and massive ancestral houses of varying designs lining up its sidewalks. Most of these houses are now either converted as hotels, souvenir shops and antique stores.
Caleza’s or horse-drawn carriages ply the area, inviting tourist for a tour of the city. To maintain a sense of the colonial era atmosphere, any kind of motorized vehicle are not allowed to pass through its avenue.
How I wish though that there were café’s situated along its sidewalks as it would be the perfect place to have a cup of coffee to while away the time.
Besides Calle Crisologo, Vigan offers a lot more points of interest within its city and a few along its outskirts. To start off, there is the massive St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, the sprawling Plaza Burgos where you can have a taste of the famed Vigan Empanada, the quaint Vigan pottery house and a host of museums dotting the city. Off its fringes, tourists can check out the lush Hidden Garden, Chavit Singson’s Baluarte zoo and the Bantay Church with its detached brick bell tower.
And of course, when visiting Vigan, you better not forget its local food. You gotta taste their crispy bagnets, garlic longanizas and their quirky okoy and empanadas. You also might want to try out some of their colorfully named dishes; kabatiti (gourd), poki-poki (eggplant with egg), and utong (stringbeans).
Three hours is most absolutely not enough to cover all these sites, you’ll need at least two whole days to fully appreciate the city’s old world charm. Sadly those three hours was all we had, work definitely gets in the way of a good travel adventure.