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San Juan: Pix's, Fun, Experiences/Feb. 2015

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As detailed on my live/blog connected below, these posting share some about our concluding stop . . . San Juan!! The three-day here were kind of like the "frosting on the cake!!" After 26-days cruising and seeing various Caribbean islands and going about 1000 miles up the Amazon River, this was a wonderful wrap-up location. It was our first trip in the Caribbean. We visited ten different Caribbean island. I had done a trip to Cuba in 2001, but we had never had an opportunity to sample the variety of different islands in this region of the world, especially when the winters were so cold in the Midwest and other parts of the USA in early 2015.

 

After getting off of our cruise ship in San Juan, we did a morning private tour around the town. This allowed us to see some of its varied beaches and "hotel row" areas near the international airport. The newer portions of this post Spanish-American city is what it is. Lots of 1950's and 1960's urban areas, concrete structures, etc.

 

BUT, super WOW!, the areas of Old San Juan were so much fun and very special. Below I have a few items of photo items of "evidence" to present. We are staying in a super roomy apartment in the Miramar area that is working well for our needs/interests. PLUS, we are experiencing something very new for us . . . no cruise ship staff to take care of our needs and interests. It is a process of starting back to the "Real World" for resuming some form of normal "reality".

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

Now at 29,247 views for these postings.

 

 

Here is a small sample of the newer areas of San Juan, high-rises, beaches, etc., closer to the international airport and not as immediately handy to the charming Old Town areas.:

 

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By later in the afternoon, we saw where we had departed our cruise ship near the Old San Juan area. By now, the ship had been turned-around and was getting ready to take on a full load of 280 passengers for its seven-day sailing. A large number for this sailing were a "group" from the Shriners. Should be interesting??!! No sea-days on this seven-day cruise. Just port stops. Their first stop? St. Barts!!:

 

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Here is the classy Capitol Building for this Commonwealth in San Juan. It was built in the early 1900's from Italian marble.:

 

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This is San Juan's City Hall in the historic Old Town area. Nice fountain and plaza in front of this colorful, classical building.:

 

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Here are just two examples of the various interesting and historic buildings in and around the Old Town area. Notice the narrow streets? Does this bring back memories for those who have visited San Juan previously?:

 

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Here is the second part of my quick views and samples from San Juan. Their Old Town area is very special. And it's history? Going back to the 1500's, the Spanish, classic stone forts, etc.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 121,826 views for this posting.

 

 

Here are three views, outside and inside, of their historic Cathedral in the Old Town portion of San Juan. It is not as big as the Cathedrals in Europe, but this island is very Catholic and there are some nice, classic part with its structure, amazing location, etc.:

 

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Below are three different views from in and around the San Juan Gate of the famed walled fortress that guarded this town from its early 1500's period. Two of these walled visuals are somewhat similar. Which one do you like best? This San Juan Gate is right near where the Governor's Palace or La Fortaleza (The Fortress) is located. It is the current official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico. It was built between 1533 and 1540 to defend the harbor of San Juan. It is the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the New World.:

 

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As we were planning for our second and third days in San Juan, there were two top priorities. First, the Old Town. Second was planning for some type of Ecco-Tour option to the rainforest. Needed to finish strong here in the Caribbean. We would not be able to do such activities for some time in central Ohio.

 

When we headed back to gain a more in-depth look at the Old Town area, a top priority was Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Strategically situated on the northwestern-most point of the islet of Old San Juan, Morro Castle is named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification, also gains part of its name from their phrase for 'the promontory'. It was built to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from enemy sea attacks to this vital port that had such a deep, protected site and access to fresh water.

 

In 1983, this citadel was declared a UN World Heritage Site as a part of the overall San Juan National Historic locations. Over two million visitors a year explore the site, making it one of Puerto Rico's leading tourist attractions. Facing this structure, on the opposite side of the bay, is a smaller fortification known as El Cañuelo. That complemented the defense at the entrance to the bay. Many complex structures were added onto El Morro over the next 400 years to adjust for new military technics and tactics. As an example, El Morro's outer walls, which were originally constructed 6' thick, were increased to 18' thick by the end of the 18th century.

 

In 1961, the U.S. Army officially retired from El Morro. It was used during World War II to do sightings of German submarines operating in the Atlantic. The fortress then became a part of the National Park Service and is preserved as now a museum.

