17, 2007

The Knight News

A river running along the walking trail in the Puerto Rican Rainforest that leads to a giant waterfall.

Step away from the mundane Caribbean vacation with a visit to Puerto Rico and have a little culture and adventure with your paradise.
by Catherine Stolfi Travel Editor
While floating in the warm water at Luquillo Beach reflecting on my morning trek through the Puerto Rican rainforest, the hot sun above me with the white sand on the shore, I started to realize how remarkable this vacation was becoming. As it was mid-January, I couldn’t help but wonder how my friends and family were getting along in the snow and frost back home in New York City. My boyfriend and I understood how fortunate we were, and an appreciation for the moment of bliss came upon us. The next day, standing at the highest point of Fort San Cristobal, now a museum, casting my eyes over the entire northern half of the island, watching the water break against the shore 50 feet below and having over my right shoulder the entire city of old San Juan to gaze over, made me realize the real beauty of this country. I was at that moment so contented I hadn’t given into another monotonous Caribbean vacation of sitting on the beach all day with only the options of doing various water sports. Puerto Rico is the best of both worlds, especially being from New York City; we New Yorkers need a little culture with our paradise. interesting sights/food/people to titillate your senses. The most popular destination in Puerto Rico is Old San

Puerto Rico

Street of Old San Juan. a free tour and cheaply priced bottled Bacardi Rum). The sights and sounds of Puerto Rico will always be in my mind until I return again: the dual sights of city and tropical paradise and the sound of the distinct call of the native coqui frog. There are three ways to go when it comes to dining in Puerto Rico: the hotel restaurants, the recognizable chains or the authentic local cuisine. I think it’s good to delve a little into all three for money saving. When visiting Old San Juan, some great authentic Puerto Rican cuisine can be found at Casa Borinquen, El Buen Samaritano and La Bombonera. And there is no shame in taking advantage of the free food and drinks at the hotel casinos.

Where to Stay

Underneath a waterfall in the Puerto Rican Rainforest. Located in the Caribbean, not only is it just a short plane ride away, 2 ½ hours, from the northeast, but it’s also a completely different cultural environment with so many new and Juan. Most famously known for its year round festivities and, more importantly, its rum, you can take a 20-minute ferry ride to the Bacardi Distillery across San Juan Bay (free samples after

I used Expedia.com to find my hotel, Embassy Suites Hotel & Casino, but you can stay at the various amazing yet affordable hotels in the area. Most people like to stay at a hotel along the main strip in San Juan, Ashford Ave., but the hotels outside of this area further east, are much cheaper. Puerto de Tierra, Condado, Miramar, Santurce, Ocean Park or Isla Verde are all towns to seek out along the northern coast within San Juan. And, keep in mind, you can always walk over to the grand hotels from your own, such as the El San Juan Hotel & Casino, The InterContinental Hotel & Casino or the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Spa & Casino for massive gaming and innumerable restaurants. Some inexpensive and moderately priced hotels include Hampton Inn or Howard Johnson Hotel located in Isla Verde, San Juan; Best Western Hotel Pierre or the Comfort Inn located Condado, San Juan; Numero 1 Guesthouse or Oceana Beach Inn located in Ocean Park, San Juan


Did I mention casinos? Well, besides a night of gambling, you can go to a number of clubs, such as Brava, or bars, such as Palm Court, both located in El San Juan hotel in Isla Verde, San Juan.


You may not want to stay out too late, though; there are a number of great things to do during any given day in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s national rainforest, El Yunque, is a 45-minute drive away. This lush rainforest, that is one of the best preserved in the U.S. National Forest Service System, is a great way indulge in the tropical aspects of the island, with various tropical plants and birds not found anywhere else in the world. The best way to see the rainforest is on a guided tour. The tour guides are knowledgeable (actually receiving Puerto Rican rainforest certificates) and friendly, in my personal experience. Simply book through your hotel, as many hotels work directly with the tour guides. The cost for a guided tour, which includes transportation, can range, but I went for $75 for each person, which is well worth the money. (Taking a cab or rent-a-car from San Jaun to the rainforest is that price alone). Also, ask how many people the guide is taking on the day you want to go. You don’t want to pay $75 to be struggling to hear your guide over a large party of people. The Radio Telescope, Observatorio de Arecibo, is the biggest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world (featured in the movie Contact with Jodie Foster). It is used for government and private research projects, such as SETI, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.


View of Old San Juan shore taken atop Fort Cristobal.

