Saturday morning, we hauled our bags down to the lobby, checked out, and left them with the staff there. We headed down the street to La Mallorquina, since La Bombonera is currently closed for renovation. When in San Juan, you must have a mallorca for breakfast.
I had a mallorca con queso, and Matt had the standard jamon y queso. And, god, their coffee is fantastic. I don’t know why it’s so good, but it’s probably something to do with full-fat milk. Delicious.
After lunch, we did some more shopping and wandering in San Juan. It was raining on and off, but not much.
At some point I’ll remember where everything is in San Juan (OSJ is small, after all!), but I still can’t get it right. I at least know what general area I can find things in.
We headed up in the direction of El Morro to see La Iglesia de San Jose, because it’s the second-oldest church in the Americas. I know I’d see it before (I have photos of the statue of Columbus nearby), but I didn’t really know the history. Along the way, we encountered the customary cats hanging out on the street. I think this guy was annoyed that I woke him up for a photo.
The church is under renovation, so there’s a lot of scaffolding and you can’t go inside. Still, this time we knew what we were actually looking at.
I’ve been in El Morro a couple times, so we didn’t go in. We wandered around the giant park surrounding it, where tons of people were flying kites. The rain was now totally gone, and it was gorgeous outside.
We headed back through cat alley (there were at least 12 of them in there), walked through an awesome neighborhood, and came out along the city wall.
Seeing La Puerta (the city gate) never gets old. This walk at sunset is amazing.
We were near the Cathedral de San Juan, so we decided to actually go inside this time. I’d read that the remains of Ponce de Leon were in there, and I was set on finding them.
The cathedral is amazing, and in really good condition for a building that’s been in use for over 500 years.
We circled the outside, checking out the alcoves and many creepy shrines. (I can’t help it; religious stuff makes me nervous.) We found Ponce de Leon along the left side, near the back of the church:
Since we were across the street from Hotel El Convento, we decided to stop in for a drink. We found a very lovely courtyard full of tables, and had a seat at the bar. While we can’t afford to stay there, we can at least afford a mojito there. We sat and watched them setting up for a wedding that night. (I’d be shocked if they didn’t have weddings there every weekend.)
From there we headed back over near the city wall, because I also wanted to revisit Cappila del Cristo. I’d only recently learned the legend about it (that they used to race horses down Calle Cristo, and one rider couldn’t stop and went flying over the city wall at the end of the street), plus the gates were actually open this time.
The altar was amazing. This is to the right as you go into the chapel, behind gates.
The left side was photos and history, plus this impressive array of milagros:
After that, it was time to find some lunch. Because we’d walked past it earlier, we knew that Cafe Puerto Rico was still closed. We walked back down Calle Recinto Sur toward the middle of town to see what we’d find along the way. We finally decided on Lupi’s, because we were dying of hunger and knew they’d have something vegetarian. We got a table on the street, so we could people-watch while we dined.
After lunch, we walked down to where the cruise ships docked when they’re stopping in San Juan. That was boring, so we wandered back up in the direction of our hotel. We decided to stop and have a beer at the Jamaican restaurant there before going to get our suitcases. We hung out talking to the girl working at Blessed Cafe about other parts of Puerto Rico for a while, and then headed across the street to Casa Blanca. We got our bags and a taxi, and it was time to leave San Juan. SIGH.
The check-in process on our ship was really quick (it was 3pm, so we were fairly early), and we were on board in no time. They gave us glasses of champagne as we got on, and we decided to go directly to the cabin to check it out. As usual, we had carry-on bags and our suitcases would be delivered later.
We had cabin 7047, a veranda room on the port side near the forward elevators. Our cabin steward, Socorro, stopped by shortly after we arrived to introduce himself. I made sure to tell him it was Matt’s birthday that week. I’d also ordered the birthday package for him for our sailaway that day, so I expected to find champagne and a cake and such awaiting us, but it wasn’t there for some reason. I figured I’d wait and see if it showed up before telling Matt about it.
We’d sailed on the Celebrity Summit before, so we knew what to expect. The only big difference this time was that we had the beverage package; we’d gotten the basic drinks package for free with the booking (it covered anything up to $7, and if you ordered something more expensive you paid the entire amount, not the difference.) Based on my research, we’d decided to upgrade to the premium package, which covered everything up to $13. Plus if you went over, you only paid the difference. Based on our tab at the end of the last cruise, it was worth it.
There were also a few changes to some of the bars and public spaces since our last cruise, so I was excited to see that. But having sailed on the ship before, we didn’t have to devote our first day to exploring everything, like we usually do.
We headed up to the pool bar to get a drink. I ordered a mojito, and ended up with this, which ended up being a frozen margarita. At least it was pretty good.
We did some more wandering around the ship, and then headed back to the pool area when our drinks were empty. This time we went up and got seats at the Mast Bar overlooking the pool (and the entire port area). We marveled at how much better the drink menus had gotten… they were way more sophisticated, with less focus on ‘boat drinks’ and more on actual well-thought-out cocktails. And the best part was we had already prepaid for them, so we didn’t have to deal with that part at all.
After hanging out there a while we were starting to get hungry, so we tried the burger bar. There was a 10 minute wait for a veggie burger there, so we went into the buffet next door instead and got pizza. From there we went out to the bar at the back of the ship and learned that they had awesome Jamaican bartenders. Marlon quickly became our favorite.
We got drinks and took them down to the room to see if our bags had arrived yet. They had, so we unpacked and got our room in order. We hung out on the balcony for a bit as we started to sail away, and then went upstairs to Marlon’s bar again. It was already dark, since we sailed at 8:30, so there wasn’t too much to see from the deck.
For dinner we didn’t care much for dressing up for the dining room, so we went back to the buffet. Matt had sushi, and I had a giant salad and Indian food that was pretty decent. After that we went down to Michael’s Club, since it was one of the bars that had remodeled since our last trip. Then it was the cigar and scotch bar, and this time it was the craft beer bar (which also had scotch). That seemed pretty much perfect for us, and there were several things on the menu I’d never tried before. We had some beer, and hung out talking to an awesome couple we met from Pittsburgh. Also, we noticed that there were Canadians EVERYWHERE on the ship, and it made it especially easy to identify them because (in addition to their hilarious accents), they were all wearing hockey-related clothing. It was in the middle of the Olympics, so that at least made some sense.
We headed to the casino, where I went to play craps and Matt blackjack. I did well at craps for a bit, and then everything went badly. I took the rest of my chips and joined him at the blackjack table, where I got wiped out the rest of the way. Thankfully, he was at least doing well. When we were done playing, we went to grab a beer and take it up to the room.
At some point in the middle of the night, I woke up and threw up like crazy. Hello, seasickness!