Mitsugirlys FASCINATION with San Juan-review & pictorial
Day 3: Headed to Isla Verde and staying
DAY 3-Traveling from Fajardo to Isla Verde
Today was the day that we had to leave this beautiful resort. I started questioning myself about why I didn't book this place for the entire time because there was just so much to see and do here. But, I had always wanted to go to Isla Verde, so Isla Verde it was.
I woke up to the room alarm going off at 7 am!!! I had really wanted to sleep in. But, I couldn't figure out how to turn it off. After multiple attempts, I decided I was just going to have to get up. I thought it was weird that it hadn't went of prior to this.
So while I'm waiting on the family to get up, since they sleep through blow horns, I'll show you the "map" of the resort they gave me at check in. This will give you an idea of just how big this place is. When they say "resort", they mean RESORT.
So the family finally got up and we put our bathing suits on and packed the luggage.
We checked out fairly early since we had plans to stop at Puerto Rico's prettiest/best beach (so I was told) and then our drive on to the next hotel in Isla Verde.
We had decided since breakfast at the resort runs around $52 that we would eat cheap today and find a McD's along the way to the beach instead.
We checked out. There was no line. We caught the bus to our car. Drove car back to hotel. Packed luggage. Headed out.
We quickly found a McDonalds and stopped for breakfast. A few hand signals, mouth gestures and pointing and we had our breakfast and was sitting down. I ordered a meal with "toast"....It was extremely fascinating when I found out my "toast" was actually Texas toast! But it was good. Just a different than normal concept to me. They also gave you 3 of them with your meal. I believe with our meal, we get biscuits instead.
The hubby had ordered the "Tostada burrito". Now at home, we have the breakfast burrito meal and it comes with 2 small burritos filled with eggs, cheese, sausage and peppers. When the hubby got his, it was only 1 burrito, and as a LOT bigger than ours.
After breakfast we headed to Walgreens to look for some "back-up" 100 spf sun tan lotion and some more pop. We were unable to find the hubby his "Dew" fix, but they did have diet for me. I'm still finding that they only come in 8 packs. Where are the 12 packs in this place???
I thought these little baskets were neat. It had a handle and some wheels on it. I didn't have to carry anything. Why don't our Walgreens have this at home???
I text Kendra this picture and she did say she's been to a Walgreens that had that before, but don't recall where. They should ALL have them.
Then I receive this back from her...
Does anyone think she's a little excited that she was able to pull this off??
It was a 18 minute drive to our destination. Not bad at all. But, it did start to cloud up and start to sprinkle some. But I wasn't going to let it ruin my day. I mean we were going to the beach...where you get wet...so why does it matter?
WE HAVE ARRIVED...LUQUILLO BEACH!!
We pulled up to the entrance...then soon discovered that there was an parking fee to get in. $4 plus tax.
The parking lot was huge, but didn't see very many cars parked there. It looked like it was going to be a good day in the sense that it probably wasn't going to be crowded.
The rain had stopped and everything was wet. But that's ok.
We grabbed our beach bags, grabbed our cooler of pop, Sakari had her morhping bag, and off we went toward the beach (which is a little ways from the parking lot).
If you are handicap or have mobility issues, there is a road that heads closer. I'm not sure if you can park there or if it's for employees only, but you would be able to do a drop-off there I would think.
There was a lot of trees there with pine needles. I found this interesting. I'm not used to seeing pine needles in places like this.
I'm not sure what this building was. It was all open and nothing inside of it. Maybe they hold parties there or something.
It was nicely landscaped
FINALLY! The beach and the welcome committee.
The beach loaded with pine needles if you are up close to the tree area. So, this picture (below) gives you a perspective of how close the tree line is to the water (in case you would rather sit under the trees for shade).
We made it out to the water finally.
It was still cloudy, but the sun was peeking out. Then of course THIS...immediately happened of course.
Over in the distance, you could see the rain pouring down. I always think it's so cool to see the rain clouds, with the trail of rain reaching down to the ground, from a distance. I spot these a lot on cruises and I just find them so fascinating.
We picked our "spot" and dropped our things. Hubby was still debating if he wanted to get in the water.
I went up to take a picture to send to Kendra making her think that the weather was perfect. Which, it actually was at that point. With a little bit of clouds and the rain in the distance, it felt pretty good since it was pretty hot out. The only problem is that when it's cloudy like this, the pictures sometimes don't turn out the best.
My picture to Kendra
There was still a downpour to the left of us. Hey, as long as it was staying over there, I was good with it.
This ice cream guy went up and down the beach all day. He didn't bother anyone and just rang his bell. Like I said, it was HOT out. I can't believe that having the ice cream in a cooler thing like that actually keeps it from melting in this weather. I mean it should be ok for a little while, but I wouldn't think it would last long.
I always love taking my little tilt-shift pictures, but did notice this time around that when it's kinda gloomy out, they don't turn out as good and are a little dark. I wish I would have turned the camera the other way and caught the "clear" part of the ice cream mans wheel track down the beach with everything else blurry.
I think I spot a mermaid out there...
"Mommy, come quick"...
Almost caught a double picture over/under. I don't even remember trying to do this here (since there were waves and you need the water to be somewhat still) and it was the only one like this. Maybe it was just a fluke. You can tell that I must have had it on the underwater setting since it had a really weird cast to the picture above.
It was beautiful out and sunny which = very HOT. The hubby didn't last long on the beach.
Beached mermaid? Nope, just taking a rest.
I went up to text Kendra (we talk back and forth all day long, both at home or on vacation lol). Then I come back down to the water to THIS...."Um, what are you doing???" "Are you going tinkle?"
He had been sitting there like that for awhile. I sat down beside him and ask if I was going to feel extremely warm water. He said "No, look at my skin". He said if you stay real still, with the water going back and forth, before long, the sand would pile up on your skin. He was loaded with it. I warned him about the crabs and he decided it was not fun anymore.
Still gloomy over yonder...
But where we were at, it was extremely nice and sunny.
Sakari having a little bit of fun
She met a little friend that she would hang out with the rest of the time that we were there (this one spoke English and I believe they were from Massachusetts the dad said).
They would proceed to take Mr Crabby Patty up and down the beach to "show" people and it became a game of "how many people will scream at the sight". There were a group of girls that had arrived minutes before this occurrence of Mr Crabby. One refused to go in the water because she was afraid of fish (reminded me of Kendra's finance) and the other two adventured in. I could tell by the way they were all acting that this might have been their first experience at a beach. I over heard one yell to the girl on the beach "How are you going to come to Puerto Rico on vacation and not even get in the water at the beach?" I just knew they were prime candidates for a Mr Crabby experience. hee hee. I told Sakari "those girls would love to see Mr Crabby. Go show them." And I waited....then it came, a loud shriek and the motion of a tidal wave of water leading up to the beach due to movement of some very fast legs! HAHAHA it was funny. Then they laughed and the girl that refused to get in the water had some fun with it. I'm glad we were able to give her the opportunity to pay her friends back from making fun of her for not going in the water. It was entertaining to say the least.
The rain was moving on out toward the water and still staying to the side of us.
The hubby was taking pictures of the beach and posting it for all to see back home.
I tried my best to get a picture of the birds flying around. I guess I forgot to change my settings.
Now remember we were sitting on the beach (no chairs) and I plopped down at one point and crossed my legs. Immediately I felt a pain in my foot. Mr Crabby had pinched my toe.
It was so hot out and you really couldn't stay on the beach for long before getting back in the water. I think the hubby swam more this time that he has on previous vacations.
When I got out once to go get something to drink, someone had wrote this on the beach (censored for the forum with my name stamp of course).
A few selfies to prove we were there and not randomly stealing pics off the internet from our office back home in front of the computer.
It was fun time for her...
