A Travellerspoint blog

November 2018

Puerto Rico

sunny 85 °F

Why is the question:

1. Why did it take me so long to visit this beautiful island?
2. Why had I only booked 4 days here?
3. Why are all Uber drivers friendlier here than anywhere else?
4. Why is our government still not helping the people of Puerto Rico???

This place is magical with its beautiful beaches, the warm turquoise water (which is spectacular) and the delicious food (and yes, I’m biased because I grew up on this food). The people are so friendly and helpful that you feel welcomed and special. The island still shows damage from hurricane Maria but the resilience and hope I see in people is reassuring. Old San Juan has no beaches, no resort hotels, and not a lot of natural beauty, yet with their tropical color colonial architecture it is alluring and a must see. The day we spent there was crowded with both locals and tourist because of the Festival de Pascuas (Easter Festival). Without a doubt the festival is an excellent natural stop to start Christmas because, without Easter there is no Christmas. The festival consisted of typical Christmas food, handicrafts, agricultural markets and music. So, while the locals were dancing in the street enjoying their Sunday, the tourist were spending their money and enjoying the arts and crafts. When I say tourist, I mean those darn cruise ship people (and yes, I am one of them). The crowds were numerous, but the atmosphere was happy with a side of let’s party. 💃🏻🍻 That atmosphere lasted until it was time to go, oh, the traffic! Between the locals and the Uber drivers taking their passengers back to their ships, the traffic was literally a parking lot. I have no way of knowing how long it took to go the 2 miles out of Old San Juan (because I walked out) but I’m guessing at a minimum 2 hours if not more. Part of the problem is the government mishandling the event, but on this particular day, there were also 7 Cruise ships in port. SEVEN! That’s a lot of people that help the economy but oh the locals must have been miserable not to mention the tourist that had to get back to their ship on time. So, the moral of the story is just walk, it’s not that bad and the benefit is you get to enjoy your dessert without the guilt.

Our Airbnb was great but it wasn’t in the best neighborhood. Actually, if you stayed in the immediate area it was very safe, but if you walked a couple of blocks away from the beach it deteriorated quickly. An example was a school that looked more like a military compound with barbed wire and a rifle carrying guard at the entrance. We were told that it was to protect the kids from the drug traffickers. So, not everything in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 is good, and like every state in the U.S., Puerto Rico has its share of problems too, but I loved our time here and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay in the same area.

Flag of the United States | Flag of Puerto Rico | Burgundy Cross Flag (Spanish military flag)
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Old San Juan
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The Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean
Tunnels and staircases wind through the interior, leading back to the time when the fort provided the keystone to protection of the Spanish Empire that spread across the Caribbean.
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The El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system. At nearly 29,000 acres, it is one of the smallest in size, yet one of the most biologically diverse of the national forests hosting hundreds of animal and plant species, some of which are found only here.
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Beaches
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Kite Surfing
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Capital
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San Juan Holocaust Memorial spending a few minutes here to honor those that suffered and lost their lives during a horrendous period in our history.
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Boats
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Bacardi Factory - Not the best tour but the rum was good. 😁
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Somewhere over the Atlantic #NoFilter
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Posted by joannereyes 14:17 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Rome

rain 63 °F

Ah, Rome, I will miss you despite the bad weather, the crowds, the pick pockets, the traffic and the high cost of enjoying in your breathtaking city.

Weather: Every day there was rain, but that didn’t deter us from seeing everything that was on our list, except for the Forum. That was a bit too much to trapes around in the rain.

Crowds: Once again the crowds were large everywhere! But unlike Florence, they didn’t overwhelm you. The piazzas are large so you had plenty of space to move around without feeling trapped.

Pick Pockets: We didn’t experience this first hand, but we met a couple who told us what happened to them on the metro. A passenger on the train motioned to the wife that there was someone trying to get into her backpack. When all eyes were on her, the pickpocket retrieved the wallet of her husband from his front pocket. The deception of the wife’s backpack was the play that allowed the thief’s to succeed.

Traffic: Just like in Los Angeles, there is traffic everywhere. Unlike Los Angels, the traffic flows onto the sidewalks.

The Cost: It’s no surprise that Rome is expensive so we had planned accordingly, but sometimes when you look back on what you spent, you wonder how much is too much.

Wow! The food is beyond delicious and the sights beyond beautiful. I truly will not be able to enjoy pasta again knowing what homemade pasta taste like. Italy has ruined Italian food for me. 😉

This was our last stop as a family which was bittersweet as we won’t be seeing Cody and Alona for possibly another year. But then again, you never know. 😁

Arrivederci Italy!

Vatican
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Being herded through the Vatican Museums on our way to the Sistine chapel - too many people! This after waiting in line for 3 hours
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Leaving the Museum
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St. Peter’s Square is located in the Vatican City at the feet of St. Peter's Basilica. It is one of the most renowned squares in the world.
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The Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
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The rain didn’t keep the tourist away
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The Arch of Constantine
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Trevi Fountain
The myth of the Trevi Fountain
Why are there always people in the fountain throwing coins into the water and taking photos of themselves?
The myth, originating in 1954 with the movie "Three Coins in the Fountain," goes like this:

  • If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
  • If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
  • If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.

In order to achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.

An interesting statistic is that approximately a million euros worth of coins are taken from the fountain each year. Since 2007 this money has been used to support good causes.

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The Spanish Steps were built at the beginning of the eighteenth century connecting Piazza di Spagna and the Church of Trinità dei Monti.
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Victor Emmanuel II Monument
The Victor Emmanuel Monument is not exactly known as one of Rome’s most beautiful structures but it is nevertheless well worth the visit, even if only for the great views from the top.
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the Pantheon claims to be the best preserved building from ancient Rome. One of the masterpieces of Roman architecture.
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Bocca della Verità
The Mouth of Truth marble sculpture, it depicts the sea god Oceanus and was likely originally used as a drain cover, though today it is famous for “biting the hand of liars”. The Mouth of Truth was featured prominently in the 1953 classic Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
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Piazza Navona
the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)
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Tiber River
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Porta San Giovanni is a gate in the Aurelian Wall of Rome, Italy, named after the nearby Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.
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Homemade pasta
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Posted by joannereyes 10:04 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Monterosso al Mare

storm 60 °F

What a great colorful little town. Monterosso al Mare is the westernmost of the Cinque Terre region. The Cinque Terre is named after the five little towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. Beautiful villages that are linked together by varied hiking paths and old steps all within a 5 hour walk/hike of each other. At least that’s what they tell me because the weather was so bad the government actually closed down the hiking trail. Italy in general was having awful weather and closed down most of the trains, the schools and government offices. In Monterosso they called it the storm of the decade and it hit the first night of our stay and didn’t let up until our last day. So our last day was spent walking around surveying the downed trees, the ruined decks and most importantly watching the community come together to clean up the mess the storm left behind. At least the day we left, the trains were running, albeit not on time. What should have taken 4 hours to Rome (via Pisa and Florence), took 8 hours of waiting and wondering if we would make our next train (the answers is no - but luckily they added more cars so they were able to accommodate the late passengers on the next train). Even though we didn’t get to see the other towns, we did enjoy our time here and will schedule another vacation so we can experience the hike and the breathtaking views these trails have to offer.

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Statue of of St. Francis petting a dog
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Before the storm
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Tunnel into Old Town
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Old Town
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The storm is coming
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Storm
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Not a roof top pool
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Damage
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Sunset
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Posted by joannereyes 04:04 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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