We just returned from a very relaxing trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and other locations. We arrived in San Juan on Saturday, 17 December (2016). We had a difficult time making it there as there was a winter storm that day, thus we were delayed for approximately three hours. This is the reason that going to the port city the day before turned out to be the best decision. We arrived and spent the evening in La Concha Hotel, which is a middle price hotel, and there are parties there nightly. The next day, we were off to the port, but as the ship was not prepared to leave until 8:00 P.M. that evening, we deposited our belongings on board, and then wandered around San Juan getting very drinkable water for the eight days we were going to be out on the ocean.
Saint Thomas was the first port we arrived in the next day. For the most part, all ports tend to look alike, so we can dispense with all of the oohs and ahhs, associated with each port. The shopping on the island is some of the best from our understanding. You can buy jewels like no where on earth. The makers of Tanzanite and diamonds have a particular affinity for the location. It was where we began to collect the charms for my wife’s bracelet (Diamonds International), which tells everyone where you have toured over the years. We went to “Fat Turtle” Restaurant in Saint Thomas to have lunch. You have to get to the correct pier, but the food was decent, and of course, we had rum in the form of Pina Colada (which was the drink of this trip). Unfortunately, I deleted my pictures, so Saint Thomas was a bust in terms of visual candy.
We arrived in Saint Maarten the next day, and you have to take a water taxi to the other side of the harbor to get into the positives there. The most important stop was to the “Guavaberry Emporium”. Guavaberry is the name of the fruit that is combined with the rum there and it is a very sweet taste. At this location, I got rather tipsy, which does not take much for me because I am prone to being a tea-totaler. They have eight different liquors, from Orange to Mango from Lime to Passion Fruit, but they usually sell you a Pina Colada ($7.00), and it does have alcohol in the drink. They also make two types of rum, a five year and an eight year old. And for those who want a little something extra, they make a ‘mash-up’ drink with rum and Guavaberry in it. While in the emporium, we discovered that there was a place to eat, Negril’s Cafe’ and we stopped by ‘Taloula Mango’s’ and the ‘Blue Bitch Bar’. The Blue-Bitch sells tee-shirts, which I think you may want to purchase.
Saint Kitt’s was nice. We hoped aboard a water taxi which took us to another island, Nevis. Guess who was born here: Alexander Hamilton. His home is now a museum, but they do not have anything that you can take with you, only some brief information for children. The island looks run down, but it is my understanding that it is wealthier than the larger island of Saint Kitts. We returned to have lunch at the Pink Papaya Cafe’, where the food was rather decent as food goes. It rained while we were there, so service was interrupted, but it was a decent day over all.
Antigua was our next island, though I am somewhat regretting that we did not get to Barbuda as well. You are right in the city. We noted that there were restaurants, but decided not to eat in any of them. We stopped by “Hemingway’s”, but essentially determined that most of the food was quick to eat, so opted for dinner on the ship that evening and had a desirable meal in “Izumi’s” Japanese restaurant on the ship. I did manage to get some Wadadli Beer which is very good. The next day we were in Saint Lucia’s and were introduced to ‘Chef Robby’s Restaurant’. There they have a dish called ‘Bwigo’, which is known to be ‘Whelks’. Also on this island, they make a beer called “Piton”, named after the two mountains in the center of the island.
We ended our travel on the island of Barbados. We have visited Barbados before, so getting around on this island was rather quick. We made a stop at the Mount Gay Rum factory to pick up a text, but nearly missed it because of the holiday season and their crazy schedule. I did however get the book and had a couple of shots of rum to boot. We also met up with our girlfriend and unfortunately missed our male buddy. Found the Agapey chocolate factory’s new location on the main drag, (you must go there if you like dark chocolate), and spent the balance of the afternoon in the port area chatting with some gentlemen about the overall feel of the trip.
We stayed in San Juan the week after sailing the seas. We stayed in a smaller hotel that was along the same area as the first hotel, Ashford Avenue. It had health food stores and restaurants, so it was rather agreeable. Riding into Old San Juan was about twenty minutes so we had the best of all things considered. The weather in San Juan was always 80 plus degrees and though it rained just about everyday, it would be as a passing shower/rain, and return to the normal temperature without as much as a sweat. After becoming oriented to the land, we breezed in and out of Old San Juan like we were pros. There is a local tour bus that is good for twenty-four hours and picked us up on Ashford.
We spent one day at the Bacardi factory. One has to take a ferry and a taxi to the location, but it was well worth the journey. We learned to make three drinks, Mojitos, Cuba Libre’s, and Daquiris (a town in Puerto Rico) while we were there, and one has to pay extra cash to learn this, as opposed to the ordinary tour. There is a place where you can have lunch, and again, Pina Colada’s were on the menu. Bacardi also makes a rum that is especially made on the premises. It is more special than the ‘Limitada’ that you can buy in stores around the country. This liquor is so special that they allow you to bottle it yourself, and it can only be purchased while at the factory. I have a bottle of that special rum.
Kindly note that the rum which is drank by many on the island is ‘Barrilito’. It is made in a small shop, and is rather good as well. Barrilito is the oldest distiller in Puerto Rico. Its name means “rum from the barrel”, as the originator, Pedro F. Fernandez, used to share it from the barrel with his friends. It is such a rich flavor, that it is on par with brandy, and many drink it from a brandy snifter. The three star brand is the really rich variety, but for mixed drinks, there is the two star. Still good, but not as good as the three star. I also have a bottle of this rum as well.
Puerto Rico has an art museum, which was within walking distance of our hotel. At the time, it featured art from three primary artists from the region, and can be viewed in the book, ‘Catalogo Pinturra Puertorriquena’, which of course, is written in Spanish only. But one of the big finds for me is that the island was initially populated by the ‘Taino Indians’, a very docile group of Natives that were made extinct by the Spanish who took over the island before allowing the United States ownership. Much of their art and artifacts are still on the islands and the people speak of them as well.
Overall, Puerto Rico is a very nice island to visit. The weather, alone, is easy to enjoy. The flight there is about four hours (two from Miami), and is a relaxing flight. I would give it a thumbs-up, and a great get-away. By the way, “‘Yo-ho-ho’ and a bottle of rum!!”.