 

Our grandsons would love to explore around a real "fortress", see cannons, ships moving in and out through this protected channel, etc.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 186,480 views.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

 

 

Here is a view for part of the Governor's Palace that was mentioned in the previous post. Its blue color is very distinct. We walked near its gated entrance. There were the garages there for the Governor's SUV cars, plus his varied motorcycle police escorts. The Governor's Palace is a half block from a Coach Outlet store that is just 125' from the main Cathedral here. Unique mix of culture, power, commerce and religion right here in a small area!! La Fortaleza has been the residence of more than 170 governors of Puerto Rico and has hosted President John F. Kennedy and Jackie in 1961. Plus, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands are among many heads of state who have stayed in La Fortaleza.:

 

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Here is the look as we were walking into the main gate of this historic fortress built to protect San Juan important harbor. It was many levels, old cannons sitting around, dramatic angles and views for what seeing what is here and nearby. Below are a few samples of the many exciting and varied views that we enjoyed today. All along the walls are the dome-covered sentry stations known as garitas. These rounded structures have become one of the cultural symbol of Puerto Rico. Do these visuals bring back memories for others who have visited here in the past?:

 

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Dear Terry, I would like to add that my mother was secretary to the Sub-Commander of the Navy Forces in San Juan during the war. She was sworn to secrecy that German submarines were encircling Puerto Rico. I only learned 50 years after the war ended, when it was publicized in a PuertoRican film "La Gran Fiesta" and my mother, reluctantly, conceded that she had this knowledge first-hand. She had kept her oath all these years! Makes me very proud.

 

Appreciate this above note that was posted on my live/blog that shared more about the WWII history in San Juan. Until this "education", I did not know about this aspect of the history/importance for San Juan.

 

Here are a few more of the visual samples from Old San Juan earlier today. Nice variety and options there. It was in the mid-80's of temperature with fairly high humidity, BUT, the super breezes makes things very nice, pleasant and refreshing. Much better weather than what was back home in Ohio during the winter seasons.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Did a June 7-19, 2011, cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Dozens of nice visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc. We are now at 204,499 views for this live/blog re-cap, including much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474

 

 

Here is the famous cemetery setting that is immediately next to this fortress. This Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery was inaugurated in 1863. Its circular red-domed chapel, inspired by Bramante’s Rotonda in Rome, stands out amongst the numerous graves. The picturesque burial grounds are adorned with Genevan marbles and sculptures. These enhance the final resting place of important political, artistic and literary figures. This includes José Ferrer, the Academy Award-winning actor and director.:

 

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Here is another view and a different angle of Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery in San Juan's historic Old Town area.:

 

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We somewhat stumbled on and discovered Casa Blanca. It is a house museum located in Old San Juan within the historic colonial section. Built in 1521, it served as the first fortification of the San Juan islet and to be a residence for it ruler Juan Ponce de León. Remember him? Although de Leon died in an expedition to Florida without ever getting to occupy the structure, it was used as the residence of his descendants until the mid-18th century. The house was built in wood but was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in stone and masonry. It subsequently was occupied by members of the Spanish army and later by American army commanders. The surrounding gardens were planted by the first American governor of the island in the 19th century. Here is a small visual sampling. Nice, interesting find.:

 

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For the location where we enjoyed lunch in the San Juan Old Town, I found out later that it gets high marks in the TripAdvisor ratings.

 

Here are more details: St Germain Bistro & Cafe, 156 Sol, San Juan 00901, 787-725-5830. It is ranked #9 of 658 Restaurants in San Juan with 4.5 of 5 stars based on 977 reviews and gained a Certificate of Excellence 2014 from them. Price range: USD7 - USD15

Hours: Sun 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm, Tue - Fri 11:30 am - 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Sat 11:00 am - 11:00 pm.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

Now at 29,247 views for these postings.

 

 

Here is another narrow street view in Old San Juan as this road goes downhill towards the water/port areas where cruise ships dock. Second is the outside (and name/address) for a charming dining place that we enjoyed mid-day. Love the balconies, gates and other architectural details in this area. This food/drink option was a wonderful touch of France in Old San Juan. Super food and drinks!! Lots more shopping opportunities, but we mostly avoided too much retail action today.:

 

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We very much enjoyed el Yunque. It is NOT the real Amazon JUNGLE, but one can only take so much of that "fun" during one trip. It had nice waterfalls, fairly solid and paved trails that we were walking, etc. BUT, there were crowds there, including many from off of the Carnival cruise ship in San Juan's port that day. Crowds from big cruise ships?? Not fun, but we mostly escaped too much of those types of messes/congestion during our 26 days of cruising. We got a little rain at the end of our "adventure" in the wilderness, but it was nothing too bad.