So it was getting later in the day and I knew we had to drive to Isla Verde to get checked in. We decided to pack up and head out of here. It ended up being a good day and the rain stayed away from us.
The beach was pretty, but I'm not sure if I would consider this the "prettiest" beach ever. If it's the prettiest beach in PR, then hmmm. I guess I should look no more for one to top it. Honestly, it kinda reminded me of our last stop here in PR and we went to Pamela's (Numero Uno) for the day (from the cruise ship). It was nice, don't get me wrong, but I guess I just had something else pictured in my mind. Would I return? No, probably not. Been there, done that and time to move on next time around.
It was a VERY big beach and plenty of room to spread out. The water was very clear and the waves were pretty gentle. You could rent jet skis there and we even seen someone riding one just like the hubby's but it just wasn't as loud. (He has a 300hp supercharged one with an exhaust and he has had it up to 80mph at our local beach..which scares the crap out of me). We have never seen another like his. But these guys were having a good old time with it.
Walking out, we did see they had a place to purchase food and drinks. I did see ice cream (of course) and pizza as well. They did charge $1.00 to use the baño's. I calculated I saved about $10 that day. LOL
They seem to keep this place really clean and in tip-top shape. However, I did see this when we were walking out.
It was a long hot walk back and I was now wishing that I was back in the water.
I looks like there's someone here that also do the bio bay tours.
We made it back to the car and would spend about 1/2 hour there, trying to get our clothes as dry as possible before getting in the car and leaving. You have to remember, we are no longer at the hotel, we have no towels!
Then out we went...
Now I'm really super sad to say that we did not make it to El Yunque rain forest. I was really hoping to go there before we left the area. I had done my research, printed off some maps, knew exactly what to put in my GPS to get us to the entrance (instead of the back wrong entrance) and which paths I wanted to take. But, after finding out about the private beach at El Conquistador, I just KNEW I had to do that instead. Also, since we are beach people, I also KNEW I had to visit the "prettiest beach" in Puerto Rico while I was there. But I was super bummed about not getting to the rain forest. NEXT TIME!!!
We headed out, set the GPS, and was on our way to Isla Verde. We made a few pit stops along the way for the hubby to potty (I swear his bladder is worse than mine and I've had 4 kids). As I was sitting out in the car (at Burger King) a guy came out, got in his jeep and proceeded to leave the lot. I guess he also decided he wasn't waiting in traffic and just went up and over the hilly grassy area and onto the highway. I guess that's how they do it in PR. (It wasn't a small hill either and remember it had been raining toward this way for quite some time).
Now I truly believe the people here are on island time. The speed limit was 65 in a lot of the areas we were in and people were only going 40. It ended up being a longer trip than I anticipated (or at least it seemed like it), but still only took around 30 minutes or so and we were in the area of Isla Verde.
Another thing I noticed were the really weird traffic signals. I could be in the far left lane pulling out to turn left and the lane beside me would have traffic going straight and some would turn left. It was weird. There were a couple of times I'm pretty sure people were just doing their own thing and turning whatever way they wanted whether they were in the right lane or not. I had been in lanes that go straight and had someone to the right of me turn left in front of me. I also wasn't really sure if they had the "turn right on red" rules there either, so I didn't take any chances.
We made to the hotel at 3:30 and when we pulled up, there were people at the entrance ready to "valet" your car...for a nice chunk of change of course.
The people told us in order to park there, we would have to do valet. It would cost $27 and we could come and go as we pleased. If we planned to do the self-park, it was $22 and we would have to drive down the street, park in the building across the street (on one of the top floors and this building must have been about 25 stories tall) and then walk back to the hotel. Well, for $5 more, we decided on the valet and the car was parked right next to the hotel.
However, most of the garage wasn't being used and being remodeled, but they parked the cars up on the top level and we could see the car from our hotel room.
Now I have to say that I was really nervous about booking this hotel. I had originally booked The Courtyard at Marriott. But the opportunity came up and we got a SUPER good deal on this place from a "friend" on these boards. So we cancelled our reservation with Marriott and booked this place.
