Our kids are water babies. And as they slid down the slide one last time we could hear the giggles, the gasp for air and then, "again." We were not moving far from the hotel today. San Juan Marriott Resort won them over, each and every slide.
Indian deliciousness in San Juan
After we dropped Anna & Leo off at the car rental shop we headed to Mumbai, a highly recommended Indian restaurant in the middle of San Juan. We have had Indian food just once since leaving Penang in October last year and it was rather average. But this restaurant was delicious. We absolutely loved it. It wasn’t “Penang prices”, that’s for sure, but the quality and taste was spot on.
Anna & Leo had joined us for lunch and we gave our final hugs and kisses and parted ways. We enjoyed 3 days of discovering Puerto Rico with them and were sad to see them go.
San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
We weren’t far from our next destination, the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino for our final 2 nights in Puerto Rico. It wasn’t long before I was dropping off the bags and headed into the hotel carpark, which charges $16 per day, a little steep, but least the car was safe and secure.
The check-in was quick and efficient and soon we were in the lift headed to our room on the 10th floor. It was a small hotel room with a very large king bed. They later brought a convenient rollaway bed for the kids to sleep on.
Through the sliding door and out on the balcony were the most gorgeous views. We were right on the ocean, the beach was literally just a few steps away and it was exquisite.
My favourite part of hotels has to be the shower and this one was a winner. I love those big round rain showerheads… and steaming hot water. The beautiful aromatherapy bathroom shampoos and shower gels made the experience complete. They smelled delightful.
We had several knocks on the door as we were settling in. Luggage, the rollaway bed and then room service brought in a bottle red wine with cheese and crackers, plus cookies and juice for the kids. It was just what we needed after a big lunch and made the perfect light dinner.
Around 7pm we headed downstairs to the pool, which was warm, however the hot tub was perfect and I spent the majority of my time in there meeting some fellow guests.
“Operation Wear-the-kids-out” was a success and it didn’t take long for both of them to fall fast asleep once we returned to the room.
Our Last Full Day in San Juan
We had decided to not do much on this day and it was wonderful. We had a late breakfast at Denny’s, which was an easy walk from the Marriott and passed several other cafés and restaurants that all looked like great eats.
Coincidentally we passed an iPhone fix shop, which was exactly what we needed and had the home button on Josh’s iPhone fixed in 45 minutes for $35.
Our mad dash back to the hotel through a sudden downpour had us back in our room drying off. We watched from the balcony as the hotel employees were racing through the wind and rain to close up umbrellas before they flew off down the beach.
Finally the rain stopped and we went down to the pool. The best part about the Marriott has to be the pool area and the waterslide. The kids went on it over and over again.
Around the pool the hotel had activities going on throughout the day and Mia & I were looking forward to cookie decorating at 2pm.
Josh went back to the room to give Caius a nap and Mia & I grabbed lunch across the road for Josh at Buns Burgers (delicious!) before running back for cookie decorating. Unfortunately it had been cancelled and they just had cookies available for eating. Mia was a bit sad, but still enjoyed her share of cookies to make up for it.
Once everyone was asleep I decided to get my own lunch and regrettably chose Mona’s Tex Mex behind Buns, which was positively awful, overpriced and an unpleasant experience overall.
I spent the afternoon writing and posting new posts for you all while the rest of the family slept.
Finally when the crew were awake we decided to use the car that had been sitting in the parking lot and visited an American institution that had been on the cable ads all afternoon – Chuck E Cheese.
Chuck E Cheese
On our way to dinner a man yelled at us as we were driving pointing at our tyre. Sure enough after I pulled over we noticed the car had a complete flat. The warning light had been on the whole trip, however we had simply pumped it up. There was no pumping this time, it was completely flat.
Josh started the process to change the tyre while 2 hungry toddlers ran around beside the busy road. 1 minute into the process a passerby stopped and asked if he could help and proceeded to replace the tyre for us. What an angel! Afterwards he smiled, shook our hands and went on his way.
Finally at 7pm we were back on the road with a half hour journey ahead of us at a reduced speed of 50miles/hour (replacement tyre speed limit) to Carolina.
We have video arcades back in Australia called Timezone. Chuck E Cheese is like this, except with a food facet. For $32 we got a large pizza, 4 soft drinks and 50 tokens. The games and rides within the building were 1 token each. There was also a small playground area with a slide and a toddler-friendly zone.
Our kids have only ever been in an arcade pretend playing and generally have a good time, but now with the rides moving and the games humming they were having an even better time. Some of the games also offered tickets as prizes which Mia loved, as it reminded her of her online education system, ABCMouse.com.
Half way through we stopped for our freshly made pizza before finishing off more fun and games. I was pretty addicted to “Deal or No Deal” while the kids enjoyed the smashing-bug-heads games.
Finally the tokens ran out and the kids traded in their tickets for their bouncy balls and pink plastic rings before we drove back to the hotel. It was actually a lot more fun than we had expected and look forward to finding another Chuck E Cheese on our travels.
Sometime during the night the hotel kindly placed our invoice under the door with an option for an Express Checkout. While we didn’t use that form we still found check out surprisingly fast and easy.
There had been a lot of confusion with the Internet since it had been organized as complimentary with the room, but we had to press a purchase button each day to get a 24hr Internet package. However at the checkout we were told they finalise the charges at checkout and the items were removed.
The lady at checkout was very pleasant and polite and finalized everything with great speed.
We sadly said goodbye to the San Juan Marriott Resort, hopped in our car and headed to the nearest McDonalds for breakfast.
Returning Payless Car Hire
After McDonalds, we filled the car with fuel and returned our car. Since we picked it up at 11:30am we were to return it by 11am. There was no worries about the tyre, however they wanted to charge us $25 for excess sand in the car.
We told them we did not want to pay that and shook out all the mats ourselves. I told them I’d even go vacuum it for them if they wanted. They said it was fine, but for next time to be aware you cannot have that much sand.
The return took much less time than the pickup and soon we were in the shuttle to the airport.
Leaving Puerto Rico
We arrived at the airport over 4 hours early, which was a complete bummer since we were catching a domestic flight so only needed 2 hours, but it saved us a bit of money to return the car ourselves instead of paying for taxis.
We checked in one bag for $25 with Delta and decided last-minute to take the rest on board, which was free.
In our haste we forgot that one of the carry-ons was filled with our toiletry items, shampoo, and my pink razor. We nervously placed our bags on the x-ray machine and, as predicted, had the bags pulled aside and inspected.
The bag with the toiletries and razor was checked, stickered and closed - no problems. The bag with 3 unopened water bottles had them removed, binned and allowed to carry on.
What a surprise! What is the basis of all this nonsense? I have to remove my shoes, laptops, have my bottles of water tossed in the bin, but my shampoo and conditioners and razors are allowed through. I have no idea what the security is doing, but US airport security has to be the biggest joke and the bane of my travelling existence.
Thankfully this time Puerto Rico rather surprised me and we didn't need to go back and check another bag.
With over 3 hours left we parked ourselves near a power point and pulled out the gadgets. I had put new movies on the kid’s iPad so they were happy to be watching movies, while Josh and I polished off some more blog posts. You can read how our Delta flight to Atlanta, then New Orleans went in our next post!