 

Below and in the next post are some of my visuals that my camera captured in and around el Yunque. Here is more on el Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Luquillo National Forest and the Caribbean National Forest. It is located in northeastern Puerto Rico, about a half hour or so east of San Juan. It is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. El Yunque is either a Spanish approximation of the aboriginal Taíno word yu-ke which means "white lands" or the word "anvil," which is yunque in Spanish, per Wikipedia. El Yunque National Rainforest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains, encompassing 28,000 acres. It is the largest block of public land in Puerto Rico. El Toro, the highest mountain peak in the forest, rises 3,494 feet above sea level. The annual rainfall is over 200 inches a year in some areas of the park, creating a jungle-like setting with lush foliage, waterfalls and rivers. The forest region was initially set aside in 1876 by the King Alfonso XII of Spain and is one of the oldest reserves in the Western Hemisphere. Then, there was the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the rest is history, kind of, sort of. Will not get into here the whole Puerto Rico "Commonwealth" versus statehood versus independence questions, etc. Learned more on that twisted and unique history about those questions while doing this and our original tour. Plus, doing added reading and research.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Super loved Dubrovnik!!! See more details and lots of great visual samples/examples at this link. Have had over 30,096 views on this posting and appreciate those who have tuned-in and dropped by.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439227

 

 

From El Yunque National Forest, here is the first group with a variety of views, including off to the nearby sea coast from an observation tower, etc. Lots of variety, sights and experiences when visiting and hiking within such a natural wonders. Not much seen the way of wildlife and/or birds. Heard bird sounds. Did see this interesting shelled snail with its own "case" attached to a tree in the rainforest.:

 

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Here are six more of my visuals from the visit on this Sunday to el Yunque National Forest that is east of San Juan, PR.

 

These are only some of the basic visuals from my three days in and around San Juan. I am going to re-check my files and various other pictures taken during the period here. Plus, I will also share some of my pre-cruise research from various cruise ship files and other publications about ideas/tips for San Juan, etc.

 

Overall, we were impressed with San Juan, its history, charm, attractions, nature, etc. Clearly since our visit, much has been reported in recent months about their government debt and other spending/budget/revenue challenges. During our visit, tour guides had share aspects related to those looming issues/questions. It will be interesting to see how those budget/governance challenges get addressed/handled. Maybe solved?? There seems to be no agreement as to whether independence, Commonwealth status, Statehood, etc., would "fix" things or not, be agreed to by all parties, etc.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Wonderful Kotor and nearby Montenegro? Check these postings. Have had over 25,016 views on this posting and appreciate those who have tuned-in and commented.:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439193

 

 

Here is more from el Yunque National Forest, including certain of their key waterfalls. The last picture is of Coca Falls. Big, big and very tall!! It is right along the main roadway and gets congested with lots of cars and buses stopping to see this dramatic waterfall up close and personal.:

 

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As "bonus" coverage, here are more pictures and locations from San Juan and nearby. These are some of my visuals that were not posted earlier on the live/blog. Hopefully, they either build excitement if you are visiting San Juan for the first time . . . or . . . to bring back memories from those who have visited there previously.

 

As added background, we stayed at: Ciqala Luxury Suites. It is located in Miramar’s Historical Zone, one of San Juan’s most older neighborhoods.

 

From Frommers: Puerto Rico

Home to more than four million people whose primary language is Spanish (though English is widely spoken, too), the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is under the jurisdiction of the United States and has a more or less comfortable mix of Latin culture with imports from the U.S. mainland. It's the most urban island of the Caribbean, with lots of traffic and relatively high crime, though it compensates with great beaches, glittering casinos, hotels in all price brackets, sports and eco-tourism offerings, good hearty food, and sizzling salsa clubs. The island's interior is filled with rainforests and ancient volcanic mountains; the coastline is ringed with gorgeous sandy beaches. The commonwealth also includes a trio of small offshore islands: Culebra, Mona, and Vieques (the last has the most tourist facilities). San Juan, the island's capital, has some of the most extensive and best-preserved Spanish colonial neighborhoods in the New World, with historic sites and much to see and do, and a steady flow of cruise-ship passengers who keep the stores and casinos filled throughout much of the year.

 

NBC: Puerto Rico: History and Culture

The cobblestone streets and brightly colored colonial buildings of Puerto Rico's Old San Juan are a must-visit for travelers seeking cultural attractions to complement a beach getaway. The city is home to two historic forts, including El Morro, which dates back to 1539. Old San Juan also boasts a lovely cathedral and a museum devoted to Spanish cellist Pablo Casals. More modern attractions include dozens of art galleries and antique shops, as well as a vibrant restaurant scene.

