Monday, February 18, 2013

Living The Dream : Puerto Rico...

Puerto Rico

For centuries, Taino and Arawak Indians inhabited this lush island between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Columbus claimed the island for Spain in 1493, on his second voyage to the Americas. Puerto Rico became a U.S. Commonwealth after the Spanish – American War of 1898. Puerto Rico were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917. Democratically elected governors have served since 1948, and in 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self – rule.
The island is mostly mountainous, with coastal plains in the north, ocean-abutting cliffs in the west, and sandy beaches everywhere. Puerto Rico is a modern, progressive and active vacation spot with the real charm and hospitality of the Caribbean.
In the Eastern Puerto Rico you will find the largest rain forest in the US Forest Service system, lots of sailing and plenty of golf. In the South, there is the Pearl of the South, Ponce, the second largest city of Puerto Rico. The north shore features the largest radio telescope in the world and the dramatic ,,Parque de las Cavernas’’, and the Central area of Puerto Rico includes the mountains, forests and rivers that help make Puerto Rico a unique ecological resource in the Caribbean.
Hotels in Puerto Rico
San Juan
San Juan, the capital, is a lovely mix of old and new. The main population center of Puerto Rico is  the Metropolitan San Juan. Metro San Juan includes the cities  of Juan, Bayamor,Carolina, Catano, Guayanbo and Trujillo Alto. In Metro San Juan you will find every service and activity you would expect to find in a world-class vacation destination.
Morro Castle Old San Juan
Visitors enjoy touring historic Old San Juan and also enjoying shopping, dining, and other amenities in the city’s modern districts. Old San Juan is characteristic by the fortress of San Felipe one of the best preserved Spanish fortifications in the New World. Sited at the entrance to San Juan Bay to protect the city from sea attacks and serve as the gateway to  the New Spain. It is erected on three levels, with a 20 feet thick walls that reach a height of 140 feet.  At the entrance of the bay is the Gate of San Juan, one of the few remaining original entrances in the city wall. Visitor can easily plot its own course through this historic area, simply by taking one of the free trolleys to get an overview of the city.
Starting at La Casita, within walking distance is the waterfront Riviera with the cruise ship docks and Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel. Walking up are located the La Princesa fountain Casa Blanka, El Morro, San Juan Cathedral, La Fortaleza and La Casita, one of the most representing must-see sight stations that have marked the long San Juan history. Using a map that can be bought in the San Juan city center is advisable and can easily serve the suggestions we made in order to maximize the travel experience and see the most of it.
Sheraton Old San Juan
$$$$ Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel is located on the waterfront in the historic Old San Juan. The Caribbean’s finest example of art-deco architecture with a rooftop pool & health club, thrilling online casino and 12634 sq ft of meeting space. Starwood hotel  fully recommended by: NY Times, Fodors and Frommers. Leading hospitality combined with comfortable surrounding situated in the heart of the historic Old San Juan.

Caribe Hilton Hotel
$$$$ Caribe Hilton Hotel  is an oceanfront resort on 17 acres of lush tropical gardens with exceptional facilities, oceanfront pools, whirlpools, tenis courts, secluded beach, health club and spa. Exceptional  and impressive views of the ocean and hotel beautiful gardens from each of the guest room balconies.

Intercontinental Hotel
$$$$ Intercontinental San Juan Resort & Casino is a newly renovated deluxe oceanfront business resort 2 miles away from the International San Juan Airport. Hotel has a bright and inviting open air concept, comfortable rooms, 5 restaurants including Momoyama and Passagio and 24 /7 operating fitness center.