Oct. 17, 2007

The Knight News

Luquillo Beach, east of San Juan away from the towering hotels. On the same day, you can also visit the nearby Rio Camuy Caves, which contains the thirdlargest underground river in the world. You take a tour of the Cristobal fired some of the first shots from its cannons for the Spanish-American War. 2) The city walls are also a huge spectacle to see, built in 1630 and surrounding all of San There are many amazing beaches in San Juan, some of the best include Condado Beach and Isla Verde Beach. These are known for their convenience as they are close to the tourist strip. If you’re

Upcoming Festivities Calendar in San Juan
Planning to go during the January winter session? There is Three King’s Day on Jan. 6, including festivals, music and craft exhibitions, and San Sebastian Street Festival in mid-January, with nightly celebrations with music, processions and crafts.

Caribbean destinations) now require a passport. Even though PR is a part of the United States in many ways, they are still an independent country. And of course, there are many other strict travel rules in and out of the U.S. that can be found online. Money isn’t a problem, though, because American dollars are accepted there! Another thing to note is the age requirements: 21 to gamble but 18 to drink! Helpful Web sites for tourists planning a vacation to Puerto Rico include www.gotopuertorico.com or www.welcometopuertorico.com. You can also visit the Puerto Rico Tourism Company in NYC at 666 Fifth

Important Info for Your Trip
You now need a passport to visit Puerto Rico! When I had taken my trip there were no requirements for a passport to get back into the country, just a valid ID, but the rules were changed March of 2006. American travelers to Puerto Rico (and other

Waterfall along trail in the Puerto Rican Rainforest.

Aerial view of Luquillo, located east of San Juan. site including a 45-minute walk through the inside of the cave system. Both are located about an hour and a half west of San Juan. Old San Juan: 1) Fort Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, built in 1540, and Fort San Cristobal, built in 1634, are now museums and are “must sees” (and literally “can’t misses” because of their sheer size) in Old San Juan. Several battles have taken place here, both repeatedly attacked by the English and the Dutch, and San Juan (again, literally can’t miss it); they were built to protect against European invaders and Caribbean pirates. 3) La Casita, a visitor information center, can give you all the info on the many other museums and historical sights. It’s located on Pier 1 in the heart of Old San Juan. Also go for the FREE mini-bottle rum samples for tourists (even get a mixed drink made for you free at their mini bar). willing to go a little further to get away from the towering hotels, you can go to Coco Beach or Luquillo Beach just east of San Juan. For a most unique beach experience, spend the night at Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques, a small island off the east coast. You can swim in glowing waters lit by dinoflagellates, tiny bioluminescent organisms that glow when “disturbed.” It is a truly offbeat travel experience.

Ave. To create vacation packages

Oct. 17, 2007

The Knight News

by Catherine Stolfi Travel Editor

Why They Are Great For Students
the choice of up to eight dining restaurants at each different resort. Another great plus to these all-inclusive chains that not every hotel provides is a hurricane guarantee. Hotels like Sandals

All-Inclusive Hotels

For a truly stress-free vacation, staying at an all-inclusive hotel is the way to go. It’s also great for students on a budget because the room, meals, drinks and activities are all included

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

San Francisco, California You Know, I Think I Did Leave My Heart There…
By Eric Blattberg A&E Editor
regret it. That aforementioned funin-the-sun happened at Ocean Beach in the form of goofing off and kite-flying. Yeah, it’s childish fun, but it’s good childish fun. Looking out into the endless Pacific I realized one thing — New York City sucks. It’s fun to say you’re from New York, but after a hard day of work, staring out into the ocean is a nice way of letting go of the day’s troubles. place, from it’s beginnings as an Army base during the Civil War to its transformation into the heralded prison that we’ve all been accustomed to. With the audio tour you walk around at your own pace and really do get to indulge yourself and your imagination of stories from “the Rock.” It’s a nice reprieve from the usual walk-around with a group while someone explains the history We also got to see the San Francisco and Berkley areas topdown from approximately 3,000 feet up on top of Mount Tamalpais, better known to the locals as Mount Tam. The most pastoral views I’ve ever seen, you really should see it, if you can brave the mile of non-paved terrain to get to the very top. With so much to do and so much we did, this article can’t show all the great stuff we did and you should do. Tour-wise, you must take the double-decker bus tours of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Downtown Loop, where you are treated to some of the most historic landmarks of the city and are able to get out and tour them, such as San Francisco City Hall. There’s also Haight-Ashbury, still very much a hippy’s palace of head-shops and random eccentricities. I urge everyone to consider vacationing to this historic city as opposed to usual hotspots that people are accustomed to seeing. San Francisco was everything a vacation should be — a learning experience, great fun, great sight-seeing and very relaxing.

