Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cerro Gordo Beach 2





Just down the road from Dorado is one of the best kept secrets: Cerro Gordo Public Beach, in Spanish Balneario Public Cerro Gordo. Literally it means a Fat Hill. Whoever named it focused on the wrong thing, don't you think? Frankly, I think the shore is more impressive than the hill.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Cerro Gordo Beach





Just beyond Dorado beautiful hotels is one of the best kept secrets near the San Juan Metropolitan area, Cerro Gordo Public Beach or Balneario.
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Viscaya Flooring Hodgepodge





Terracota, marble, rustic cement, and hardwood floors, not to mention rugs and tapestries of all kinds. What do you think?
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Viscaya Sightseeing In Miami





Recently, I had a chance to visit the Viscaya Museum in Miami with my son Juan. Frankly, if there had been more harmony in the decoration I think I would have liked it more. It seemed as if the owner, Mr. Deerling, had decided to make his home a testament to ostentation and a place to warehouse his wealth in costly investments of tapestry and ornaments. The house had lovely floors in most part, even though there were many contrasts. Some of the rooms were named for a particular era from which most of the articles came. Of all the rooms in the house, my favorite was the breakfast upstairs room which was decorated with a Chinese motif which evoked one's use of imagination of a far away land. Could this man have been considered a bit eccentric? The decoration of his house was elaborate to an excess, but his own room was very simple. In his room he had a simple painting of the Madonna and Jesus as a baby, but the rest of the house was void of anything religious.

Outside Mr. Deerling had a concrete galleon built for parties which overlooked the bay. The guests were tranported to the galleon which was 60 feet away by gondola which provided a romantic touch. The statues were not to my liking though, but this was his house and not mine. Aside from some groteque statues, the gardens on the contrary were light, well designed, and full of fountains. If you are a bit eclectic and like to see how the rich and famous squander, I mean invest their money this might be the place for you.
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Day Two: Ride around the Island

Mom has a phrase," Nadie se pierde en Puerto Rico," which means we don't need to be scared there are lots of nice people in PR and if we get on the wrong road we can always find our way out or some nice person will point the way. This was her way of reassuring us when we were little and went on an adventure with her.

So here we are thinking about going around the island. Well half of it. I want to go back to Caguas and take the expressway up the mountains, La Cordillera Central, see the statue of the Jibaro and then down to steaming Ponce. I am undecided if to make it a day in Ponce or go on to Mayaguez. I think I will make it a day in Ponce and then go down to the Playa de Ponce to get a seafood lunch. First we have to go up to La Cruceta, see El Castillo Serralles or walk its gardens, then down to the picturesque Fire Station and get our pictures taken with the Lions or Leones de Ponce. I wonder if they still have the free carriage rides? Then right there in town they have that cute and very reasonable souvenir shop.

Next we will get back on the road, catch a bite to eat and head towards Boqueron. Will it be Boqueron or Guanica. Dios mio? Guanica...Que bello es Puerto Rico! We will see the Caribbean as we wind down to Caña Gorda beach in Guanica, another rocky shore with spectacular waves on the bay and one of the most tranquil beaches of which I know. On the right I will point out EL Bosque Seco with its huge cacti, proving that a tiny island can also be diverse in having a desert as well as a Rain forest. They also offer rides to Gilligan's Island for the day. I hope we have our bathing suits on because once we see the Caribbean that is what we will want to do: jump in! Guanica, la playa de ensueño. I hope we can a stay the night right there and go to the Phosphorescent Bay in Lajas. Then relax. Tomorrow the west: San German, Mayaguez, Arecibo and the Camuy Caverns.

Day One, Part Two: My Favorite Places in Puerto Rico

Drive through and park at my Alma Mater, The University of Puerto Rico. See the ornate Watch Tower, walk down the lane which is lined with tall Royal Palms and wonder why more of our main highways are not lined with them or Flamboyanes. Next go get some stickers in the bookstore and a T-Shirt.

On to the Botanical Gardens, right there on the Rio Piedras to Caguas Road, around Guadacanal street. That is where all the orquids came from that decorated every table at my wedding. Something so extravagant which cost me nothing, yet added so much elegance so when my family left with the flower arrangement at the end of the wedding which was the custom then, they were quite pleased. Oh that is right I am writing about the tour.

