Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Vacation, Day 2

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Old habits die hard and I turned on the morning news. I realized just how dumb that was when they started speaking Spanish.

I had drunk two of my three free coffees the night before. I brewed the last one up and drank it while reading a book. Then I shaved and showered and got dressed for todays adventures.

I really wabted more coffee, so I rode down the the ground floor coffee shop. I paid $3.00 for a cup of black coffee! Granted, he ground the beans in front of me and used some weird steam machine to make it, but $3.00? It did taste great, though...

Sidebar: I put the tablet in the safe before going for coffee. World traveler that I am, when I first opened the amoure to hang up my clothes and saw it, I thought, "What a weird place to put a microwave!"

Vicky and I agreed to meet at 8:00 a.m to go get some breakfast. At 8:30, I sent her a text asking how things were going. She said they weren't ready yet.

Finally they all knocked on my door around 9:30. I had forgotten just how long it takes one woman to get ready, much less four, LOL!

We got the car pulled round and then proceeded to take an epic journey to find one silly restaurant. We had talked over the high prices in Old San Juan yesterday and I suggested we find something more like the Newburgh Grill (good food and reasonable prices - a family diner, so to speak). She found one online, but then we couldn't find it!

The trouble is that the GPS on her phone said turn right (or left) on such and such street. But, in Old San Juan, there are no street signs. Couple that with a lot of one-way narrow streets, steep inclines, heavy, slow traffic and a decided lack of stop lights and you can picture our dilemma! We stopped and asked pedestrians, cops and street  vendors. Everyone told us how to get there and said we couldn't miss it, but we did. Over and over...

It seemed to take forever, but we finally found it!  Myla had pancakes with ham, Evy and I had the two fried eggs with ham and potatoes and Vicky ate what looked like a Cuban sandwich, but she said tasted like a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with powdered sugar on top of it. I forget the Spanish name for it.

Sidebar: I'm giving up trying to remember the Spanish words for things in the Blog. Too much trouble!!! Everything is in Spanish and sometimes it feels as if Myla and I are the only ones who don't speak it.

Even though the ham was deli slices and the side of potatoes were french fries, it tasted great and was well worth the more modest price.

From there we went to view the old (1596) Spanish fort called San Felipe del Morro Castle. Unfortunately, it started to  rain as we started to walk the half-mile or so to the fort.

Sidebar: According to the weather channel, the was an 80% chance of rain today after 12:00 p.m. On the bright side, Yanessa learned a new song today! By the end of the day, she was singing, "Rain, rain, go away" with the rest of us. Seriously!!!

It's run by the US Parks Service and we got a $5.00 discount and a free life-time pass (for me) because of my age.

The place is huge and old, very old. The original fort has been added to over the years and parts of its wall can been seen all over the island. what I saw.

The rain was not constant. But, it did not help (other than to cool things off every now and then). There are five levels and at one point, to get to the next lower level, I had to walk down 77 wet, worn stone steps with NO railing. Then, of course, I had to walk UP 77 steps. Thank God I brought my cane!

But, it was fascinating. There were places for cannons (large and small) everywhere. There were places for the soldiers to sleep and eat, storage rooms for food, a powder magazine for the gun powder, ungerground cisterns for the rainwater they caught, etc., etc., etc.  I especially liked the like lookout towers.

Please note: I have a TON of pictures to post, but no way to process them yet. Once I get back, I will show you what I mean.

Net we walked to the cemetary next to the fort. Beautiful! When we finished there, we took a "White" trolley to the fort San Cristobal Castle (connected by miles of outer walls to el Morro).

We got off the trolley and then had to walk up the steepest road I have ever traversed! Seriously, it was like they had put a sidewalk on Mount Everest. Then when we to to the fort, we had to walk up a big, curving three-story ramp to get in.

This smaller fort is a duplicate of el Morro,  and just as interesting. Somewhere along the way, my camera died from taking too many pictures.

Sidebar: Not worry. We had already agreed to share our photos amongst ourselves when we get back home.

We walked back down that damn street to catch a "Green" trolley to go to the paseo de la princesa (the princess walk). But when we got there, we found the stop we need to be at wasn't there! It was (you guessed it) back up the hill! OMG...

So, back up the hill we went! We waited forever for the Green trolley. To keep her amused, I pushed Yanessa around in her stroller. It started to speinkle again and that's when I learned she knew the words of the song (and the reason to sing it) of "Rain, rain, go away." Smart kid!

We finally gave up on the green trolley and took a white one back to el Morro and our car. But, to get there, we had to go to every trolley stop there is, stop, let people off and take more people on.

Note, this is an open air trolley, something you might see at the Detroit Zoo.

So, we got a tour of Old San Juan. We finally got off the trolley in front of el Morro. We started to walk to the car, when Myla had to go to the bathroom. So, Vicky took her into the Plaza de Ballaja. Evy, Yanessa dna I sat outside on a bench, eating shaved ice with syrup on top of it we bought from a street vendor.

Note: I tried the memorize the Spanish name for this, but have since forgotten it.

When they got back, Myla got a ice concoction as well. Vicky said there were two restaurants inside the plaza, one Spanish food and the other Puerto Rican. We were all starving, so we walked inside this huge structure with a giant open air courtyard. We ate at the PR one, of course. I had fish taco (excellent fish, topped with cabbager slaw and a mango sauce), while Vicky and Evy and the girls shared a Puerto Rican sampler platters with a side of rice and beans. The rice and beans were excellent, if somewhat different; they had some diced squash and potatoes along with the beans.

Then we walked back to the car and went back to the hotel. I knew Vicky wanted to do the Princess Walk (think a boardwalk in Michigan, but only cobblestones with the Altantic ocean on one side and old buildings and beautiful landscape on the other. The trees were strange, giant things with many many trunks and gnarly curved branches).

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. So, when I got to my room, I didn't change clothes. I arranged the the chair so I could elevate my legs bu putting my feet on the bed..

A while later, I heard Yanessa knock on the door, calling "Papa John! Papa John!"  I opened up the door and saw them all in the swimming suits! Damn dead cell phone!!! So, I quickly changed and we went swimming again. This time we tried the hot tub as well (I, for one, needed it!)

Note: By the time we got out of the pool, we had Yanessa "swimming" (she had those floaty things on) about three feet between Vicky and me and jumping into our arms from the ladder. I told you she is a quick study!

We went back to our rooms to shower and get dressed. Then we headed out to the Princess walk.

It was beautiful, as I said. But, by the time we were heading back, Myla and Vicky were hungry. They decided to stop and get a sandwich at a Subway we had seen. But when we got there it was closed. I asked Vicky what time it was and she said after ten!

So, I suggested she just get room service and we went back to the hotel. We stopped at a 24 hour CVS so Evy could get some water.

I casually mentioned they should but the two complimentary bottles Dasani water in their rooms in their fridge. Neither one of them had noticed them before!

Sidebar: The rooms don't come with a fridge, Vicky had to rent one for Yanessa's milk.

I went to my room, took off my clothes and tumbled into bed. It was almost midnight (which is why this post is so late)


  1. What an adventure! The tours should excellent and the food even better! I laughed thought when I read the Subway part!

  2. “Everything is in Spanish and sometimes it feels as if Myla and I are the only ones who don't speak it.”

    Lo siento mucho.

  3. Enjoy....week will fly by

  4. @Carla, I know, right?

    @Jyl, don't you start!

    @ GPF, that's what I'm afraid of :(

  5. We've done steep steps in Savannah with a railing and it was no bueno, so I can't imagine having to do it without. You tell Vicky that if she breaks you, she bought you!

  6. Apparently, you already did, LOL!!!