Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Going to Port at Puerto Rico

We flew Nassau to Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico on 4 July, and were fortunate enough to be descending just as the Independence Day fireworks were going off.

Unfortunately, we were really still quite a way up from the fireworks, so photography was not possible. But still, it was interesting to see fireworks from a top-down perspective, and live instead of on a television.

Speaking of which, I understand that the group of guys Mindef has put together to orgy-nise this year's National Day Parade has cum up with a the slogan and tagline for this year's celebrations. "Come Together" is a great slogan. Really. And the logo is pretty cool too, with fireworks appearing right above the word 'Come'!

Is it my imagination or are there white stains around the words 'Come Together'?

I really have to give this guys a hand. Good job!

Back to Puerto Rico - we were quite annoyed that taxi fare to the hotel was again above our expected budget, because there is a fixed fare system for taxi rides from the airport. Before we set down for the night, we agreed that since the boarding time for our cruise was in the afternoon, we would check out early, leave our bags at the hotel, and see if the distance to the port was short enough for us to walk. The wife also wanted to check out a food court in Old San Juan which supposedly has local and cheap food.

So, next day, bright and early, we checked out and started off for the port. Unfortunately, San Juan doesn't really seem to be properly mapped. The two maps we had were pretty useless, so we went in the wrong direction. We found a local beach that seemed pretty nice, though!

Obviously not meant for big cruise ships

It was quite a nice protected lagoon with clear waters and shower area nearby. You wouldn't want to lay your mats on the beach, but there's a nice grassy area to the side that's perfect.

Well, we trooped back to the hotel, and this time, I mapped our location using the Maps function on my iPod. Then we realised that we were heading in the wrong direction.

Off we went again.

Then we got lost again. It was only when we went into a petrol station to ask for directions that we understood that 'all roads here lead to Old San Juan'. Cool. It's just like Old San Juan was Rome!

Bolstered by the hope that we were at least headed in the right direction, we set off again. And then it started to pour.

Storm clouds trying to hide the mysterious ship

Sibeh suay.

We'd pretty much decided that we would not be walking to the port with our heavy bags, and were mulling over much much we would have to pay for a cab when we finally saw Old San Juan.

Green, Brown, Red and Yellow. I know my colors!

It was really like a little town in Spain! The buildings were all painted in vibrant hues, somewhat similar to what we saw in parts of Madrid. But by this time, we were ravenous enough to just ignore the pretty facades around us, and just raid the food court!

There's only One Way He wants you to go

Remember that I said we were supposed to try some local food at low prices at the food court? Well, it didn't happen. The stalls in the food court served cuisine from other countries, so I ended up with Italian and the wife ended up with Mexican. No Puerto Rican flavors in sight.

And, whether it was due to shenanigans by the hawkers or pure language difficulties, our meal wasn't that cheap either! The stall I went to heaped on shredded turkey meat costing USD 6 to my order when all I did was ask how much it would cost. And the wife was given large servings of a taco and quesadilla when she asked for small. Our meal therefore ended up costing around USD 18 instead of the USD 10 budgeted! Argh!

Ah well, we were never really the type that dwell on misfortune. We made the best of a so-far horrible day by exploring Old San Juan and taking in the vibe and the colorful buildings.

A bar right beneath a residence? Well, your partner won't be complaining about YOUR snoring then!

There's something innately quaint about these buildings with the planters and balconies. You can just imagine yourself taking the leisurely route in life. Wake up, water plants, sit in the balcony, read a book, make a sandwich, snooze, etc, etc then you end up watching the sunset.

Checking to see if he won 4-D

But that lifestyle belongs to others now. Not us. Not yet, anyway.

Satisfied that we have at least seen quite a bit of San Juan, we trudged back to our hotel and dutifully took a cab to the port for our South Caribbean cruise on Carnival Victory. A cruise! That equals plenty of food! We can't wait!

Fruits helps in digestion. And more importantly, excretion!



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