Our morning food tour was only the beginning of our day-long ramble through Old San Juan. When Kathy released us back into the wild, we paused for a moment with our map to note the places we had passed that were worth revisiting, and to identify the landmarks we hadn't yet crossed off our list.
|The Plaza de las Palomas|
|Detail of the Capilla del Cristo|
|Old San Juan is a warren of narrow cobblestoned streets lined with Spanish colonial|
architecture. It's gorgeously preserved and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
|Love the colors. As we walked along, we quizzed each other on which color we'd pick|
if we had a house we could paint in the neighborhood.
|Ponce de Leon! |
Turns out that guy I remember reading about in 5th grade was kind of a big deal here.
After giving up his quest to find the fountain of youth in Florida, he settled to be the
governor of Puerto Rico. This statue is made of a melted-down English cannon captured
|Planning pause in the Plaza de San Jose|
(and yes, this is a candid pose that Amanda captured surreptitiously)
|El Morro -- Dating back to 1539, this is the oldest Spanish fort in the New World. It rebuffed attacks from the Dutch,|
British, and US militaries. We loved the expansive park -- perfect for kites.
|Cementario de San Juan -- An oddly pretty cemetery just outside the fortress walls.|
|We entered the cemetery through a single narrow tunnel through the embankments.|
|The neoclassical chapel makes a nice focal point among the tombs.|
|Most of these tombs are family tombs with doors that open into mausoleums with stacked niches for the coffins.|
One was open so I took a peek -- it wasn't nearly as creepy as you might have hoped.
|Looking back at the city from the fortress.|
The tallest grey tower in the distance is our condo building.
|Next time I go to the bagel shop, I'm going to ask for a sessa-meseed bagel.|
|Hard to tell in this photo, but the cobblestoned streets of Old San Juan have a blue hue.|
The bricks are painted with a substance to make them less slick, and the substance contains iron and other
minerals that over time oxidizes to a deep blue color. It's a lovely effect.
|The three-hour-long food tour notwithstanding, by the time we had finished wandering through the fortress|
we were flagging and needed sustenance. We stopped at a 17th Century convent-turned-hotel for a quick bite.
|The road in front of the convent led down to the city's only remaining gate in the walls (it|
dates from the 1630s). This is the gate through which visiting dignitaries
would have entered the city. The road leads up a hill to the cathedral in the central plaza.
Most travelers went straight there to give thanks for a successful voyage.
|Port of San Juan|
|Time to break out the selfie stick!|
|Selfie sticks are great for up-the-nostril shots|
|This is La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion that dates from 1533 and is the oldest executive|
mansion in continuous use in the western hemisphere.
|We went back to the place from the food tour where we'd eaten the|
alcapurrios and ceviche -- there was a poster that said they also had
delicious stuffed avocados, so we wanted to give it a try. We thought it
would be a quick snack but turned into an hour-long ordeal in which we
nearly froze from the air conditioning and starvation. Fortunately
the food -- when it finally came -- was good.
|By the time we had finished our stuffed avocados, it was time to think of heading home.|
We stopped at the grocery store to pick up some things for breakfast.
|Grocery stores in Old San Juan are somewhat less roomy than in Seattle|
|Old San Juan comes alive at night, we discovered. After leaving the grocery store, we|
came across preparations for an outdoor concert.
|We opted not to wait for the concert and instead went in search of dinner.|
We found a place El Punto de Visto that had a (partially obstructed) view on the roof and
decent ratings on Yelp. I ordered the mofongo with steak and garlic saucee -- the waiter's
enthusiasm notwithstanding, it turned out to be an unfortunate choice that stayed with
me all night...