Birthday Trip to San Juan Puerto Rico3:00 AM
Hey Yall! Again, I want to thank everyone for all the birthday love you've given me. You all made my day one to remember! I appreciate each and every one of you!
My birthdays are usually spent with my family around the hibachi grill at Benihanas, but this year I wanted to do something different than my regular birthday routine. Since I no longer have to request time off to go on vacation (I quit my job last year), I wanted to go back to the Caribbeans.
I told Mr. M what I wanted to do for my birthday, and he made it happen. He planned the whole trip! I didn't have to do a thing.
Now, will I let him plan a trip again doing it on his own? HECK NO!!! I am the master planner at planning trips, and when it comes to him doing it, I'm about ready to choke him out! LOL! Just kidding!
Here is how it all went down.
After our trip to St. Croix last month I told Mr. M I wanted to go to Puerto Rico for my birthday. He was cool about it and said okay.
I called up my girls' grandmother to have her watch the girls during my birthday trip so they wouldn't miss any days of school.
So, it was three weeks before my birthday, and I asked Mr. M, "Do you got our hotel and plane tickets?" His answer, "No, not yet."
What the heck? What's the holdup? Is he trying to pay high prices? You're never supposed to buy plane tickets last minute; it'll be super high! Mr. M told me not to worry about it; he'll get things done.
About a week before our trip, he said he got a room at the Caribe Hilton using one of his friend's Family and Friends discount and purchased the plane tickets.
I asked him, "Who are we flying with?" He told me Spirit Airlines going to Puerto Rico, and Delta Airlines returning home.
I felt like my spirit was stepped on and crushed after hearing Spirit Airlines! Does he not love me? Does he not care for my well being? He knows I hate that despicable airline!
On top of that, he pulled a slick move too. All the flights returning home to Atlanta was super expensive. But he found a flight going to Birmingham, Alabama with a layover flight in Atlanta that was cheaper, so he booked that. That means I could only use a carry-on bag for my trip because if I checked in my bag returning home, my belongings would transfer to Birmingham! Y'all know I was livid!
I had to pack very light. No room in my suitcase to pack extra things. Everything in my bag had to be TSA approved or take the risk of some of my stuff getting thrown away by TSA. I've had that happen before, remember?
Note to self: Never let Mr. M plan any more travels, that will stay my job.
By the way, Spirit Airlines employees are still rude and lazy! If they have a problem with their jobs, then quit! Also, the plane seating is super tight, hardly any leg room and folks talk so loud on the plane that you can't even relax. What happen to using their inside voice? Hasn't their parents taught them that? However, I will say the flight was clean, that's the only good thing I can say.
I never went to Puerto Rico before, except had a quick layover there on our way to St. Croix. That is what gave me the idea to have my birthday there because I noticed how Americanized Puerto Rico was, besides all the Spanish. Plus, no passport needed, it's a part of America's territory. (I'll be working on getting a passport next year)
The Caribe Hilton is such a beautiful hotel! Breathtaking views, lushness all around. It is one of the most famous hotels in Puerto Rico. The Caribe Hilton is where the Pina Colada was invented. This San Juan resort is situated between historic Old San Juan and the contemporary Condado area of San Juan.
Our room had spectacular views of the ocean and the beach, instantly you feel like you're in paradise and never want to leave.
Our room had a contemporary look, with an island feel thanks to the floral wall decor. Our room was spacious for the two of us. I have no complaints about it. Hilton always amazes me with their beautiful hotels and excellent customer service, even as a regular guest they go above and beyond.
Since I didn't plan this trip, I didn't check beforehand the things to do in Puerto Rico, so I went to Hilton's Concierge to help us out.
The Concierge provided us with a list of stuff to do around the island to keep us occupied. It cost a bit more to have a bus or taxi to pick us up at the hotel to take us to attractions, so Mr. M and I opted to rent a car.
Best decision, it was only $13 a day to rent a standard vehicle through Enterprise, which happens to be on Hilton's property and our KIA Soul was delivered right to us. The reason the price was so low was that it's off-season in Puerto Rico right now. Remember I told you, the best time to travel is during the fall and winter months, except on holidays.
Check out all the things we did!
Old San Juan
Old San Juan is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico and the historic colonial section of the city of San Juan.
The old colorful pastel buildings and cobblestone streets give Old San Juan a unique exotic Spanish look.
A lot of shops, and restaurants to choose from. It was hard to decide which place to settle down and have an authentic Puerto Rican meal.
There is a lot of walking up and down the streets, so I recommend wearing comfortable shoes.
There were two restaurants we had lunch at was El Asador and Cafe Manolin. Both restaurants are equally good. Food is filled with spices and bursting with flavor. The dish I couldn't get enough of is Mofongo, a mashed fried green plantain with garlic, adobo seasoning, chicken stock, and inside you can choose chicken or seafood. This dish is very filling and perfect to eat during the fall and winter months.
|Mofongo at El Asador|
|Mofongo at Cafe Manolin|
For dessert, we seen a long line at a place called Senor Paleta, they serve handmade gelato and sorbet palettes. The line went pretty fast, and my limeade popsicle was a much needed cold treat after walking in the hot tropical heat.