 

From Wikipedia:

Old San Juan: Home to among the hemisphere's finest restorations of Spanish colonial fortresses and buildings, the Old City is all the more beautiful for its dramatic location sprawled across a headland on the western end of an isleta, or peninsula that splits the roaring Atlantic Ocean from San Juan Bay. It's encircled by water; on the north is the Atlantic Ocean and on the south and west is the tranquil San Juan Bay. The historic Spanish wall built to hold off attacks still circles the city, which is filled with beautiful churches, shady plazas, majestic promenades, and wonderful residences and gardens. It's a robust cultural and commercial district with theaters, galleries, clubs, bars and restaurants, and some of the most interesting shops in the region. There are fine lodgings with sundecks and pools, so you can work on your tan and stay in the city if that's your thing.

 

Miramar: Miramar is an upscale residential neighborhood, with a small business district and a large port across San Juan Bay. It has two marinas where fishing boats and yachts lie at anchor. The whole harbor-side area is being redeveloped, spearheaded by the state-of-the-art Puerto Rico Convention Center. A new hotel has just opened, and adjacent luxury retail, office, and residential units are being planned, as is a huge bayside promenade to connect the area to Old San Juan. It's also the site of Isla Grande Airport, where you can board flights to the islands of Vieques and Culebra.

 

During the Spanish colonial times most of the urban population resided in what is now known as Old San Juan. This sector is located on the western half of a small island called the Isleta de San Juan, which is connected to the mainland by two bridges and a causeway. The small island, which comprises an area of 47 square miles (120 km2), also hosts the working-class neighborhood of Puerta de Tierra and most of Puerto Rico's central government buildings, including the Commonwealth's Capitol. The main central part of the city is characterized by narrow streets made of blue cobblestone and picturesque colonial buildings, some of which date back to the 16th and 17th century. Sections of the old city are surrounded by massive walls and several defensive structures and notable forts. These include the 16th-century Fort San Felipe del Morro and the 17th-century Fort San Cristóbal, both part of San Juan National Historic Site, and the 16th-century El Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as La Fortaleza, which serves as the governor's mansion.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

If Venice is one of your future desires or past favorites, look at this earlier posting for many options and visual samples this city that is so great for "walking around", personally seeing its great history and architecture. This posting is now at 54,393 views.

Venice: Loving It & Why??!!

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1278226

 

 

Here are a variety of added views in and around San Juan, including a beach area, some new buildings/luxury apartments, the Old Town, etc. Third is the Bacardi Rum plant across the bay/harbor from the historic fortress. The final picture gives an idea for how large is the open lawn area in front of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.:

 

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Here are some added visuals, including details below on several dining places we enjoyed in San Juan. Plus, other summaries for how various cruise lines write up this town and area.

 

From Seabourn website:

Puerto Rico has been voluntarily associated with the United States since it was ceded by Spain in 1898. In 1952, this island country became a self-governing commonwealth territory of the United States. The capital, San Juan, is a teeming city of over 1.5 million. Remnants of colonial architecture stand side by side with the most modern high rises in this city of contrasts. The 7-square-block area, which contains the historic zone of Old San Juan, was once completely encircled by city walls and is still guarded by the impressive forts of El Morro and San Cristobal, which loom over the harbor as reminders of the centuries of Spanish rule. El Yunque rainforest, on the northeastern side of the island, is just one of many distinctive geographical features found here. Mountain lakes, waterfalls, teak forests, and three magnificent phosphorescent bays offer the visitor a variety of diversions

 

From Crystal website:

The dramatic sandstone fortress of El Morro, begun by the Spanish in 1540, was built to guard the harbor against Sir Francis Drake and his British privateers. Stroll the breezy boulevards of Old San Juan, lined with five centuries of palaces and great homes, as well as outdoor cafés where you can sample the island's famous coffee and seafood delicacies.

 

From Regent Seven Seas website:

Puerto Rico's first inhabitants were the Taino Indians, who encountered Columbus in 1493. The Spanish quickly settled, defending their territory against the Dutch and British. This is evident by the imposing fortresses of Old San Juan, namely the El Morro Castle, dominating the old section of this capital city. In 1897, Spain declared Puerto Rico an autonomous state. Spain later ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. and residents were granted American citizenship in 1917.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

Now at 29,247 views for these postings.

