• Amanda Davis

Vacation Review – Day 1

Sorry for the delay in posting.  Things have been hectic and I’m just now getting around to talking about our amazing vacation. 

The trip started on Friday night, October 30th.  We headed for Kansas City when I got off work and checked into the Kansas City Airport Marriott to spend the night before our very early flight.  The Marriott is not as nice as other Marriott properties that I’ve stayed in, but it was still nice and we were happy not to have to wake up at 2am to leave for the airport.

We left the hotel around 4:00am and went to check in at the airport.  We got to the airport before the people working the desk even did, but there were people in line before us.  As soon as we’d checked our bags, we met up with the rest of the family members who were on our flights that day.  The flight from Kansas City to Atlanta was uneventful and when we arrived in Atlanta, we found a restaurant to have breakfast and went to wait at our next gate. 

The flight from Atlanta to San Juan was miserable for me.  I’m sure it was alright for everyone else, but I was stuck in a middle seat for 4 hours and couldn’t sleep.  I was completely uncomfortable and was not happy about it at all. 

When we arrived in San Juan, we were some of the first to find our luggage and get a cab to the hotel.  It was a good thing we got to the hotel when we did because it got a lot busier there very quickly.  We got checked into our rooms and went to find them.  Josh and I were upgraded to a suite because I had coordinated the group and it was amazing.  We walked in the door and the room just kept going.  It was on the corner of the building and when we walked in the door, the living room was in front of us, then we walked around the corner and there was a desk and large closet, then around another corner was a table and chairs, the balcony and the bedroom and bathroom.  It was a really nice room and if we peaked around the corner of the balcony, we could see where our ship would be the next morning. 

I would definitely recommend the Sheraton Old San Juan to anyone looking for a hotel before cruising out of San Juan.  It was a nice hotel and an amazing location, especially if you’re sailing on the Carnival Victory.  The only piece of advice I have would be don’t arrive on a Sunday.  The place was mass chaos when we were trying to check out because people were getting off the cruise ship across the street and checking in to the hotel.  Apparently, every Sunday is like this because San Juan has 3 cruise ships that all do 7-day cruises out of the port and begin and end on Sunday.  Ugh!  If you’re not cruising and you want to visit San Juan, definitely arrive and depart on some day other than Sunday.

After Josh and I had settled in to our room, we decided to explore a bit before our 6pm Segway tour of Old San Juan.  There was a street fair going on for Halloween that included street food and dancing and it was within a couple of blocks of our hotel, so we decided to check that out.  We ended up trying some of the street food and it was amazing.  We got several different items to share and we were impressed with all of them but left a large portion of each behind because we were planning to have dinner later at a restaurant that a friend recommended.

The first food we tried was mashed potatoes stuffed with ground beef and spices.  This was probably my least favorite, but it was still very good. 

Next, we tried the cod fish cake.  This was AMAZING.  I was extremely hesitant to order fish something with fish in it from a street vendor and this was actually Josh’s choice, but I thought it was to die for.  There wasn’t an overwhelming fishy taste, like I thought there would be, but it almost melted in your mouth.  I can’t really describe what it was like.  It was completely unique, crunchy but still slightly soft on the very inside.  Anyway, it was incredible.

An older gentleman came up to us when we were trying to decide what to order and suggested that we order one of what he was having.  He was definitely from Puerto Rico, so we figured that he probably knew what he was talking about.  It was cheese covered in cornmeal and fried and he was right, it was definitely worth it.  The cornmeal was a little bit sweet and was balanced with the cheese inside, which was melted by the time it got to us.  It was very good!

We also tried two different empanadas.  Josh ordered a chicken empanada and ended up with beef and I ordered the pizza empanada (basically pizza sauce and cheese).  Both were very good, but we bit into the beef one expecting to get chicken and were a bit surprised.  Either way, they were good empanadas and I would definitely get them again if we ever went back to San Juan.

The next stop in our tour of San Juan took us to Segway Tours of San Juan.  I’ve never been on a Segway before, but Josh tried one on the beach when we were in Cozumel last year.  The tour starts with training, and believe me, I really needed it.  I could not find my balance for the life of me and I even almost took out the tour guide as she was training me.  It took me about 20 minutes to get it together, but I finally got used to the feeling and did well.  Josh’s training was much shorter.  Apparently, I have balance issues. 

The Segway tour was wonderful.  We got to see parts of the city that we probably wouldn’t have explored otherwise and the tour guide took quite a few pictures of us both on and off the Segways.  It’s definitely something that I would recommend doing if you’re interested at all.  If we see Segways offered somewhere we’re traveling and the price is right, it’s definitely something we’d do again.  I would also recommend our guide, Nataliya!  She was great and very patient with me.

Our next stop was Casa Dante in Carolina, Puerto Rico.  We took a cab to the restaurant, expecting it to be packed but when we got there, there was only one other couple in the restaurant.  We ordered the one meal to split between the two of us because we were still filled up from the street food we’d had before.  We got the breaded chicken breast and mufungo (mashed plantains and garlic), which they’re supposed to be famous for.  We weren’t impressed.  The chicken was good, but the mufungo wasn’t great.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it didn’t really impress me at all.  There was nothing wrong with it.  It was plantains and garlic, nothing more, nothing less. 

After we left the restaurant, we took a cab back to the hotel and decided to explore some more of the Old City.  We found several monuments and a group of men playing dominos near one of them.  San Juan is a beautiful city and extremely interesting to explore.  I would definitely love to have more time there the next time we go so that we’d have enough time to really get to see the sights. 

After exploring some more, we went back to the hotel to head to bed.  When we woke up the next morning, this is what we saw from our balcony.

#Carnival #Wanderlust #Travel #CarnivalVictory #Cruise

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