More San JuanDecember 11, 2018 in Puerto Rico ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F
Enjoyed walking around fort...very interesting
Beautiful ice skating show on ship!!
Enjoyed walking around fort...very interesting
Beautiful ice skating show on ship!!
Santa and elves made a special visit! 🎅
Up most of the night packing so finished at 2am and had to get up at 4am for our 8am flight. The US airports can take alot of time to check in and get through TSA so I like to allow enough time. Also with car rental dropoff you often have to get shuttles.
Bought the plastic bags that need a vacuum to seal them so that squashed all our winter clothes and our puffas. Normally I bring the ones that you hand roll but I knew I would need the big guns for this trip!
Getting to the aiport was stressful as our sat nav doesn't give clear directions and fails to direct you to entries. Added to that the main road to the aiport was closed for construction and our sat nav couldn't redirect. Luckily I had looked at the route and vaguely knew what direction to head so did that until the sat nav came good again.
It was pure luck that I found the entry to the carpark return when I turned around when a car beeped at me! Thank you beeping car! And thank goodness I had allowed enough time.
Miami airport is huge as you would expect with a shuttle train to some of the gates. For some reason we are flying business class which is nice. Only a short 2 1/2 hour flight to San Juan.
Our luggage is crazy but I have worked out how to carry/wheel 2 large suitcases, 1 large duffel bag, 1 small duffel, a heavy handbag, a carry on bags and a backpack! This was worked out quickly when I discovered there were no carts at San Juan airport and expensive porters for a distance of a few minutes was the deal!
So taxi to the ship then standing in line in the sun to drop the bags off then thankfully we could get a wheelchair for mum then straight to our cabin.
We are so tired we collapse on our beds only to wake when its time for the mandatory drill.
Then back to bed! We are so tired. We don't even open our bags or have dinner. We barely look at San Juan port - photos are from when we returned to start the next cruise. They don't encourage me to get off the ship and explore.Read more
Tedious day today after a tedious night of packing. The same cabin wasn't available for the next cruise. Had to be out of the room by 8am. Then at 9.30 immigration came on board to check those who were doing consecutive cruises.
Then had to hang around until the rooms were ready at about 2.30pm. The consecutive cruisers as they call us were invited to an 'exclusive' lunch which was total shite. Had to send back an inedible pasta and ended up having bread and butter for lunch. Menu was crap.
By this time weirdly we were exhausted so had a nap until the compulsory drill.
Then potatoes beans and rice for dinner followed by tv. Exciting.
New room a long way from the food. When you cruise the food is at the back and the entertainment at the front - well at least on Celebrity. So I prefer the back of the ship.
Also previously we were on level 11 as part of a few staterooms and now we are on level 9 with an obstructed view which wasn't disclosed by Celebrity when we booked. Its not a real obstruction by ship standards but its annoying. I guess it will provide shade.
Next was an announcement that they are fixing the ship's navigation system so we will be delayed in leaving San Juan by an hour. That was two hours ago.
My guess is if they can't fix it in two hours then they need more expertise.
We didn't bother to leave the ship as San Juan does not look enticing.Read more
I write this with a bit of melancholy because it is the last port on this incredible adventure around South America. I feel fortunate that we have a home we love going back to, but the 60+ days we have spent on this trip have become a very special home-away-from-home. Nancy and Jim have been great traveling compadres and I’m sure that I have been working my “core” with all the laughing. We have all developed close relationships with many of the staff, some of whom we met when they were working on the Silver Whisper when we did the World Cruise 3 years ago.
But, after visiting San Juan 3 years ago, we were looking forward to our visit here. Old San Juan is a lovely, colorful town with beautiful blue pavers on the narrow streets and alleyways. The terrible tragedy this island suffered 6 months ago when Hurricane Maria struck has not broken the spirit here. We saw many indications of the damage that was was inflicted here. I know a good portion of the island is still without electricity, but the locals are working hard to regain their tourism business.
Jeff and I stopped into a little restaurant called “Istanbul” when we were here 3 years ago. Their Turkish food was outstanding and I have craved it ever since. I thought it was a stretch to think it survived time and the hurricane, but there was our tiny restaurant! Jim and Nancy were curious since I had been talking about it for so long. It did not disappoint. Fabulous hummus with fresh-baked pita,
Imam Bayildi, Greek salad, Kofte, and their signature dish, Ottoman casserole. Paired with sangria, it was an unbeatable meal. We fell on our lunch so fast, we forgot to even take a photo to share! A great top-off to our wonderful trip.
Two days at sea lay ahead of us, which will include packing, working on some projects we brought along, reading and getting ready to live real life again.
