After my arrival in Puerto Rico at the Luis Munoz Marin airport I took a taxi to old town San Juan . As soon as walked up to my hotel, the Gallery Inn, and entered the gates I fell in love with the place. It was like walking into an art gallery. I was greeted by a pleasant young lady at the desk and this noisy but lovable parrot. More about this wonderful place later.
I quickly settled into my cozy room, unpacked, and was off to explore old San Juan. My hotel is situated on the northern end of the city overlooking the old city wall and Atlantic Ocean. I walked south into the old town on the blue cobblestones of narrow San Justo Street.
I soon discovered all of the streets in old San Juan are narrow and made of this unique blue cobblestone.
Like my first visit to any city, I was, at first, disorientated. I forgot my map at the room. I knew enough from my research for the trip to somewhat find my way around. ( As I write this post I know the old town like the back of my hand). I made my way down the narrow street to the newer areas of the town near the cruise ship docks.
The tourists from these ships provide much revenue to the city. I believe it is why the water and electric infrastructure in old San Juan was almost completely restored after the devastation of Hurricane Maria last fall. Old San Juan was again catering to it’s many tourists.
I continued my walk westward on the Paseo de la Princesa. This street lies outside the massive walls that protected the city.
I welcomed the many trees that lined this street. The sun was intense, and, even with the ever present trade winds, it was still hot. Temperatures were in the mid 80’s.
I also found many interesting statutes and sculptures along the way.
I walked to the Fuente Raices, a monument depicting the different races of people that contributed to, now make up Puerto Rico.
I next followed the street as it continued outside the city wall providing spectacular views of San Juan Bay.
I entered the old city through the Puerta de San Juan, the main gate to the city. It is through this gate sailors, soldiers and dignitaries would first enter the New World after a long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You could almost feel the history and ghosts of the many people who walked through here over the past 500 year.
I entered the old city and it’s beauty and enchantment were everywhere. Old trees, brightly painted buildings, and cobblestone streets made you feel you walked back in time.
There was so much to do and I had so little time to do it. I have always been fascinated by Ponce de Leon and his search for the fountain of youth. I had to visit his final resting place in the impressive Catedral de San Juan.
I explored the beauty of this church for awhile and, like always, wish I had more time. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful and historic church. San Juan Cathedral February 8 2018.
I roamed the many narrow streets just talking in the many sights of tourist and residents enjoying this delightful city.
I took in so many sights it would take hours to describe them in this short blog post, but there were so many restaurants, shops, tourists sites and museums one could spend weeks exploring them all.
And I only had two days. So I made my way to Castillo San Felipe del Morro or “el Morro”, the large fort that was built almost 500 years ago. This is one sight you cannot miss.
The large fort was built by Spain to protect the harbor used to replenish ships making the long voyage from Europe across the Atlantic.
There are many exhibits in the fort explaining the strategic significance of the island of Puerto Rico. It was the first land encountered as ships crossed the Atlantic that had fresh water and was vital to controlling access to the “New World” .
I roamed the fort for over an hour and learned so much history while enjoying spectacular views of the ocean and city. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to “El Morro” El Morro February 8 2018.
Once gain time was not my friend. It was getting late and I was getting hungry and tired. So reluctantly, I had to walk back to my hotel. I still was able to enjoy many more sights of old San Juan along the way . Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. San Juan Day One afternoon hike.
I got back, showered, and realized it was near sunset which around 6:30 pm. I was saddened to learn the only place to watch it would be from “El Morro” and I had no time to get there. I was starved so I walked to dinner at a restaurant famous for it’s local food, El Jabirito.
It was a family style restaurant with much chatter and laughter coming from the many local residents dining their.
I had the fried red snapper and mofongo de yucca (mashed cassaba) a local specialty.
After my delicious meal I made my way through the noisy and bustling streets of old San Juan. They were filled with music and laughter and would be, I learned, throughout the night. It is like New Orleans, the city never sleeps. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk and meal. San Juan evening walk February 8 2017.
I was soon in my room, and despite the music and noise rising from San Sebastian, I quickly fell fast asleep, looking forward to another day of exploring San Juan.
What I can tell you is that for Puerto Rico being such a small island, it has culturally impacted the entire world. Fat Joe