It had been almost five years since I had been on a real vacation and almost 20 since I’d been to California. Needless to say, I was excited to be getting away. California certainly looked different this time around. For starters, I was first there as a child under the care of parents, so I wasn’t allowed nor old enough to have any of the fun-in-the-sun that we

Paradise Island Harbour Resort All inclusive in Nassau, Bahamas.

all know the Golden State can be. Secondly, the first time around we were in Los Angeles and San Diego. This time around, my girlfriend and I were leaving the disgusting filth that is New York humidity-filled summer for the hills of San Francisco. After braving the discomforts of our six-hour flight, we arrived. People heading out to San Francisco, be warned — bring a sweatshirt. The weather is a beautiful 70-80 degrees during the day and a comfortable 60-70 at night. However, you’re by the Pacific and the winds that derive from it make fun-in-thesun slightly balmy. Our first destination was actually the 50’s-themed Mel’s Diner. Yes, it is that good of a diner that it should be mentioned. Great food, as far as diners go, plus it’s nice to step into the “way-back machine.” Order the chocolate malt — you won’t

Most of our time in San Francisco was spent by Pier 39Fisherman’s Wharf. There lie some of the most touristy things to do in any city in the world, and it’s only a 15-minute bus ride from pretty much anywhere in downtown. At the Pier there is a plethora of shops, street performers, restaurants and breathtaking views of the former Army base/prison, Alcatraz. Tours for the inescapable island also left from this pier. The Wharf also has an Aquarium, a Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and an arcade-style roller-coaster ride where you are placed in a variety of scenarios, such as being in a Jurassic Park-esque world with a T-Rex chasing you. For history and crime buffs there’s the aforementioned Alcatraz Island Fortress. There you will learn every little tidbit you possibly can about the mythical

in one price. And if you book through an online site like Expedia.com or Orbitz.com, you can book your flight with your all-inclusive hotel and save even more on a vacation package. Most all-inclusive hotels are located in sun- and beach-type destinations, including the Caribbean, Mexico and even Florida. Most all-inclusive hotels include all meals, beverages (alcoholic and non), all tips, entertainment, airport transfers and water sports (always non-motorized). This, of course, varies by hotel and destination. Some popular all-inclusive chains include Sandals and Beaches. They advertise (on Sandals.com and Beaches.com) their included water sports which are scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing and more. Guests also get

and Beaches resorts will offer a free replacement vacation if a hurricane directly hits the resort while you’re a guest. Also, a quick search on their Web sites can lead you to the discovery of many packages that are 50 percent off. Many big chains don’t want empty rooms and you can benefit greatly from it. All-inclusive vacation ideas through Expedia.com: The Royal Decameron Club Caribbean All Inclusive on Jamaica’s North Coast package for two for a 4-night stay Jan. 7 to 11 of 2008. The price per person is currently $664. Paradise Island Harbour Resort All inclusive in Nassau, Bahamas for two for a 4-night stay from Jan. 7 to 11 of 2008. The price per person is $657.

The online travel Web site, Orbitz.com, is having a Sun or Ski sale. You can instantly save $75 on a 3+ night stay or $150 on a 5+ night stay at select destinations when entering the codes SUNANDSKI150 or SUNANDSKI75 at the vacation package checkout, which includes flight and hotel. You need to book by Nov. 12 for travel Oct. 1 through Mar. 31. Students, note that this vacationing window includes our January Intersession time off. The select destinations include skiing on the slopes in Vancouver, Canada or in Colorado on the Colorado Rockies. If the Sun is more your scene, you can save to relax on the beaches of any Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii or Mexico destination.

Oct. 17, 2007

The Knight News

by Catherine Stolfi Travel Editor

Disney- It Isn’t Just For The Kiddies
which is more than just a free fall: It actually pulls the elevator down faster than the speed of gravity. Also, to make it more scary and unpredictable, they have a computer system that randomly chooses the pattern with which it pushes and pulls you up and down the 13-story tower. There is also the Aerosmith Rock and Rollercoaster right next store, an upside down, indoor roller-coaster that has a highspeed launch of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds. Move onto The Magic Kingdom Park and go on Splash Mountain, not your mother’s log flume ride. It’s a ride based off of Walt Disney’s 1946 classic “Song of the South,” ending in a 40 mph, 5-story drop into a briar patch. After that, you can run over to the classic Space Mountain, an indoor rollercoaster ride, which has added the glow of “stars” to the entire track and bars, literally making it feel like you’re soaring through space, and maybe going to run into a few stars at times as well. In Epcot there is Mission: Space, a simulation ride that is quite intense, as it is meant to replicate the feel of an actual shuttle launch into space. Test Track is also a thrill attraction at Epcot that takes guests through the creative process of the design and testing of a vehicle’s per-

