Saturday, January 18, 2014

puerto rico: part one

I'm really excited to share with you the first part of our Puerto Rico trip. Looking through all of our photos I can almost feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and the cool, salt air blowing through my hair. I might have to make a Pina Colada later just to make myself feel like I'm back on the island. And I do wish I was back on the island today…it's 19 degrees and snowing in Chicago. Ugh!

We arrived in Puerto Rico on New Year's Eve and stayed in Old San Juan for two nights. We had ambitious plans to party it up on New Year's but ended up just going out to dinner at a Jamiacian restaurant, roaming the streets and people watching, then heading back to our hotel to watch a movie. The long day of traveling had it's toll on us and we didn't want to start the New Year, or our vacation, completely exhausted. We were in bed before midnight and only woke up because of the gun shots and fireworks…just long enough for a quick New Year's Eve kiss!

We stayed at Villa Herencia, a cute yet slightly over-priced bed & breakfast, in the heart of Old San Juan. The location was perfect (and they served some great local coffee that we are now hooked on) so I guess that's what we ended up paying for. It had a rustic feel to it as you can tell from this picture of the courtyard.

The room was small but it was clean and air conditioned. It lacked a level of privacy that I'm used to since the door had shutters that didn't close completely, there were no curtains on the shutters and it opened right into the courtyard. Anyone could have peered in if they came right up to the door. Needless to say, I always made sure to change in the bathroom. Luckily, there were no looky-lou's and everyone was respectful of the noise level. You could hear almost everything. But that's part of traveling - the adventure of being outside your comfort zone.

There was a rooftop patio that had working showers and tubs that we assumed were for rinsing off after sun bathing. We never used them but this just added to the charm of the place. The rooftop was a peaceful place to read and drink coffee in the morning. It also had a great view of the Old San Juan Cathedral.

The local gato's liked to hang out on the rooftop as well. San Juan has a major homeless and abandoned cat problem so we saw a lot of cats roaming the streets. There's an organization called Save A Gato that works with the National Park Service to try and find homes for these cats so most of them looked well-fed and they were always lazily lounging in the sun and seemed to be enjoying life but it was still sad to see.

We roamed the streets of Old San Juan and I took picture after picture- I loved the old world charm of the cobbled streets and the bright colored buildings.

We walked the perimeter of the El Morro Fort where we saw, you guessed it, more gatos but also some huge iguanas just hanging out on the side of the cliff.

Then, we double-backed and walked to the other side of Old San Juan to check out the view from the San Cristobal Fort.

We finally made our way to the top of El Morro and the view was amazing! There were families flying kites and having picnics. It seemed like everyone was out having a good time.

After all that walking it was definitely time for a drink. We quenched our thirst with some mojitos and the local cerveza before heading out to dinner at a tapas restaurant called Rosa de Triana. Great name, right? The food was pretty good and they served us the biggest pitcher of sangria we've ever had and it was delish! It was the perfect first day of the New Year.

{all images via create.your.happy}

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