Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Ilocos Trip Part 1

It all started with the hunt for the best empanada ever made. Hubby and I have this recent addiction to Vigan empanada and everytime we come across an empanada store here in Manila, we make sure we try their empanada. Finally, we just decided, why not go to where this delicacy originated, Ilocos! And so we called in the gang (from way back college) and the trip to northern tip of the country commenced. 
When going to a place as far as this (it's a 10-12 hours trip by car and 8 -10 hours by bus), parents needs to be prepared thoroughly or else, lagot! It would also help that kids were prepped for a long-trip. Since my kids are used to yearly Baguio trips they basically know what to expect from a long trip and this is by far the longest trip we had.

For the itinerary, we got some help from friends who've been to the place and the ever reliable www. I started research as early as October 2011 on the most budget-friendly and decent hotel in Vigan especially since our trip fell on Holy Week, super peak season with super peak prices. Just a sample: the price of t-shirt in Crologo St. was P150 on Holy Thursday but dropped to P90-100 on Easter Sunday. The crowd also dropped to almost 50% come Sunday, all homeward bound probably. 

Anyhoo, we decided to book our 4D/3N stay in The Vigan Hotel. According to travel blogs, this is the most decent place for it's price. It's P1695 per night for a deluxe room. It was actually too big even for a party of 4 adults and 2 kids. The hotel is an old mansion-turned-hotel and although it's quite rustic and the amenities are not much, the owner Oscar Villanueva and staff were very accommodating and friendly. There's no resto in the hotel during daytime so apart from our package-inclusive daily breakfast , all our meals were taken outside the hotel. That I don't mind at all, there are so many diners and restos in Vigan that you will fall in love with. Cafe Leona and Cafe Uno just to name a few. 

What comes next is a very photo heavy documentation of our Vigan trip. I'll post our Pagudpod trip next time. 

first purchase of the day - hats! (P100 each). Sam is wearing Sophie's shirt by the way... Yaya, anon' nanyare?

In front of the Vigan Plaza Hotel. Take note, there's The Vigan Hotel, My Vigan Hotel and this  high end Vigan Plaza Hotel so double check where you book your accommodation.
the start and end of the Ilocos trip, Empanada!
You can go around Vigan town in these calesas. They charge P150/hour and can bring you to the tourist  spots in town with a little history: churches, museums, pottery lessons, etc.

By end of our 3-hour trip, we got around:

The Bantay church and belltower. Nuestra SeƱora dela Caridad or Bantay church was built in the 1500s. Pretty cool eh?

the church getting ready for the evening procession
The mansion of the chinese-descent Syquia clan. The architectural design of the mansions from the Spanish era really amazed me. I love how one room connects to one or two more rooms in the house and that there are several secret doors and peep holes for security purposes. This wide veranda has entryway to the kitchen and receiving areas.

The receiving area. There's a peephole under the seat so a housekeeper would see who came to visit. The visitor, once given go signal to enter the house, can be seen by the master of the house through another peephole in his room. Taray di ba?

Crisologo Museum
the book lover in me just had to look into the titles of family's library
never got to ask how this was used...
Bingbong Crisologo's bedroom

We decided to end the kalesa trip by lunchtime. had lunch at Cafe Uno which became the gang's fave resto so we never got tired of coming back for dinner and lunch and dinner and coffee :)
After lunch, we all rested in the hotel because the summer heat was just excruciating and not good for the kids. By early afternoon, the gang decided to check out Baluarte ni Singson. Good thing we didn't take the kalesa going there. We got there by car instead and it took us about 20-30 minutes. Imagine how long that will take with the kalesa at P150/hour rate?

Baluarte ni Singson housed tigers, gorgeous peacocks, ostrich and other animals. A tour to the Baluarte is free. 

I love how this giant (stone) creature seem to bow to the moon

Sophie feeling a little uneasy with masungit ostrich at the back but Sam enjoyed seeing all the animals around

you can ride the mini calesas for a voluntary fee.  Note: petting the animals behind the fence is not allowed because ostrich and other animals may just run amok but people were just that stubborn.
Another to-visit place is the Hidden Garden. If you're coming from Vigan town it's on the same route as Baluarte. I say it's the Ilocos' version of Tagaytay's Sonia's Garden. Make sure to visit early because the place closes at 6pm. I like the place, bought some plants and souvenirs :) 
Chessy ba? :)

Dinner time was spent, guess where? Uno Grill, of course! Kids enjoyed the dinengdeng so much :)

More of our Ilocos trip on my next post :)

Linking to Mommy Moments :)

mommy moments


Tetcha said...

Nice photos of your trip to Ilocos! I wish we could visit it, too!

Spanish Pinay said...

sarap naman! basta magkayayaan. I love Vigan too.. .sana makabalik agad.

Cheesy? not at all! dapat ganyan talaga kahit 10 na ang anak ;-)

Spanish Pinay

march on... said...

@Tetcha - thanks! I suggest going there by bus or place to Laoag if konti lang kayo. The trip by car is tooo long but its all worth the trip :)

@Spanish Pinay - thanks! first time also for us to go on out of town trip with friends and kids. Sobrang riot! :)

MoM from Manila said...

wow, Vigan Empanada, sarap nyan! I hope next year we can go to Vigan, too!

pls check out my brother singing and Motherhood is Love

Chris said...

thanks for sharing your trip. i plan to bring the family to Vigan next year :) so any tips would be appreciated! :D

march on... said...

@MOm from manila - thanks! plan a trip in advance esp. if you plan to stay long and with kids :)

@Chris - Avoid Holy Week! Haha:)important that the accommodations are properly taken care of especially if with kids.
Try Grandpa's Inn or Vigan Plaza Hotel. marami naman kainan sa Vigan esp. if youre staying near crisologo st. so no problem with the food. Plan your itinerary and research the location lalo na maraming heritage sites na pwede puntahan. make sure all your itinerary pasok sa schedule. I have so much more to share but this space seem not enough :)

Anonymous said...

Come & Visit Ilocos.... Call & Text japoy @ 0905-3505090

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