Now I DO know that this place was getting renovated. According to their website, it stated that there were some renovations going on in certain parts of the hotel and that the big winding river looking pool was going to be closed for remodeling. However, it did say that they had another pool and it would be open. So, I figured why not. I'm just going to roll with it. We were only going to be there for 1 day and I had planned on spending it at the beach anyhow.
THEN....2 days prior to us arriving, someone on these boards posts that the hotel would be closing down permanently during the last half of the renovation and that closure date was THE DAY WE WERE CHECKING OUT!! YIKES! Ok, that probably means that the renovations are a lot further along that I had anticipated and that service would probably be a little spotty. Ok Kim, suck it up. You got this and it's not going to spoil your last day in Puerto Rico. Then I broke the news to the family to prepare them for what they might see or experience. Hey, as long as there was a pool and beach, Sakari didn't care. The hubby, eh, he's just along for the ride and rolls with the punches too.
However, I do have to mention this...When we were at El Con. we were talking to a guy out by the pool that had came there for a wedding. He ask how long we would be staying there and we told him our plans and about leaving to stay at Isla Verde for a day. He said he had just came from there yesterday and the place was a dump. Construction going on and almost everything closed. He said the service was almost non-existent and the staff was rude because they all acted like they didn't care since it was closing and they were going to be out of jobs for awhile. He said half of the staff was already let go and it was running at a minimum. Then he said there was so much construction going on that he was stepping over construction stuff (boards, drywall, and a mess) and that at one point one of the floors became flooded and they weren't doing anything about it. He said it was a terrible experience. Sigh!
We got our things out of the car and handed over the keys to the valet attendant. Of course they wanted to take our luggage and "help you check in", but I know this game. You just got an extra $5 out of me to park my car, I can handle my one luggage that has wheels and rolls. It's not that hard.
They had a temporary "entrance" with a ramp leading up to the doors.
Now this is normally not the entrance nor will it be the entrance once it's finished. This section is the "shopping mall" located in side the hotel.
It also had a bunch of restaurants in there too. It was just like the hotel we had just came from at El Conquistador. Plenty of shopping and food within the hotel. Just not as big or as much of course.
Everything was open from the stores to the food. I only noticed maybe 2 stores that had brown paper over the windows and were closed being remodeled.
Notice the sign? Tour and Travel? Well there was a lady that worked in there...and she was there until the last day!! Tour and Travel! Last day! Seriously!
So here we are at this make-shift temporary desk down the hall and we are checking in. I felt bad because remember we had just came from the beach. We were a hot mess. Clothes a little damp, bathing suits with a cover up, hair a hot mess, no make up and just wanting to get our room key and go shower. They were checking us in and they said they were checking to make sure the room was ready. I had to potty and they pointed me in the direction of the restrooms. Down the hall, past the rest of the stores, come to the end, turn left, down that hall, out the doors to outside and they are on the right. Whew! They ended up being bathrooms that were located on the outside half-enclosed patio where you could watch t.v., drink, eat, and swim. It had a roof over it and was huge, but yet it was also all open on the side.
As I was walking around the corner looking for the restroom, there was a security cop that stopped me and ask if she could help. I told her I was looking for the restroom. She pointed out the doors and told me to turn right. On my way back in, she stopped me again, only this time asking if I was staying at the hotel. I told her yes and that she had just seen me come from the hotel. She laughed and said "Oh, you're right. Sorry about that."
When I got back to the desk, the hubby was waiting with the room key. We headed BACK down the long hall I had just came from to catch the elevators.
Now some of the halls in this area were getting some work done to them. No biggie, but there were NO MESSES ANYWHERE. Not even tools laying out.
The hall leading down to the casino
We made it to the room. But first I'm going to take the time to show you around this hotel and the grounds before I go on.
So here's the outside/inside area where the bathrooms I went to was.
There were a lot of people out there during our stay, watching the Olympics.
