Old San Juan tour

This morning I slept until 10 am, a total of 10 hours. Awesome! I chilled for another two hours and then walked a mile to the pickup spot for today’s tour. It was a hot day today, so it was nice to sit in the chilly bus for a while. Today’s tour was of Old San Juan.

First stop: Museo de Las Americas. We spent an hour there, but I was only there for a little bit more than 30 minutes, it wasn’t that interesting. I saw three exhibitions, one of 22 ethnicities who survived Europpean conquests and still lives today in The Americas. Then I saw one of Christian figurine carvings (all in Spanish so I didn’t understand anything). Then the third was about art in The Americas. I wanted to see the history of Puerto Rico, but it was also only in Spanish, so I didn’t even bother.

Museo de Las Americas Museo de Las Americas

The rest of the time we had over there I was outside checking on of the forts out. There are two here in San Juan, and I looked at Castillo San Felipe Del Morro (built 1539). On the grass field outside a lot of people flew kites and I even saw an iguana graze (is that the right word for eating the grass on the ground?) on the field. I got pretty close and got my first good picture of one of them. Cool!

Castillo San Felipe del Morro Castillo San Felipe del Morro Iguana

Second stop: Castillo San Cristobal. The biggest fort in San Juan. Built in 1783 and has never experienced an attack. It was a pretty cool place. We got a 20 minute tour from the guide and then we could walk around by ourselves. We saw a prison cell where Dutch prisoners had drawn ships on the walls. We walked through tunnels, and saw the pretty view over Old San Juan and the ocean.

Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal

Third stop: 2 hours alone in Old San Juan. If I knew this I probably wouldn’t have gone there myself the other day. Or I probably would have. It was nice not to have a time limit to find something. Now instead I walked around for a bit, then sat down on a square, had a mofongo for dinner and then a Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks and read for 40 minutes. It was also nice. So far my stomach is actually feeling okay after the coffee. Normally my stomach gets real upset and bloated, but I think I am good. We will see later tonight if anything happens.

Old San Juan Mofongo in Old San Juan

At 6pm we head back. I walked in the dark from the Hilton Hotel to my hostel. It was a little bit scary, but it was only 7pm. Nothing happened and I am safe and sound now.

I am not sure what I should do now, maybe just go to bed and read? Or watch an episode of The Flash? I have such a huge crush on Grant Gustin right now.  He is the definition of a handsome man! He is wow, just very very much WOW!

Grant-gustin-1360391870

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Flamenco Beach

Wow, this day has been incredible in many ways. Flamenco Beach definitely lived up to its expectations. It’s not google beautiful, since all the pictures there shows a beach cleaned from seaweed, but it was still amazingly beautiful, the sand was fine and white. The water had the amazing turquoise color of the Caribbean sea. Just perfect!

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This Christmas Day started with a bus trip to Fajardo from San Juan. It took about an hour. We checked in and then went aboard the boat. It was a speed catamaran boat, which made the whole trip not as enjoyable as if it would have been a sailing catamaran. I thought it would be nice to go there earlier anyway, but I soon regretted that thought. The 50 minutes it took to get to our first stop was horrible! Just horrible. I don’t know when this happened, when my stomach can’t handle motion anymore. It was very very bumpy because we went against the big waves. And I got really nauseous. Eventually my throat got tighter and I really had to throw up. The nice guys leading the trip gave me a bucket and a piece of napkin with some alcohol on it to smell. After my gagging (but nothing came up fortunately), I smelled that paper for a while and I was fine again. That was not fun.

Our first stop was by a snorkeling spot. We were told it was the Caribbean’s best spot and I believed it. It was pretty beautiful. But, nothing can ever compare to Egypt’s Red Sea. Lots of different colored “leaves”, brains, fingers, and all the other things. Fish also of course. I did not see too many, but that was probably because there were a lot of people in the water at the same time. Saw a few very pretty ones. No turtles though. Apparently they were on the other side of Culebra island where the current was too strong to swim in. I wasn’t disappointed, I have seen turtles. But it would be really cool to swim with them one time.

