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Castillo San Felipe del Morro and San Christobal

Cruising for Saints in the Caribbean Day 4: Exploring Puerto Rico’s most visited attractions, Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal. Then being denied passage onto the Carnival Victory and being stranded in San Juan!

We started with a quick breakfast before walking through Old San Juan to the first point of interest. Even the walk through the city was interesting as we saw museums, monuments, sculptures and statues.

A 40 foot (12m) totem pole erected (no pun intended) in 1992 in celebration of American Indians.

A 40 foot (12m) totem pole erected (no pun intended) in 1992 in celebration of American Indians.

Monument of Eugenio María de Hostos made in 1998 to remember "El Ciudadano de América" (The Citizen of the Americas), a teacher and influencer of Central and South America.

Monument of Eugenio María de Hostos made in 1998 to remember “El Ciudadano de América” (The Citizen of the Americas), a teacher and influencer of Central and South America.

A statue of Juan Ponce de Leon Juan Ponce de León, the conquistador and first Governor of Puerto Rico, sits quietly in this small square.

A statue of Juan Ponce de Leon Juan Ponce de León, the conquistador and first Governor of Puerto Rico, sits quietly in this small square.

Cool graffiti.

Cool graffiti.

Puerto Rico pride!

Puerto Rico pride!

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

The first historic structure we came upon is the16th-century citadel located on the north west of Old San Juan. The World Heritage castle and walls, now a national park, was built in 1539 by King Charles V of Spain to protect the city and the port.

Spanish Held off many attacks by the British, Dutch and even had a battle with the US Navy in the Spanish American War United States Navy during the 1898 Spanish-American War.

It also notable that in 1915, the US’ first shots of World War I were fired at a German supply ship from this castle. Another fun fact: Steven Spielberg’s Amistad was filmed here.

Made it to Puerto Rico’s most famous site.

Made it to Puerto Rico’s most famous site.

The rampart where you can see Garitas, domed sentry boxes, which have become a symbol of Puerto Rico.

The rampart where you can see Garitas, domed sentry boxes, which have become a symbol of Puerto Rico.

Battle worn cannon defending the city.

Battle worn cannon defending the city.

The views were spectacular.

The views were spectacular.

The castle walls are now an impressive 18 feet (5.5 m) thick! The US Navy built lighthouse can be seen in the background.

The castle walls are now an impressive 18 feet (5.5 m) thick! The US Navy built lighthouse can be seen in the background.

View of the once bloody battlefield from the wall.

View of the once bloody battlefield from the wall.

After the first castle, we made a run to return the rental cars, as we would be setting sail today. The rest of the group moved to Punto de Vista for a late lunch where we met them by taxi. From there it was a short walk to the next castle.

Castillo de San Cristóbal

Completed in 1783, San Cristobal is the largest Spanish built fort in the Americas. There is a large courtyard surrounded by rooms converted to display historical relics and uniforms. You can purchase a combined ticket that allows entrance at both castles. As for Hollywood fame, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides featured this castle.

Entrance to the San Cristobal.

Entrance to the San Cristobal.

The three flags seen from the courtyard are the US flag, the Puerto Rican flag and the Cross of Burgundy, an old Spanish Military flag.

The three flags seen from the courtyard are the US flag, the Puerto Rican flag and the Cross of Burgundy, an old Spanish Military flag.

My bro and I reenacting the Matrix.

My bro and I reenacting the Matrix.

After the extensive castle tours which I thoroughly enjoyed, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out! We were about to start the next leg of the journey… on a boat!

We encountered a small issue with finding cabs in the middle of the city, due to the bad traffic and festivities of the Three Kings. So we decided to trek it to the port with all of our luggage.

Group pic before boarding!

Group pic before boarding!

Carnival Victory

Now this is when my evening got interesting. Due to certain… “immigration issues” that I won’t go into, I was denied boarding. So I had to sort something out at the good ole’ Homeland Security office before I could join the cruise.

This was very unexpected and I felt quite defeated as I waved good-bye to my family.

I spoke with a Carnival manager on my options and he recommended I go to the Homeland Security office tomorrow morning, get everything sorted, then take a flight to St. Thomas and join the cruise there. If everything went according to plan, I’ll be reunited with the group and allowed on the passage, in less than 24 hours. Many details were uncertain and the notion of spending a week alone in Puerto Rico (after having already seen most of the sights) was not a pleasant one.

Being denied boarding, I said farewell to my family from the docks...

Being denied boarding, I said farewell to my family from the docks…

I took my bag and headed back to the hotel. I knew they had a room open so I checked-in, sprawled out on my bed and considered my options. According to the Carnival manager, I should be at the office at 6 am so that I’ll be first in line, or they might not be able to see me. That sounded a bit strange but I took his word for it.
I chatted with the hotel owner a bit before taking a walk to clear my head. The whole city was alive with music and dancing for the biggest holiday of the year, the Three Kings. I was in no mood to celebrate and headed back to the hotel to get some rest. I had an early start tomorrow.

David De Clercq

About David De Clercq

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and recently surpassed 100 countries! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!