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The Charm Of Old San Juan
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The Charm Of Old San Juan

I had a map in my hand but already got frustrated so shoved the map in my pocket and walked in which every way I felt. So if you’re looking for a route walk and timing, this article isn’t for you.

My ship docked at 1:00 in the afternoon in the blaze of the hot sun for a few hours in Old San Juan. I never get tired for visiting the capital of Puerto Rico founded in 1521 by Ponce de Leon, is known to be oldest city in the U.S. Territory.

Comfortable walking shoes are the order of the day when exploring this vibrant historic city because of The streets are steep and the cobbled roads. I made my way toward Castillo San Felipe del Morro or commonly known as El Morro.

The fort took over 200 years to build. The construction started in 1540 and was repeatedly attacked by the English and Dutch. It is here during World War II the U.S. tracked German submarines in the Caribbean. It is the largest fortification in the Caribbean. I didn’t go going inside, instead enjoyed the crashing Atlantic Ocean waves against the rocks.

Old San Juan is a reminder of Europe with the array of blues, yellows, oranges, greens and other coloured buildings not to mention the sound of the car ties glide along the cobbled streets.

There are many historic buildings here that I didn’t get to see everything. Well maybe if I followed my map I would have but hey, I think I’ll be back. Besides I had more fun getting lost than trying to figure out how long it takes to get where for an article (a demand these days but that’s another topic). Besides, you really can’t get lost and eventually you’ll see the ocean with a cruise liner or two.

Old San Juan has many Plazas (squares). The oldest is Plaza Las Armas and the location of Alcadia (1789), a replica of Madrid’s City Hall. There are plenty of trees for shade plus this is also a great meeting spot.

Since I don’t have my own mobile device, I was looking for the Internet. A hotel clerk handed me a map and pointed me in the right direction. About 10 minute walk I headed to Seafarer on Calle O’Donnell. The cost is 12 cents a minute. I was quick and paid less than $1.00.

Back outside for more exploring. My next stop, as I admired the colourful buildings along the way, was Casa Blanca. Ponce de Leon got land as a reward for his services to the Crown. But the house wasn’t built until 1521, two years after his death. Casa Blanca, meaning “The White House”, is just that, all white. Now this museum houses antiquities, painting, and furnishings of the 16th-18th century. I didn’t go inside the house but viewed the gardens for a bit before I continued on with my walk.

One of the oldest building in San Juan and the second oldest cathedral of the Americas after The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor in Dominican Republic is Catedral de San Juan Bautista (1540). Inside is the body of Ponce de Leon behind a marble tomb on the north side. For me, the cool air was a relief from the heat. I stayed a while taking some pictures. Before I left, I placed some money in the donation box.

In front of the cathedral is Plaza de la Monjas (the Nuns’ Square). Here is Museo del Nino a children’s museum.

There are a lot of pigeons at Parque de las Palomas. I liked the view from here. I could see my ship. Near the park is Capilla del Cristo, a 16th century chapel.

Time was ticking and I needed to make one more stop. I walked in Old Harbor Brewery and saw a couple from my ship with their Notebook open. Yes, free wireless here.

When the waiter approached I said pointing to the man’s beer “I’ll have what he’s having”. Both he and I had no idea what we drank but it was a lite, cold and delicious!

If you’re on a ship when it leaves here at night, don’t miss it! Grab yourself a cold drink, plunk yourself down on a deck chair and watch the night lights of the town plus El Morro as your ship cruises away. Ah, San Juan. Yep, I think I’ll be back.


Street Talk

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