After arriving in Vigan at 4am, we opted to spend Day 1 resting and just explored the hotel. We went to nearby JTC Mall to buy some snacks.
I don’t sleep while travelling by bus so I caught up on sleep. Resting and relaxing was part of the plan for the vacation, so I am definitely going to take the opportunity to sleep! Our hotel, the Metro Vigan Fiesta Garden Hotel, was away from the crowded city so we experienced a more relaxing pace during our vacation.
We also watched some shows that we brought with us on our laptop. The bed was big and comfy, the TV was a big flatscreen, the aircon was cold. It was a comfortable place to escape from the world.
Day 2 was our “Exploring Vigan” day. We arranged a tour with the Front Desk.
I am not going to bore you with information about the places that we visited that you can easily find on Wikipedia. I’ll just give you my thoughts and impressions, what we did, what we bought, etc…
BANTAY CHURCH AND BELL TOWER
Hehe, people were doing the Leaning Tower of Pisa thing We did, too. We climbed the bell tower and toured the “new” church, the old / original church that was destroyed before. Personally, I’m just not that into spooky old churches.
OLD PROVINCIAL JAIL
They turned this old provincial jail into an art center / museum, and it looks nice! For some reason, it keeps reminding me of Japanese-style houses…
Of course, it was a jail, so there are bound to be creepy parts like old jail cells… but I like how they renovated the buildings.
Looking at this pic, I half expect Zorro to run out and jump onto a horse.
I got to do a Demi Moore pottery thing! It’s more difficult than it looks and it’s actually sort of a tourist trap. I was expecting a short intro or quick explanation first before being asked to shape the mud. What happened was another tourist finished so the potter helper guy asked me to go next. I had no specific idea what to do, but okay. I sat down behind the pottery wheel, they put clay on the wheel, put my hands on it and they started turning the wheel. Well, of course my pot turned out misshapen, so the guy kind of turned it into a heart shape instead.
Anyway, it was a unique experience so it was fine. I assumed that we got to keep our creation, but after washing my hands, I was told to just leave a “tip” in one of the jars, and the tour guide whisked us off to our next destination, leaving my misshapen pot behind.
It’s a garden restaurant. Apparently, people think the food there is good. A lot of people were eating there but we just walked the garden path for about 10 minutes. I did enjoy the turmeric drink so I bought a small jar (P200). It’s supposed to help with all sorts of health ailments.
BALUARTE MINI ZOO
It’s a zoo. Nothing there really stands out for me. I do feel for some of the caged animals
We asked our tour guide where we could buy some good Vigan longganisa. He said we could just buy some at the palengke, but before leaving us at Calle Crisologo, he brought us to a house where ladies were weighing and selling various foodstuff. He claims they sell the best Vigan longganisa. Anyway…
We bought some longganisa from that place, but I forgot to take a picture of the packaging so I can’t remember the name of the brand. It was delicious, though, but still a bit sweet. I wanted a Vigan longganisa that was garlicky and not sweet. All I have is this sort of stolen shot of the inside of the house. If anybody knows this place, please tell us in the comments!
The longganisa was P120 for a pack, if I recall. I was told Vigan longganisa sells for about P100 at the palengke. But we didn’t want to bother going to the palengke on our own since it was a hot, hot afternoon, and the tour guide seemed ready to go back to the hotel already. The longganisa was vacuum-sealed and frozen, and they packed it well after we told them that we would be taking the longganisa to Manila, assuring us that the longganisa would withstand the travel time.
Our last stop was Calle Crisologo – we asked our tour guide to leave us at Calle Crisologo after the tour and that we would just go back to the hotel on our own since I wanted to explore. He offered to take our longganisas with him back to the hotel to keep in the hotel freezer until we checked out.
It was about 3pm and the street was still sleepy. Also, I didn’t see as many shops as I expected. I wanted to check out the old hotel I stayed at on my previous visit more than 10 years ago, and I couldn’t find it. Many shops and old houses had been converted into modern food joints and it made me sad.
I already have one of these big bayong bags at home and it is very nice. Have had it for years already and it’s still quite durable. I love using it as a storage / organizing container.
Because we were taking the bus, there was not much to buy that we could reasonably carry. One thing I definitely made sure to buy were the locally-weaved table linens. I really like using them at home. I kind of went crazy, bought dozens, and J was complaining how heavy they were, LOL.
I bought several table runners and dozens of place mats. They were really affordable, just P100 per meter for the table runners; P400 for 1 dozen place mats, P200 for 6. They are thick, but not unwieldy for washing, good quality, and very durable. And affordable. Did I mention they’re affordable? I bought a lot so the nice granny shopkeeper even gave me a discount (P360 per dozen), without me asking for one, while she was tallying up my purchases. I actually felt bad about the discount, but I didn’t want to offend her for her nice gesture. These nice place mats are like P30 per piece now. Seriously. Poorer quality place mats at the department stores in Manila are easily P70 each or higher.
I like these woven place mats because they are easy to clean. Dirty? Just throw it in the washing machine. Plastic / wood place mats are troublesome – you have to manually soap, scrub and rinse and dry them, very often. Ugh!
Also, please support the local weavers. They really turn out good stuff. And in this case, you not only help them, you also get an amazing bargain, too!
Here are some of the designs I got:
Cafe Leona – we had a late lunch at Cafe Leona and it was a bit disappointing. It still looks almost the same as it did when I went there in the early 2000s, but this time, it now has a ready-prepared food set-up area like a canteen. We ordered the longganisa they are supposedly famous for, but I actually preferred the breakfast longganisa we had at the hotel. I have read old reviews that raved about Cafe Leona, and in my mind, I had this image of it like it was some kind of local trattoria / artist hangout. Twice now it did not meet expectations. Also, the peeling paint motif bothered me a bit…
I wanted to try other places to eat but I was already getting extremely sunburned while walking around Vigan… I didn’t think I needed sunscreen just to walk down the street, but apparently, I did! I might do a skin whitening post in a few weeks to talk about my efforts to get back my normal coloring.
We spent Day 3 relaxing as much as we could before we checked out at noon – we also went swimming in the hotel pool. More sunburn for me, LOL!
We didn’t get to explore the whole of Vigan during this trip, but that’s okay. We stayed at a nice, relaxing hotel, and we were able to bring home some good Vigan longganisa, and I was very happy to have been able to buy some really nice table linens at a bargain while supporting local weavers. Yup. Is it weird that that’s the highlight of my trip?
This is going to be one of those good memories I will fondly recall in the future, and the warm & generous people of Vigan will always have a special place in my heart.
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The Barat Queen
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