Monthly Archives: April 2015

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

We made a blazing fast trip through part of Old San Juan on our last day before we flew out for home. As we drove in, I snapped pictures from the car, so here’s a few “drive-by” photos of some of the important sites we didn’t have time to visit…

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Two hours in and out was all we had time for before flying out. I navigated us to the parking garages noted on my map, and when we missed our turn into the garage and had to loop around the block, realized we were at the cruise ship port and there were several in port! Uh oh… people everywhere ~ Wally’s nightmare!

So we got our parking ticket stub and figured out we had to take it with us and then pay at the main floor before going back to our car.

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I was actually pretty happy I was able to get some nice snapshots from the parking garage out over Old San Juan towards one of the fortresses. The fortress is the farthest of the buildings on the horizon.

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We hit the streets moving fast, and I was snapping at everything along the way. We did about a six-block loop and having spotted several restaurants just across from the parking garage, made a mental note to come back there for lunch. I loved the Caribbean colors, architecture and ornate iron balconies, lamps and accents. There were tons of shopping spots/tourist traps, restaurants and local businesses, but we didn’t have time (or Wally’s patience) for me to do any shopping. Here’s our whirlwind tour…

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The famous blue cobblestones that were ship ballasts

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We were in the mood for seafood and La Cueva Del Mar was packed with locals, so we knew it must be good. We picked a winner – service was great, the drink specials quenching and our meal was delicious. https://www.facebook.com/lacuevadelmar

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Done with lunch we walked across the street to pay our parking garage fee to leave. There are public restrooms there on the same floor for those that might be in need.

Now, note to self, place paid parking ticket in secure place. I lost ours between paying and getting to car – *%$#%$^@#$! Wally pulled aside by the check-out gate and I ran back to the pay lobby in search of our ticket (no luck), but they were super nice and remembered me paying and gave me a replacement – whew!). So now off to say goodbye to his sister and only a few wrong turns on the way to the airport during a traffic jam (more &^%*$^$) and up, up and away… home to Nashville!

It was a great trip to Puerto Rico and would recommend for other travelers. Why? The scenery is amazing with diverse mountains and valleys, endless turquoise beaches, rural farmland, and all the amenities of home. Add to that a wide variety of delicious local food offerings governed by our U.S. FDA laws (so no tummy ailments), history, culture, boating, fishing, surfing, diving, golf, tennis, riding and many other sports, most of the locals speak Spanish AND English – and there’s great retirement perks.

So, yes, go. Rent a car and explore. And for those that can’t unplug, our cell phone service was spotty, but still considered U.S. So basically, you feel like you are in an exotic Caribbean island, but have all the perks of home. No passports, no hassles… It’s a U.S. territory!

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Categories: TRAVEL: PUERTO RICO | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Gran Melia Golf Resort, Puerto Rico

For our last two nights we moved from Palmas del Mar to the northeastern corner of the island to the Gran Melia Golf Resort. http://www.melia.com/en/hotels/puerto-rico/coco-beach/gran-melia-puerto-rico-golf-resort/index.html

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We chose the “Red Level” garden view villa and was in the first group of villas next to the beach.

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Wally’s sister and nieces and nephew came for an afternoon visit to enjoy our peaceful beach at the Gran Melia. They were staying in San Juan and took a cab out to Gran Melia for the day. We read, napped, relaxed, ate at the pool restaurant, relaxed some more…

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Another picture perfect day in Puerto Rico!

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El Yunque National Rainforest & lunch at Revolution Pizza, Luquillo Kiosks, Puerto Rico

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View from the tower in El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque National Rainforest

We met up with Wally’s sister and nieces and nephew that were staying at the Hilton Condado in San Juan for a day trip to the El Yunque National Rainforest. We had moved to the Gran Melia Golf Resort for our last few nights, and the rainforest was about 10 minutes away from us. They caught a cab from their hotel to the Gran Melia and we piled in the car for the trip to the rain forest. We were a bit tight in the back seat but luckily the girls are slim so managed to fit.

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We stopped off at the visitor’s center for a map and bathrooms and then headed up the road. Here’s a useful link to their government website with hiking info. http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/elyunque/maps-pubs/?cid=stelprdb5190546

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First stop was at a waterfall right next to the road.

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We decided to hike the Big Tree Trailhead to La Mina Falls and parked on the side of the road opposite the trail entrance. There are other parking spots and another trail entrance a bit further up the road. Be cautious of the buses coming up the road as they have to get up speed to keep going uphill!

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I loved all of the ferns and cool trees!

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If you wear your bathing suit or just want to get wet in your clothes, you can cool off in the falls. Pack drinks and a snack to enjoy when you arrive so you can catch your breath for the return trip. I do not recommend this trail for elderly or those with health conditions as it is steep in places with lots of steps.

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We passed many fellow Tennesseeans along the trail that recognized our group’s big orange “T”shirts

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These huge tree type ferns were gorgeous!

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Be sure and stop off at the lookout tower along the road for amazing views to the ocean

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The view to Luquillo!

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Monica and the tower were both celebrating their 50th birthdays! This was Monica’s 50th birthday trip.

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We were hot and tired and that was enough rainforest for us for the day, so we loaded up and drove to the Luquillo Kiosks just a few minutes away. We had eaten wings and a salad at Revolution Pizza Shop “New York Hardcore Pizza”, Kiosk #34 on a previous visit and seeing the hand-tossed pizzas being served made us crave one after our hike. You can like and follow them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionPizzaShop

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We placed our order for wings, pizza and a bucket of cold beer and then walked down to the beach to check it out. It is just GORGEOUS here! Bring your beach stuff so you can eat, then relax or play for a while.

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Back to the food… They brought out the most mouth-watering focaccia bread sprinkled with rosemary. I asked for some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and was in heaven! Then the wings arrived and they are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – perfect!

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Then our two pizzas arrived – we ordered a Margherita and a meat and I have to say they were the best pizza we’ve had since our trip to Italy in October! Two thumbs up Revolution Pizza! Just wish your were in my neighborhood back home.

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The pizza master at work… he demonstrated that first you press it out, then give it a little stretching, then a quick upward twirl, and do that a few more times…

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Happy customers ~ Another great day in Puerto Rico!

Categories: TRAVEL: PUERTO RICO | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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