Saturday 11 February 2017

The Glory Days: San Juan

We docked the next morning in San Juan, Puerto Rico even earlier than our previous port. San Juan was yet another familiar port as we had both been to here before. The last time we were in San Juan, we decided against an excursion and explored the Old San Juan area.

We walked around Old San Juan (top right) again. We took a quick look inside Marshall's and some souvenir shops. Eventually, we made our way to Castillo San Cristobal. I had done some research this time, and I was very interested in touring the fortress. The admission fee is $5 and it includes entrance into two of San Juan's National Historic Site: the aforementioned Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. The latter is farther away from the port area and requires a trolley (or taxi) ride, so we decided it was best to only visit Castillo San Cristobal this time around.

Castillo San Cristobal is a defensive fortress built to guard the only land access to Old San Juan. It is part of an extensive fortification system built by Spain to protect San Juan. We paid for our admission at the main entrance, which is in Old San Juan. The entry from the main offices started in a tunnel. It was a little daunting.

As we walked around the fort, we saw cannon openings and military quarters with exhibits. On this level known as the main firing battery, there is also a open space looking out to the port. On this particular day, there were two other ships in port with us. We (or I mean, the Glory) are on the far left, and in the middle is the Carnival Magic and on the right is the Oasis of the Seas.

We headed up to the top of the fort, known as the observation area. It is the highest level of the fortress. It was a very steep climb and it was difficult in the heat, but the panoramic view was gorgeous. You can see all of Old San Juan from the top. We later found a shaded, narrow spiral staircase from which we climbed back down to the second level. I definitely recommend going up and down the staircase over the ramp on a hot day.

Most of the fortified walls have sentry boxes, also known as guerites. There is a sentry box up on the top of the fort. Only one person can make their way to the box at a time. My fiancĂ© and I took turns standing in the box. It's a small confined space, but the waves crashing against the bottom wall made it feel very peaceful. 

One of the guerites at Castillo San Cristobal is called "The Devil's Guerite." It is one of the oldest part of the fort. This guerite (bottom left) offers a vantage point for watchmen guarding the shore, it is located in closest proximity to the ocean. Legend says that soldiers disappeared when they were on guard in that sentry box because they were taken away by the devil, hence its name.

Castillo San Cristobal is a historic site not to be missed. We had a wonderful time exploring in the fortress. For the admission of $5, it's certainly worth the visit!

We didn't remember the specific route we took to reach the fort, so we just made our way down towards the water. It was a bit of a maze making our way back down, but we left plenty of time to do that so we were in no rush. If you make no pitstops along the way, it should only take about ten minutes. When we made our way back to the port, the sun had disappeared. I got a few more pictures of the Glory, then we made our way back onto the ship.

Sail away time was at 4 pm due to our early arrival, but we weren't complaining. We were quite hungry, and made our way to the Lido deck for one of Guy's burgers and ice cream.

Dinner as show below... I ordered two soups. The fiance had a filet mignon (not pictured) and I had fish. I won't bore you with the details. Dessert was interesting! We had the popcorn desert on the Vista previously, so we were excited to see it again. It's a tad overly sweet for me, so I just like to take a few bites from his.

After dinner, we popped by Amber Palace to check out Comedy & Magic with Eric, but it was a little cheesy for us so we didn't stay long.

Unfortunately, the comedian, Derrick Eason, didn't make the ship. So we headed up to the deck to join the 80's Rock and Glow Party. We left as the band started to play the last song, "Don't Stop Believing." It's one of my favourite songs but we were hungry and we wanted to beat the line for late night pizza. One of the best things on a Carnival ship is their 24 hours pizza service. They're often understaffed so there is always a line late at night, so be prepared to wait!

After our midnight snack, we called it a night. We headed back to the cabin for some shut-eye and greeted by this friendly towel frog! 

Our next port is Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. This was a new port for us, so we decided to book an excursion. Stay tuned for our beach day! 

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