Here we are on the first port day in Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO!! We have never been to Puerto Rico before, nor to any of the other stops we made on this cruise, which is why we chose this trip. I was looking forward to seeing Puerto Rico; even with all the things surrounding the island as of late. They were still rebounding from Hurricane Maria last year, and they were in mass protest against the Governor just days before we left.
I woke up first, as we will stop pointing this out as I always do, deal? OK. I didn’t want to disturb anyone when I woke up, so I slid outside of the room onto the balcony freshly showered with all my things to make myself up. Yes, I put my makeup on outside. Best lighting in the world on that balcony! But. It was a very humid ride on the water, so my hair and face were not having it. As you will see in these photos. I love the heat, give me 97F with sunshine every day, just keep the humidity away. That is the killer of all the goodness the hot weather brings.
The girls woke up and rushed to get dressed, which was a first! But I soon realized why, they saw my dress and wanted to wear their matching ones. They like dressing alike, as we get stopped all the time about how cute we all look. Ok, I like the attention, too!
All watermelon-ey, yes that’s a word, we headed to breakfast, as the cruise wasn’t arriving in Puerto Rico until mid-afternoon. This morning we ate breakfast at the Oceanview Cafe, buffet. This was our second time eating here since the first time we boarded this cruise. We found ourselves a large round booth right at the back of the boat overlooking the deck and the ocean. Perfecto! My clan grabbed a slew of things, Belgian waffles, French toast, hard boiled eggs, hash browns, eggs Benedict, bacon, sausages, but, I grabbed an egg white omelet w asparagus, spinach and mushroom and wheat toast, with two bites of potato and chicken sausage to try them. Which, I have to admit, were pretty good!
After breakfast we hit the trivia event up on the observation deck. The topic this time was to guess the decade of major movie and music events. We had a blast up there with everyone, but sadly we did not win! Though we got stopped every minute about our outfits. hah. After the trivia game we hit up the comedy show, one that the kids could actually attend, that was happening in the main theater. It was such a funny show.
The show let out and the girls wanted ice cream, so we decided to grab an ice cream at the Oceanview so we could sit out on the back deck. We noticed the bar was open so we grabbed drinks, too. We cheered to a spectacular afternoon ahead of us. Once we finished up we ran over to the observation deck again, because someone told my husband it was a great place to watch the cruise approach the port of San Juan. And boy, were they RIGHT! The photos of our arrival are all in a bluish haze because the type of glass Celebrity uses in the space, but the view was beautiful!
We got to port on the early side, 3PM, but we didn’t jump at getting off the ship so quickly. We gave it time so people could filter out and we wouldn’t be stuck waiting to get off. We went to our room to check out the port from there, and to get freshened up. It was HUMID! But we were prepared for it by wearing these cool dresses and carrying very little but a handbag. After we freshened up we headed to the Cafe al Bacio for a coffee stop before getting off the boat.
This is the coolest thing that happened to me this day. A little back story… The day before I noticed this older man who looked just like one of my uncles sitting pool side. I saw him and it stopped me in my tracks, because I immediately smiled. I mean, this guy looked just like him, and the uncle he looked like passed away more than ten years ago, he was one of my favorites. On this afternoon, right at the cafe, I was approached by this cute blonde woman with an Australian accent. Now as I was literally being stopped for my dress all day, I thought that is where she was going. But no. She stopped me to tell me how much my youngest daughter looked like her granddaughter, of the same age, and how she and her husband couldn’t get over it. She looked at me in the eyes, and I was struck by how much she looked like my oldest sister’s best friend back in Boston. She grabbed her husband, and guess who he was!? The man who looked like my uncle!!!
Here is when I met my new friends from Australia, Rosaria and Ferdinando. I think part of my stardust is also scattered over there because I meet so many kind people from there! 🙂
We talked for such a long time. She shared photos of her granddaughter, who really did look like my daughter! I had to tell her how much her husband looked like my uncle, and apologize if he saw me staring haha. We went back and forth in conversation only to find out that they were both first generation Australian Italians, he was also Sicilian, his parents from almost near my parents hometown. Such a small world!
After meeting these nice people, we took off for the exit.
San Juan is beautiful!
We arrived to cloudy skies, which helped with the humidity a touch. Like a teeny tiny bit. Disembarking the boat with Celebrity was seamless, all you need is your key card and passport. The cruise staff would scan your key card as you left, which popped up your information with that photo that was taken at Port Everglades entrance. Then this was repeated on the return to the ship, only difference is you pass through security on the way back in by placing your bags in x-ray machines. Super easy.
