A Short Caribbean Cruise

Last Fall we finished up our East Coast trip with a one week cruise in the Caribbean.  First stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico – new territory for us!  San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521.  Puerto Rico means Rich Port. 

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We took a ship tour to the Castillo San Felipe del Moro, the oldest Spanish fort in the New World.  El Moro, “the promontory”, was built on the north-western most point of the islet of Old San Juan.  The fortification was designed to guard the entrance to San Juan Bay.  In 1983, the citadel was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

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These dome-covered sentry boxes are known as garitas.  They have become a cultural symbol of Puerto Rico.

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The citadel and its surrounding walls were begun in 1539 on orders of King Charles V of Spain.

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There were Iguanas peeking out of the wall nooks!

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The three flags are a Spanish military flag, the Puerto Rican flag and the United States flag.

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More structures were added over the next 400 years to keep up with military technologies.  The 6 foot thick walls were augmented to 18 feet thick by the end of the 18th century.   Today the citadel rises 145 feet above sea level and has 6 levels.  The El Moro is over 70 acres.

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The Lighthouse of the Castillo was built on top of the citadel in 1843.  It was destroyed by the United States in a bombardment of the city in 1898 during the Spanish American War.  The USA took possession of Puerto Rico after the war.  The bombed lighthouse was replaced with the current lighthouse in 1908 by the U.S. military. 

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Views back to Old San Juan…. 

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We continued our tour in the town…

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The Ballaja Barracks were built between 1854 and 1864 for Spanish troops and their families.  Its interior “patio” is an example of 19th century Spanish architecture. 

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During World War II, the barracks were used as a military hospital.  Today the Museo de Las Americas is located on the second floor.   It has three permanent collections: African Heritage, the Indian in America, and Popular Arts in America.

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Our guide looked a little like Ricardo Alagria, the first director of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

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The firsts floor of the Barracks houses a library along with music and dancing  schools.

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This Totem pole, in the Plaza del Quinto Centenario, commemorated Columbus’ discovery of the New World.

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In the Plaza de San Jose there is a bronze statue of Ponce de Leon.  It was made out of British cannons captured during a failed British attack in 1797. 

Ponce de Leon was the first governor of Puerto Rico.  His tomb is also in Old San Juan.  He died after being injured by a poisoned arrow after he landed in Florida.   So much for the fountain of youth!

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The streets of Old San Juan are paved with adoquines, a blue-gray stone originally used as ballast on Spanish ships.

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The Chapel of Christ the Savior was built in the mid 1700s along the Old San Juan city wall. 

In 1680, Governor Enrique Enriquez de Sotomayor began constructing walls to surround San Juan.  They took 48 years to build. 

Here’s a view of the wall with the cruise ships in the distance.

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The park next door is popular because it is home to a million pigeons!  I was not interested in standing among them like this woman.

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The Plaza de Armas is in front of City Hall.  The Four Season’s Fountain is the central feature. 

This statue is Spring.

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This little pup was keeping watch at one of the shops.

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This sidewalk café was inviting with its unique tables and chairs.

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But it was over 90 degrees with 100% humidity!  Although we wanted to visit longer, we were done for the day and headed back to the ship.  Ours is the one behind this fancy paint job.

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So long San Juan.

The next stop was to be Turks and Caicos but the winds were too high to get in to the port.

So, off to St Maarten/St Martin.  Half of this island is Dutch and half is French.

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We vacationed here over 30 years ago but nothing looked familiar!

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We took a bus to see the French side of the Island and the little town of Marigot.

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We were told about a French bakery-cafe called Le Divin.  A perfect break.  

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There was a colorful open-air market.

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DSC06466 C (450x600)  It was a short, but fun, visit!

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Posted in Caribbean, Puerto Rico, St Maartin | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A Visit to Annapolis & Baltimore, Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland is one of the oldest cities in the country and was the first peacetime capital of the United States. 

We had an afternoon to wander its pretty streets.

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The Alex Haley Memorial is on the City Dock.  Haley traced his roots back to Kunta Kinte’s arrival here at the Port of Annapolis.

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We walked through the Naval Academy grounds.

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This is the Navy’s mascot, Billy.

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Captain’s Row

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Bancroft Hall is the largest dormitory in the world.  The only dorm on the campus, it is home to 4,000 midshipmen.

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U.S. Naval Academy Chapel

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We had time to take a tour of one colonial home.  We chose the Hammond-Harwood House.

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This house was built in 1774, as a five-part house.  The main body of the house is a connected by “hyphens” to the wings.  It has been a museum since 1940.  We were the only tourists on our docent led tour.

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The  back of the house looks much the same as the front.

They gave us postcards of some of the rooms. 

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Hammond-Harwood House CW Peale of Hester Chase M    This is Hester Baldwin Chase painted by Charles Willson Peale in 1789.  Her husband bought the house for his daughter in 1811.

I got pics of this pretty desk.

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Across the street is the Chase Lloyd House.  It was built in 1769 by a signer of the Declaration of Independence. 

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A little parade of midshipmen.

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The Maryland State House is topped by the largest wooden dome constructed without nails in the United States.

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St Anne’s Episcopal Church was built in 1858

Next we spent a day in Baltimore.

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The waterfront of the inner harbor is the focal point of the city.

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The USS Constellation is docked here.  It is the last all-sail ship built by the US Navy and the only vessel still afloat that saw active service during the Civil War.

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Several other historic ships are in the Baltimore Harbor.

The USS Torsk, a submarine, sank two Japanese frigates in 1945.  She made over 10,000 dives during her service.

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The Lightship 116 Chesapeake was commissioned in 1930.

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The USCGC Taney, launched in 1936, is the last surviving warship afloat today from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Built in 1855, the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is the oldest screw-pile lighthouse in Maryland.  It was located in the Chesapeake Bay before it was replaced and relocated to the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  A screw-pile lighthouse is one which stands on piles that are screwed into sandy or muddy sea or river bottoms.  (Thanks Wikipedia.)

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We had lunch in Little Italy, a neighborhood near the Harbor.

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The Pratt Street Power Plant is a repurposed power plant located along the Harbor.  Built in the early 1900s, it closed in 1973.  It now houses several restaurants and shops.

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This is the same “Phillips” that I mentioned in my last post about Cambridge, MD.

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And so ends our east coast visit where American history can be found around almost any corner! 

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Posted in Maryland, United States | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments