I think it’s safe to say that Brooke has something of an obsession with Lin-Manuel Miranda, so after he (and many others) implored people to visit Puerto Rico (as tourism is one of their major economic drivers) to help support the island’s constant hurricane recovery, we seriously considered it. Late last year, we started watching for cheap plane tickets and looked at Airbnb options for the island, and things sorta fell into place. We were looking at late-May as it would avoid hurricane season and the kids and I would be out of school, so we bought tickets and made reservations for May 22nd through June 1st.
At the time, little did we know that Winter was going to hit Marshall particularly hard, leading to the kids’ school year to be pushed back a week! So technically, they missed their last week of school, but most pre-K and 3rd graders aren’t doing all that much at the end of their year. Missing a few field trips, I suppose. Oh well.
We stayed at Mallory’s house in St. Louis Tuesday night and took a Lyft to the airport Wednesday morning to catch our 7:51 am flight to Charlotte. It was the kids’ very first ride on an airplane, so they were pretty excited! Then, they got bored when they realized that flying on a plane isn’t really all that fun… Still, we brought plenty of entertainment (read: tablets and the Switch…), some snacks, and had just enough time at the Charlotte airport to grab a few more provisions before boarding the plane to San Juan. The second flight was over 3 hrs long, so the boredom really set in, at least for Meg. For both flights, we were in rows back to back, with Brooke next to Meg and Calvin next to me.
Brooke rented a car when she booked the flights so we’d have a means to get around the island, so our first task was finding the rental agency. Little did we know that the agency wasn’t actually located at the airport, so we found some other “mainlanders” who told us that there was a shuttle coming by to pick us all up and take us to where we’d get the car(s). After a relatively lengthy paperwork process, we had our blue Hyundai Accent and we were off to find our hotel in Old San Juan!
The room at the Casablanca Hotel was very nice, including a king-size bed and a futon the kids could sleep on (Calvin ended up joining us in the bed because Meg rolled around enough in her sleep and effectively took over the bed). We went to a pizza place called Pirilo just down from the hotel and that was awesome. The sauce was a bit sweeter than we expected, but the kids didn’t notice, so oh well. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and were crashing around 9:00 after a long day of traveling.
The next day, we ate breakfast at Cafeteria Mallorca, where we were hoping to get donuts. Apparently they only have mallorcas, which aren’t exactly donuts. They were a flaky pastry of sorts that you could just eat with powdered sugar and butter, or get sliced in half with ham and cheese in it, among other things. They were quite good, though the kids were unimpressed.
Brooke and I also had some coffee before we got started on our long walk to El Castillo de San Cristobal, which has been there for about 500 years and has changed hands from multiple countries in that time period.
The kids very much loved going through the dungeon, but other than that, we took the opportunity to see the city from a higher vantage point and see some old architecture. We also walked to another fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, passing lots of folks flying kites in the ocean breeze. It was a beautiful day!
After finishing up at San Felipe, we quickly walked back to our hotel to check out, then struggled to find our car in the parking structure (seriously, it took 30 minutes to find…dunno what to tell you….) before heading out of town toward Quebradillas, where our Airbnb was. The drive took about 1.5 hrs, the majority of which was divided highway driving, so it was a pretty uneventful trip. Eventually, we left the highway and took a few narrow, paved roads to our final destination.
More on that next time!