San Juan City Tour and flight to O’Hare

May 10, 2014

The last day of the adventure has arrived. We opted to purchase a post-cruise excursion from Royal Caribbean with an airport transfer, so we were told to leave our bags outside our room the night before and were given a time to disembark. Our luggage would be taken to the airport after our tour and we could pick it up and check-in for our flight. We chose the El Yunque rain forest tour but, unfortunately, there was too much rain and we got word as we were driving to the rain forest that the bridge at the forest entrance was flooded and the tour group before ours had gotten stuck. This was a bit of a disappointment, but the tour guides were really good and gave us a city tour instead, including free admission to San Juan’s two forts; Castillo San Cristóbal and San Felipe del Morro Fortress.

These two forts are both National Historic Sites and have a lot of history, built in the 18th and 16th centuries, respectively. The forts are both located right on the water in Old San Juan, and their location and height – functionally necessary for strong defenses – have become wonderful lookout points to see the city and the surrounding natural environment. If you are interested in history then I couldn’t recommend visiting these two forts more. Even if you aren’t a huge history buff the sights around the forts make them excellent places to visit anyways.

After our tour of the forts and a quick lunch it was off to the airport. One thing that we were not familiar with was the agricultural inspection handled by the USDA. If you only have carry on luggage you can skip this checkpoint, so there was an open path that completely avoided the checkpoint. We did not see any signs and were not familiar with the process so we just went past the checkpoint with our luggage and went to the ticketing agents to get our boarding passes and drop off our bags. We waited in line and got to the counter just to be told that the inspection process was required since we were checking bags and we had to go back to the USDA checkpoint. Thankfully the process was extremely quick and we got our bags certified and signed off on in just a few minutes, then it was back to get our bags checked in for the flight.

We flew JetBlue back home to Chicago; it was still a non-stop flight although the return trip took about 45 minutes longer than the trip down. The adventure was over, but it instilled in us a travel lust that could not, would not, be sated, and we immediately started planning our next cruise.

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