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A First Impression of Old San Juan

Cruising for Saints in the Caribbean First time in Puerto Rico – arrival, hot, no parking, artsy hotel, too many mojitos, stroll around Old San Juan, old cathedral, tourists.

Puerto Rico

A Caribbean island settled by Christopher Columbus for Spain because a US territory when the Spanish lost in the Spanish-American War in 1898. It has since been a US territory and recently passed a vote and requested to become the 51st state of America. My biggest concern is: Where would their star go on the flag?

With a quick direct flight from Newark to San Juan International (SJU), we went from winter to tropical weather in just four hours. It sure was hot and you could easily spot a tourist by the amount of clothing they wore straight out of the airport!

With two cars rented, we drove 15 mins to the Old Town of San Juan on some well maintained highways to our boutique hotel, Pop Art Hotel.

Pop Art Hotel
This hotel is located right in the center of Old San Juan, steps away from the historical attractions. We selected this place for a couple of reasons. One, its location is excellent in the center of Old San Juan, steps away from the historical attractions. Two, it still had availability for our group of 9! Finally, it got good reviews and the staff were really friendly and gave helpful suggestions of restaurants.

Not so easy to find parking in the touristy old town.
Not so easy to find parking in the touristy old town.
The rooms were decorated with… you guessed it, pop art.
The rooms were decorated with… you guessed it, pop art.
Our room had a large balcony with seating and a view onto the street side.
Our room had a large balcony with seating and a view onto the street side.

Our first day was mostly settling in and doing some initial planning on what to see in our three days here. We took a stroll through Old Town to the port where we had dinner at Punto de Vista.

Everyone’s smiling after too many mojitos.
Everyone’s smiling after too many mojitos.
The fish tacos with mojitos were amazing and the local friend plantains were interesting to try.
The fish tacos with mojitos were amazing and the local friend plantains were interesting to try.

Slightly buzzed, we continued the walking tour. The architecture and colors are really set the mood of Old San Juan. The streets are pleasant to walk along dotted with statues and artworks. Though I heard that Puerto Rico is dangerous, the touristy areas felt very safe. This could be due to the fact that there are armed police styling in bullet-proof vests at every street corner.

Beautiful Old San Juan.
Beautiful Old San Juan.

Paseo De La Princesa opens to the sea right and we were right in time to see the sunset. Further north along the scenic road and city wall, we came upon the San Juan Gate. A well known attraction, it wasn’t very interesting to look at, but held historical significance as the main gate into the city welcoming visiting dignitaries since 1635. Turning into the city we found the Roman Catholic Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. This is the second oldest Cathedral in the Americas and holds the tomb of Juan Ponce de León, Spanish conquistador and first governor of Puerto Rico.

The <strong>Raíces</strong> fountain by Spanish sculptor Luis Sanguino, stood boldy against the pink backdrop.
The Raíces fountain by Spanish sculptor Luis Sanguino, stood boldy against the pink backdrop.
Quaint arches near the fountain.
Quaint arches near the fountain.
 View of the walled city from San Juan Gate.
View of the walled city from San Juan Gate.

After visiting the cathedral, we walked another couple of cobblestone blocks to the hotel and had an early night so we could be refreshed for the next day!

David De Clercq

About David De Clercq

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and has less than 10 countries left! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!