Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pagudpod Roadtrip: It's sweeter the second time around

How do you chronicle a roadtrip? You have so many things to say because you had so many experiences to share. The places that you've been, the sights that you saw, the food that you ate and the feelings that you had when you were there...

I had such a roadtrip last April 15-17 and I'm having such a hard time writing about it. But as with any writer, I will try and persevere. Recapture my muse and stave off the ugly head of a writer's block.

This is a story of adventure. An odessy of four friends who wanted to explore the northern parts of the country.

Kirby, Gab and Melvin, my trip companions, are my co-workers. Melvin is Gab’s boyfriend. Melvin had once been my agent but he transferred to another company. Kirby is still currently my team mate while Gab is on a different team but had once been my agent as well.

NOTE: If you are planning a roadtrip up there, just try and take note of some of the landmarks that are mentioned here. We did not stray that much from MacArthur Highway so you should have no problems as well in terms of directions.
As with thousands of motorists bound for the north, we took NLEX and exited at Dau which is conveniently the entrance of SCTEX, so we took the northbound lane of SCTEX and exited at Tarlac City, and just like that, we are done with ¼ of our trip to Pagudpod.

Our very first stop-over was at a Shell station in Tarlac City, right after we exited SCTEX. We just made a quick stop and that is where we saw a local celebrity also on a stop over bound somewhere north. Not that famous of a celebrity but at least it caused a stir in our stop over.

Morning of Friday, April 16, we finally arrived at Candon City. This is where we seriously started our adventures to the north. We went over their plaza and entered a really big church. It seemed like the best destinations have elegant churches among their tourist destinations so you will find more mention of churches below.


After Candon City, we continued our trip up and got the first glimpse of the sea at Santa, right after Narvacan (I’m thinking that it could be the South China Sea, but I'm not sure). We were so excited to see the water that we went down from our car and actually had pictures taken in the rocky shore of the beach.

For a city boy like me, it's a treasure to cherish this moment... The breeze lapping at your face, the rocky shores inviting you to dine with them in their interminable journey through time, rocks that were shaped by the years of interaction with the salty sea. It was just AMAZING.

I suggested to my friends to just have our lunch there but we did not have rice so we just decided to take our lunch at Vigan City. If you do take your trip there, bring a picnic basket and just indulge the the picturesque scene that nature has created for us.


At 10am, we reached Vigan city. We immediately proceeded to look for a place to stay after we have eaten lunch. If I were you, the best place and the cheapest would be Mel-Sol's Inn & Resort/Baley Park Bar & Grille. You will pass by Mel-Sol’s even before you reach the left turn to enter Vigan City proper. The hotel is just beside the National Highway.

The good thing about the place is that it has a pool included in its amenities and the best part, the quoted rates already has a complimentary breakfast. I swear, we really scoured the entire Vigan City proper for cheaper accommodations and we did not find one so spare yourself the hassle and just check-in there.

We just took some time to rest and then, with our feet itchy to explore the place, we immediately proceeded to Baluarte. Any local can tell you the directions to the place so you need not worry.

Baluarte belongs to Gov. Chavit Singson and it’s free for all. The place is like an interactive zoo where you can see a lot of domesticated animals, most of them are free to roam the expanse of the place. There are of course caged animals either because they are exotic or just plain scary to be roaming around, hehehe!!!

CALLE CRISOLOGO... Step through history!!!

It was getting darker when we went back to the city proper and it was the best time to walk through our history. Calle Crisologo has been preserved for tourists to experience the 18th century. Albeit the fact that it’s a bit commercialized, the antiquity of the street has never been diminished. There was this whole minute when the place was basically deserted except for us (either because everyone else are inside several stores lined up or because they were on the different outskirts of the street) and it was absolutely serene.

I can almost imagine ourselves being a part of the time when Spanish friars ruled the government and the Ilustrados a part of the elite both enslaving the Indios laboring to win their freedom It was very exhilirating just to step on the same grounds that our ancestors did with time separating us. An experience I will never forget.

TIP: From CafĂ© Leona, just pass through Calle Crisologo and turn left on Calle Salcedo. Just continue walking until you see a very small place called Insiang’s Empanada. I can tell you that the empanada that they sell is simply divine. A mouth-watering, crispylicious empanada still hot from the frying pan. Order the special one and pair it with a soda, you’d think you’ve gone to heaven.

Back to our hotel, we took a dip in the pool prior to calling it a night.

Stay tune to Day 2 of our northern escapade tomorrow. Ciao!!!

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