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Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico


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A languid, evocative report in Sunday's NY Times...

 

Nonetheless, it's in the overgrown places down between the house and the city wall that the deep past can really sneak up on you. It's reminiscent of the last painting in Thomas Cole's “Course of Empire” cycle, with great trees and vines slowly overtaking the ancient parapets, and you get the feeling that there are cycles of history at work in Old San Juan that don't measure time in centuries.

 

San Juan

 

WHERE TO EAT

 

The abundance of good restaurants in Old San Juan is a reason in itself to visit. Most of the best serve some sort of Afro-Caribbean “nuevo Latino” cuisine, which is another way of saying there's a lot of good ceviche going around. You won't be disappointed with the tapas at Barú (150 Calle San Sebastián; 787-977-7107), the churrasco-style steak at the Parrot Club (363 Calle Fortaleza; 787-725-7370) or the more Asian-inflected food at its sister restaurant Dragonfly, across the street.

 

It's an all-night town, especially on weekends. Nuyorican Café (312 Calle San Francisco; 787-977-1276) justifiably gets most of the attention for its nonstop life and Latin sound, but you can pretty much follow your ears around Calle Fortaleza and find your way into a party that will go on longer than you will.

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The Best Western airport hotel is actually IN the airport. After we checked in this evening, we went for a walk and ended up in the check in area of the actual airport which was totally deserted except for the cleaning crew. VERY surreal. Downtown is a 15 minute cab ride away, but we won't be able to check out old San Juan until the return trip home on Friday.

 

I'm in Puerto Rico anyway.

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The Best Western airport hotel is actually IN the airport. After we checked in this evening, we went for a walk and ended up in the check in area of the actual airport which was totally deserted except for the cleaning crew. VERY surreal. Downtown is a 15 minute cab ride away, but we won't be able to check out old San Juan until the return trip home on Friday.

 

I'm in Puerto Rico anyway.

 

Still on your way to Guadeloupe? Or will you stay in Puerto Rico?

 

 

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Unfortunately this isn't a pleasure trip. My mother had a heart attack on a cruise ship and I am headed to Guadeloupe because the ship is going to let her off there today, along with my father. I don't know what's ahead. If you would have told me last week at this time that I would be in the Caribbean, I would have told you that you were crazy.

 

Miguel: we will have all day next Saturday in San Juan because we couldn't get on a direct flight to Dallas, and have to route through Chicago to go home. Do you suggest just spending the day in the old city?

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Miguel: we will have all day next Saturday in San Juan because we couldn't get on a direct flight to Dallas, and have to route through Chicago to go home. Do you suggest just spending the day in the old city?

 

 

Yes if walking a lot is not a problem. There are free public trolleys, however, but nothing like walking around and stopping for refreshments at will, Old San Juan caters to tourists but there is a healthy proportion of locals meandiring around. You got your jewelry shops, dozens of restaurants specially in South Fortaleza street, where three of Emilio Figueroa's attractive restaurants are located, The Parrot Club, Dragonfly and Aguaviva. Mi favorite is the original one Parrot Club. If you are into old Spanish forts, you can go to El Morro Castle or to the San Cristobal Castle. The Morro is far better known but both are equally old and equally sized (more or less) I would stick to walking around the little streets, checking for bargains and interesting finds in the many many little stores. La Fortaleza, the Governor's mansion is also there. There are outlet stores for Polo, Coach, and others. Fronchises such as Starbucks and Hard Rock Café. In all, there are a lot of things to keep you busy for a day. Old San Juan

 

 

If you get tired of the sun and the heat, take a taxi and ask him to take to Plaza las Américas or "Plaza" for short. It is Puerto Rico (and perhaps the Caribbean) largest mall. Always full of locals walking around, high-end stores galore. Plaza is famous, to me, for the incredible amount of shoppers there. Like a big cross section of Puerto Rico's society. I know that visiting a mall does not sound that attractive, but believe me, is an interesting experience. Plaza las Americas

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Unfortunately this isn't a pleasure trip. My mother had a heart attack on a cruise ship and I am headed to Guadeloupe because the ship is going to let her off there today, along with my father. I don't know what's ahead. If you would have told me last week at this time that I would be in the Caribbean, I would have told you that you were crazy.

 

Miguel: we will have all day next Saturday in San Juan because we couldn't get on a direct flight to Dallas, and have to route through Chicago to go home. Do you suggest just spending the day in the old city?

 

Sorry to hear that. I hope all is well for your mother.

 

 

 

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An angel at American Eagle in Guadeloupe found us two seats on a direct flight to Dallas so we only had an overnight in San Juan. We stayed in Isla Verde and took the bus downtown to old San Juan. You were right about the touristy aspect of it, Miguel. Nevertheless, we found a cafe/bar called Cafe Puerto Rico, right on a square. The food was mediocre at best, HOWEVER when we asked the bartender for a snifter of his best rum, we got to enjoy Don Q ancien.

 

I will never look at rum again the same way! It was incredible.

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  • 2 months later...

In the spirit of "let's not let a couple of free airline tickets slip away even though it will cost us several extra hundreds of dollars," we are now planning a long weekend in San Juan for early May. :)

 

I've only been to the airport, changing planes, many years ago. Looking forward to checking out less urban stuff nearby (Paul says if we want city, we might as well stay home). They drive like normal people there, right, Miguel? ;) So we'd be okay renting a car?

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  • 3 months later...

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