We spent about a day and a half in Old San Juan. We chose an airbnb condo pretty centrally located in the original city. You cannot help but feel the rich history here!
~Blue cobblestone streets that are so narrow
~Old buildings, some restored, some mid-restoration, some left to the elements
~Two forts connected by the stone city wall
~An ancient cemetery, all awash in white, tombs above ground
~Cats, cats, cats…everywhere stray cats
It really is a photographer’s dreamscape. The architecture and the streets remind me of New Orleans’ French Quarter meets San Francisco!! With the backdrop of water all around the island!
We found a nice diner to enjoy breakfast during our one full day, Cafeteria Mallorca. We were referred there by a barista (at a stupidly expensive coffeeshop) when we asked about the nearest panaderia. Coincidentally, we had walked by there the day before, commenting on the pan dulce in the window! This place was frequented by locals, the food was cheap and tasty, the portions just right….which is why we returned for dinner that nite, too!
I was, once again, so happy that we did not have a rental car. Those narrow, blue cobblestone streets I mentioned above, while beautiful, are treacherous for driving and parking. I do not know where we would have found parking for the condo and, even then, I would have been so concerned about damage to the vehicle. Initially, I was so surprised we didn’t see more scooters, then I realized how dangerous it would be on the uneven cobblestones. A bike would have been tough, too! So, if we had to live there, I would most certainly drive a Smartcar, Fiat or Mini Cooper…or just walk everywhere (which is how we spent our short visit)!!
When we were on Vieques, a couple who had just come from OSJ recommended a coffeeshop. We sought it out, mostly for me. We found the storefront, but saw they only sold espresso-based drinks. We asked about regular drip coffee and were referred to their other location, which we accessed thru a small courtyard. No prices could we find (which should have been our first clue!). We ordered 2 medium coffees…and ended up paying $8 for two 12 oz pour-overs! Whoa! Now, I love a pour-over, but for $4 each we could have purchased lattes!!!
So…for those who want regular coffee for good prices, please visit Bad Ass Coffee! They serve both Kona and Puerto Rican beans. We enjoyed two 20 oz coffees for $7 AND they served it to us with steamed milk, without us even asking!
For us, a day & a half in Old San Juan was perfect. We walked all around the city for hours each day, seeing her from all different angles & directions, finding so many places for Chris to photograph, grabbing some sangria from an out-of-the-way bar and discovering nooks & crannies. It is a port city, so there are times when it is pretty packed with tourists from the cruise ships. But don’t let that discourage you from seeing this majestic city steeped in history & architecture!
We did get rained on a bit, while walking across an expanse of lawn at one of the forts, but other than that, it was sunny & warm….so, as always, bring your sandals + sunscreen!!