• travel guides Travel guides
    Tips to experience holidays as a local
  • Miami Miami
    Florida colors
  • Seoul Seoul
    Oopan Gangnam style!
  • Cape town penguins South Africa
    Rainbow vibes
  • Bangkok Bangkok
    City of angels
  • French Polynesia French Polynesia
    6 islands in the South Seas
  • Skyline Hong Kong
    Skylines, bar streets, markets & islands
  • Sydney Opera Australia
    Sydney's NYE, Gold Coast & Great Barrier Reef
  • Gecko Hawaii
    Aloha nature wonders
  • Japanese Wedding Japanese Wedding
    The dark side of the rising sun
  • Yakushima Yakushima
    Hiking the Princess Mononoke Forest
  • Ishigaki Lighthouse Ishigaki
    Okinawa's shades of blue
  • Yuki Matsuri Hokkaido
    Powder Snow Festival
  • Daikanyama Daikanyama
    Tokyo's SoHo
  • Cosplayer Comiket
    The Biggest Cosplay Event
  • Cherry Tree Blossom Hanami (花見)
    Sakura by the skyscrapers
  • Hiroshima bomb time Hiroshima
    The Bomb & Miyajima
  • top of mount fuji guide to climb Japan
    Top of Mt.Fuji
  • Kyoto & Nara Nara & Kyoto
    Ciervos nadando en lagos de roca
  • Formentera House Formentera
    Mediterranean Sun
  • Stockholm Stockholm
    5 year resident, to guide around the local wonders


Puerto Rico - Old San Juan

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Established in 1521, when the Spanish colonist withdrew to this rocky outpost to stay away from Indians and mosquito-borne malaria, San Juan was the primary military and legislative outpost of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean and Central America. Unfortunately, its economy stagnated and it would not be until the end of the 1898 Spanish-American War that the light would shine again along the coastline. The US annexed the island as a territory and designated San Juan as its primary port, triggering agricultural goods (sugar, tobacco, coffee...) to flow into the city.

WWII brought military capital into the island and in the after-war period, the island gained commonwealth territory status, making factories and banks reallocate to the island attracted by the advantageous tax breaks. This boom was a nightmare for city planners who were unable to keep up with the demand for services, roads and housing. In the 1980s, unemployment was rampant along with crime. Old San Juan was a scary place, so tourist re-routed their vacation plans to Condado, Isla Verde and Miramar. It would not be until 1992, the 500-anniversary of Columbus discovery, for the restoration of the Old San Juan, which is currently a safe and lovely city to explore.

We visited San Juan on January 1st, so the main fortresses (El Morro and Fuerte San Cristobal) were closed for National Holiday. Still, we took our time to explore the narrow streets, colonial buildings, cute little stores and restaurants. San Juan is easily reachable from the surroundings with Uber, no real need to rent a car or suffer trying to park it.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
The walls of 1783's Fuerte de San Cristobal remain in incredibly good condition. We walked from the harbour area all the way till the entrance. A lovely promenade by the water.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
I am a sucker for pastel walls in colonial buildings. We've seen them in Curaçao, Bonaire and Polynesia, but they never grow old.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Three Wise men were already standing in the main square Plaza de Armas, waiting for January 5th to arrive.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Both fortresses are almost connected to each other by this thick wall.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
After a long walk, it was time to chill with some mojitos by a random colourful spot called Las Palmas.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Then we kept walking until reaching the magic greenery of El Morro, that dates back to 1539 and is the oldest Spanish Fort in the New World.

Of course, we found some cute cats and had to post a picture of them...

Then we continued exploring the little streets back to Plaza the Colón from when we started the somewhat long walk towards Santurce, the area east of San Juan.

Fancy by no means, Santurce has a local taste to it which is refreshing after the touristy perfection of the Old San Juan. It's the street art, the old style cinema, the half-destroyed houses, the vibrant energy of the people gathering by Placita de Santurce to celebrate the new year. Being unable to sit became a bit too much for me, so we opted for an Uber back home followed by a calm yet yummy dinner in Mango's.


No comments

© dontplayahate. All rights reserved.