Walt Disney World is most famously known for being the “happiest place on Earth.” It is, unfortunately, second-famously known for being primarily a kids’ theme park, which just isn’t the case. There are many things to do at Disney that are adult oriented, but also for that kid at heart. I have been going to Disney periodically since I was two years old, so yes, I am a Disney fan. I hope to convince you that Disney can still be enjoyable even after those adolescent years, especially for those that have never been there. Disney World is the most famous theme park for a reason. It is one of the only theme parks that put a lot, and I mean a lot, of thought into every little detail of every park, attraction and ride. A talking water fountain around the side of the “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” building in Epcot, the Mickey Mouse head-shaped tiling at the entrance to Magic Kingdom and the over-320 animals carved into the Tree of Life located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to name a few. These small things can’t possibly be noticed by children but are greatly appreciated by adults and many Disney enthusiasts, such as myself. It’s also one of the only places where the staff is 100 percent

Photo courtesy of wdwvacationplanning.com/ mgmstudios.jpg

dom: Expedition EVEREST. It is a roller-coaster that travels forward and backward. You are traveling on a train through the Himalayan Mountains, climbing 120 feet and falling down an 80foot drop, only to come face-to-

playing hip-hop, R&B, reggae and old-school music. There is also The Comedy Warehouse, which is a comedy club with stand-up every hour. There are also great restaurants at every turn. The restaurants at the theme parks are known for their great food, but also more for their touch of Disney ambiance. My favorites include, Cantina de San Angel, in Mexico, as part of the World Showcases in Epcot. You step into Mexico’s night-time flea market and shop, or go on the indoor ride, before you sit down to eat amazing, authentic Mexican food with the sound of an active Volcano about to explode behind you. Or, you can go back in time and eat at the sci-fi Dine in Theater where you sit in your replication Corvette where all the cars face the drive-in movie screen to watch classic 50s movie clips and commercials. The menu includes American classics like

hamburgers and shakes. Lastly, the best buffet in all of Disney: Boma-Flavors of Africa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. The walk-up cooking stations allow for your meal to be freshly prepared, including authentic African cuisine but some things you’ll recognize as well. If none of these things can persuade you, maybe the big cheese himself, a.k.a. Mickey Mouse can lure you in. Many adults go to Disney to find their inner kid, and they treat a trip to Disney like going back to the times of their carefree youth. So, if you do go, remember there’s nothing wrong with riding Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, flying on the classic Dumbo ride or spending time with Alice at her Mad Tea Party. Keep a look out in the next Issue for a Florida and Disney World for Adults Spread!

TOP Tower of Terror located in MGM studios. LEFT Expedition: EVEREST located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom BOTTOM Digital rendering of giant display in MGM Studios.
Photo courtesy of images.google.com Photo courtesy of images.google.com

satisfied with their positions and seem to thoroughly enjoy making sure you have just a good of time as they are. OK, so after all the Disney praise, you may be asking yourself, “That’s all well and good, but how else is it for adults?” Well, Disney may not be known for it, but they have a great choice of adult nightlife, rides, venues and restaurants that are created for adult amusement. To start with, the adult-oriented rides would make small children run and cry to their mommies. There is The Tower of Terror at MGM Studios Park,

formance. You are a passenger aboard a car that tests breaks and climate change, ending with a ride around a high-speed curve topping 65 mph. The rides of Animal Kingdom are, as well, quite adult. Dinosaur, or Countdown to Extinction, is an intense thrill ride back to the past when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. You are speeding past dinosaurs that get shockingly close, and you’re racing against the clock to get back in time before the meteor crashes, on this intensely bumpy and frightening ride. Lastly, the most recently added attraction to Disney at the Animal King-

face with the legendary Yeti that resides there. And when the fireworks are over and the major parks have closed, ranging from 5 to 9 p.m. depending on the time of the year and day of the week, you can shop till you drop at the Downtown Disney Marketplace and dance into the wee hours at Pleasure Island. The shops in the downtown Disney marketplace stay open until typically 11 p.m. and Pleasure Island’s hours are 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. All the clubs and attractions at Pleasure Island are free with admission. There are clubs such as Motions, a top-40 dance club, and BET Sound Stage,