Last week we took our second beach-oriented trip to Puerto Rico. Before we headed out to relax at the St. Regis Bahia Bay for the beach themed part of the trip, we spend a couple of nights in Old Town San Juan. Sure, the Sheraton may have lacked the privacy and comforts of the St. Regis, but at least we had a lovely view of one of the old forts:
The most fun part of the Puerto Rico trip is that we took it with Matt and Erin. Seriously, I don’t think it is possible for a better suited group of friends to travel together. We had a great time. The first day, we explored the streets of Old San Juan and visited the historic Spanish forts that make up the San Juan National Historic Site. We loved walking the blue cobblestone streets. The buildings were bright, clean, and colorful.
We took a little more time to explore the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
It is a pretty impressive fortress that makes Spanish domination of the region for so many hundreds of years completely understandable.
We took some time out to explore other neighborhoods in San Juan also. In particular, we enjoyed exploring the neighborhoods of Condado (with its South Beach feel) and the quieter Ocean Park, with its lovely public beach.
Although all I wanted to eat when we were in Old San Juan was rice and beans, we managed to eat some pretty outstanding fare. For dinner the first night we went to Marmalade. Their white bean soup starter is life changing. We loved the atmosphere too, as we were seated in what felt like our own private room.
The second night for dinner, the others enjoyed delicious ceviche at Aguaviva.
For lunch, off the recommendation of a local that Matt and Erin met on the plane, we tried Café Manolin. Every day in Puerto Rico was another day for people to ask us whether we had tried some of Puerto Rico’s famous mofongo, and we had knocked that out the first meal at Café Manolin. Off of a Yelp recommendation for good rice and beans, we also tried Café el Punto for lunch. The rice and beans did not disappoint, nor did the fresh avocado.
We did a little shopping in Old San Juan, but not too much. Basically, all of us wanted a hat made at Ole. The hat store is famed from the New York Times’s article on 36 Hours in Puerto Rico. The store did not disappoint and three of us walked away with a handmade, customized hat of our own.
The other tourist-oriented shop we visited was Mundo Taino, which assures you that everything it stocks is made by local, Puerto Rican artisans. “No made in China!” We were assured.
I loved Old Town San Juan. It is a lovely place to wander with its colonial architecture. If in the future good travelling friends move to Puerto Rico, it is a place I would love to visit again and again.