Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vacation Days 1-2: Puerto Rico

A.R's family is from Puerto Rico and quite a few of his aunts, uncles, and cousins still live there on both his mom's and dad's side of the family. He hadn't been to the island since highschool nor ever with a girl let alone his new wife, so his mom of course called her sister when she found out we would be staying there before our cruise to tell them we'd be visiting. We spent the evening on Saturday with them and I must say the mountains they live in Cidra are absolutely gorgeous.
The coastline of San Juan
The hills of Cidra as seen from Alexi's Aunt's front porch
The island is beautiful and our hotel (Caribe Hilton) was by far one of the best I've stayed in. The view from the open-air lobby was to die for: one of the hotel's several pools followed by the crystal clear blue ocean on the horizon. Our room also had a view of the ocean and of one of the forts in Old San Juan. The weekend we were there the hotel was hosting basketball teams from all over South America for a tournament. We rode in the elevator several times with some players from Venezuela and I have to say that my almost 6' husband looked like a teeny speck standing next to them.
Our hotel lobby

Life size connect 4 at our hotel! They also had a life size chess set.
We arrived early Friday afternoon and checked into the hotel before venturing out to find lunch on the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. We found a nook in the wall bistro and had a delicious lunch but the dessert was to die for...traditional Spanish flan laid over chocolate cake. Heaven. Then we went back to the hotel and ventured to the private beach complete with beach lounges and cabanas. After a swim in the warm ocean we discovered our hotel had a grove of palm trees with at least a dozen hammocks for the guests to lay on. We took full advantage of them during our stay!
The streets of Old San Juan look just like Barcelona from our honeymoon
On Saturday we woke up and had a delicious breakfast at the hotel's restaurant before hitting the pool and hammocks again. For lunch we ordered burgers poolside as a passing thunderstorm rolled through. Then we got ready to drive to Cidra to visit with Alexi's aunt and some cousins from his mother's side of the family. We ended up having to start the drive in the pouring rain which was no small feet with the flooding highways and scary drivers on the road with us. During our short stay in Puerto Rico we saw at least a half dozen accidents on the highways- all of them were rear ended cars. Signals are not used at all in San Juan and you WILL be cut off while going 60 down the highway. I also still kick myself for not getting a picture of the Puerto Rican horse "trailer" as we drove down the was the smallest Mazda pickup truck you can picture with a horse basically in the bed of the truck tethered to the cab. One sharp turn and that horse was a goner!
Heavenly nap spot for a pregnant lady who loves the beach!
The visit with Alexi's family went well. Their homes were nestled on a mountain in beautiful Cidra and they were all very welcoming towards me despite the language barrier. On his Aunt's property there were HUGE avocados growing wild along with bread fruit, bananas, papaya, coconut, and star fruit (which we tried straight off the tree!). They also raise their own chickens for eggs and meat and had a pet cow as well. It figures that I traveled all the way to Puerto Rico hoping for some really good home cooking (much like Alexi's mom cooks here) only to have her make lasagna and potato salad because A.R.'s aunt called his mom to find out what I liked! It was a sweet gesture, though, and I did get to have my favorite tostones (smashed plantains just before ripe- fried) and spanish rice to go along with it. ;)
The anniversary couple in Cidra- doesn't the background look fake?! It's not!

Us with Alexi's cousins, aunt, and uncle

Sunday morning we ate breakfast at Starbucks in our hotel and then packed our things up to return the rental car and begin our journey aboard the cruise ship Adventure of the Seas! Our stay in Puerto Rico was the perfect start to our vacation and just as relaxing as we had hoped. I hope to visit again more in the years to come.
I LOVE vacation!


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