Saturday, January 31, 2015

US - Old San Juan


Plaza de Armas

City Hall

The architecture is beautiful, I couldn't take pictures of all of them.



A Walgreens store

Even fast food places conform to the historic architecture.

Friday, January 30, 2015

US - Puerto Rico

What beautiful 'wave lines'! 
Some of the coastlines we saw when we were flying to Puerto Rico.

We stayed in a hotel in Condado, not bad.
But the next morning, we found that we didn't have a drop of water from the sink, toilet and shower, that was frustrating.
 The hotel main pipe broke and we had to go to the hotel across the street for toilet and shower. 
I complained to the management about how inconvenient this was, and we got a 20% discount for compensation.
If I had not requested to talk directly to the manager, the desk staff just said he couldn't do anything.  

There are two forts in Old San Juan, we took a public bus ($0.75 exactly, coins only, no bills accepted), which stopped at the bus terminal near the fort Castillo San Cristobal.

The forts have these cylindrical observation towers, which are the landmark image of the US quarter ($0.25) for Puerto Rico.

After visiting this fort, we took a free trolley to the other fort, which can be seen in the distance in this picture.

This fort is Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

They both are national historic sites in the USA...

...and also are UNESCO world heritage sites.

Puerto Rico (a former Spanish colony) is a United States territory located in the Caribbean Sea. 

Even though their official languages are Spanish and English, many local people couldn't speak English.

We walked around Old San Juan city and took some architecture pictures.  I'll write about those in another post.

That day was our 8th anniversary.

We had Puerto Rican food at a beach-side restaurant.

I tried mofongo, which was good. 

We flew to Vieques island by a small plane (8 seats, but only 3 passengers that day), and stayed there for one night.

Such a beautiful view - a little island in a lake in the jungle?

Just 26 mins to arrive.

The town has a little Fort with a museum, not much for sightseeing. 

I found 'heart' shaped little rocks at the beach.

This one was too big to carry back home, so I just have a picture of it.

What's the time now?
We joined a Bio Bay tour ($45 per person) at 6 pm.
A tour guide with his van picked up 10 tourists then headed to the bay, which needed a very skillful to driver to go from the main road to the bay. Very deep bumps, don't try it with a car.
When we arrived at the bay, it was already dark. The guide taught us some basic kayaking skills, then his helpers arranged two persons per kayak.
That night was no moon and full of stars, which was perfect for viewing the bay. When we paddled the water or the fishes swam around, the water glowed blue.
"Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism."

We took a cargo ferry ($2/adult) back to the main island.  Information said it takes 60 to 75 minutes for the trip.  Our ferry took 2 hours. 

It was a 1 hour taxi ride ($65) from Fajardo to Condado.  Our taxi driver, Al, was recommended by someone at our hotel and speaks English.
We asked him to stop at El Yunque National Forest, but he said taxis are not allowed to go there.  He recommended we rent a car, and to avoid traffic, go to El Yunque early in the morning then back to San Juan or on to Arecibo after that.

We walked to the beach, some kids have fun with surfing.

The little shell is cute and the seaweed 'berries' are too.
After walking the beach, we went to a recommended Puerto Rican food restaurant called Orozco's, where Steve had smoked pork chops.  This restaurant had big portions, reasonably priced, and it was tasty.

Because we planned to visit El Yunque and Camuy River Cave Park in one day, and didn't have these 2 places in a day tour package, our best option seemed to be to rent a car.  Steve was very reluctant to drive there, since all road signs are in Spanish. However, he rented a car for a day, starting from 9am. and planned to return it before they closed at 7 pm.  

The entrance is $5/adult, but we have an annual National Parks pass.

I like these leaves.

Walked a trail to the waterfall.

A group of photographers with models were there, so they are in my pictures too.

After that, we drove to Camuy River Cave Park as planned. It was already 4 pm. when we arrived and the gate was closed, We didn't search the information before we went, so wasted about 4 hours driving time and gas. Oh well, Steve felt great relief when he returned the car a little after 6 pm, before they closed.