We had a truly wonderful day today in San Juan! The day just flew by
and leaves me feeling that I'd love to spend more time in Puerto Rico, so we will have to come back someday.
After the plane landed at the San Juan Airport - well, first, I should mention that while on the plane, Poolie saw an iguana run across the runway - how cool! We collected our luggage and proceeded to the transportation area. The taxis here are all running on a fixed rate depending on which "zone" you are traveling to, which is nice because you know the fare price up front and there is no need for haggling with the driver. We had a quick drive through town when our cab driver pointed out our hotel in the distance, the Caribe Hilton.
The hotel looked amazing at first sight as it is located right on the ocean. Our impression of the hotel just got better and better. Check-in was a breeze! I emailed ahead of time to inquire about an earlier check-in time (the hotel check-in time is 4:00pm, but since our flight was arriving earlier on, I asked if we could check-in at 1:00pm instead) and we were accommodated without any problems. The main lobby of the hotel is beautiful - an open concept, outdoor lobby/main area. There are a few shops as well as a Starbucks right on site, which is of great importance to us coffee lovers :)
There are stations out front in the lobby with fruit water - water with cantaloupes, grapefruit, etc. in containers of water, and you can dispense only the water with the fruit flavor in it - very refreshing, a nice treat! There are two parrots and a white bird in a large cage in the hotel lobby that are very happy and chatty - the one bird speaks Spanish - when I first said "Hello" to him, there was no response. Then, I said "Hola!" to the bird and he quickly responded back with "Hola!". So cute! You will be able to watch this in the video posted below.
Our room, #539 in the Main Building is spacious and has an awesome balcony! Our room overlooks the ocean where you can hear the crashing waves. There is also the San Geronomio Fort at the back of the property, but unfortunately, we were unable to explore it. Originally, we were planning to explore Old San Juan, but we didn't expect the Caribe Hilton to have so many places to explore right on the property! So, we mainly just stuck around the resort - plus, we were pretty tired after our flight and not sleeping much the night before.
After spending a bit of time in the room, we ventured out to the grounds. There is a tropical bird and fish area where many different birds live, including peacocks and swans. You are instructed not to feed or interact with the animals as they are living in a natural
habitat. There is a beautiful pond with koi and goldfish, and the area is filled with lush greenery and palm trees.
We walked around the pool areas that are right beside the ocean. We walked down to a pier out on the water and could see coral reef in the shallow parts. Although we didn't end up swimming, there were plenty of fun activities for hotel guests, including a floating rock climbing wall and a trampoline, as well as relaxing places with hammocks between palm trees.
We decided to go to a nearby Subway for a quick lunch, and then walked outside of the resort for a little while. We walked over to a place where a fort used to be - it is pretty cool to see the remnants of the old forts. We walked around the ocean and along some paths past a large track and field stadium.
We had a nap for a couple of hours after our walk since we were feeling pretty exhausted from not sleeping well the night before and not being able to sleep well on the flight.
I should also mention that the weather was beautiful outside today! It was warm, but not too hot - bright and
sunny at first, and in late afternoon, some clouds rolled in with a gusty wind. It didn't rain, and the windy conditions made the waves crash even more - huge waves!
Later in the evening, the wind died down and the sky was clear, the weather still warm and perfect. For dinner, we went to a restaurant inside the hotel - an Italian restaurant called Rotisserie Il Giardino. It is a fine dining establishment with very tasty Italian dishes. We were very happy that the menu included several vegetarian options to choose from. Poolie and I both got a house salad and a pasta - rigatoni with olive oil, garlic, and broccoli. The pasta was delicious - big pieces of garlic, flavorful broccoli and fresh parmesan cheese. The food arrived super quickly and the restaurant provided great service!
After dinner, we picked up a few treats and beverages at the Starbucks - Poolie got a gooey caramel brownie that had layers of caramel upon brownies on top of other brownies! I got a red velvet cupcake and a vanilla latte. Now, we're just chillin' in bed (super comfy bed with
tons of pillows, I might add!) and watching TV - we get tons of channels!
Today was the perfect day to unwind after our flight in a gorgeous destination at the perfect hotel! So excited to embark on our cruise adventure tomorrow!
Here is a video from the hotel, the Caribe Hilton in San Juan - the view from our room, a talking parrot, and the tropical sanctuary!