 

 

Here are four more visuals from el Yunque National Forest with its walking areas through a rainforest, a large waterfall where visitor can jump in and enjoy the moment, etc.:

 

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Here are some interior views for a couple of dining places we visited. Lots of character and charm. First is from a dining place near where we stayed. It is called Casita Miramar on Ave. Miramar #605, near Calle McKinley. Nearby was La Jaquita Baya that we super enjoyed on Ave. Fernandez Juncos Esquina. Pictured second is the interior of St Germain Bistro & Cafe in Old San Juan.:

 

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If you have any nice and/or interesting photos/views, memories from San Juan, please share and add here. If there are any questions I can answer, don't be shy!! Just ask and I will be happy to look through my files and post more. Or, go to the full live/blog, etc. Definitely want to re-visit San Juan and explore more in the Old Town and nearby.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 121,826 views for this posting.

 

 

Here some added views, angles, perspectives from the famed fortress at the "point" near and as a part of the Old San Juan area.:

 

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Appreciate your patience and interest. Hope these visuals are of help and value.

 

From the Cruise Critic website, here is more about . . . .

Visit the Bacardi Rum Factory. This is commonly offered as a ship-sponsored tour, but it's easy to go on your own, too; take the ferry (which leaves from Pier 2, right next to the cruise ship dock, every half hour and costs $1, roundtrip, for the six-minute ride) to Catano, and then catch a bus or ferry for the 10-minute ride to the factory. (Don't walk -- it's long and hot.) The factory itself is lovely. There are gorgeously landscaped grounds (lots of hibiscus), an open-air pavilion for Bacardi-influenced drinks, a gift shop and a tour that includes an interesting film on the history and other activities (such as testing your sense of smell, making postcards and learning about rum distillation).

 

We did not visit here at the distillery, but we do like rum!!

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Did a June 7-19, 2011, cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Dozens of nice visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc. We are now at 204,499 views for this live/blog re-cap, including much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474

 

 

Inside their historic Cathedral, here is another angle/view. Second is the old church-related Convent building that is now a luxury hotel.:

 

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Around the San Juan Gate, here are a couple of different views, including the mix older and newer architecture styles and an incredibly old tree in this historic and waterside area.:

 

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Here is the view of a cargo ship entering the San Juan harbor area.:

 

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As a final shot, here is the night view from the top of our hotel. Is this a "cool" setting?:

 

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Thank you so much for taking the time and effort putting these pictures and editorial together, enjoyed it!

 

Spoofa

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Thank you very much for sharing your story and stunning pictures! We will have 2 days pre cruise and 1 day post to explore San Juan, and you have me really looking forward to it with your post!!

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Thank you so much for taking the time and effort putting these pictures and editorial together, enjoyed it! Spoofa

 

DopeyRN1: Thank you very much for sharing your story and stunning pictures! We will have 2 days pre cruise and 1 day post to explore San Juan' date=' and you have me really looking forward to it with your post!! [/quote']

 

Appreciate both of your kind viewpoints on my pictures/postings. Glad to know you are both persons of such high class, great taste and wonderful judgment to make these generous comments.

 

For DopeyRN1, it is wonderful that you will have this added time before and after your cruise to sample and enjoy San Juan, plus nearby, etc. Lots of great options there.

 

Am finalizing right now the late January 2016 start of our first visit to Africa. This includes a ten-day South Africa to Mozambique cruise, plus safari time and visits to Botswana and Victoria Falls. More interesting pictures will be coming early next year.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 186,776 views.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

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I've been reading your reviews on the various Caribbean boards. Congratulations on your lovely photos and informative comments. Thanks for sharing!

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Excellent review of my home island! Thanks!

 

I've been reading your reviews on the various Caribbean boards. Congratulations on your lovely photos and informative comments. Thanks for sharing!

 

Appreciate these follow-ups and comments. Since Aviator of the Seas lives there and knows the area, I assume that the "info" and things I cited was mostly correct or close enough. Keep us posted for any updates, major developments there in San Juan and nearby. As I noted, we were very impressed with the history, character, charm, etc., for San Juan and this area during our first visit there.

 

From our cruise ship travel/destination speaker, he told us that originally the whole island was called "San Juan" as a naming and honor for Saint John. The location/harbor was called Ciudad de Puerto Rico or meaning "Rich Port City". BUT, the names got flipped or reversed with San Juan labeled for this important port site and city that grew up there. Then, the whole island became known as Puerto Rico. This expert also told us that San Juan was so vital for ships crossing east bound from Europe as this was the first place where the ship could get fresh water and other supplies after the long crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Until learning those details and this importance, I did not fully appreciate the role that San Juan and Puerto Rico played in the connections between Europe and the Americas.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

Now at 29,416 views for these postings.

