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Journey to the SUNSHINE 1/7/18 to 1/20/18


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We browsed the shops on our way back to the beach.  There were a lot of locals trying to sell things or get you into a particular store or business on our walk.  We rented two beach chairs and an umbrella and enjoyed the beautiful blue water.

 

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Some of the damage in St. Maarten

 

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We eventually made our way back to the water taxi and over to the port.  We made a brief but expensive stop at Diamonds International before getting back on board.  However, the manager at Diamonds International did offer me a job so I have a fall back plan in the islands if I need one, lol.

 

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We found some wildlife on the way back to the ship.

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We hit up happy hour at the Red Frog Pub before heading to dinner.

 

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Braised Rabbit

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Seared Tuna

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Shrimp Taco

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B aked Ziti

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Strawberry Almond Financier

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After dinner, we watched the Studio VIP show in the Liquid Lounge.  The singers and dancers that were on this cruise did a great job.  They all had good voices and the dance choreography was well done as well.  We headed to bed early again since we had a self-guided walking tour of San Juan planned for tomorrow.

 

Larry left a pair of swim trunks and a shirt on the bed and when we came back to our room this is what was waiting for us.  We loved it.  Nice job, Felix!  Felix was concerned that we would be upset but we thought it was hysterical.

 

Good night all!

 

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Our plan today in San Juan was to do a self guided walking tour, see the forts and sights along the way.  We got up early and had breakfast and it was pouring down rain.  We are from Washington so we weren't going to let a little rain get in our way of a good time, lol.  By the time we set out on our adventure, the rain was slowing down and eventually stopped.  Leaving the port, we headed to the right with the plan of eventually getting to El Morro.  We stopped at Walgreens and the Harley Davidson shop along the way.

 

We walked down Paseo de la Princesa, stopping at little parks and fountains along the way.

 

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We were walking along the outside of the city walls, known as La Muralla.  The city walls were built between the 1500-1700's and are 20 feet thick and over 60 feet tall in places.  There are garitas or guard towers placed around the city walls.

 

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Our next stop along the way was La Princesa.  This building used to be the San Juan Jail and is now the San Juan Tourism Company.  We enjoyed exploring the jail and looking at the city walls for iguanas.  

 

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After leaving La Princesa, we came to a fountain and sculpture called Raices.  We continued on the Paseo to the last remaining City Gate called the San Juan Gate.

 

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Remember when I mentioned that our tour was self guided?  Well, the guide said to go through the San Juan gate, turn right and you will be at El Morro.  I decided because of course I knew better than a guided tour that we should continue straight because I could see the fort "right there" and there must be a way in closer to the fort.  

 

The black line is the path we walked and the red line is what we should have done.

 

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PSA...there is no gate closer to the fort.  We ended up walking ALL the way around the fort in the blazing hot sun and no shade.  I thought I was going to burst into flames before we even made it to the fort.  But...it was a really pretty walk.

 

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Castillo de San Felipe del Morro or El Morro to the locals was built to defend the city from invaders.  You can use a National Parks Pass to enter or pay the $7 per person entry fee, which also gives you access to San Cristobal.  The fort is amazing and you could spend an entire day walking around and exploring the grounds.  We spent at least two hours exploring the fort before moving on.

 

From El Morro looking over the cemetery, the brightly colored buildings of Old San Juan to Castillo San Cristobal, with the modern high rises in the background

 

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The metal tracks were used for anti-aircraft guns during the war.  There was quite an evolution from cannons firing over the walls in the 1600's to use for anti-aircraft guns during World War II.

 

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After leaving El Morro, we continued attempting to follow the self guided tour.  I was having difficulties since the streets were not well marked but I found a local police officer who pointed us in the right direction.  I loved the cobblestone streets and the brightly colored buildings. 

 

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La Fortaleza is the Governor's residence.  I love the color and history of the building.  Unfortunately, it was not open for tours the day we were there visiting.

 

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Capillo del Cristo or Christ Chapel was built in 1753.  It was either built by a father in despair over the death of his son or in joy over the fact that his son survived.  The altar is covered in silver offerings and is beautiful.  Next to the Chapel is Pigeon Park.  You can feed the pigeons for a small donation.  If you are not a fan of birds, this is not the park for you!

 

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At this point, we were hot and tired and slightly dehydrated so we stopped in a little cafe for a drink before continuing on to Castillo San Cristobal.

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Castillo San Cristobal is another fort designed to protect the city.  There is so much history and it was very pretty.  We got some great photo ops with the ship as well.  It is crazy to be standing in a fort built in the 1500's and looking out at modern high rises in the city.

 

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This particular garita is known as the Devil's Sentry Box and is believed to be haunted.  Many soldiers disappeared while on watch in El Diablo Garita

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We decided not to continue the walking tour since we were exhausted but here are few buildings that we saw from San Cristobal.  

 

Antiguo Casino de San Juan

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Tapia Theather

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On our walk back to the ship, we passed the Casa Olimpica, which is home to the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee.  The Olympic torch that stands outside the building was damaged by the hurricane.

