Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Anniversary Cruise! Puerto Rico, Day 1

It was wet. Very wet.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.,

We disembarked in San Juan a tiny bit behind schedule, which was okay for a couple of reasons. First, that's just how it is, and there's nothing to be done about it. Second, bridge construction and heavy rains were making it difficult for Bob and Karen to make it to the pier to pick us up. They had arrived in San Juan the day before and were staying at the Conrad Condado, which was visible from the ship. They just couldn't get from Point A to Point B.

It's raining. The wind is blowing a gale.
It's all good.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
There was no immediate area for them to park and wait for us. The deluge continued. It was pouring buckets. Cats and dogs. Like in a movie about jungle survival. After multiple back-and-forth cell phone calls [Our cell phones worked there without having international calling], it seemed best for them to “accidentally” pull in where the motor coaches were loading up the passengers who were going on tours or to the airport. The driving rain was showing no signs of easing, and things were starting to flood. A puddle climbed onto the sidewalk and inched its way towards me. We were soaked, but it was a warm rain. The air temperature was very comfortable, so, no problem!

Old San Juan
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
As soon as we left the loading area, the rain slowed. What a relief! We dropped our luggage off at the Conrad and went straight to Old San Juan. The bright colors, the lace balconies, the cobbled streets. We loved it! Oh, my, the memories came flooding back from the 40-year-old mental file cabinets.

El Morro
Photo by Chris.
All rights reserved.
We visited Castillo San Felipe delMorro (“El Morro”). In the 16th Century, construction began on this fortress designed to protect San Juan. It is a World Heritage Site, and it is a must-see destination while in Puerto Rico. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the footsteps of the sentries over the centuries. You might even see Sir Francis Drake's ship offshore in his failed attempt to attack San Juan. What a magnificent fortification, with walls around the old city. So colonial and charming and very old.

And such a tremendous lack of parking on the streets of Old San Juan. Up one street, down the other. Not a parking spot to be found. And then, behind the museum, we came upon an enterprising fellow making a few bucks in tips to help folks like us find a spot. Voila! Just like magic.

Enjoying a Pina Colada.
(All rights reserved.)
We happened to saunter by Barrachina. It's about a block from the governor's mansion, La Fortaleza, and it's the restaurant where the Pina Colada was originally created and served. At least, that's their story, and they're sticking to it. In such a circumstance, what can a thirsty traveler do? Exactly.

And then we walked and walked some more. What a beautiful and exotic place. And what a small world: We ran into the couple from St. Kitts we'd met on the ship, and they enthusiastically told Bob and Karen how wonderful the snorkeling is there and how fabulous the water is. Note to self: Go to St. Kitts someday!

Please don't feed them. It only encourages them.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
It was starting to get a bit late in the afternoon, so we retrieved the luggage and started the trek to “our” place...the Hampton Inn. It took absolutely forever in the traffic on the surface streets, and I felt so bad for Bob and Karen. What a drag. There is a freeway that gets you from Point A to Point B in 10 or 15 minutes, but we couldn't find it. Note to self: Check the map next time.

We were pretty hungry by the time we got to Isla Verde. Right across the street from the Hampton Inn, there was a little place called Platino's that offered authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. I was expecting homestyle food of the type I used to eat at lunchtime in Luquillo between shifts at CarlinManufacturing many moons ago, and this was considerably more upscale. But it was still Arroz con Pollo and beans and tostones [fried plantain]. I was a happy camper, and it was only the end of Day One on the island.

1 comment:

  1. I thought I already read this one, but apparently not. As usual I can't keep up with you. Anyhow, it all looks great except for the storm part. I can do without storms. Didn't seem to dampen your spirits at all though:)


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