Edited by TLCOhio

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From the New York Times Travel Section in Feb. 2013, they have this headline: "36 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico" with one of these insights: "the major highlights of San Juan can be easily accommodated in 36 hours, even accounting for the leisurely pace that seems appropriate to the tropics."

 

There are a variety of different options and potentials listed in this story/profile to consider for either a one-day cruise ship visit or to do during a longer stay. Among the highlights cited in this report are:

 

"A walk through the central streets of Old San Juan reveals a city in ferocious competition to become the most souvenir-clogged metropolis on the planet. There’s even a shop that calls itself the Tourist Trap."

 

"Make your way to the famous Hotel El Convento. The name derives from the grand building’s history: founded as a convent before entering a period of tumultuous decay, for a time becoming a flophouse."

 

"Old San Juan is justifiably cherished for its beautifully preserved buildings and its sleepy charm. Wander its streets with their distinctive blue-glazed cobblestones: check out the cathedral on Cristo Street, stop for a rest in the slightly seedy central Plaza de Armas on San Francisco Street"

 

"Condado hugs the beach to the east of Old San Juan, and has the glittery feel of Miami Beach. Here’s where high-end hotels, and the casinos inside most of them, attract night-life-seeking locals and tourists alike."

 

Lots of great, fun and exciting options in San Juan.

 

Full story at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/travel/36-hours-in-san-juan-puerto-rico.html?action=click&contentCollection=travel&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=127&pgtype=collection

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 122,920 views for this posting.

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Appreciate these follow-ups and comments. Since Aviator of the Seas lives there and knows the area, I assume that the "info" and things I cited was mostly correct or close enough. Keep us posted for any updates, major developments there in San Juan and nearby. As I noted, we were very impressed with the history, character, charm, etc., for San Juan and this area during our first visit there.

 

From our cruise ship travel/destination speaker, he told us that originally the whole island was called "San Juan" as a naming and honor for Saint John. The location/harbor was called Ciudad de Puerto Rico or meaning "Rich Port City". BUT, the names got flipped or reversed with San Juan labeled for this important port site and city that grew up there. Then, the whole island became known as Puerto Rico. This expert also told us that San Juan was so vital for ships crossing east bound from Europe as this was the first place where the ship could get fresh water and other supplies after the long crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Until learning those details and this importance, I did not fully appreciate the role that San Juan and Puerto Rico played in the connections between Europe and the Americas.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

Now at 29,416 views for these postings.

 

As I said, Terry, your review is excellent and fills me with great pride. For some reason (I personally blame it on the hit musical West Side Story), Puerto Rico has historically been a magnet for bad press worldwide, and it is very difficult for us to get our good side across and over those obstacles. As you and countless others have seen, our islands (Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and all the other uninhabited ones), are full of splendid natural beauty, culture and history, which many people who don't make the effort to go beyond the clutter get to see. I always say that Puerto Rico is perfect for travelers and not so much for tourists, and there's a distinction. You, Terry, are obviously a traveler. But tourists almost always prefer sanitized, artificial destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas, or to be locked up in an all-inclusive resort like in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, or prefer to make quick sightseeing tours from the perspective of a tour bus to mass destinations like Paris, Rome and London. Puerto Rico does not want to be any of that. We want to remain a genuine place, quirks, faults and all.

 

Just some short comments on names and naming:

 

On Juan Ponce de León, our first governor, the Ponce-de-León part is all one surname. It basically identifies the Ponce family of the Kingdom of León. So it must all be stated as one surname: What is your last name? Ponce-de-León. In fact, the Ponce de León family is still around in Puerto Rico, and following the military heritage of its patriarch, is well represented in the modern Puerto Rico National Guard.

 

On the territory itself, the original native name is Borikén or Borinquen, and it is still used informally to this day. This is why you often hear Puerto Ricans refer to each other as "Boricuas".