 

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One of my favorite things in San Juan is their Save a Gato program which is a non-profit trap, spay/neuter and release program for feral cats.  Along the paseo, they had food and water stations set up for the cats, which I thought was very nice. There are feral cats everywhere in San Juan and I had a blast talking to all of them and photographing them.  You are not supposed to attempt to pet them.  Here are just a few:

 

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We did a ton of walking today and we were beat! 

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We dragged ourselves back on board, took showers and promptly crashed.  We barely woke up in time for dinner.

 

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Apparently, I missed a page on the dinner menu tonight.  My apologies! 

 

Chorizo Potato Skins

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Duck Potstickers

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Beef?

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Pork or Chicken?

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Seafood Pasta?

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Dessert

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Pecan Pie

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White and Dark Chocolate Mousse

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Larry and I absolutely loved San Juan!  I have tons more photos than I added to this review.  However we are not used to that much walking or the heat and humidity.  We were exhausted after our day and called it an early night.

 

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Good night all!

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Loving your review. Oh and I can totally sympathize with feeling like you were going to burst into flames during the loooooong walk on the outside perimeter of the fort. Oh my....you are so right.  Now I definitely know for the next time I'm back visiting San Juan.......

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On 8/5/2020 at 7:25 AM, Moonglo said:

Loving your review. Oh and I can totally sympathize with feeling like you were going to burst into flames during the loooooong walk on the outside perimeter of the fort. Oh my....you are so right.  Now I definitely know for the next time I'm back visiting San Juan.......

 

Ha ha, we definitely won't make the same mistake twice.  I was just so sure there would be an entrance up ahead.  I don't know why Larry lets me navigate.  I may or may not have lead us astray on more than one occasion.  

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We were only in St Kitts for a short port day.  I have always wanted to swim with dolphins and knew that I did not want to do it in a tank.  I did some research and found that Dolphin Discovery in St Kitts, the dolphins were in a cove.  I watched their website and they did a 2 for 1 special for Veterans Day so I ended up getting the Royal Swim encounter for $169 for the two of us.  Jay and Diane decided to do it with us as well.

 

We ate breakfast and discovered that there was a towel animal invasion on the Lido Deck.

 

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We had a short time to shop before heading over to the Dolphin Discovery Center.  I have very mixed feelings after having swam with the dolphins.  It was an amazing experience to be able to touch and interact with them however I feel like I was exploiting them.  Although they are in a cove and not a tank, they are still confined in small pens.  I know that I won't be repeating the experience, no matter how cool it was.

 

We were divided into group depending on what level of experience we had paid for.  We were in a group with the just the four of us.  The Royal Swim includes a kiss, hug, handshake, dorsal tow and foot push.  We were in the water with the dolphins for about 30-45 minutes.  I asked if Larry and I could have a photo together with a dolphin and they said no however I was allowed to have a photo with two of the dolphins.  A word of warning....the photos are ridiculously expensive!

 

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Once we finished up at the Dolphin Discovery Center, our taxi driver returned and took us back to port.  I was afraid of trying to go to a beach or any other excursion and getting back to the ship on time so we stayed in the port area and did a little shopping.  

 

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After shopping for a bit, we got back on board and went to the Lido to have lunch.  Larry had the Mongolian Wok and I had Cucina del Capitano.  Both of us really enjoyed our meals and were sad we hadn't done this sooner for a lunch option.  It took about 30 minutes for us to get our food though so it is not quick.  The Mongolian Wok is free at lunch and then turns into JiJi's Asian Kitchen for dinner for an additional charge.  Cucina del Capitano is free at lunch and also charges for dinner.

 

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All aboard was set for 2:30 and we were supposed to leave at 3 pm.  They were making announcements for several people and it was fun to watch for pier runners.  We eventually left without two people!  I hope they made it back to Port Canaveral with no problem.  

 

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We took a nap before dinner.  None of us really wanted anything on the main dining room dinner menu so we ate in the Lido.  We spent quite a bit of time just chatting and hanging out.  We went to see the comedian before calling it a night.

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We slept in and then had breakfast at the Sea Day Brunch.  One of the things I really wanted to do today was play on the water slides.  We lathered on the sun screen and headed to the back of the ship.  The views of the wake from the top of the water slides is incredible.  We tried out all of them.  Personally, a few of them needed a little more water in them to make them faster and more fun.

 

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Sea days are a good way to make me relax.  We spent time playing games and reading and just relaxing.  Tonight was the last of our formal nights.

 

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Chesapeake Crab Cake

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Fusilli, Mushroom Cream

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Grilled Jumbo Shrimp

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After dinner, we watched the comedian, Sheila Kay and I'm not sure I have ever laughed that much in my life.  She was absolutely hysterical and I highly recommend you watch her comedy shows if you ever get the chance.  

 

Tonight, they did a midnight movie on the Lido Deck.  Larry and I watched the Kingsman: Golden Circle.  By that, I mean Larry watched the movie and I slept in the clamshell while the movie was playing under the stars.  Ha ha!  I grabbed a pizza before turning in to bed.

 

Good night all!  (I put last night and tonight's towel animals since I forgot last night's)

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