The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan, is a city of over 2 million people and has a harbor with scenic view of the city and an easy walk to Old San Juan where most of the cites major attractions are located.
The terminal is large and offered bathroom facilities, a tax free liquor store and a band that welcomes visitors.
San Juan includes upscale residential areas as well as an historic district, cultural venues,sprawling residential suburbs, and commercial and industrial zones.
Established in 1521, Old San Juan occupies 7 blocks on a long, narrow islet of Bahia de San Juan.
Much of the area has been restored and the narrow streets are paved with cobblestones and lined with pastel-painted houses adorned with overhanging wrought iron balconies and shuttered windows.
Occasionally, a different sort of house is squeezed in, adding interest to the scene.
Here the owner included a bathtub in his front garden decor
Since the old town guarded the entrance to the bay it had massive walls more than 6 miles long, up to 50′ high, and 15′ thick.
Two main fortresses punctuate the walls. On a cliff top at the northeastern side of the Old Town, Castillo San Cristobal stands ready to prevent a land assault. Originally it covered 27 acres and featured a moat, parade ground, barracks, chapel, and numerous tunnels to transport soldiers and supplies during battle. Free 1 hour tunnel tours are offered every Saturday in English, and Sunday in Spanish at 10:30 and 12:30.
The other fort, El Morro, stands on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic on the northwestern side of the Old Town and stands on 6 different levels. Begun in 1539, the fort was worked on for over 200 years and includes a moat, turrets, tunnels, ramps, labyrinths, and dungeons. A small museum documents the forts history. Today a huge grassy area in front of the fort is a popular spot for kite flying.
As you walk from one fort to the other, you will come to the community known as The Perle.
This area was originally a village that developed to serve the military establishment and today is composed of about 10,000 people that are a distinct community with in the Old City. The houses are packed together and in places have roofs that are painted with an overall design visible to the people that walk along the high wall.
Strolling through the streets of the Old Town you may see large wall paintings,
And maybe a group of artists creating a new one.
Various museums and historic sites dot the Old Town but some of the most endearing places are the plazas where you can find a shaded spot to rest, something to eat, and even vendors with hand crafted items for sale.
Perhaps the most unusual one is triple-tiered Plaza del Quinto Centenario created in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival. It features the 40′ high Totem Telurico made of black granite and ceramics, and represents the island’s people.
Earthy sites abound like this truck full of green bananas.
Old San Juan is charming place and a great destination for a day’s adventure but don’t expect great shopping opportunities. There are plenty of places to eat but for boutique shops seek another venue.