Caribbean Vacation Part 1. Old San Juan.

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PRE CRUISE DAY 1

This day started really early for me at 5 am. It might have started earlier though as I was pretty stoked about the trip. I couldn’t wait to get on the plane.

6:30 am rolled around. The taxi showed up, and took us to the airport. We waited while JetBlue did a tango with their airplanes on the apron and then boarded the plane that became ours. I went baller-mode and booked seat 1A. On JetBlue this is an “extra leg room” seat which cost some more money. Seeing as how the flight was almost 4 hours from D.C., I was more than happy to pay a little extra for it.

Here is the legroom for seat 1A. *NOTE* No seat in front for you to put a backpack under.
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The flight was pretty smooth. The seats were comfy and I watched a couple movies on my iPad when I didn’t sleep.

About 2/3 through the flight, I looked out the window to see what looked like a cruise ship. It looked so small, but after checking my ship mate app, it turned out to be Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas!
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As we were coming into San Juan, I noticed there were quite a lot of clouds which looked like they were heading towards the city. Fortunately we were able to see Old San Juan as we were approaching the air port. It looks so small from the plane (but is a lot of walking on the ground).

We landed in what was a sunny San Juan and caught a cab over to the Sheraton right by the pier we’d be leaving from in the coming days. Along the way we passed by Royal’s Explorer of the Seas as she was backing out to leave. I had just seen this ship leave NYC earlier in the week over the webcam. Cool!

Once at the Sheraton we made our way up to the suite we booked. It offered a bedroom and a living-room space with a fold out. It had a very small balcony that looked out over the piers and I could wake-up with the Valor right outside. Mom would crash on the bed. I took the fold-out which wasn’t too terrible. The only things I didn’t like about the Sheraton was this odd odor in the room. It was hard to describe, not really mold or B.O. but something organic-stinky. Didn’t pay it too much mind. The real issue were the noisy cabbies that parked outside. Loud music and shouting which I didn’t mind at some hours, but did when it was 2, going on 3 a.m.

View from our balcony
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That afternoon it became a little overcast and eventually rained a couple times. This unfortunately set the tone for the rest of our time in Old San Juan. We made the best of it, visiting some cool places, but the rain really just didn’t quit and when it did, it picked right back up again shortly after.

The first night we dined at Barrachina and watched live flamenco dancing. The food, service, atmosphere, and performance were awesome. Jose was an excellent waiter. I highly recommend it if you have a chance.

Flamenco dancing (there were 4 performers. 3 girls, 1 dude).
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We walked around a little more afterwards, but being up at an early hour, it was time to pass-out. Called it a night around 10.

PRE-CRUISE DAY 2

Woke up fairly early to rain.

We had some rather expensive breakfast at the Sheraton’s restaurant. The food was marginal but it was convenient. I just wanted an easy morning.

Afterwards we headed to the free-trolley stop to catch a trolley over to El Morro. We waited, and waited, and waited. Finally one came up, but it was more like a street-car-bus than the open-air, bendy-bus that I had been on before. Turns out it was the wrong free trolley as it only circled through a portion of Old San Juan but not up to El Morro. We jumped-off at a stop that was nearest to Castillo de San Cristobal. I paced myself so not to outpace my mom who was doing her best with the hills. Once we made it to the Castillo, we looked around for a while, took a bunch of photos and then went to walk to El Morro.

“Oh look!, there goes a bendy-bus free trolley!” Turns out, they come around less often then they used to. Well, now we know we’ll have to wait extra long for one.

We wound up walking to El Morro, and it was then the skies opened up. downpours and wind. I got soaked, mom got soaked. Umbrellas were useless against the wind. A group of Japanese tourists huddled inside one of the small fort lookout structures, laughing their butts off. We were laughing pretty good too. The poncho my mom had on was blowing up and over her face doing nothing to really keep the rain off her. It let up a little once we were inside El Morro and the sun came out for 5 mins. NOTE
Those of you who have difficulty with stairs should not descend to the lower outside levels of El Morro. My mom had a tough time coming back up.

More rain came again though and it didn’t stop. We decided to get some late lunch/early dinner at Cafe Puerto Rico BAD IDEA. When we finished the rain really started pouring and then turned into an all out monsoon. We tried to check out some of the souvenir joints in Old San Juan but were eventually washed back to our hotel room (sandbags were being put out).

It rained so much that manhole lids became dislodged.
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We ran over to the CVS a little later but called it an early night as the rain kind of killed things. I thought about the casino in the hotel, but didn’t want to blow any money before the cruise. Tomorrow we had planned to jump on the ship, drop stuff off and get back off to explore some more San Juan. So long as weather cooperated.

I turned into the hotel room and watched as Celebrity Summit, Jewel of the Seas, and Grandeur of the Seas sailed away.

Here are more photos from our time in San Juan

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