San Juan Journals

San Juan Daze

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An August 1998 trip to San Juan by naomi

Quote: A whirl-wind tour of what is fast becoming tourist-central.

San Juan Daze

Overview

Quote:
San Juan is an increasingly popular stop-over for cruise ships and tour groups, thus diminishing its once untrampled charm. That said, there is still much to discover without bumping into too many Americans, if you go off-the-beaten-track, as I prefer to do.Quick Tips: If you visit the city proper, go beyond the well-recited 'places of interest' (not alone) and walk around Old San Juan in streets less populated by tourists. Strike up a conversation, even if you don't know Spanish. And as always, be considerate--you're the visitor and should remember that in all interactions.Best Way To Get Around: Walking around the Old City is the best way to go--there are far too many cars as it is...Read More

Hotel El Convento

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Hotel | "El Convento Hotel"

Quote:
This is a unique, charming accommodation, unlike the same-old, same-old, not only because it once housed Carmelite nuns, but because the central hall is exquisitely designed with inlaid imported tile and painstakingly crafted detail. The building is rightfully listed in the National Historic Registry and should be enjoyed even if you don't stay here. The architecture is striking, especially once inside, since the sturdy structure dates back 350 years and was built by Spain's King Philip IV in 1636 to shield his army. The hotel teems with hand-crafted vintage furnishings, and no two rooms are alike.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 22, 2000

Hotel El Convento
100 CRISTO STREET
San Juan, Puerto Rico
1-787-7239020

Ritz-Carlton's Vineyard Room

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Restaurant

Quote:
This hotel, a mere five minutes from the airport, is one of the most expensive on the island. When you walk through the lobby, you'll understand why. It's well-staffed and beautifully appointed. The wisdom of building it right near the airport, however, is questionable because if you check out the beach, you will hear the drone of engines every 5 minutes. However, you came to eat, not sun-bathe. So enjoy the air-conditioned, sound-proof interior and you will have a wonderful repast. The restaurant offers California and Continental fare, from soup to dessert (bet you thought I'd say 'nuts', right?). The food is excellent, presented with a flourish and expensive. But you're worth it (at least once in a ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 22, 2000

Ritz-Carlton's Vineyard Room
6961 State Road
San Juan, Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest

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Attraction | "El Yunque"

Quote:
This is a vigorous hike that leads you through leafy tropical plants, trees and if you're lucky, you'll hear the cry of the teeny little coqui--a native frog that comes in 14 different varieties, and are so small they are nearly invisible. Usually, they can be heard singing at night and if you ever buy one of those 'Rainforest' CDs, they will figure prominently in the background. This place is called a RAIN forest for a good reason, so make sure to bring a poncho (yes, they look dorky, but will keep you dry) and sneakers with a good grip--it gets slippery on the path after it RAINS (and it always rains). When you reach the waterfalls, you will be glad you made the trek.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 22, 2000

El Yunque National Forest
Road 191, Off Highway 3 To Luquillo Beach
Palmer, Puerto Rico 00721
(787) 888-1880

Strolling Around Old City

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Story/Tip

Quote:
A natural curiosity propelled my desire to go beyond the normal touristy stores in Old San Juan, which is notable for its cobblestones and array of colorful doors--many painted in vibrant hues and pastel highlights. I wandered into a lesser travelled section (don't do this alone) just to explore the local residents. Despite my lack of Spanish conversational skills, I found that a friendly smile and an attempt to cross cultural barriers was all it took to befriend people I met. And be forewarned--there's some extreme poverty right beyond the fringes of wealth touted by the brochures. There are extraordinary photo opportunities, too, as long as you don't infringe on anyone's personal sensitivities. I wo...Read More