Signing off for this journey!Read more
Old Town San Juan, Puerto Rico
Wir dachten Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 wäre ein unscheinbarerer Zwischenstopp auf dem Weg von der Karibik nach Mexiko, doch erwies sich als echte Latino Perle. Das kubanisch/mexikanische Flair und die spanische Amtssprache lassen (fast) vergessen, dass wir uns in einem U.S. Staat befinden. Fast. Bis zu dem Moment, wenn die (amerikanischen) Touri Ströme von den dicken Kreuzfahrtschiffen im Hafen von San Juan die Insel stürmen.
Eine geschichtsträchtige Altstadt begrüsst mit wunderschönen, doch in die Jahre gekommenen Bauten - neben der Landesflagge etwas Weiteres, das an Kuba erinnert. Leguane sonnen sich hier und dort auf den Stadtmauern. 🐉
Am 2. Tag herrscht auf der ganzen Insel Stromausfall. Wo sich sonst bei lateinamerikanischer Musik alles Leben auf den Strassen abspielt, herrscht auf einmal Totenstille. Bis auf das Summen einiger Notstromgeneratoren. Wir gehen auf Nahrungssuche; nur wenige Restaurants können noch auf „Sparflamme“ kochen. Auf einmal wird einem wieder bewusst, wie wenig man ein so selbstverständliches Gut wie Strom zu schätzen weiss. Nachts gehts das Licht auf einmal wieder an und sorgt für Freudensprünge im Bett. 😀
Die wohl sehr häufig auftretenden landesweiten Stromausfälle sind noch immer den Auswirkungen des Hurrikans Maria (Sept. 2017) zuzuschreiben. So viele Monate später gibt es noch immer Versorgungsausfälle; 20% der Insel sind wohl 8 Monate später noch immer ohne Strom. Ein Taxifahrer berichtete uns von seinen ganz persönlichen Geschichten, wie er sich mit der Familie im Keller versteckte. 12 Stunden lang mussten sie das Wüten des Wirbelsturms ertragen, das wie ein dauerhaft vorbeifahrender Zug in den Ohren hing.
Apropos Wind: Seb hat hier noch einen genialen Kite Spot auskosten können, mit sauberer Welle am Korallenriff vor Punta Las Marias.
Fazit: eine schöne, sehenswerte latino Überraschung nach all den Pirates of the Caribbean Eindrücken und dem nun folgenden Maya Kulturprogramm.Read more
Hello from San Juan.
We offer full disclosure: EXCEPT for the running/walking track we did NOT do the following:
Perfect Storm Waterslides
Basketball Court (full court)
A great city to end our round the world tour. Beautiful but hot weather and a very clean and welcoming city. We were the last cruise ship in for a while but during the season they have up to 8 at a time with some as big as 8000? passengers. That sound huge compared to our little boat with 380. Some of the shops didn't even open today for such a small boat but we were through touring and back on the boat early just because we were exhausted.Read more
Super excited for what this country has to offer!
Technically part of Puerto Rico and therefore US soil and US water, but not good enough to be mainland USA, but not far enough not to be, but still far enough not to be USVI which would require a new permit, but not a new passport stamp and new customs by phone and then not by phone and a registration number that isn't right but if you remove numbers it is... No wonder nobody could tell us the deal, because nobody knows. Customs won't even reboot their computer to complete the immigration process. I guess we'll wait and see how this plays out.
Culebra is one of two Spanish Virgin Islands, located just east of Puerto Rico. The other being Vieques. The islands themselves have stuggled (figuratively) to ever be put on the map. Having little significance to Puerto Rico or anywhere else, perhaps their biggest blip in history is that they have been host to US bomb testing over recent years.
As with all isolated islands unable to sustain any kind of industry, tourism has begun to take hold. And rightly so. Claimed to be the second best beach in the Caribbean, Playa Flemenco was a deilght! Anchoring on the opposite side of the headland (in an extremely calm anchorage) left us a short walk through an ex miltary explosive zone, and a hop through a chain link fence, short of the beach. We were greeted with a horrific tourist scene which we immediately avoided and found our spot on an endless expanse of white sand and tuquoise blue. Worth the walk and some.
Culebra also played host to Jools' first cray. Questionably qualified at diving and diving in questionably marine reserve waters, Jools had an announcement. He was not to leave this trip without his first crayfish. So it was to be. Mere hours later, at the bottom of the decent, tucked under a rock no bigger than a doormat, sat two delectable treats. Hesistant at first, then slow off the mark, dinner looked a distant dream. However, with Wallace in his veins, the scot delivered on his ambition and treated the boys to two tasty treats. In fact he completed the dive with a third which, selflessly was discarded for take at a later date. Mark my words. Muy bien. Feliz navidad!
Christmas eve was spent on the wifi at the Dinghy Dock, a restaurant on the waters edge, providing beers and dinner to the the local mariners. As we soon discovered, many locals live on their boats and use this as their local watering hole.
