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Arrival by ferry from Santo Domingo and sudden decision to run away

sunny 30 °C

Friday December 27
We slept well and disembarked at 8:15am but had 1 ½ hours in queue for immigration. Got interrogated by customs as we didn’t tell them we’d be in Cuba and, of course, they knew we’d flown to Nassau
Taxi from terminal to Old San Juan was set price of $15
Check in was 3pm and even though studio owner Ralph said he’d try to get there earlier, it looked like a long wait, so we had breakfast in Café Isabella just of Callle de la Cruz and were just about to ask if we could leave our bags there for a few hours, when Ralph sent a text to say he was at the studio – it seemed like a good start, however:

We had read a recent review of the studio and thought some of the comments were strange – "it was very hot" (even though the review said there were fans and air-con) and "only 4 channels on the satellite TV" (even though Ralph said there were over 100 channels). And this is what we found -

Internet did not work and the owner did not get it going all day. Most of the channels on the TV had to be paid for. Once we’d settled in, we realised there were no opening windows in the place, well there was one but the blind in front of it was broken and the wooden shutter was barred. The place was suffocating at night - the 2 doors could be opened but, of course, could not be left open at night. The mattress on the sofa-bed was unusable – I have no idea how anyone could have slept on it previously as it wouldn’t even support Jeni’s weight; it was a very, very old mattress with a thin layer of foam laid on top of it under a sheet. Jeni had to sleep on the floor and I attempted to sleep on the sofa after we’d re-assembled it. The bathroom was the smallest we’d ever seen (smaller than the bathroom on the ferry) and I could not walk into it without turning sideways

That night we decided to leave the next morning - will will have to fight for a refund when back in Australia

And Old San Juan really is very nice - we had a few hours walking in the town before the "discoveries" in the apartment


Saturday December 28
We got out and about early so we could look for another place to stay. We finally found a room just a 2-minute walk from the apartment, a miracle actually, as more than one hotel told us that yesterday there were no rooms available in the whole metropolitan area!

After moving all of stuff in (including 5 days worth of groceries!), we took a taxi to beachside Condado to see if anything was available there. After about 2 hours trudging around we found a reasonable room in the Sandy Beach Hotel just 25 metres from the beach (a bargain at $165/night) - not a great beach, not a great hotel ande definitely not a great area (much like the Gold Coast)

Back in Old San Juan, we spent the evening wandering around and enjoying the beautifully-restored colonial buildings


Sunday December 29
After a morning visit to the Castillo San Cristobal, we packed up and moved over to the Sandy Beach Hotel and had a wander along the very windy beach. In the evening, we were lucky enough to come across a free jazz concert in a local beachfront park - a great band and thousands of, mainly local, people enjoying the music and having a few beers


Monday December 30
We had a 3-month-old reservation with Avis for the 1st of January but when we called to confirm the pick-up time, they would not guarantee we would actually get a car (if fact they said it was extremely unlikely) because of the unprecedented number of people in this area around Christmas/New Year (and Enterprise and Hertz said exactly the same thing). There was no way we wanted to stay any longer in Condado and the brief thought of taking a cruise from San Juan soon disappeared. So that was it - we decided to cut our losses and head back to Byron. We had a very convoluted 40-hour route via Miami and New York back to Los Angeles where we picked up the Qantas A380 to Sydney and then a Jetstar flight to Ballina/Byron. Not a great ending to the trip but then it just wasn't a great trip

Posted by kforge 18:10 Archived in Puerto Rico

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