Part I, click here
Part II, click here
We had no idea the rare gem we had mined when we chose San Juan, Puerto Rico as a lay-over between home and our ultimate destination, Antigua; our only interest was in finding a flight that would get us to the island during daylight hours.
Talk about hitting the jackpot when you weren’t even playing the lottery…!
My husband, once again relying on his "go-to friend in the travel business", took time to research the perfect place to spend the night in San Juan. He intentionally avoided the coastal resort high-rises since most of our anniversary trip was going to be ocean front. Because we considered our "real" trip was to begin once we were in Antigua, neither one of us gave much thought to the city of San Juan itself.
If we had, we might not have ever made it to Antigua.
The majority of our time was spent in Old San Juan, at 465 years old, the second oldest city in America (Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and it hadn’t occurred to me before visiting that our president is their president). The architecture of the buildings–some dating back to the 16th century– combined with colorful renovation bring this ancient city to LIFE! The seven-block area is paved with cobbled adoquine, blue stone cast from furnace slag; even the streets are works of art. I couldn’t help but make a mental comparison to "Rainbow Row" in Charleston, SC, but the buildings were even more colorful and more beautiful than those!
Streets are well-signed and maps are easy to follow; even directionally- impaired people–like ME–could find their way around.
Every local we met–cabbie, bellman, waiter–insisted we visit El Morro, a six-story fortress constructed between the 1500s-1700s. Situated on 75 acres, the massive structure overlooks a stunning view of San Juan Bay. With walls 18-feet thick, it’s a maze of tunnels and dungeons and barracks and outposts…and it’s difficult to imagine the reason it was originally built. In a word, it’s amazing.
Seeing the old cannons is an instant reminder that blood was shed here. I wonder if more people were killed firing the big guns than being hit by them….
Maybe that’s why they needed instructions–
Some of the views make you dizzy…
Everything they needed was right there…it was kind of like Vatican City, I suppose, except their goal was to keep people out. Wait a second, what’s the goal of Vatican City?
This is me calm, cool and collected at El Morro.
Well…….that’s not exactly true. Although I’m sure I was calm, I don’t know what "collected" means, and at 96 degrees and 159% humidity, I was wringing wet. Yep, there wasn’t anything lady-like about it, don’t let the skirt fool ya. There was no "glowing", no perspiring…I was sweating like a pig.
Which begs the question, do pigs really sweat? Exactly how was that expression derived?
See? This is how I think, how I write, how I clean, how I shop, how I do EVERYTHING! Total stream of consciousness, bunny trails galore, ai yi yi, and I’m not even finished with Puerto-flippin’-Rico!
But if I’m not mistaken, stick-a-fork-in-this-post, it’s DONE!
Thanks for sharing these photos and tidbits of your trip. I miss traveling and enjoy seeing and hearing (ok, reading) a real impression of a destination. A brochure or website promoting a place isn’t necessarily a true representation of what you would find.
So, thank you.
We are rather reserved in the colours we paint our houses so it’s nice to see how others do it.
I bet the view was spectacular from the fort, I love looking over old buildings and learning the history. From what you describe there is plenty to see in this one.
Ah, Robin, I’m imagining being there…it’s beautiful! and love the stream of consciousness!!
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
I also love your stream-of-consciousness style. It works. (Face it. You are a writer, Robin. A cute, fun, entertaining one, too.)
I have a photo or three somewhere of me at El Morro.
I went in February. Temps were 72°F the whole time, with a 10 minute rain shower at noon.
It’s nice to see you recounting your trip.
When I went there was a shooting of some protesting university students by police.
Looks like a great time was had by all…next time, I’ll use your “go-to-friend-in-travel for advice.”
I have parked my broom until January. It has over-heated and needs a tune-up.
I loved this post. Thanks for sharing that with us. I wish we had the colors of San Juan here in Wisconsin!
I loved this post. Thanks for sharing San Juan with us. I wish we had all their bright colors here in Wisconsin!
Jenny, thanks for sharing your thoughts; and I agree with you in that it’s best to “talk” with the people who’ve visited a place. It’s in their eyes that we see best.
Chris, I can’t BEGIN to describe it; the photos speak volumes, but to appreciate fully the beauty and majesty of the city of Old San Juan AND El Morro…you have to go. HAVE.TO.!
Claudia, by now, you know this about me, yes? 🙂
Jeanne, ahhh, friend, your words always buoy. Always :). And, wow…I sure am having fun barging my way into TMA…hope that’s okay….
Witchypoo…wow…a shooting? Gosh, it was calm when we were there. HOT…HUMID…but calm. Wasn’t it spectacular, though? I can’t believe it’s open to the public!
Swampy, it’s about time you sat still for more than five minutes!
Kila, all of OSJ was like this…absolutely beautiful! (glad you enjoyed reading the post, I sure had fun writing/re-living it 🙂 ).
El Morro! We went there. I had totally forgotten about that place. The pictures are great. Yea, you can get awfully sweaty there. Glad you had fun.
Robin of mytwoblessings
Great photos El Morro looks amazing what a great place to visit.
Ha! You write just like I think. One thought leads to another and then you wonder just how on earth you got there. Now that pig sweating thought has got Me thinking as well.
Lovely pictures, thanks for sharing.
I love the architecture and colors. Fabu!
Great pictures! I needed some virtual ‘warmth’ on a cold day like this!
(I know what you mean about the sweating, I look at pictures from Aruba and I just remember the heat!)
Wait, so you went to Guatemala afterwards? I was just in Antigua in August for a wedding..have yet to post my photos!
beautiful photos, looks so pretty 🙂
I stumbled on your blog while searching for a word that rhymes with turkey…I’m a limerick master, but occasionally need a little ‘netsisstance. I have been to PR three times now. After the first visit and my first tour of El Morro, I discovered my soul’s home. This fort is where I belong, tour-guiding people from around the world. I have a small album posted on my myspace page — (search Daisyville). December was stunning–Christmas in OSJ is like Disneyland. Besides El Morro, the other can’t miss site is El Yonque, the rainforst. GO! NOW!