Sep 30, 2013

Puerto Rico: the sights

I had a great time on my vacation to Puerto Rico. I went with a few friends and we spent five days there. Since the island isn't that big, we were able to explore all over. Beware, this is a picture heavy post!

We got to Puerto Rico under a massive storm. We picked up the rental car and headed somewhere close to the hotel for lunch. Then the rains stopped and the sun and sky were gorgeous for the rest of our stay. That first afternoon we headed to el Viejo San Juan.

First up we visited the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. The fort has has six levels, which I didn't realize walking up to it. I'm always amazed to be in such old structures.

Then we drove around the streets of San Juan, checking out all of the cute houses and streets.

On day 2, we headed to Ponce, which is in the south. It was a gorgeous drive there, the mountains were so green and lush. I have to thank god that I was not the one driving, cause there were some very winding and mountainous roads. Crazy for this Florida girl that is used to seeing such flat lands.

We made it up a very windy steep road to get to Castillo Sereallés. Now this isn't a castle exactly, it's the former home of the family that started the Serrallés distilleries (the people that make the Don Q rum). The grounds were amazing and included a Japanese garden.

Then we got a tour of the house, but alas no pictures were allowed inside.

After touring the house, we headed back to the main part of Ponce and checked out the cathedral.

Day 3 in Puerto Rico, is what I like to call adventure day. In the morning we headed to El Yunque National Forest. This is the only rain forest in US territories. It was amazing. We drove up as far as we could go, then got out and hiked.

It was lush green everywhere.

We hiked down to get to this amazing waterfall. I don't know how those people got in, the water was freezing.

In the evening, we went kayaking to see the bioluminescent bay. Unfortunately, this involved a lot of water (I was completely drenched by the time we were done), so I don't have any pictures of it.
After the day of hiking and kayaking, we needed some serious R&R. We woke up early to catch the ferry to Isla Culebra (about 1 hour away via ferry) to go to Playa Flamenco. This beach was absolutely gorgeous. It was great to just spend the day chilling and enjoy the great water and amazing view. It was a little slice of paradise.

All too soon it was our last day in Puerto Rico. We headed back to el Viejo San Juan to check out the stores and see the cathedral.

And before we left we went to head to Raíces, a restaurant that we had to stop by. At Raíces the servers are all dressed in traditional farmer clothes. And the inside has a "jibaro" (that's Puerto Rican for country folk) feel to it.

We had a final delicious lunch, and then we were headed home way too soon.

Puerto Rico is perfect place to experience a taste of latin culture while still technically being in the US. Here are a few tips I learned. The time zone is the same as the East Coast of the US, but they are further east than the coast, so expect the sun to set super early (at about 6:30 when we were there). No need to be scared if you don't know Spanish, there is plenty of English spoken. Sundays don't expect to get much done, since most places (including restaurants) are closed. But the people are a joy and every one is kind and totally willing to help you.

It was a great vacation with some great friends. I can't wait to go back to "la isla del encanto."

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