Cruising day 4 – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Another over night sail and half the day to get us to San Juan (21 hours to go 335 nm, still faster than the Quo Vadimus. We kept our shadow boat the Eurodam on our starboard beam for the trip.

It’s weird not having the internet for news but needing to rely on digests from the NY Times, the Canada press and the BBC foreign news service. If read Dutch or German, I could also have those digests to round out my day. Sadly there isn’t a lot of tech news coverage so that will have to wait until I get interweb access again.

On the other hand, having only 16 pages of news to digest, I was able to get by with a small breakfast. I went English style today with tomatoes, beans and bangers. Susan found the oriental breakfast bar and had some very interesting looking items.

My new place to hang out is the Explorers Club on the front of Deck 11. The last two days it’s been empty so I’ve had my pick of seats. Sadly today was the trivia contest. It’s normally in the afternoon, but with the late arrival time they have moved all sorts of activities around.

Lunch was at Tamarind, the Asian restaurant. For lunch they offer a Dim Sum, but they pick the selection. You have a choice of hot and sour soup or wonton. After that they bring you a salad, three kinds of steamed dumplings along with a few fried items and a huge bowl of vegetable fried rice. There is a selection of desserts you can choose from.

I was very happy to find out that the hot and sour soup is wonderful. It won’t replace The Linn’s masterpiece, but it’s in the top 5 versions. The chef has taken the time to make sure that all the ingredients will fit on a spoon. Lots of times there are ends flopping off the spoon. The balance between the hot and sour flavors were spot on.

San Juan is a popular stop, so the land tour lines were long, but we got off on our “Old and New San Juan” tour pretty much on time. We were told by our guide that there were 6 ships in port. A pair of Disney boats and the Carnival ship arrived early in the morning. Celebrity was next about 10 AM and the two Holland boats arrived at 1PM. Based on how many people got off our boat and doing the math (the other 4 boats hold 4,000+ people to our 2,100), all told about 15-16,000 people took to the streets.

So traffic was a little bit a challenge getting out of the port. But we were soon zooming down the highway from the port and Old San Juan to the newer section with some hi-rise buildings and an upcoming business district.

Our first stop was a beach on the northern shore. The “easterly trade winds” come from Africa and hit the eastern end of the island and then are split in half to run down the outer edges of the island. To the east from San Juan is tropical rain forest, the moisture soaked winds drop 120-140 inches of water in that area. The winds in the winter months (like today) rip across the island at about 18-22kts with gusts to 35. It was interesting watching two kite boats fly across the water. If they would do a jump, out of the water the kite would lift and take them 75′ to 100′ across the water. Looked like a lot of fun.

Next was winding around the back streets of Old San Juan to get to the fort. The fort had taken about 100 years to construct in the 1600′s and was a major feature to San Juan’s safety. Most of the City was inside the walls. In the late 1800′s a large chunk of the wall from the northern ramparts to the wharf area was torn down to give better access into the city.

The fort is massive huge limestone walls and ramps. It had been used a number of times to successfully defend the island.

After the fort we were dropped off into a shopping area of Old Town. (Passed gas stations with $0.59/L fuel ($2.10 gal) Lots of little shops and street vendors. But the big guns (MK, Dior, Jimmy Chu and lots of bling vendors) were also well represented.

I kind of ignored that and headed to the bar with the $2 beer sign. Susan did pick up some post cards but we mostly watched the tourist throngs undulate down the street.

After getting back to the boat and getting our bearings we headed out to the CVS that was doing a land office business of forgotten toothpaste, mouth wash, chocolate bars, etc. We were grimly met with Budweiser six packs for $7.88 where we pay almost that for a single bottle.

We found a street side Cafe and had local dishes. I started us off with ground beef meat pies. Lots of flavors and the pastry was firm, not burned, a great envelope for the filling. (names here). It was tender and wonderful. With drinks, appetizers, food, tax and tip it was under $50. A deal!

Susan grabbed a small print of San Juan harbor that she liked. She has been collecting these small prints for years as remembrances of trips we’ve taken.

At the boat we split up, armed with my iLap I headed over to Senior Froggies for a beer and access to their wi-fi. I was able to check my mail and post 4 quick stories. I had left over time to even do some internet web surfing to see how the robotics teams are making out.

Froggies was rocking out and by the end of my hour of time I was ready to roll. It took a few blocks before my hearing got back to normal.

Back on the boat it was towel time, tonights was a huge elephant. Nicely done, this one really took a great deal of effort to make happen.