Sunday, January 15, 2017

El Viejo San Juan, on a Sunday

Sunday fun day...Old San Juan consists so much charm, lots of history, color, friendliness, and many Spanish colonial buildings. There's a lot of history going on around here!

We found our way to old town via a 3 mile easy stroll on Sunday morning.  We were feeling a bit hungry and stopped by CB - Cafe Berlin.  Their service is slow, just what we wanted.

After a luscious and somewhat early breakfast, we headed to the marina (port of call) where all the cruise ships dock, to have a look.  Then, we strolled down Paseo de la Princesa, a charming and shady promenade, restored from the 19th century, and lined with trees and street vendors.  Above, towering 40 feet or more above, are the fortification walls of old San Juan, and at the end of this is the well-known Raices Fountain, which highlights the diversity of the Puerto Rican people and their commitment to family (with the family silhouette at the center of the fountain).  From the fountain, you can look across San Juan Bay and across to Isla de Cabras, now a recreational space, but formerly, a leper colony.  If you continue on the path after encountering the fountain, you will follow the walls of the city, and eventually encounter San Juan Gate.  Continuing on for 1/2 - 1 mile, will take you further on the path, called Paseo El Morro, a national recreational trail which leads you to El Morro Fort, a fort constructed by the Spaniards about 500 years ago.  Just a little history in the middle of so much beauty.

Listed as the collective "San Juan National Historic Site", this includes in one easy afternoon, the following:
  • El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
  • Fort San Cristobal, build by Spain to protect against land based attacks,
  • Plaza de Colon (Christopher Columbus square),
  • Plaza de Armas (the main square, that features a round fountain with 4 marble statues representing the four seasons (not that they know about winter here).
After lots of walking and fort seeing, we stopped by Eclectika for earrings and then a happy hour on the town square at Artesanos Cafe for local beers, before we walked back to the hotel, for more pool lounging, and eventually for dinner at the celebrated Serafina for dinner and a Tempranillo (Lambuena, Ribera Del Duero, Spain).  
Breakfast at Cafe Berlin
San Juan Gate, once the city's official entrance for Spanish dignitaries
Encircling the city are the historic walls of Old San Juan, about 3 miles in total.
Construction started in 1630 and finished in 1790.
A view from Castillo San Felipe del Morro, built by Spain to guard San Juan's harbor
Isla de Cabras - a view from the fortress - in 1876, a hospital was built there as a colony for people sick with leprosy
Cargo ship, loaded up at the marina and took off again we think
Outside our "home" - Condado Vanderbilt
Serafina, with Tempranillo (and with Shawn)

The best tour guide, and history lover, 
Puerto Rican beer - Magna - like Heinekin without the burn

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