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San Juan Travel Blog

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                    Franciso, my TBuddy in PR, came to pick us (me & my 2  teenage grandkids) from the hotel bcoz my daughter had a previous engagement & couldn't join us.. i wanted to see Pinones, a short strip of road dotted by food stalls serving PR food & bounded by the ocean on the other side where the locals congregate mostly at night to enjoy the food & drink beer or pina colada.. Frankie says it is also a kind of lover's lane where everything goes & where the local police don't bother you & parking is free.. free parking is hard to come by in San Juan & you pay to park ( pay the person standing on a free parking space you need)lolz.

. there are privately owned pay to park lots all over & if you stay in one of the hotels by Isla Verde Ave., you have to pay extra for parking even if you are a paying guest of the hotel!

                   we had barbecue chicken on sticks & some pina colada in Pinones before we went to the Mall of the Americas.. it is a large mall with several floors & Frankie says that the rest of the space is rented out as professional offices or other businesses.. there were a lot of people in the mall mostly in the Fast Food gallery eating & some just walking around keeping cool inside bcoz it was very hot & humid outside.. there were several brand name stores like Coach & Gap & Cartier & Zales etc.

if you want to pass the time & go window shopping in San Juan PR, this is the place to go..  my granddaughter wanted to try PRican food so i asked Frankie if we could get some take out food on our way back to the hotel & he suggested Pollo Tropical.. we then returned to the hotel & said our goodbyes.. Frankie said that he would like to invite the whole family to a nice dinner before we leave for NY.. i promised to let him know as soon as i confirm with everyone about schedules.

                   i am glad i joined travbuddy & met some nice people! thank you.




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             the adults woke up early but the kids wanted to stay in bed late so we left them to their dreams & went to get breakfast & our daily dose of caffeine, of course!! we had bathing suits under our shorts&tees so we went straight to the resort area.. there were already people on the beach taking a stroll or jogging on the sand.. heard on the news that the storms had passed so we should be expecting sunny weather today.. to discourage people using the facilities of Intercontinental if they are not guests, since there is access to & from the beach into the hotel, you had to to register at a station with your room key card & the attendant places  a colored wrist band (with the assigned color of the day) on the guest's wrist before giving the guest a beach towel.

.  they think of everything!! i had the attendant turn on the jacuzzi as i wanted to use it instead of the swimming pool, as they were still cleaning the resort area bcoz most guests use the resort late afternoon into late night before they go play at the casino..

             near lunchtime, we decided to wake the kids bcoz we knew by that time they must be really hungry.. yes, they were already awake & dressed up when we walked into the room.. after we finished taking a shower & changing into our street clothes, we all went out into the street looking for the bus stop.. the kids didn't like the idea of riding public transport but i insisted that it would be a great adventure to take the bus & see the city as the locals did.

. the bus was late so i made friends with a woman who i think was an employee of one of the hotels or condominiums on that stretch of road where all the tourist establishments were, as the isla verde beach was just at the back of those buildings.. she was also waiting for the bus.. i wanted to be sure that we were on the right side of the road going towards "Old San Juan" but she couldn't understand what i was trying to ask her ( my spanish is terrible), luckily there was someone there who spoke english & confirmed we were at the right side of the right bus route.. the bus was full "standing room only" although i was able to sit after several blocks as someone sitting where i was standing, exited the bus.. i was beside a young girl holding a beautiful baby who was too tiny to be traveling on a public bus (baby might catch a cold or other viruses -- found out later she was just a week old!).
. i started a conversation with the mother -- babies are popular topics & she warmed up to me when i said her baby was gorgeous(she was), i saw she tried to understand what i was talking about when i asked her about the bus route & where i could find local restaurants in Old San Juan to try PRican cuisine, but she wanted to be of help so she spoke to the next person in Spanish asking her if she spoke English i guess, the guy standing in front of my seat then answered me that i could try a restaurant called "El Mojito".. an old man beside me (he said he was 77) started asking me in English if he could help & so we started a really good conversation about bus fares & shorter bus routes going back to the hotel.. oh yes, i asked him why the bus ride today was FREE! he said that there have been a change of government leaders bcoz the last one was corrupt & stole from the gov't coffers.
. he said that after a month, the bus fare will be doubled from 75 cents to $1.50 so this was a kind of reprieve.. i said i was lucky to come when the fare is free (cheapskate me!) lol! he smiled & talked about about how food prices have gone up & i said that it was the case everywhere in the world bcoz of high energy prices.. i stood up twice to seat 2 old people who came aboard the bus with walkers bcoz they fell over me twice too!! it was ok, i enjoyed hanging on to the rails ( our ride back to the hotel was a roller coaster one!! but i'll tell you about that later).. anyways when we reached the bus terminal, my new friend ARMANDO was kind enough to point out the bus (C53) which he said was a better bus to take back to the hotel as it passed a faster & scenic route through Condado & he also pointed out the bus (#21) which i could take & then transfer to the #22 to go to the mall an hour & a half away.
. we proceeded to walk out into the main street & he told me to take the Trolley at a stop which he said goes around the Old San Juan area, again for FREE :#, & then we said our goodbyes.. he was a nice man & i enjoyed talking with him!

