Old San Juan

Despacitoooo!!

It was such a pleasure to discover the inspiration and the vibe Luis Fonsi tries to evoke in his summer success! Of course, since my husband cannot hear Despacito without swearing and invoke Satan to burn down the radio, I kept this information till we left the port!

The Horizon in its splendor!

To be honest, docking in San Juan is nothing extraordinary, the port is very commercial, there are very little to do in the immediate vicinity of the port. However, if you are willing to walk just a little, and I highly recommend you do this early in the morning, you can walk past the shopping area and get to Castello San Felipe Del Moro.  I would have loved to visit la Fortaleza, but it was a fair bit of walk (meaning I wasn’t sure we could get back in time for the ship) and I didn’t want to book any excursions because I wanted to experience a restaurant by my own, I wanted to have enough time to see the multicolored houses, to shop and to see the castle.

The multicolored houses are typical of San Juan and you can actually have a glimpse during Luis Fonsi’s video.  It is so cute and original, compared to our north-american houses where the most original is a light pink brick house!

 

When we left San Juan we had an impressive view of the beach and the colored houses!

This is one of my favorite picture
The bright and shiny colors are everywhere in San Juan!

As soon as we left the ship, we headed towards el Castello Del Moro.  It’s a very reasonable walk, but beware, the weather tends to be hot in San Juan, therefore, we made sure to walk to the castle in the morning as we could take advantage of the air conditioning in the stores in the afternoon.   There is nothing much to see at the castle, but it’s always impressive to see how those fortresses resist time and storms.

We hadn’t booked any excursions and haven’t regretted it.  Most excursions took you shopping or at the castle or at the fortress, you can pretty much walk to those places for free.  Other excursions would take you to the forest, and to be honest, it was so humid, spending the day in the « tropical forest » must have been unbearable!

After taking pictures at the castle, we went back towards the port to enjoy the different plazas and take more pictures!  The same stores are found in old San Juan that you find in others ports, Diamond International, Blue Diamonds, Del Sol… Since we are not seasoned cruisers, we are not bored yet with those, so we spent a fair amount of time running around those stores and enjoying AC.

When we were about to die from heat, we found a cute local restaurant, right next to Castello del Moro, where they served Mojitos.  Everybody knows that mojitos are the perfect refreshing drink!? We both enjoyed their Mango Mojito which was an absolute delight!  We also nibbled on some kind of white fried fish they would serve with aïoli and honey AWESOME!  And we finally complete this improvised meal with a generous portion of chocolate cake.

I highly recommend this restaurant if you ever go to San Juan!

Finally, after this late lunch, we headed back to the ship.  I can’t get enough of these late afternoon departures, the venture point is so amazing for pictures (like the colored houses on the shore)

La fortaleza which is located at the entrance of the bay, which protects the port.

In conclusion, San Juan would never have been on our places to visit, however, we are more than happy that we had a chance to stop there. If you ever have a chance to spend a day in Porto Rico, I say go for it!

 

Week End Getaway

9-5 job and no vacation time? No problem!

The urge to travel to escape our daily routine is strong! But our bank account is weak and the number of vacation days is to its bare minimum…

That’s why they invent “weekend getaway”! A way to feel like you are on vacation (but still has to rush home on Sunday afternoon), because you still have to get to work at 8 AM on Monday morning!  Nonetheless, sometimes those short escapes are worth it, plus, they can help wait for the next statutory holiday/full week vacation.  Of course, we try to keep it low key so we can save for the “real vacations”.

We are lucky enough to have several places very nice within driving distance from our place.  One of our favorites would be Lake George, NY.  We recently purchased tickets (actually, the tickets were purchased a long time ago, but the show took place recently) for Alan Jackson show in Albany.  My husband is a huge Alan Jackson’s fan and I am a huge fan of Lake George’s outlets. So we left our place on Saturday morning and drove to Lake George, we had rent a room at the Super 8, because yes, we are conscious about hotel rooms pricing.  I find that hotel rooms around the Lake area in insanely overpriced and we typically refuse to pay a premium for a hotel room because the only thing we do is shower and sleep.  We don’t chill at the hotel if we wanted to spend time indoors or in a room, we would stay home! 

Quick TIP

We always book our hotels via Hotel.com, you can use whatever booking site you like, this way you can cumulate points which are frequently rewarded in free nights!

That being said, so we checked in and had lunch.  We typically go for the Barnsider (where you can have the most amazing smoked ribs you have ever had) when we are in Lake George, but we were in for something different. We stopped at the Adirondack brewery on Canada Street.  First, the exterior was very appealing and had a super cute cachet.  The inside was old-fashioned and a bit dark for my liking, but it was consistent with the general ambiance and decor.

What a cute location!

It was the best fish and chip I had in the US in a long time, but that’s just the main course, for dessert, I had the most surprising smore’s.  They actually bring you a “fire camp” on which you can prepare your own smore’s, how cool is that!? 

Nom Nom! A small fire camp to myself! Thanks hubby for the pic!

We really like the outlets you can find near the amusement park at the village entrance, these are not the biggest outlets ever, but we always find good deals.  Namely at sketchers and GAP for my little nephew!

The main reason for the trip – Alan’s show

Heading to Albany we could enjoy the show that was taking place into the arena.  The show tickets had been paid a long time before, so it was basically a “free show”, booking events long in advance can help to minimize the pressure on your budget.  The show was great, but we were too far to take good pictures. 

Quick TIP

Booking events or tickets in advance and online can sometimes save you big compared to purchasing the day-of.

Unfortunately, when went back to Lake George it was POURING RAIN and it had been pouring non-stop so we couldn’t walk our way on Canada street and by the lake and take pictures and so on. BUT, we could have breakfast at Caffe Vero, they used to be at the village entrance, beautiful location with a large free parking, now they moved to this awkward spot “downtown” no parking, tiny place, not so much visibility, I really don’t understand what motivated the move… Anyway, if you are seeking for a good coffee and you are in the area, I can’t recommend Caffe Vero enough.  They have a full menu dedicated to coffee and their pastries are to die for.  My husband always chooses something close to a mochaccino and I am always looking for something to complement my pastry choice.

Latte Art at Caffe Vero

Since it was raining so hard and the forecast couldn’t promise clear sky by the end of the morning, we had no choice but to leave Lake George before being able to take any good pictures. 

TRAVEL TIPS RECAP
Book your hotel with a booking site
Purchase tickets (museum, show, zoo…) online in advance, sometimes you can use a coupon, sometimes you have the opportunity to purchase a combo and get a discount and sometimes you can get an early bird discount.

Do you have any travel tips you like to use and or share?

I can’t wait to tell you about our next trip, which will be a genuine vacation, see you soon!