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Then there was a lunch buffet with a divine chicken salad and coleslaw. Free drinks as well. I didn’t go in the water again to snorkel because it was a bit windy and not too warm. Only 20 minutes later we were on our way to Flamenco Beach which was on another side of the island we snorkeled by. It was breathtaking when we came up to it, saw the beautiful water and white beach. Not too many palm trees, they grew more on DR, here it is something else. I think it is some kind of Acacia.

We had to swim to the beach from the boat, so no towels and nothing. I brought my snorkel and mask and my GoPro. It does not take as good pictures as my phone, but I didn’t wanna bring it. First I went to the two old tanks at the farthest end of the beach with a guy I met on the boat. He was from New York and was here with his cousins. The tanks were left there after Flamenco Beach was a US military testing beach or something. They had been painted though, pretty cool.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0431. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0433. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0435. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0438.

When we came back to where we landed I just sat down where the water rolled in on the beautiful sand. Sat there for a while, filling up my bikini with sand, and then it was time to go. I was sad to go (and I dreaded the trip back to PR main island). The way back was better than the way there since we were going with the waves. It was almost pleasant.

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The bus trip back to San Juan was not fun. I was dropped off last, and because of heavy traffic it took more than two hours when it should have taken 50 minutes normally. And the AC was too cold and I was tired, not a nice ride.

Back at the hostel I took a shower (not nearly as warm as I would have wanted it – it made me miss DR), and then went with my new roomie Stephanie, to a Thai-Indian place a few blocks away from here. I had two appetizers and it was good, at least one of them.

Now I am extremely tired, I have sorted all my photos better in DropBox and tomorrow morning I will start uploading to Facebook. I have a few hours to kill before my last tour (and activity) here on Puerto Rico, a tour of Old San Juan and the fort. I can’t believe I am off to Jamaica after that. And I also can’t believe that I’ve been away from home for two weeks now and only have 10 more days before going back.

Another thing that I thought was really cool about today was all the iguanas I saw on the way to and from Fajardo. When I was driving myself, I didn’t have time to look closer to the trees on the side of the roads. But today I noticed that they were full of iguanas. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but I saw countless of iguanas in different trees. Really cool! There was also a guy next to the road with a goat on a leash. Totally casual.

 

In all, I can definitely recommend East Island Excursion’s Catamaran Trip to Culebra Island. The guys working there were so friendly and nice and helpful. One of them was from Nashville, Tennessee, but he moved to PR nine years ago. He is the fourth person I meet from TN, and three of the four look the same, tall and blonde. Maybe I should move there?

I need to go to bed now, I can’t keep my eyes open. All this sun, gupping on waves, drinks, has made me exhausted. I hope everyone else had a great Christmas Day! Mine couldn’t have been better (okay, I could have seen turtles and not get seasick, but those are minor problems)! Merry Christmas!

Feliz Navidad – Playa Mar Chiquita

This Christmas Eve was wonderful, exactly what I had had in mind when I booked this trip. Today was the last day I had the car, and I drove 40 minutes west to a beach called Mar Chiquita. It was like a lagoon, but with waves. For some reason the bottleneck still let waves through, and there were rocks in the water so not completely unsafe to go in the water. I actually only went in one time to snorkel for a bit, hoping to see a turtle or something cool. But just a few fish. The waves doesn’t feel too big when you are out there and look down. There was a guy I was talking to for like half an hour, and actually very nice and he kept an eye on me so I didn’t drown when I was in the water. He also took some photos of me (I know they are all the same, just different beaches, but I don’t care, I want proof that I was there) and asked me if I was a model. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve heard that lately. First time in the US was at the immigrant control when I landed in LA. The guy asked me what I was studying, when I answered civil engineering he just replied that he didn’t know that you could mix modeling and engineering. Anyway, he didn’t stop there, he also said something about my feet. He said they were very small and cute (I’ve lost count on how often I’ve heard that too, but for real, random guys can walk up to me when I am waiting for the bus or something and tell me I have cute feet). Even if he was forward like all the guys here, he did it in the right way and he was genuinely nice and fun to talk to. It was the same with the private driver I had on my first day on Dominican Republic.

I read some, more than halfway done with The Kill Order now. It’s taking longer time now because I do so much more than just hang out on the beach and read. But there’s nothing wrong with that. As soon as I am done with this one my goal for the whole vacation is reached, four books.

