Monday, February 3, 2014

Puerto Rico Trip

This past week was spent in Puerto Rico with two of my brothers.  It was one of those spur-of-the-moment trips for me, meaning I didn't spend half the year to plan it.  I sort of just picked a place and booked a room and bought plane tickets.  Why Puerto Rico?  First, because plane tickets were cheap but most importantly, I knew it was going to be HOT.  I'm sick of the cold and the snow here in New York and I needed a change even if it were only for about a week.

We stayed at Gran Melia.  The resort was HUGE.  It was so big that we needed golf carts to take us to our rooms.  The walk wasn't too bad but it was a lot if you do it multiple times a day - it was best to make sure you had everything you need when you left the room.

The room was perfect for the three of us.  The staff was great.  Everyone was amiable so I really have no complaints there.

The restaurants, on the other hand, extremely pricey for the quality.  The breakfast buffet, for $23 per person, was just eh.  The Asian restaurant was less than eh.  I ordered salmon sushi and I was better off with the ones you get at the grocery store.  The Puerto Rican restaurant was probably the best one there but still not the greatest.

The best part of the resort was probably the pool and the placement of the beach chairs around the pool and around the beach area.  Whoever planned the layout, did a great job.  If you wanted peace and quiet, there were chairs and hammocks for you.  If you wanted to be next to the action, meaning the swim up bar and the dj booth, you had a spot carved out for you.  We had our favorite chairs and spent most of our time there.  We also had our spot by the beach and by the grassy area.  It was so relaxing, soaking up the sun, listening to my music, tuning out the world while still bonding with my brothers.

While in Puerto Rico, we had a chance to visit the Bacardi Rum Factory and visit Old San Juan.  The Bacardi factory is the biggest distillery in the world.  If you have your own transportation, the tour is actually free and you get two drink tickets with it.  The Old San Juan tour was brief but worth it, although I wish I could have explored for a few more hours.  In Old San Juan, we tried more Puerto Rican fare, shopped for souvenirs, had amazing coffee and walked around the cobblestone streets and took pictures of the colorful buildings.  I wish we had time to see Old Cristobal Fort but we ran out of time.  Service is a bit slow so lunch took a while.  We were told that the people run on "island time".

This last part of the trip is probably my favorite - a visit to El Yunque National Forest and kayaking the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo.  It was a LONG day but a lot of fun, as I'm sure my brothers can attest.  This was probably their favorite part of the trip as well as it was the most active.  The day started out with a short presentation and history about the rainforest in their visitor center.  It was followed by an hour and a half hike through the rainforest where we learned about the flora and fauna.  You probably don't know this about me, but I love this type of stuff - being one with Mother Nature.  It is so humbling and just so breathtaking.  We hiked through trees and waterfalls and rocks and more trees.  The air was so fresh and the water was sparkling.  James even filled his water bottle with water from the falls.  Supposedly it's good luck and great for staying young - it must be good luck because I received a phone call for an interview that same day!

After the hike, we were dropped off at Luquillo beach for lunch.  My brothers picked a Puerto Rican restuarant and were treated to beach views while we ate.  After lunch, we headed to Fajardo Bay for our sunset kayaking trip to experience the bioluminescent organisms - only can be seen after dark.  It was probably the hardest two hours I have ever experienced.  Kayaking is hard to begin with, but kayaking in the dark, with the tide coming in....hell.  I had jello arms when we were done...but surprisingly wasn't that sore the next day.  I did have some swelling in my injured arm but even that didn't last that long.  Anyway, it was an awesome experience and wouldn't have traded it for anything else.  James probably wanted to switch with Justin after a while though, LOL.

Next time I visit Puerto Rico, I want to stay on the other side of the island or maybe even in Culebra.  Well, I guess it depends on who I travel with.  Til the next adventure...


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