I awoke on our last day of the cruise to this:
That my friends is San Juan, Puerto Rico! I was excited for our 4 day backpacking adventure around the island. The 7 night cruise was just perfect, not too long and not too short. We got off right in Old San Juan which reminded me a lot of Cartagena in Colombia for it’s fortress, fortified walls and colorful buildings.
We headed to our hotel in the newest part of Puerto Rico, Condado, where you can find luxury condos and lots of expensive hotels along the beach. Not exactly our type of neighborhood but at $145 a night it was the cheapest decent hotel we could find! Here is a picture of the Windchimes Boutique Hotel and our typically Carribean looking room which we thought was charming:
For lunch we found a restaurant a few corners away from our hotel that was packed with Puerto Ricans. That’s always a good sign! I tried the Mofongo, a typical dish made of a fried plantain with broth, garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings. It was filled with chicken and was served with fried meat on the top. I don’t know if my expectations were too high but I wasn’t amazed. It was way too filling so I was glad my boyfriend was there to help me finish it! The mofongo reminded me a lot of tamales but much more consistent.
We visited old San Juan in the evening and stumbled upon a hole in the wall Turkish restaurant that was actually really yummy. All the other restaurants were way too touristy and expensive. We explored the narrow cobblestone streets and headed back to the hotel for a much needed good night’s sleep!
The next day we rented a car (only $30 a day!) and met a really nice man who bought us to a local market so that I could find my favorite fruit, the passion fruit! Unfortunatly it wasn’t the season for passion fruits or Parcha as they call them in Puerto Rico and I have to admit I was heartbroken! We still managed to have fun at the market with our new friend who’s name has slipped my memory (that’s what being pregnant does to you!) as we chatted over smoothies and alcapurrias, a fried Puerto Rican snack that I actually enjoyed this time!
At last we headed for the open road, latin music blaring from the speakers, windows down and hair in the wind! What a nice change from driving in the snow! We headed straight to El Yunque National Park, Puerto Rico’s largest national park.
We hiked for an hour through the jungle to reach a beautiful waterfall. It was so refreshing to be in the mountains! It rained most of the time we were there but it added to the experience! El Yunque is surprisingly one of the most beautiful rainforests I’ve ever seen.
Stay tuned for Puerto Rico’s coast in part 2!