May 22, 2009

Puerto Rico: Day 5

Friday morning we headed over to the Bacardi tour, though it had some history of the distillery, you don't actually get to go inside the factory itself. Then, back to the airport and a short flight home. Overall we enjoyed Puerto Rico, but our agenda was too hectic - we should've things down a bit. While we expected Vieques to be undeveloped, the roosters are a real problem - I expect that I can sleep in on my vacation, but there's just no getting away from the noise pollution. Personally, I believe the added time and expense to get to Hawaii is worth it compared to Puerto Rico.

May 21, 2009

Puerto Rico: Day 4

Thursday we left Vieques (and the roosters) and picked up our rental car in Fajardo (which was no worse for wear). An hour drive to us back to San Juan, where we checked in to the Andalucia Guest House which was a great place to stay. The owners were very friendly and pointed out some good places to eat nearby. Even back on the main island, I was reminded of the fact that everyone operates on "island time" when it took 20 minutes to get two cups of coffee at the nearby McDonald's (two days in a row, and it wasn't very busy).

We drove into Old San Juan and took a tour of Fort San Felipe del Morro. Old San Juan is a nice place to visit but very touristy. One fun attraction was the Don Q rum tasting room near the cruise ship terminal. Who doesn't like free samples of rum? Dinner at Pal Cielo was excellent...a funky little place that we wouldn't have otherwise found except for our host's recommendation. Great ceviche.

May 20, 2009

Puerto Rico: Day 3

On Wednesday we woke up early thanks to the thousands of stray roosters that wander the island. Unfortunately these roosters make it difficult to regard Vieques as a relaxing place to unwind as they are constantly crowing, starting early in the morning and continuing on throughout the day. We drove over to green beach, which is located in the abandoned navy base. The road there was quite rugged and parts of it were closed for repairs, making the beach deserted. It's a really nice beach, only downside was horrendous noseeums that would eat you alive if you didn't wear plenty of Off. Wednesday night we did a tour of the bioluminescent bay with Island Adventures. Difficult to photograph the effect of millions of dinoflagellates, but highly recommended if you're going to be in Vieques on a night with low moonlight.

May 19, 2009

Puerto Rico: Day 2

I wouldn't say that I had the best rest ever at Casa Cubuy, given the rubber sheets on the bed and the chirping of millions of coqui frogs. Fortunately breakfast at sunrise looking out over the rainforest made up for it. Afterwards, we took a 10 minute hike down to the river in the valley. The water was pretty churned up because of the recent rainfall. Nothing against Casa Cubuy but it is fairly rustic as a result of its location, and if I could do it again I would've made the rainforest into a day trip rather than staying overnight.

Leaving the hotel, we drove to Fajardo to catch the afternoon ferry to Vieques. We didn't have any trouble getting a seat, and for $2 it's a lot cheaper than flying. We left our rental car at the ferry terminal and hoped it would still be in once piece upon our return. Martinque Car Rental picked us up at the ferry and took us to their office, where we rented a Jeep Wrangler that had definitely seen better days. Surprisingly, we had a hard time reserving a car, most of the places were booked up several weeks in advance. It was a short drive to the Esperanza Inn. Our room was a nicely furnished apartment that had air conditioning (thank goodness) and a television. The owners were very friendly and gave us a hand when we had trouble starting our rental car. We spent the rest of the evening walking along the Esperanza beach plaza.

May 18, 2009

Puerto Rico: Day 1

We flew in to San Juan and hopped in a rental car for the drive into El Yunque National Forest. Our hotel, Casa Cubuy, had no official address - it's just 26 kilometers up the road. Note that if you are coming in from the airport, you can't reach the hotel by driving into the park from the north, you have to go all the way around and use the south entrance because the road through the park has washed away. The drive there took a couple of hours, partly owing to rush hour traffic and the rain that slowed the ascent up the windy mountains roads. Dinner at the hotel was okay but a bit overpriced for somewhat generic chicken and pasta. The views from the hotel were spectacular but the rooms were a bit more rustic than I was expecting. Running water, but no air conditioning. Up on the mountain, it wasn't that hot, but the humidity was a killer. It did cool off a bit after the sun went down.