Saturday, November 9, 2013

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Hello Bloggy friends!!!
I am back!!! Not that you even knew I was gone. :)
Matt and I were gone for 10 days in Puerto Rico and then on a cruise.
It was THE BEST vacation yet!
Last Friday we arrived in Puerto Rico after almost 7 hours of traveling and then that Sunday we boarded a 7 day cruise.   
This past Sunday (around midnight), we FINALLY arrived home. I would have blogged sooner, but I had work starting Monday morning, laundry to wash, cuddle time with my dog and then I got sick. Yep, I got sick. Meaning, not only did I have lots of work to catch up on (at work and home) from vacation, but now I have even more to makeup from being sick. Not fun at all. Thankfully I am mostly feeling better today.
I gotta tell you, I have decided 10 days of vacation is enough time away for me. I was actually ready to be home. I wanted to see my dog and sleep in my bed and watch my TV while sitting in my rocking chair. (You get the point.) It was a nice treat to have an extra long vacation though.
My last two cruises I have summed up very quickly, but for this one, I wanna be more detailed.
More detailed for me when I read my old posts.
More detailed for my family who reads my blog.
And more detailed for people who are Googleing Carnival Cruise Line, The Valor, Puerto Rico or anything else related to my vacation. I did TONS of research and was grateful for everything I read. Not only am I going to blog in detail about our vacation, I am also going to write reviews. This will be my first time doing the second part.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Day 1
Our first flight took us to Orlando, FL then after another 2 hours and 46 minutes in the air, we landed in San Juan around 3PM.
We got our luggage and then called the car rental company. We rented our car from a local car rental agency called Charlie's. I had researched them online and per tripadvisor reviews, I learned they were reputable and fairly priced. I agree. We had no complaints with them. At first I was shocked they weren't already outside with all the other waiting vans from rental car competitors, but after our call, they were at the airport within 10 minutes. Check-in was a breeze and they didn't pressure us to purchase any additional insurance on top of what I had already decided on purchasing. I would use this company again.
After picking up our rental car, we then checked into our hotel - Hilton's Doubletree which I had also researched online. We were both very happy with this hotel and would recommend it to anyone staying in the area.
We had our own balcony to walk out to the pool from instead of going through the hotel. I am sure it wasn’t as safe since the hotel room was unlocked, but we felt very secure with this method. I guess go with whatever works for you.
Picture number one was our balcony and picture number 2 was our view.
Friday evening didn’t leave much time to do anything; we mostly just hung out in the hotel's pool and hot tub. We had them both all to ourselves! We ate some Puerto Rican food from a restaurant right next to the hotel - not worth almost $50. Not yummy. :( We thought we would like it.
We also ventured out to the very convenient across the street grocery store where we stocked up on all sorts of goodies. Some seen below.
Day 2
Our one full day in Puerto Rico was a fun filled day. We decided to sleep in and then head out to the rain forest. After deciding we do not like Puerto Rican food, we grabbed some breakfast at Burger King. Yes, I usually like to eat at unique restaurants while on vacation, but this was like a whole other world over here. Comfort food was the way to go! 
El Yunque National Forest is the name of the rain forest. According to the website, it is the only rain forest in the United States. I knew this was a must see. My plan was to get there as early as possible in the morning to hopefully avoid the crowds that would come from tour groups. We mostly missed them.
Prior to going, I had researched and printed maps so we wouldn’t have to waste time stopping to get any information.
First stop - La Coco Waterfall
This is an easy stop viewable from the street. We parked and walked over to it.
Beautiful! A must see!
Matt and I both think this was the nicer of the two large ones we saw. And we both agree this could be in part since it wasn’t busy and no one was in it.
Next stop - Yokahu Tower
This was also within a few minutes of a parking spot. We went up the tower - a bit of a trek for out of shape people like myself. The views were wonderful though and well worth every step I had taken.
You could see miles from anywhere you were standing. We stayed up there by ourselves until a few people started coming up there. Glad we did too because as we were going down, more and more people were going up. Two small buses had recently arrived. Meaning it was time for us to go!
Next stop - La Mina Falls
There was a shorter way to go to the waterfall, but I wanted to take the more scenic route.
Along the way we saw all sorts of beautiful scenery and different critters.
Saw the 'giant' snails:
The main attraction was obviously the waterfall, but every single picture I took, it is a bit hard to cut out all the people who got in my way. You are allowed to swim in the waterfall.
Instead of going on back to the road (it ended FAR from where we had parked), we decided to backtrack. This was wonderful until it started pouring! Luckily we had already bought yellow rain ponchos. We still got drenched! Once we found shelter we stayed there until we could wait it out. Unfortunately, both of our feet were wet and we were done site seeing for the day.

We both agree we would definitely come here again.
We drove back to our hotel to relax until it was time to leave. (LOL!)
The Bio Bay - Bioluminescent Lagoon - was something I wanted to experience after I had learned about it on the Discovery channel's series 'North America'.
There are evidently only five places in the World where you can view this - three of which are in Puerto Rico.
Basically it is glowing water! Plankton which uses a 'glow' as a defense mechanism.
We chose to go with Captain Suarez with Baby Bay Cruising Lagoon since I knew I wanted to go on an electric boat opposed to kayaking. They only have two companies that are allowed to go on motor boat and one of them was on vacation for the week. So we got stuck with a 6PM meeting time even though I had wanted later.
The lady who I booked the reservation with is named Jennifer. She told me she would text me directions the day of the tour. I figured we would have no issues since we had our GPS. I was wrong. She literally sent directions! And not good one at that! I texted her back for an address and she never responded. We almost didn’t find the location in time. I kept telling Matt it would be okay, but inside I was thinking it wouldn’t be. I wanted to go so badly! Luckily we found the area, but then we had to rush and look for the boat. Almost didn’t find that in time. Then I realized I had left the bug spray in the car! Ahhhh!!!! So I asked if we had a few minutes and they said yes so I ran to the car and got it. After putting it on both of us, we saw they had some. Go figure!
6PM ending up being a good time to go out. It was already pitch dark!
We went out with 2 people from the tour company and 6 other people. We had a peaceful ride through the mangroves and finally arrived in the big open area where we saw the most amazing thing I had ever seen!
I cannot express into words how magical this experience was for me. It is truly something you have to see for yourself.
The water literally glows!
(I know it is hard to see.)
We each had long sticks to swirl in the water.
When you put your hand in the water and then take it out, your hand even glows with sparkles.
No matter how hard the place is to find, this is something you should experience if you ever have the opportunity. Easily one of the coolest things I have ever experienced in my life!
The tour guy kept talking and pointing to the stars in the sky. I could care less about what was going on in the sky. I could not stop looking at the water!
They said when it rains, you just see sparkles all throughout the water. Matt and I both would LOVE to be there on a rainy day. The guy did have a gun sort of things to spit water out a few feet from us so we were able to see it on a much smaller scale.
Day 3
Sunday morning we swam and did some laundry. We planned on turning in our rental car and getting to the boat in time to board and eat lunch and then head out to see Old San Juan. More on that later.
Enjoy some pictures of Old San Juan until then.

1 comment:

  1. Always wanted to go to San Juan! So very happy the hotel worked out. I love the giant chess set! I would have to play it! I think it would be more fun if it were checkers - KING me!! You created such magical memories for you and Matt; I am proud of you!