Then I also skyped with my family on mom’s side for a little more than ten minutes. It worked surprisingly well on a hidden beach on Puerto Rico. They accused me of having a green screen behind me to fake the blue sky, water, beach, and palm trees. Haha! It was nice seeing them and I kinda missed the whole Christmas thing then. I did have a great Christmas, but I was alone, with no food.

I got a little burned today, even if I put sunscreen on at least a couple of times. But as always I miss spots, and the worst part are my lower legs and lower back. But I have put a lot of aloe on it, so it should be all good tomorrow and I will be ready for my next adventure on this island. I am going on a catamaran trip to Culebra island tomorrow. I guess it will be similar to the one I took on Dominican Republic. But this will be better. This beach I am going to is ranked one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. And the snorkeling is supposed to be really nice there, and the weather is always great there. I am so excited!

What else happened today? Hmm, I returned the car, talked to my new roommate for a bit, took a shower, and then watched the last 8 episodes of the Swedish Christmas Calendar. Not the best on there is, but it was okay.

Now  I will pack for tomorrow, then read and fall asleep. Maybe put on some more aloe before that. Goodnight and Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you had/will have a wonderful Christmas!

Playa Mar Chiquita Playa Mar Chiquita Playa Mar Chiquita Playa Mar Chiquita Playa Mar Chiquita Playa Mar Chiquita Merry Christmas Merry ChristmasPlaya Mar Chiquita

Rainforest, rum distillery, Old San Juan

Today was s a busy day. I got a lot of fun things done. My day started with a trip to El Yunque, the rainforest on the east side of this island. I walked to another hotel where the tourbus would pick me up. It only took 20 minutes and with the GPS it wasn’t that hard.

The big van stopped at three more hotels to pick up guests and then about 35 minutes to the rainforest. It was rainy and not too warm. I wasn’t freezing, but I had a few goosebumps most of the day. And because of the cold, I didn’t go into the waterfall pool, otherwise I totally would have done it!

We saw a lot of waterfalls, dense rainforest, a tree frog, lizards, bamboo, and more. It was definitely a cool experience to be in a real rainforest. We didn’t hike much at all. Just mostly drove around to vistas, some walking and climbing, but nothing too hard. It was an easy day. But I was extremely tired when I got back to the hostel, so I actually took an hour nap before going to my next stop for the day.

Juan Diego Juan Diego waterfall pools.Juan Diego Juan Diego waterfalls pools.Sierra palm tree Sierra palm treeEl Yunque El Yunque Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower built in the 60’s for an amazing view over the forest.Yokahu Tower On top of Yokahu Tower.Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower La Coca Falls La Coca Falls.La Coca Falls

I drove there in the heavy traffic, but I was in a better mood today and didn’t get too angry when I drove the wrong way a few times. I got there and directly managed to catch a tour. $13 for the tour, and a complimentary glass and drink was included and so was a lot of rum tasting. So worth it! Not worth driving though. I had a few sips of rum and a virgin pina colada afterward. First on the tour we drove around the area in a train and the guide pointed out the distillery and all the other buildings. Then we went to the visitor center where we first watched a historic movie about the Bacardi company. Then into a room where an old distillery was built. We could smell different types of rum and learned the process of making rum. It was interesting, but too much fact for me to remember now. I do remember though that it started in 1862 in Cuba, and then moved mainly to USA, and then back to the Caribbean when alcohol was banned. It opened up on Puerto Rico in the mid 20th century and the San Juan Bacardi distillery is today the world’s biggest. I also remember that it was the founders wife who suggested the bat logo because the first building they used were full of bats.