It was a bit hectic with locals at the exit of the port trying to get the everyone to take tours, but a quick ‘no, thank you’ was enough to be left alone. We didn’t book any excursions, but we researched the city before leaving home. We planned to go on our own walking tour exploring old San Juan, the original city, because of time.
We started on our walk going from the port up to the Calle Norzagaray. The streets were slim, and the houses crowded one another in shades of orange, lime, pink, blue and yellow, each neighborhood spilled out on to piazzas where the heartbeat of the history simmered. Stunning in person. It was the most colorful streets I have ever walked, with breathtaking views of the ocean around from the top. My favorite detail along the city were these icy blue paved alley ways/streets everywhere we went. They were so pretty, and it made me smile to see all this color.
It was so humid, so we walked at a slower pace than we would’ve normally. We went into stores and bars to cool off as much as we could. Along our walk we happened to find the Puerta de la Bandera, which is a historical landmark . Along this same street were some antique shops and stores. From there we traversed to the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, which is a colonial-era cemetery. It was breathtakingly placed along the coast. From there we went up through the neighborhoods till we hit the Plazuela La Rogativa, which overlooked the ocean and brought us to the top of the Paseo del Morro. The entire edge of the city is fortified with this giant wall, it is preserved so well. Along the wall is a main pathway along the water. This path overlooked the other side of San Juan, too. From here we filtered into the Paseo de la Princesa, another path which spilled out to the prominent Raices Fountain. All of these paths were tree lined and stuck in time.
From here we were a few blocks from port, and realized we had no luck finding souvenirs. So, we made a run up to the nearby Starbucks, to of course, grab a mug. And grab drinks, because God forbid my girls go into a Starbucks without getting something.
We hung out along the piazza of the Starbucks for a while, people watching was fun! We looked around for restaurants, but we all thought things would be best if we went back to the boat to wash up and eat. I am VERY glad we did.
We got dolled up, then headed down to check in on how long the wait was for dinner. We were handed a pager as the wait was about 25 minutes, so we went to grab drinks at the frozen martini bar. Our girls took off to walk around the ship. We sat at the main bar, where my husband ordered me an anniversary martini they offered. This was top notch! It was such a perfect night, and the place was PACKED! We figured folks would still be on the island, but I guess not! We ended up talking to a couple who was to my left, they were an older couple who transplanted to FL. Very nice people.
EXCEPT. I am not sure if this is happening to everyone, but I keep encountering old people who are so pleasant to talk with then they steer the conversation towards politics. Mainly their happiness with the current situation in office. Like, don’t you have other things occupying your mind, people? The gentleman was an older man, he was a nice man. He told me all about his upbringing in rural America, and it was truly remarkable how many lives he has led, so many interesting things. From starting work on the farms at 6 years old to being in the service in HS, to his marriages, etc etc. I kept complimenting him and his wife on having such a great life lived. Then the second I was comfortable to stop talking he just digs in on politics, but the way he looked when he brought it up threw me off. I am pretty confident most of you know I am not a Trump supporter, and I am sure you understand that I am inferring he was a major supporter. I just didn’t care to have this talk, not with him not with anyone. I normally don’t discuss politics because my beliefs are my beliefs. So, I heard the words come out of his mouth and opted to go along with him and his gripes.
Yes, I pretended to like the schmuck. I took three turns of smiles and comments right as my husband could see I had enough. haha His wife saw it, too. Thankfully, our kids came running to find us as they went to check in with the hostess, and our table was ready. Yay! I was starving at this point, and the drink went right to my head.
So, naturally, my husband ordered me a new one to take to the table. haha
We were seated for dinner at table 502! With Irfan! Woo! I know this sounds crazy, to be excited this way over a stranger, but this table of folks were special!
This is the night my husband started teaching the table servers magic. haha I know it sounds so weird, but with our experience the night before, it all came up to do tricks. And it was actually fun for my husband to stump these guys.
After all the food and all the laughs, we called it a night. We were the last to leave the dining room, as we were every night. And what did our girls want more than anything this evening to do? Fall asleep to HGTV. I kid you all not! hahah These girls are so silly.
This was our day in San Juan!
Next up is Day four of the cruise where we port in Saint Thomas, and it’s my husband’s birthday!