 

The first formal name for the entire main island under Spanish rule was indeed San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). Puerto Rico was the name of the harbor where Old San Juan now sits. It wasn't really named Ciudad de Puerto Rico. Just Puerto Rico, again, referring to the harbor primarily. First came the harbor, then came the city. But the harbor was so popular with global mariners over the centuries, that the whole island became known by the name of its main harbor and then the section today known as Old San Juan, kept the original, formal name. To this day, the coat of arms of the entire territory, maintains the motto in latin: Joannes est nomen eius (John is my name). As "Old" San Juan expanded beyond the original walled city, other wards like Santurce to the east and Hato Rey and Rio Piedras to the south were swallowed up over the years to become what today is officially the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan, Capital City (yes, a mouthful). And THEN, the surrounding municipalities immediately adjacent to San Juan, the capital city, are collectively known as the San Juan Metropolitan Area. This "greater San Juan" area consists of the municipalities of Carolina (where the SJU airport actually is), Guaynabo (an affluent suburb to the south) and Toa Baja (where the Bacardi Distillery is).

 

I hope I didn't create any more confusion than already existed!

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As I said, Terry, your review is excellent and fills me with great pride. For some reason (I personally blame it on the hit musical West Side Story), Puerto Rico has historically been a magnet for bad press worldwide, and it is very difficult for us to get our good side across and over those obstacles. As you and countless others have seen, our islands (Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and all the other uninhabited ones), are full of splendid natural beauty, culture and history, which many people who don't make the effort to go beyond the clutter get to see. I always say that Puerto Rico is perfect for travelers and not so much for tourists, and there's a distinction. You, Terry, are obviously a traveler. But tourists almost always prefer sanitized, artificial destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas, or to be locked up in an all-inclusive resort like in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, or prefer to make quick sightseeing tours from the perspective of a tour bus to mass destinations like Paris, Rome and London. Puerto Rico does not want to be any of that. We want to remain a genuine place, quirks, faults and all.

 

 

 

Just some short comments on names and naming:

 

 

 

On Juan Ponce de León, our first governor, the Ponce-de-León part is all one surname. It basically identifies the Ponce family of the Kingdom of León. So it must all be stated as one surname: What is your last name? Ponce-de-León. In fact, the Ponce de León family is still around in Puerto Rico, and following the military heritage of its patriarch, is well represented in the modern Puerto Rico National Guard.

 

 

 

On the territory itself, the original native name is Borikén or Borinquen, and it is still used informally to this day. This is why you often hear Puerto Ricans refer to each other as "Boricuas".

 

 

 

The first formal name for the entire main island under Spanish rule was indeed San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). Puerto Rico was the name of the harbor where Old San Juan now sits. It wasn't really named Ciudad de Puerto Rico. Just Puerto Rico, again, referring to the harbor primarily. First came the harbor, then came the city. But the harbor was so popular with global mariners over the centuries, that the whole island became known by the name of its main harbor and then the section today known as Old San Juan, kept the original, formal name. To this day, the coat of arms of the entire territory, maintains the motto in latin: Joannes est nomen eius (John is my name). As "Old" San Juan expanded beyond the original walled city, other wards like Santurce to the east and Hato Rey and Rio Piedras to the south were swallowed up over the years to become what today is officially the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan, Capital City (yes, a mouthful). And THEN, the surrounding municipalities immediately adjacent to San Juan, the capital city, are collectively known as the San Juan Metropolitan Area. This "greater San Juan" area consists of the municipalities of Carolina (where the SJU airport actually is), Guaynabo (an affluent suburb to the south) and Toa Baja (where the Bacardi Distillery is).

 

 

 

I hope I didn't create any more confusion than already existed!

 

 

I really loved your review of San Juan !! My DH and I will be spending 3 days there prior to a Cruise of the other Caribbean Islands. This has helped give us some ideas as to what to do, see while we are there !! Thank you ! ( BTW, just as an FYI, using the blue color on a black background is really difficult to read,see. )

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I really loved your review of San Juan !! My DH and I will be spending 3 days there prior to a Cruise of the other Caribbean Islands. This has helped give us some ideas as to what to do, see while we are there !! Thank you !

 

Aviator of the Seas: As I said' date=' Terry, your review is excellent and fills me with great pride. For some reason (I personally blame it on the hit musical West Side Story), Puerto Rico has historically been a magnet for bad press worldwide, and it is very difficult for us to get our good side across and over those obstacles. As you and countless others have seen, our islands are full of splendid natural beauty, culture and history, which many people who don't make the effort to go beyond the clutter get to see. I always say that Puerto Rico is perfect for travelers and not so much for tourists, and there's a distinction. You, [b']Terry, are obviously a traveler.[/b] But tourists almost always prefer sanitized, artificial destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas, or to be locked up in an all-inclusive resort like in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, or prefer to make quick sightseeing tours from the perspective of a tour bus to mass destinations like Paris, Rome and London. Puerto Rico does not want to be any of that. We want to remain a genuine place, quirks, faults and all.