The next room was a bar where a bartender taught us how to mix the three basic rum drinks and the history around them. The first one, rum and coke, was back in the days called a Cuba Libre (=for a free Cuba) because the military cheered that way. It is just rum (preferably not a white rum), coke and lime. The second one, daiquiri, was invented when a lot of people ordered the same drink all the time, but there was no name for it, so one guy named it after the city he was in (or something like that). The drink is also very easy to mix, two teaspoons of sugar, white rum, ice, and lime juice. And then there are a lot of variations with flavors and stuff. The third drink was mojito and I definitely learned something about that drink today. You are not supposed to use the muddle on the mint leaves, only on the lime. So first, two teaspoons of sugar on ~5 slices of lime, muddle it, then pour white rum (don’t remember the amounts) and lime juice over, take a handful of mint leaves and clap your hands once or twice with the leaves in between and then put them in the drink. Some ice on that and it is done. The last thing we did was to try Bacardi 8, 8 years aged rum. It was strong, but actually not too bad. I only took half the sample, since I was driving (I usually have a zero alcohol and driving policy, but I thought if there was one time to break it, it would be at the tour of the world’s biggest rum distillery. Then in the shop I tried a tiny sip on Bacardi Coconut, and Rock Coconut which was a fusion between melon and coconut. Both were good, but strong. It is hard alcohol. And then at the bar where the tour started I got a pina colada with no rum and had it as a smoothie in the car while I was driving to Old San Juan.

Casa Bacardi That artsy thing (where you bought the tickets, and where the bar was) is supposed to look like a flying bat. It is very much designed.Casa Bacardi Casa Bacardi

Old San Juan was cute, I liked it. It is very close to the hostel and there were a lot of souvenir shops, which is what I was looking for. I bought my bracelet and the magnet and I actually couldn’t resist buying a shot glass too. I wasn’t planning on it, but when I saw it, I just couldn’t resist, handmade with an iguana on it.

Old San JuanCalle Fortaleza in Old San Juan.

On my way out of there I had to drive through the busiest street of Old San Juan, but I survived and it wasn’t too bad.

I got back, hung out with my roommates for a while (they are leaving tomorrow morning unfortunately), we ate pizza, and talked about everything. They are really cool!

Now, I am finishing this up, and will probably go to sleep directly after. This humid heat is making me exhausted all the time. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which is hard for me to believe. I will spend it on a beach called Mar Chiquita, then return the car and watch the last 9 episodes of the Swedish Christmas Calendar I haven’t watched yet. I will probably stream “Kalle Anka” (Donald Duck, the Swedish Christmas TV tradition) as well. I don’t feel too sad about spending another Christmas away from home actually. It is a nice holiday, but not too important to me any longer. I guess it will be when I have my own family in the future though.

San Juan International HostelThis is what the main room in the hostel looks like.

Condado Beach

I wasn’t all alone today, yay! I was just about to go in the car when a couple, who checked in last night, came up to me and asked me if I knew where to go if they wanted to go to downtown. I heard their accent and asked where they were from and they said Sweden. So we switched to Swedish and after that they came with me to the beach. Today I went to one of the beaches right here, called Condado Beach. It was a pretty beach with lots of hotels. Parking was not fun though. Three hours or however long it was, $14! Last time I was on those beaches. They weren’t that good anyway.

Before we went to the beach though, we went to Ben & Jerry’s to eat breakfast. I had an acai bowl, and that was so good. That was the first time I tried it and definitely not the last one. After that we started our beach day by going in the water, it was so warm. The waves were big and I wore my turquoise bikini which is more suited for the pool. But it was still fun. I love being in the water. Then just hanging out on the beach, talking and then I think I fell asleep on my stomach. My back burns a little bit now. But not too bad, it will be better tomorrow.

We went for lunch and then to Carolina Beach where these two guys wanted to check out a kite surfing place. They are staying here for three weeks to kite surf (and have fun and a great time obviously). So we stayed there for a while and talked with the two people there. They rented two  boards and then we went to Walmart to buy some fruit and other snacks for the next upcoming days.

Now I am back at the hostel and tired. All the sun is making me so tired, even if I am not doing anything special.

Tomorrow will be a fun day, At 8am I will be picked up to go on a tour to El Yunque rain forest. I am really excited. Depending on the weather I might go to the beach after, or maybe to Old San Juan. I am looking for a souvenir shop so I can buy my bracelet and fridge magnet.