Old San Juan, is also the place where cruise ships dock. We were checking them out while walking along the pier. We also were people watching too.
With all trips, I like to learn about the place I visit, so Mr. M and I went to Castillo San Cristobal, a fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was built by Spain to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site.
The architecture of this fort is amazing; it's like I time-warp and living during those historic times.
There is another fort nearby called Castillo San Felipe del Morro, but we didn't have enough time to visit.
During our stroll along the streets, we saw a Roman Cathedral called Catedral Metropolitana Basilica de San Juan Bautista, the cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in San Juan, and is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas.
We were curious to see what the inside looked, so we quietly walked in. Such beauty inside the cathedral! Take a look!
Old San Juan has so much to do and see; there is never a dull moment. The place is a must-see!
Bacardi Rum Factory is the world largest rum distillery. There are several different tours to choose from, and Mr. M had us both do the Rum Tasting Tour.
Our package tour includes:
• Commemorative Bacardí Cup, Bacardí Special “Welcome” Cocktail and Honorary Certificate of Completion.
• Distillery Tour and access to the Cathedral of Rum with an assigned Brand Specialist.
• Experience a rum tasting of the finest rums within the Bacardí portfolio.
• Package offered daily (Every Hour) – 10:00AM / 11:00AM / 12:00PM / 1:00PM / 2:00PM / 3:00PM / 4:00PM
We had VIP treatment because Mr. M and I were the only ones on the tour. Our Brand Specialist Edcardo was phenomenal teaching us about the past, present and future of the world’s most awarded rum and Spirit. And wow, who knew that Bacardi all started in Cuba.
And that rum tasting, whoa! I was served a drink when I first got there, then all these different shots of rum in the rum tasting room. We ended the tour with another cocktail. Let just say; I felt like I over did it and was a bit tipsy. I should've known I would be feeling light-headed when I seen Uber has its own parking spaces to pick up and drop off people, LOL!
Bacardi Pina Colada
- 3 Parts Bacardi Rum
- 1 Part Pineapple Juice
- 1 Part Coconut Pulp
Mix all ingredients in a blender with ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Decorate with pineapple cubes and cherry.
- 1 Part Bacardi Rum
- 3 Parts Club Soda
- 12 Mint Leaves
- 1/2 Lime
- 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
Place 12 mint leaves, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 lime in a glass. Crush well with a pestle. Add Bacardi, top off with club soda, stir well and garnish with sprigs of mint and/ or a lime wheel.
Bacardi Cuba Libre
- 1 Part Bacardi Rum
- 3 Parts Coca-Cola or Diet Coke
- Wedge of Lime
Place ice in serving glass. Add content, stir gently, and decorate with a wedge of lime.
El Yunque Rainforest
After Casa Bacardi, Mr. M and I went ATV driving in the rainforest. Fun, rough, rugged, dirty adventure, however, after been drinking at Bacardi my stomach was feeling upset.
Driving on the dirt paths, checking out the scenery, cooling off in the mangroves was an excellent experience. Mr. M complained that he wish he could go faster on the ATV. Me on the other hand, the speed was just fine since I was his passenger, with all those hills and bumps I wasn't trying to fall off, this is not the place to be busting wheelies!
If you're not into driving ATVs, you can go horseback riding in the rainforest as well.
Plaza Las Americas
This mall is huge!!!!! A variety of different stores with many of them you find in the US. People are very friendly and bilingual. It's a short drive away from the Hilton hotel if you're looking for some retail therapy. Oh yeah, they have one of the largest JCPenney in the world, has three levels, and is 261,500 square feet!
We spent five days, four nights in Puerto Rico and that wasn't enough time to be able to do and see more things. My trip was the best birthday I ever had, just wish I could've spent it with my girls as well.
Although everything is in Spanish, the tourist areas people speak English too. I told Mr. M, thanks to all those years of watching Dora the Explorer with the girls when they were babies, that show helped me know some of the basics in Spanish. I hated that annoying show, but it came to good use. I was speaking a little bit of Spanish while I was out there.
The crime rate is high in Puerto Rico, so you have to be mindful of your surroundings. Police presence is everywhere to keep the tourist safe. Several guards were walking around the Hilton too. But don't let that scare you from taking a trip there.
And guess what happened while we were at the airport on our way home! The power went out while we were waiting for our flight. Come to find out a fire at a power plant caused the aging utility grid to fail and blacked out the entire island of 3.5 million people. Scary! Our flight was delayed for about an hour, but thank God we weren't stuck there. We may have arrived home late, but we made it home safely.
I pray that the power comes back for Puerto Rico, this is happening amid a decade-long economic crunch that has worn down Puerto Ricans.