Christmas day brought strong wind. Holed up in a womderfully calm anchorage in Esenada Honda, we were reluctant to leave. However, our sense of adventure got the better of us. We battened the hatches and weighed anchor, confronting the onslaught that lay ahead. Culebrita was our destination, a short hop from Culebra itself, but said to host the second most beautiful beach in the Greater Antilles. A must do.
The waves were powerful, steepening up as they shoaled on the shallow water around us. We eventually made safe haven in paradise! Selflessly sharing the beach with only one other boat (who left a short time later) we basked in its beauty; rich white sand, foreshore lined with palm trees, and turquoise water! I whipped up a quick foccacia bread and Christmas lunch followed shortly after - a top ten sandwich in Jools' books. Not bad from boat rations!
The afternoon flashed by. We went swimming, explored ashore, got coconuts, made cocktails, climbed the mast, consumed some frosty beers and played a few games. A shame we couldn't be with the families but it was undoubtedly the next best thing!
We cruised back to Esenada Honda in the setting sun. A shallower, downwind route was much less rough and much faster getting us back to anchor in no time. With no fresh catch and no fresh meat, canned chicken was hardly going cut the mustard for a Chrissy dinner. Not being too happy about the situation, especially given my morning efforts to find a tasty bird, I absconded and turned my efforts to what we did have in good supply - beer and cocktails. Meanwhile, the boy's got creative. They made pastry and turned it into a pie, a massive chicken pie. It was definitely the first time I've had canned chicken pie for Christmas dinner but I tell you now - if I get any say in future Christmas dinners, it won't be the last!
Boxing day brought the gift that Christmas day couldn't. During our excursions on Christmas, we sailed past a reef that looked too good to be true. The reef protruded from a headland on the mainland, curling around between shallow rocky outcrops and clusters of mangroves. Behind the reef was a shallow anchorage, accessible (just) by an equally shallow channel. All of this was exposed to 20+ kts of prevailing wind. If you haven't yet caught my drift, let me give you a hint with a math problem: lots of wind + very flat water + windsurfing gear + windsurfer(s) = ? Unlike a regular math problem there was more than one answer to this one: a heap of fun, fantastic windsurf session, tired arms, torn sail, happy boys...I could go on. Extremely glad we made use of the opportunity nature provided us with!!Read more
Tourists, spanish and crazy, crazy drivers.
We just ticked off the western most point of our sailing route. Unfortunately, that coincides with the leeward most point, which means we have several days upwind sailing ahead, but that be tomorrow's problem!
We planned this sail for Boxing day but the wind we woke to almost forced us to postpone. We did our due diligence and decided to have a crack. Although it was rough, we had protection from Culebra and some outer reefs and were running a deep angle which, in the end, made for a really enjoyable sail. Felicity's fishing rod hooked us a mackerel in the late stages of the journey which saved us another night on canned chicken. Phew! Fish tacos instead! We're in a little conundrum with our fishing. Two, actually. The first is that we're not marine biologists, and none of us have knowledge of the local fish. Hence, we don't know what's good for eating, what's good size or in general, what the hell we're doing. The second is that reef fish here may have Ciguatera, a food borne toxic disease. The combination of these two is what makes it difficult. The food gods looked upon us once more that day, and put us within reach of google. Confirmation was all we needed. We're making in roads on our marine biology, when we have to. Soon enough we'll be able to leave our good friend google on the mainland.
We're tucked up in the lee of Isleta Marina. An odd spot, consiting of two small islands connected by a shallow reef. Isleta Marina, as you could guess, is and island with a marina, a very unloved marina at that, and towering apartment blocks for the unintrepid holiday goer. An overwhelming sense of neglect struck us before we even got close. Shipwrecks litter the anchorage, marina and harbour. I'm not talking the Titanic, not even Rainbow Warrior. I'm talking Carlos Sanchez' 15 foot dinghy, or Gomez' 25 ft yacht. In fact there are even sunken boats still in their slip at the marina. Loads of them! I would take a stab and say less than half of the boats in the water here are in a useable state. How sad.
The issue only got worse ashore on the mainland. Direlect houses, businesses, cars, and infrastructure - the whole town of Fajardo appears tired. Except for the dry stack. Four stories of pristine boats, stacked on the hard and sticking out like a prince amoung plebs. It's obvious maintenance is a struggling aspect of this culture. The marina manager agreed. Noting that often these things were passed through generations, and some younger generations were reluctant to spend money on their inheritance.
We allowed ourselves on full day in Puerto Rico. Hardly generous but we have a schedule to stick to (believe it or not). Hence when I say 'full', I'm packing that day like Fraser's lunchbox at high school. Speaking of lunchboxes, fuel for the day started with homemade toasted french baguette, fried eggs, beans and sausages, woo! We took our dinghy to the marina and ferried ashore. We met a top bloke on the ferry who offered us a ride to the car rental. We were on our way by 9.30, pretty good considering our starting location. After the first acceleration, first bump and first requirement to brake, I was entirely confident our rental car was not up to the challenge. Warning lights on an a busted dash were the least of our worries, was we dodged potholes, a million lunatics and lanes that end without warning. A very stressful drive.