Toa Alta
Founded in 1751, Toa Alta is one of the oldest towns of Puerto Rico. The construction of the San Fernando Rey church (in the plaza) started one year later in 1752. The Puerto Rico Cultural center lists this church as a historical site. The name ,,Toa Alta’’ comes from the name of the valley:,, Thoa’’.
The beauty of this area has inspired major contributors to Puerto Rico’s culture and history, including the novelist Abelardo Alfaro and the musician Tomas Rivera.
Plaza Recreo in Toa Lata is famous by the legendary ,,Arbol Bala tree’’, characteristic by its beautiful flowers that look like a shell (in red, yellow and white color) and its cannonball fruits.
Dorado
San Antonio de Dorado was established as a town, for the first time, by the governor of Puerto Rico, Don Santiago de MendezVigoin 1842.
 Known as a ,,Golf players Paradise,, Hyatt Dorado Golf Resort is ranked as the fourth best golf course in the world. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Hyatt golf courses are considered to be among the top 25 courses he produced in his illustrious career.
For all non-golfers, the name Dorado, derives from the Dorado family that lived at the mouth of the Rio La Plata in the 1500’s. Another assumption regarding the name is closely related to the legend of El Dorado(the famous city of gold) and its comparison with the golden sand beaches stretching along the coast of the ocean.
Dorado city center is well known by its three remarkable life-sized statues, a Monument that presents one Spaniard, African, and one Taino member of the Puerto Rican community. This magnificent  ,, Monument of the races’’ was sculptured by Salvador Rivera, and was erected on the 500th anniversary of the Discovery of America to serve as a dramatic reminder of the cultural diverse heritage of  Puerto Rico. Other points of interest include the newly established Art Museum and its three exhibition halls with the history of Dorado including a display of Taino artifacts, and the Museum of the famous artist Marcos Alegia.
Embassy Suites
$$$$ Embassy Suites Beach & Golf Resort- Consistently rated as one of the world’s best golf resorts this beautiful hotel offers suites and apartments, gorgeous pool area right on the ocean, a gourmet dining and spa treatment facilities.


Arecibo
Founded in 1515,  Arecibo has the largest land mass of any Puerto Rican municipality. Rio Grande de Arecibo is the major river that runs into the sea just east of the town and west of the lighthouse. Arecibo is also called ,,Villa del Capitan Correa’’ in honor of the captain that repelled a 1702 British invasion. Points of historical interest include the City Hall building (constructed in 1866) and the lighthouse (built in 1898). Lighthouse is still in use and has been expanded to include a new recreational facility with a restaurant, museum, playground and beach. Without doubt the most famous point of interest inArecibois the world’s largest radio telescope. There is an observation deck right at the edge of the telescope and a new hands-on exhibit covering some interstellar science.


Ponce
Named after Juan Ponce de Leon, the island’s first governor, the city was founded in 1692 by his great-grandson. Ponce is the second largest city on the island and a major contributor to the political, social, economic, and cultural development of Puerto Rico. Ponce is known as the Pearl of the South and The Noble City because of its beautiful facades, neoclassical architecture and European touch. Ponce is strategically  located at the Cordillera Central foothills, to the west of the South Plain Coast, facing the Caribbean Sea and approximately in the center of the south coast. In the early days, this strategic location acted as a magnet for immigrants. People from England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain came to develop an international city that to this day maintains its rich African heritage. The African personality, beliefs and music add colorful flavor and rhythm to Ponce’s culture. Part of this is the ,,bomba” and ,,plena” rhythms, a combination of African and Caribbean musical influence.
Free transportation operating out  of the historic downtown Plaza includes trolley tours through the historic zone, horse & carriage rides and the Chu- chu train with tours to Paseo Tablado.
Among the things to see in Ponce, Castillo Serralles is a magnificent example of the Spanish revival architecture popular in the 1920′s. You might also want to visit the world-class Ponce Art Museum, famous for its finest collection of over 3000 European and American art pieces in the Caribbean as well as the most important Puerto Rican works. Apart from Ponce on route 123 in the direction to Adjuntas is the coffee plantation Hacienda Buena Vista, built in 1833 and restored to its original condition by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.
Holiday Inn
$$$ Holiday Inn & Tropical Casino – This beautiful hotel nestled on a top of a panoramic mountain delivers comfort combined with exquisite cuisine. Its superb location with a stunning view of the sea makes Holiday Inn easy accessible from the heart of Ponce and a real landmark of the Ponce Touristic zone. All of its rooms are equipped with modern  facilities and cable TV.