         we found "El Mojito" while cruising down the quaint town ( maybe bcoz everybody helped looking for it as we were all famished lolz!) with it's old buildings (now rehabilitated & painted with lively colors like lime green, salmon, yellow etc.)& small cobbled alleyways that featured small shops selling touristy souvenir trinkets & tees & local handicraft.. after our meal of bistek(beef with onions), bacalao (fish sauteed in tomatoes & herbs), fried green plantains, pork chop, a chicken dish, salad, & rice with beans -- we were full,  & yes their pina colada was delicious!! we then walked the streets of Old San Juan & took some videos then found Starbucks where we got some coffee but we didn't go to the touristy places bcoz it was getting late & i was determined to be back at the hotel before dark & besides we didn't know the last bus out of there.

. oh yes, would you believe that it is the first bus terminal i went to, that didn't have schedules of the buses posted :O!! even the drivers that i sought out couldn't tell me when the next bus leaves -- very strange ! after like an hour, i noticed some drivers coming out from somewhere & i saw one lady driver so i approached her & asked where the driver of C53 was & she said she was it, thank God!she pointed to a corner where she said i should stand at while she maneuvered the bus to it -- Armando was right, the passengers on this bus were few unlike the bus A5 which was standing room only, again!!

                                                                               (to be continued)




                   this morning we went back to Rio de Piedras, to the Central Marketplace, to buy more souvenirs & try the food at the Cafeteria or Food Court & the food was very good, cooked fresh ( you can see them bringing in the newly cooked food from the kitchen) .. the dining seats & tables ( made of heavy iron) were clean & better than those in Pinones where the tables & chairs were of cheap plastic.. there were many small stands of all kinds of food including oven crisped pig hocks (lechon), bacalao cooked in vinegar with onions, tomatoes, chili peppers, & slices of avocado, large whole fish escabeche, beefsteak with onions, choices of arroz, & a lot lot more.

. here is where i really enjoyed a freshly cooked meal which was truly PRican & lots of fruit stands making shakes & juices from fresh fruits.. we should have gone here earlier but that's alright bcoz now we know where to go next time we visit!

                   after this early lunch, we walked through the various shops & bought something here & there to bring home & since it was really getting hot, we decided to go back to the hotel & make sure we packed our stuff before we checked out of the hotel at 2pm ( priority members get two extra hours ) & go somewhere before we go to the airport to return the rental car & wait for our flight back home to NY.. hope there are no delayed flights bcoz of bad weather going to our destination bcoz here in San Juan, the weather is muy caliente!

                   i miss home so New York here we come!!:)



trixieSpot914 says:
we are glad to have met you too & enjoyed the time with you.. the kids miss Puerto Rico! take care of yoruself & give my regards to your family.. hope to meet you again.:)

Posted on: Oct 05, 2008


              all aboard the C53 going back to the hotel, this bus followed a different route which was on a road on the ocean side rather than on streets along local residences or small business establishments.. i was thinking bcoz the bus driver was a woman that we will have a smooth leisurely drive on this scenic route but .. she was a driver from hell!!lolz:)) we took the back seats of the bus so we could sit together which was a bad choice for this trip coz we felt all the bumps & sharp turns the bus made -- the kids were enjoying the roller coaster ride which saw them flying in their seats :O i was not particularly having fun coz i had to hold on to the bars while holding on to my bag & packages! if i were younger, i know i would too :# anyway the family were laughing all the way to the hotel, taking video & pictures of the sights we pass along the way & the passengers on the bus.

. this bus route showed the nice buildings along the shore & across the road which were beautiful hotels,restaurants, condos, & ongoing new construction, government buildings & the better side of San Juan.. at least we saw both sides of San Juan -- on one side the small poor residences clustered together on small streets with an occasional abandoned building that was boarded up or dilapidated like those i see on CNN from war torn places & the other side which shows the life of the rich & well-off with condos by the shore & people basking in the sun with happy laughter & food aplenty around & small airports with private planes & helicopters & yachts rocking lazily by exclusive piers of the moneyed!

              amazingly we all arrived a block from the hotel(bus stop location) in one piece !! lolz i shouted my thanks to the lady driver from hell & she acknowledge with a gracias ride again! haha.

. everybody then went for a swim .. it is during the late afternoon onwards that guests use the resort maybe bcoz of the romantic ambience with all the colored soft lights around ;) i went back to the room ahead of the rest of the family to get some rest after that hectic day under the hot sun..

              tomorrow is another day & maybe i will be able to meet up with Francisco from TB as it is his free day from work.. looking forward to finally meet my PRican buddy!

San Juan
photo by: sethwd2