What an amazing day!! Setting off at 0730 with Barry and Robyn from ‘Smart Move’, we drove north on the excellent road system past San Juan on the north coast and then west about three-quarters of the way across the island. We past some interesting topography and later found out it is called the Karst area, with numerous small hillocks popping up all over the land. I haven’t seen anything like it before.
Our destination was the Arecibo Observatory, where within a dish like space between a few hills, the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope was built in 1961-3, opening in November 1963 and featuring in the James Bond film GoldenEye. Rob got to use his new ‘senior’ status for the first time, so it only cost us 12 pounds or 18$ to get in.
It was impressive, 1000 feet across with a Gregorian Dome above to collect data. It was upgraded in 1997 but the initial costs were 9 million dollars. The visitor’s centre is excellent with a lot of information and some interactive exhibits to help explain some of the science. Staff were available to answer questions and a short presentation is shown in the auditorium before a guide takes you onto the viewing platform to tell you a little more about it.
A gift shop and cafe with seating overlooking the telescope gave us a chance to take it all in and I can recommend a visit. One of those we will always remember.
We then headed to the Rio Camuy caves, joined the little train to take us to them and had a guided tour through the huge space, one of the largest caves we have ever been in. Another attraction which is well worth visiting.
On the way we had to stop at a Krispy Kreme donut shop we’d seen, especially as it was Valentine’s Day. They actually had a marquee and a crowd controlling barrier, such was the queue there but we were soon inside and able to watch the entire process of the donut making as we waited. The special heart shaped ones were really nice!
So a great day and our thanks go to Barry for doing all the driving and to both of them for showing us around. Next is Old San Juan, another ‘must see’ for any visitor and we are really looking forward to it.