This was still part of that outside patio area, but this was the dining area that you could eat outside (it also extended inside as well).
It was located in an area that overlooked both of the pools.
Outside of the area;
From this restaurant area, you could take a peek over at the nice pool area that was getting a make-over.
This is looking into that pool area from the beach. The security guard in this picture, I spoke with him a lot about the hotel. I had told him about the guy talking about walking over stuff and the flooding and so on. He said he was probably talking about this portion of the hotel (which was now completely closed), but yet it still had a walkway through it to get out to the beach. HOWEVER, he said it had been closed for 2 months. (There's several buildings on the property and it depends on where you book where you'll stay I guess).
He also said that they had just sold off the huge building beside this one (labeled OSJ Hotel) and it was no longer a part of this Hilton establishment. There was also a building located on the other side of the main pool, which they had just completely torn down.
He said they were actually putting in ANOTHER pool on the other side of the lazy river type pool, which is why that area is also getting redone.
He confirmed that they were closing down "tomorrow" and would reopen again in December. He would not have a job after that day, but he also "dabbles" in automotive work and that would tie him over until he had a job again. He said he had only been with the company for 4 months, but didn't want to lose his job.
His job consisted of standing at the entrance of the hotel by the beach. He was the "night shift" and worked all night long, making sure that no one entered the property unless they were staying there. I believe he said his shift ended at 7am in the morning.
This is what it use to look like:
This is the area where the other pool is located at in front of the bar/restaurant area:
The pool house. Even someone was working in there up until the last day.
This is what they had around the property areas that were being worked on. It led out from the pool to the beach area.
This was the building that had been completely shut down and not being used for the last 2 months. But, you had to go under the underpass to the building to get out to the beach area. The security guard said a few weeks ago they did not have anything up around the pool area and they were working on it. He said people kept walking through the area and it was dangerous, so they put up all the fencing after that.
These little guys were everywhere.
There was an area off to the opposite side of the outside bar.
It led out to this little courtyard looking place with this HUGE tree
This tree was massive. I just couldn't get over how big it was and all of the vines hanging from it.
So that ends my tour of the hotel. Although it's under renovation, it was still very pretty and still had a lot of public areas open.
These little things were laying all over the place. They fell from the trees and they were really pretty.
Up to our room we went. We were located on the 4th floor.
The room actually felt really huge. It was a little dated though, but for the most part nice.
When we checked in, they gave us a gift bag that had bottled water and cookie/chips in it. I thought that a nice little added touch. Even up until the last day they were doing nice things for the guests.
This safe is the exact same safe they use on NCL ships. LOL So, Sakari knew how to work it and she put some of our things in there and locked it and I took a big deep breath, after my initial gasp, and slowly ask her if she knew how to work it and if she remembered what code she put in. (While I'm completely freaking out at the time). She said "Sure I know how to work it. I locked it. I know the code to it because it's the same code I use for the cash register in daddy's shop." LOL Well, alrighty then little girl.
Do you notice anything about the refrigerator? Well I didn't, even at the time I took the picture. I would later notice though.
Our room didn't have a balcony. But it did have a door that did open...to a fence.
Now let's talk bathroom talk. Normally most hotels have the bathroom right when you come in the door right? Not this one. It was all the way at the other end of the room across from the bed. It felt odd and took me a minute to get use to walking that way to the restroom.
Super nice shower with a 1/2 glass wall.
The toilet is as soon as you walk into the room. Notice the placement. Notice how close to the toilet the door comes?
Almost hitting the toilet paper holder
It was the weirdest thing ever. Think about it. You walk into the restroom and you can't shut the door. Why? Because there's no place to stand to be out of the way for the door. So, your options are to straddle the toilet and try to get the door shut. Or, walk all the way in, to the right over by the shower, pull the door away from the wall and push from behind to close, then back over to the toilet. It was just super weird. They should have put the door on the other side and had it swing the other way...therefore, walking into the bathroom and being able to shut the door. It was just odd.
This was my view from the room. Just