We left off in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was Day 4 of our cruise and the primary reason why we booked this itinerary. Freedom of the Seas typically goes to CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, which was the itinerary we did in our honeymoon in 2011 (on the same ship- not many Royal Caribbean choices from Port Canaveral).
We wanted to check out San Juan, and as soon as we got off the ship, we hopped aboard a bus for a $10 tour. This was totally spontaneous and *not* booked through the ship- just that a tour company had buses to fill and offered us all a tour of the old and new areas of the city, and we couldn’t pass it up- mainly because the buses were air conditioned. Everyone else on the bus was from our cruise ship as well, and taking the tour was actually cheaper than getting a cab to the forts, which is what we wanted to see.
Our tour guide even stopped and let us take some pictures around San Juan, and the city had some amazing views and photo opportunities.
One of the coolest things we saw was this memorial bicycle- we have one of these here in Charleston; they are all over the world in honor of cyclists who’ve been killed. I’ll have to take a picture of the one downtown to post in here so you guys can see it too, but it was neat seeing one in another country.
In San Juan, we toured the El Morro historical site. There’s also another fort at the historical site- Castillo San-Cristobal, but we just walked around the outside of it and didn’t pay to get in (for future reference, you can pay $5 admission and get into both- which is a great deal).
El Morro is the oldest place I’ve ever been- even older than the historical sites here in Charleston and the US. We walked around the fort and learned a lot about Puerto Rican history and how the soldiers lived in and defended the fort, which is almost 500 years old. El Morro has 6 levels, and it’s a lot of climbing and definitely a workout (especially with the heat), so if you go, wear good shoes, reapply your sunscreen, and bring water with you.
One thing we noticed at the fort was how much shorter everyone was back then! I’m not usually able to touch the ceiling of anywhere, but I could touch the ceilings of the entrances and Clay had to duck in some of them. I also bought a Christmas ornament at the fort’s gift shop- one of our favorite traditions is buying a Christmas ornament in the cities we visit.
After spending a few hours at the fort, we bought water from a street vendor, then headed into downtown to find local Puerto Rican cuisine. We eat as many meals as possible on the ship to save money, but we like to get a local drink or two and a meal in port to try (slightly) more authentic food.
It was a large portion, so I ate some of his mofungo and we both had drinks. I got a chocolate martini and it was *very* strong. He had the mojito, which won a few awards in San Juan (he said it was excellent, I’m not really into mojitos to know what’s good).
The ship was delayed leaving Puerto Rico (we later found out that a passenger had a medical emergency), so I got this cool picture before Clay and I headed to dinner and we sailed away to St. Maarten.