Day two in Puerto Rico

Written by Sam Van den Haute aka CheckOutSam

Because it was National Park Week in Puerto Rico, all the forts, palaces and national parks opened for free today. So I saved $10, because normally the entrance costs $5 each. Good start of the day!

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Hi, I'm Sam, the blogger behind CheckOutSam!

Sam Van den Haute has been a full-time world traveler for ten years and has therefore gained a lot of travel and lifestyle inspiration on all continents. Do you still have questions after reading this blog? Ask them in the comments section or send me a message at [email protected] and I'll be happy to help you wherever I can!

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Viewpoint from the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro.

Viewpoint from the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro.

I already saw the castle from the outside yesterday, but from the inside it was much more appealing.
First I went to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. A gigantic castle that once served to repel pirates and other bad boys from San Juan.
The fort is located on the tip of the island on which the original San Juan (old San Juan) was built and is therefore surrounded by water on three sides.

Right across the castle, on the other side of the water, you can see another very small fort. Both forts did great protecting the city, since they both shot huge canon balls at enemy boats trying to plunder the city.

The inside of the fort was gorgeous and much bigger than expected. A large part of the fort went deep down and from the entrance it was not possible to see this. After heading down and back up, taking loads of selfies and enjoying the sloshing sea and the cool breeze, I stepped on to the next fort. The Castillo de San Cristobal.

This castle was very similar to the San Felipe del Morro fortress, but also very different. The style might have been the same, the view and location were totally different and certainly as beautiful as the other castle.

Due to the size of these castles I was soon lost for several hours. Since it wasn’t getting dark for a couple more hours, I wandered around in the cute streets of San Juan a little longer.

The cozy squares, restaurants and friendly locals contribute to a lovely atmosphere in this beautiful capital. After a tasty ice cream, I decided to return to the hostel. I still needed to look up what I was going to do tomorrow, and the only way to do anything outside of San Juan was by booking a tour.

In the hostel I noticed a couple of flyers with tour information, so I picked them up and started googling some reviews and pictures. Most of them were very expensive, and overcrowded based on the photos.

One of them, Cumbo tours, did seem interesting though.

Through Facebook I contacted this company and soon I got response.

The owner -Genesis- was a guide who arranged private or shared tours to various places in Puerto Rico and honestly not that expensive…

Walking down the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro to see more of the castle.

Walking down the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro to see more of the castle.

On her Facebook page, I saw a lot of beautiful pictures of places I had not seen before in guide books or travel websites. So I asked her if it was possible to let me join another group that might go to one of these spots.

She told me that there were no other people with a booking at this time, but she could arrange to go to the rain forest (El Yunque – very known by tourists) and the Limestone Caves. The latter seemed very nice and not very known by tourists.

For $150 she could drive me around all day. Although this was not very cheap, I decided to go anyway. If you know that a single day trip to the El Yunque rainforest already costs $ 70 to $ 90 I didn’t think this was that much more expensive… Especially since it is a private tour guided by a local!

Moreover, she promised me that if there would be another guest, she would reduce the price to $80 a person.

In the evening, Genesis sent me a message asking if I was doing something tonight. Otherwise, she would take me to some nice parties; it was Thursday after all! And Thursday is student night!

Although I was tired, I could not refuse. A few hours later she arrived to pick me and some guys up.

She only said two full sentences, and I already liked her! Genesis had great humor and had about hundred or so laughs to accompany her jokes.

From her bag she pulled a large bottle of tequila and some homemade banana bread. At the sight of this feast, the banana bread was then gobbled up in no time by all the people from the hostel, during which Genesis tried to protect the tequila bottle as well as she could.

She poured one shot after another, and soon I started to get tipsy; ready to go!

The cute girl felt like family right away! She was so social and funny! I only knew her for a couple of minutes but it felt like she was one of my best friends since… Forever!

Once we arrived (after dropping off one of the guys from the hostel since he could clearly not handle the tequila…) we arrived at the student neighbourhood of San Juan.
The whole street was crowded with locals, swaying their hips to the upbeat reggaeton, salsa and merengue music.
Many beers and other alcoholic beverages later it was already five o’clock in the morning. Time to leave.

Me and Genesis decided to postpone the tour until the next day, otherwise we would’ve probably not been able to enjoy our tour together as much…

Around six in the morning, I finally crawled into my lovely bed.

What is it with the Caribbean? Every day you have to party here, it seems!

The view from the other castle; the castillo de San Cristobal.

The view from the other castle; the castillo de San Cristobal.

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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