Our first stop was El Yunque NP, the only tropical rainforest America. Given that it's not in America, this is, in fact, a useless fact. Nonetheless, it was a rainforest and boy did it rain. This didn't deter the hoards of tourists idling about, obstructing our mission. We're talking, queues for the visitors centre, queues to park, not being able to park at all, single file continuous moving queues on the tracks. On a rainy tuesday in the middle of nowhere, I couldn't believe it. The rainforest itself exceeded expectations but the excursion was marred by the crowds and the rain, which entirely obscured our view from the peak. Anyhow, a leg stretch/workout was well overdue and much appreciated.
From El Yunque we travelled west to San Juan, stopping only for mexican on the road side. Bloody good mexican.
With minmial research and even less time, our expectations for San Juan weren't high. But they were blown away. San Juan is the beating heart of Puerto Rico, and it's port delivers life blood to the country. Without it, Puerto Rico wouldn't be.
Old Town is on San Juan island at the mouth of the harbour, joined to the mainland by a short bridge. Since the 1500s it has been fortified to protect to port of San Juan, Puerto Rico and hence the shipping entrance from Europe to the 'New World'. The significance of this port to trade for the spanish empire can be seen in the size and complexity of the fortifications or 'Castellos' which overlook and protect the port and city. Now a World Heritage Site, the fortifications cover the island from tip to toe, and make a coastal spectacle for visitors; avid sailors and ghastly cruise ship guests alike.
Inside the towering walls and fortresses is the town on Old San Juan, a cross polenation of Spanish and Caribbean architecture, resembling something one might imagine Cuba to be, cobblestone streets included. Interestingly, and reiterating above, a coastal suburb outside of these walls, hundreds of houses on prime beachfront property were all direlect. Historically being an area for slaves and theives (outside the walls) might have had an influence here. Heavily rennovated and adapted to the foreign crowd, the town inside the walls is stuffed with high end clothing and jewellery shops, arts and craft stalls, the odd pub and restaurant (not as many as we had hoped) and of course, all the american wonders; starbucks, pizza hut, Wendy's. ... you name it! We dined at a local joint, couldn't read the menu, ordered something that resembled unripe banana, got something that looked like a muffin, thoroughly enjoyed it and were on our way in the pouring rain, back to Fajardo. On the way we took advantage of a Walmart and stocked up. We've learnt to love a Walmart, that's for sure. Reversing the morning's commute, we caught the last ferry back and got back to the boat around 11pm. All in a day in Puerto Rico.
It was disappointing we couldn't make it to Rincon, the surfing capital of Puerto Rico or to Ilsa de Mona for some world class diving. We would have worked these in if our cruising grounds permitted. Another time.
I'm writing this one from the boat. We're broad reaching in 12kts and blue skies. The boys are in kindle klub, rolling through the books. We've topped off the diesel, gas, and water and have Vieques in our sights. We'll spend the next two nights there before battling back up to St Thomas to collect Cat and Dave. Bring on the New Year!Read more
You might also know this place by the following names:
Puerto Rico, ፖርታ ሪኮ, プエルトリコ, 푸에르토리코, ເປີໂຕລິໂກ, ព័រតូរីកូ, ପୁଏର୍ତ୍ତୋ ରିକୋ, เปอร์โตริโก, Borikén, Borinquen, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, i-Puerto Rico, Mpotoriku, Orílẹ́ède Pọto Riko, Pɔrotoriko, Portó Ríce, Portorico, Porto Rico, Portoriko, Porto Riko, Porto Rîko, Pôrtô Rikô, Porto Rikoo, Portoryko, Potoriko, Pɔtoriko, Puerto Rikas, Puertoriko, Puerto Riko, Puerto-Riko, Púertó Ríkó, Puerto Riko nutome, Pueto Liko, Puɛto Riko, Puwetoriko, Pwetoriko, بورتوريكو, پورتوریکو, پیورٹو ریکو, פורטו ריקו, Πουέρτο Ρίκο, Порторико, Порто Рико, Пуерто Рико, Пуерто-Ріко, Пуэрто-Рико, პუერტო რიკო, पर्टो रीको, पोर्टो रिको, प्युर्टोरिको, પ્યુઅર્ટો રિકો, పోటోరికో, ಪ್ಯೂರ್ಟೋ ರಿಕೊ, பியூர்டோ ரிகோ, പോര്ട്ടോ റിക്കോ, পুয়ের্টোরিকো, ပေါ်တူရီကို, 波多黎各