Now that I travel so much less for work, I have the desire to travel for pleasure – or as we say in Malaysia “makan angin” (literally “eat air”). So a couple of weeks ago, Vin and I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a long weekend. We left on Friday very early morning and got home again on Monday evening and stayed in Puerto Rico for only 3 nights.
I must say, it was a very convenient trip, especially for East Coasters – it was about 4-5 hours flying time (shorter than going to Hawaii) and you stay in the same time zone so there’s no time funkiness to contend with. Travelocity had a really good deal for flight+hotel stay that ended up being only slightly dearer than just the round trip flight to Florida for that weekend. And, best of all, Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean which means that even tropically-bred girls like me can swim in the sea with no temperature issues whatsoever! I am incredibly susceptible to colds if exposed to cold water (freezing rain, the Atlantic ocean anywhere north of Florida, etc.) so if the water temperature is not above 70-75 F, swimming is completely out of the question for me. So the water temperature in Puerto Rico was just absolutely perfect for me.
So for this bab (or chapter) I want to focus on the hotel where we spent our time in San Juan. Since we had only 3 nights here, we did not want to overload our schedule with too many activities. This is supposed to be a getaway where we would not only have some activities, but also just some time to chill in the pool, in the sea, or just lying around reading and napping. We stayed at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, the birthplace of the Pina Colada.
[[image:pr28.jpg:50th Anniversary of Pina Coladas:center:0]]
Here’s the spectacular view from our balcony:
[[image:pr01.jpg:View of San Juan:center:0]]
[[image:pr02.jpg:The sea bed has some coral formations:center:0]]
Our bedroom was pretty nice too:
[[image:pr30.jpg:The pretty bed:center:0]]
[[image:pr29.jpg:Nice wooden cupboards:center:0]]
This is the historic bar where the pina colada was invented 50 years ago:
It was full of sunlight and airy and they make plenty of virgin fruity drinks which I of course had to try. You can also relax in the lounge where in a large area, they had many separate sofas arranged around quite a few coffee tables, allowing visitors to hang out with their families in comfort, without necessarily sharing the space with strangers. Gave it a feeling of coziness.
For those who cannot live without their dose of Starbucks, there was one right in the lobby:
I don’t even like coffee and Vin was quite happy drinking the wonderful locally produced coffee so neither of us actually went into the Starbucks.
Also they had these cages but they remained open during the day and these parrots ran around and amused adults and children alike.
The Caribe Hilton is right on the Caribbean Sea with its very own private beach. But for those who would prefer to lounge in the pool and the hot tub, the hotel also featured a beautiful set of pools which includes a pool-bar. When you walk through the lounge into the pool area, you see an awesome view of the pool and the sea in the distance (just the way Vin and I had fantasized):
[[image:pr03.jpg:Fountain, pool, then ocean:center:0]]
[[image:pr04.jpg:Pool with the sea in the background:center:0]]
[[image:pr25.jpg:View of the pool bar:center:0]]
[[image:pr26.jpg:Pool and lounge chairs:center:0]]
[[image:pr27.jpg:Another view of the pool bar:center:0]]
I took plenty of pool pictures but I’ve chosen the ones taken on Monday, after the crowds had left. Over the weekend, the whole pool area was swarming with people. I also took a bunch of pictures of the surrounding area:
[[image:pr22.jpg:Tree in front of our building:center:0]]
[[image:pr23.jpg:Baseball field right by the sea:center:0]]
[[image:pr24.jpg:A neighboring building:center:0]]
The chess set was cool – it’s a huge board that you walk on and drag the pieces across. You can see part of a child standing on the right hand side of the photo above.
At night, we relaxed on the balcony, enjoying the sound of the sea and the refreshing sea air.
[[image:pr32.jpg:Vin on the balcony:center:0]]
[[image:pr33.jpg:San Juan at night:center:0]]
And now, a collection of photographs of the main attraction, the reason we picked San Juan, the (warm) sea. These pictures were taken during a nice walk around the hotel:
[[image:pr07.jpg:Hilton’s private beach:center:0]]
[[image:pr10.jpg:Aaaah I want to go back there:center:0]]
[[image:pr11.jpg:Rocks by the pier:center:0]]
[[image:pr12.jpg:Corals underneath the surface:center:0]]
[[image:pr13.jpg:Pokok nyiur (coconut trees) in the wind:center:0]]
[[image:pr14.jpg:The breakwater protecting the beach:center:0]]
All in all, Vin and I both loved the hotel quite a bit. We spent some time relaxing in the hot tub, swimming in the pool, and I swam in the sea all 4 days we were there. It was refreshing. It really made me miss all the times we went swimming and kayaking in Teluk Batik and Pangkor and Lumut when Hisham and I were young. Going to the beach was something we did so often we took it for granted, and now that I’m living in the landlocked state of Ohio, a good beach vacation is hard to find, especially one where I would be able to enjoy the sea. The Atlantic Ocean up by Boston and Connecticut is at its warmest around 55 F (10 C) and that is definitely NOT warm enough for me to swim in without ending up with pneumonia. I’m glad that Puerto Rico was such a great getaway and so accessible from where we are – I think this means we must explore more of the Caribbean in the years to come.
So for now, I bid you good night and sweet dreams.