Next we will get on the Caguas Road until we get to the Caguas expressway and head towards Caguas, then to Humacao, and on to Maunabo. Perhaps on the way I can point out the sleeping Princess (there seem to be many sleeping giants in our mountains, we just have to look for them), the giant boulders of Las Piedras, and the back road to El Yunque, and the road that leads to Humacao and Palmas del Mar. Once we make route 53, we make a left to go up Route 901 which lead through Yabucoa with one of Puerto Rico's most daring scenic routes on the island (The other two lovely scenic routes are near or on a trip to Mayaguez). As we go up the mountains, right in Yabucoa we will stop to stretch our legs and sip a pina colada as we view the breathtaking view of the coast line and see the Maunabo Light House on the very tip. We might ride down to the beach and walk the shoreline once we get to the apartment and unload our things. Then we will locate a hammock and relax.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day One: Around Old San Juan

If I were to take my friends around the island I would start with Old San Juan. There is so much to do there. What would I do and where would I go.

Day one:

First I would start with a day in Old San Juan. The city has so much to offer, but some of the things I would point out is the amount of churches in the Old City, the fact that it is surrounded by walls and has a rich heritage. So I would drive in through San Cristobal Castle, see the City walls in the north which is next to La Perla, and low income community that has the best sea side location in the city other than El Morro. If you compare El Morro to the fortification in St Augustine, it is at least 18 times larger and has 3 different levels. There is also an underground tunnel between both fortifications which is now damaged and closed to the public. We have garitas or sentinel posts that have a little ball on the top which are typical of PR. In fact a stamp issued by the US postal service has a painting of a garita. Guards would stand watch all night and there is one particular garita, located at the bottom of a cliff which has its own mysterious yet romantic legend, too. The city is full of quaint shops, good jewelry stores, and items from other countries, particularly Spain which still has close ties to Puerto Rico; so you might want to come ready to buy some souvenir. We could visit El Morro or San Cristobal, so make your pick.

On our way to La Capilla del Cristo, you might want to get an ice cream at Ben and Jerry's and I would point out, La Capilla de San Jose and the San Juan Cathedral, which we could step into and perhaps say a prayer for a safe trip around the island. Then down to La Puerta de San Juan, a beautiful shaded street and and buy a limber, a homemade ice fruit flavored treat to cool off with. Next we would arrive at La Capilla del Cristo and tell you the story about the two horse racers.
Around the corner we would find the sculpture called Las Mil Virgenes. This last story is a true story of God's goodness and sovereignty in protecting the Old City from a British invasion. Then down to shops and move our car to La Princesa parking and then walk to EL Paseo de la Princesa. La Princesa used to be jail during Spain's "colonial," times but the long walk hosts artisans on the weekends.

As we drive out of the city we would see the Capital building and
El Parque Munoz Rivera where I would point out that this latter one was my favorite memories of San Juan because of its huge sidewalks and gardens overlooking San Juan's rocky shore.

In Old San Juan there are three places to eat that I would recommend: Barrachina with sandwiches and sodas and /or La Bombonera or La Mallorquina, two well known bakery-coffee and sandwich shops. Both have fresh cafe con leche or Posillos.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spirit Airlines: The Strike is Over!!!!

Yayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Friends are coming to town!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spirit Airlines Strike

My opinion and I will keep it short. To Spirit Airlines owners: Pay your people right. The customers may enjoy cheaper fares but not on the backs of the pilots who we trust to get us there. Treat your people right.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marco's Pizza

New Pizzeria around the Block

Last week I got a coupon to this new pizza place down the street. With the name Marco's Pizza, frankly I thought it was a local Mom and Pop shop and I hoped that this Mom and Pop would be from New York City where you get the best pizzas in the world. Well, it wasn’t a Mom and Pop place, but I wasn’t disappointed either. According to the area manager, Patricia Johnson, who happened to be there that day, Marco Pizza began in 1978 in New Jersey. New Jersey is close enough to New York if you ask me.

So did I like it? Well if I am writing about it after a week of going there, yes! This isn’t a paid ad either. Simply, I liked two particular things about it. First they have quite a selection which I will not get into now but I can direct you to their website. Within that selection was the fact I had a coupon for a large pizza with 5 toppings for $9.99. Astonishing! If it had been a mediocre pizzeria that would have meant nothing but the pizza dough is made on location and all the ingredients are fresh. So I got one with black olives, ham, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms. It was delicious! Yes, I know you must be saying that those were six ingredients. So it was, and the people there are friendly and they aim to please especially if you are a first time customer.

Will I go back or make another order? I would say yes, since they have two other pizzas that look intriguing. There is one with baked tomatoes with a white sauce and another with Feta cheese. So many choices but I have got to pace myself since it is pizza after all, but I have to check these others out one by one.