 

Appreciate so much both of these nice comments and follow-ups. Yes, I am proud to be a "traveler" who enjoys experiencing the "real things", not just artificial destinations. We are now a little over two months for departing for another adventure. This time will a first for us in doing Africa. It will include Cape Town, sailing along the South Africa coast to Mozambique, then Victoria Falls and Botswana, etc.

 

From the USA Today newspaper Friday, they have this headline: "Readers' Choice: Best of the Caribbean" with these highlights: "The Caribbean is a diverse region filled with adventure, bold flavors, shopping opportunities and plenty of places to party. We asked readers to name the best for adventure, food, golf, shopping and nightlife. For the past four weeks, readers have been voting daily and the results are in!"

 

San Juan and the island did super well!! In all five of the categories, San Juan and PR was in the top rankings. This includes being ranked as number one for both shopping and nightlife. For golf, PR was ranked second best in the Caribbean. As noted earlier, we very much loved our three days in and around San Juan with its excellent range/offerings of outdoor activities, food, historical sites, nature, size, people, architecture and character.

 

Full story at:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2015/11/13/10best-readers-choice-caribbean-winners/75722646/

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

Now at 32,319 views for these postings.

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From the London/UK Guardian this morning, they have this interesting headline: "A foodie tour of Puerto Rico" with some options to consider. This is especially true if you are looking for things to be different and not be just your normal "tourist stuff"!!

 

Here are some of the story highlights: "Old San Juan is a visual delight, with narrow hilly streets of blue cobblestones lined with brightly coloured 16th- and 17th-century buildings. Its churches and palaces are mostly interspersed with tacky gift shops aimed at the thousands of cruise-ship visitors, but, there’s lots of authentic Puerto Rican life close by. The Atlantic-facing beaches east of the centre mostly feature high-rise hotels and condos, but pretty Ocean Park (take bus 52 from the station behind Plaza Colón) is an exception. And its grid of leafy streets and low-rise houses just happens to be home to San Juan’s most happening street: Calle Loíza."

 

Here is more to sample from this story: "The tour also took in cocktails at the city’s liveliest nightlife spot – La Placita in the Santurce district, which is a farmers’ market by day and party central by night, with clubs and salsa bars open till dawn – plus top coffee spot Cafe Don Ruiz."

 

Full story at:

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/dec/05/san-juan-puerto-rico-foodie-tour

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 128,069 views for this posting.

Edited by TLCOhio

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From the London/UK Mirror newspaper earlier this month, they had this headline: "Puerto Rico is the cheaper way to grab some Caribbean winter sunshine". From the UK, new airlines have opened up access to San Juan.

 

This article/profile has lots of good and interesting options to consider for San Juan and Puerto Rico. Here are a few of the story highlights: "After a day wandering pretty colonial streets and citadels looming over the ocean, dining on colourful creole cuisine and basking in tropical sunshine, we were now partying until daybreak. Not what you usually expect from a winter break. But this was San Juan, one of the most historic yet most modern cities in Latin America. It’s also the self-proclaimed rum capital of the world. With its unusual status of being a territory and not a state, it’s managed to retain its Latino culture and a strong sense of nationhood, while at the same time benefiting from US-style development (think Havana meets Miami)."

 

This story does note that Puerto Rico is in "the middle of a debt crisis similar to Greece’s. But tourism doesn’t seem to be affected. The plush Hilton Caribe is supposedly the birthplace of Puerto Rico’s national drink, the pina colada. The historic centre of Old San Juan is on an islet at the heart of a series of bays, lagoons and waterways that make up the city. Its long blue cobblestone streets drop from a bluff overlooking the Atlantic down to San Juan Bay, where monstrous cruise ships come to dock. I loved getting lost among the grand old Spanish colonial buildings, beautifully renovated and painted a spectrum of colours."

 

This lengthy writing summary with many pictures brings back lots of nice memories and offers many ideas to do during a return visit. Or, your first visit there!!

 

Full story at:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/usa-long-haul/puerto-rico-cheaper-way-grab-7030993

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 191,264 views.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

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wonderful photos and info.

I was wondering how you went to the rain forest. Did you do a private tour?

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wonderful photos and info. I was wondering how you went to the rain forest. Did you do a private tour?

 

Appreciate from your NJ friend this posting, kind comments and good question. Through our hotel, we arranged this tour. The company was E & B Tours & Transportation.

 

Hope this helps. Let me any other questions, info needs.

 

THANKS! Enjoy San Juan!! Terry in Ohio

 

Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 131,403 views for this posting.

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