on January 22, 2004
We got a hint of the architecture of Old San Juan the night we went to the San Sebastian Festival, but we went back to take in the old city in the light of day. Our morning started at the McDonalds on Fortaleza Street (we had an Egg McMuffin craving). We did less of a walking tour of Old San Juan and more just walked through Old San Juan and found things sort of by accident. Our goal was to get to the El Morro fort and it wasn’t too difficult using the map our hotel had given us. Along the way, we passed the most beautiful buildings that were brightly painted in terra cotta, bright blues, bright greens and yellows. The iron banisters reminded me of a New Orleans feel, but the Madonna and child were painted or represented in mosaics on a lot of the buildings.
We walked through the Plazuela de la Rogativa, which was a little square that overlooked the water. (I learned that Old San Juan is an island in itself, connected by bridge to the big island.) There was a beautiful iron statue there, which I later learned commemorated a religious procession after San Juan held off the British in 1700. We meandered past the Cathedral of Old San Juan, just so white against the bright sun. I marveled at the architecture, and looked it up when I got home. It was called "New World medieval."
Finally, we asked the policia the easiest way to the fort, which was only a block away. There’s a long pathway up to the fort, which looks like it sits on the edge of the world. (Well, it is on the edge of Puerto Rico.) There’s a big cemetery at the bottom level and then a gorgeous pink dome on another level and views every which way you turn.
On the way back from the fort, we were walking down Calle San Fransisco when we came accross these way cool tables that were designed to look like -- and with -- dominoes. We sat a while to rest our feet before venturing down the street and in and out of the various souvenir shops along the way. Our favorite shop, called the Butterfly People, is featured in another journal.
I’d say you could take an organized walking tour or just get lost in Old San Juan. Either way, we were glad we didn’t miss out on seeing the beautiful old city.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009