Condado Beach Condado Beach

Luquillo Beach (Balnaerio La Monserrate)

I love it when the weather people are wrong in the right way. According to Google the weather is supposed to be bad this week, starting today with a lot of rain showers and only clouds. But this was not the case, today was glorious! There were clouds, but more inland and not by the coast. Since I thought it was gonna be pretty bad today, I didn’t leave bed until 9am. I skipped breakfast and unpacked in my new room upstairs. I talked for a bit with my two roommates and then decided that I would take the car to Luquillo Beach, a Blue Flag beach an hour west of here. It was hard to find, but eventually I got there. It was a pretty beach, I have to admit, but nothing like the beaches I saw on Dominican Republic. The beaches there were whiter, the water was clearer and turquoise. But I still enjoyed it. It was a very hot day and I could only manage to read a chapter before I needed to go in the water again. The water was calm and pretty warm. I think I could have stayed in there all day without being cold at all. But I really wanted to finish my book so I decided it was more worth it to run in and out of the water countless times. It really was a burning heat today, the sea breeze was pretty much zero.

I had leftovers for lunch and then finished the third Maze Runner book. I didn’t like the end. It was like it was just written because the author wanted to be done with the book. The story is good, and I was hoping the ending would match it. Now I started reading the prequel The Kill Order. And after that I don’t know what I should read. Maybe A Series of Unfortunate Events?

I stayed and watched the sunset and then drove back to San Juan where I had dinner plans at the Ben & Jerry’s place close by. I couldn’t find it so I decided to be very comfortable and just go to a Starbucks and have a wrap or ciabatta or something. But that was easier said than done. I chose the closest Starbucks, but because of all the stupid road constructions, freeways, ramps, and millions of cars I drove wrong countless times. After an hour of still not finding a Starbucks I was really hungry and upset. How hard can it be to build easily understood road systems?? Upsetting. I hope I don’t have to drive through the city too much tomorrow. I am going to Ocean Park Beach, which is very close to here, but I don’t wanna walk here. Except for this horrible driving experience I have to say that it is very similar to California. On my way to the beach was easy peasy. Haha, one cool thing happened, the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like it. I almost ran over a meter long (3 feet) iguana. I realized too late to take a picture..

Luquillo beach Luquillo Beach.Luquillo sunset I got to see my first real nice Caribic sunset.Luquillo sunset

Hola Puerto Rico

I have checked out of the amazing Barcelo Bavaro hotel and checked in at a hostel in San Juan. Nothing wrong with that, but I have to admit that I will miss the hotel. I think I will just need a day or two to adjust to this hostel experience. It is a nice hostel, and the manager is really nice. I have a car the first four days of this week and I managed to get a really nice price, $400. The guy at Enterprise must have felt really sorry for me, because the normal price was over $700. I got a GPS too. My phone is working, but I don’t have unlimited data, and I don’t wanna kill my battery with the GPS when I use it for photos.

The flight was delayed because there was some trouble with baggage not reaching the plane. So I was very relieved when I saw my green suitcase on the baggage claim.

When I checked in at the hostel I got a tour, and the first night I am staying in a private room because of something that got mixed up. I am not complaining. The WiFi here is so much better than at the hotel on DR, and there are people here that I can actually talk to if I want to. I went out for dinner the first thing I did. The manager told me to go to Ruben’s café. I asked the waiter if he could recommend anything and I just took what he said, a mofongo. It was kinda like a pie, but the crust was mashed and fried plantain (looks like bananas). And then I had chicken in it. It was really good. And very typical Puerto Rican apparently. Then off to buy some water and fruit to have during the days. Back at the hostel where I booked the three tours I want to do this week. Rainforest hike, tour of Old San Juan and the old forts, and a catamaran trip to an island called Culebra. I am excited!

According to Google, tomorrow will be cloudy, maybe even rainy. If it isn’t, I am going to a beach. Otherwise I will go to Bacardi rum distillery and a NASA thing and maybe to Old San Juan or a shopping center if I get really bored. From what I have seen so far, this is definitely USA. But nothing wrong with that. I am just excited about seeing everything that’s not. Starting tomorrow. Now it’s time to sleep, this heat is making me exhausted!

Bavaro Beach It was a little too bad I had to leave DR today when the weather was perfect. I still had a couple of hours at the beach before I had to check out.Mofongo Relleno PolloMofongo Relleno Pollo.