Ashford Avenue is a ritzy address in the heart of the Condado area of San Juan. It is here that you'll find luxury hotels & casinos, high priced apartment buildings, elegant restaurants, and upscale shops. When the sun goes down, the lights go up all along the avenue, and taking a leisurely stroll can be very pleasurable. It does not have the charm of Old San Juan, nor the crooked, blue cobblestoned streets. It is a thoroughly modern avenue, and were it not for the occasional signs in Spanish, you could be on Main Street, USA.
Luckily for us, our address was on Ashford for 6 days, and we strolled it in both directions, by sunlight and moonlight. We also went as far west as we could until the neighborhood really started to deteriorate; we turned around and it was then that we found
La Patisserie de France . About a block east of the hotel, is a Walgreen's Drugstore which was a lifesaver for me. Actually, it is a much bigger deal down here than back home. It is located at:
1130 Ashford Avenue
After a brief survey, I have concluded that prices are approximately 20% higher than on the mainland, and there is more emphasis on beauty products and more brands for the modern woman who lives here. In addition to filling prescriptions, they have a mini-market, gifts, beach accessories, some computer supplies, toys, office supplies, frozen foods, snacks. This is where we repeatedly bought bottled water as the tap water in SJ leaves a lot to be desired. Also picked up some diskettes from my sony digital, emergency polish remover, cotton balls, juice, and munchies. They also do one hour photo and have an ATM on the premises.
A few feet away is a beauty salon that really taught me the meaning of an Ashford Avenue address. I walked in as I had wanted a fresh manicure and pedicure. The shop was completely empty except for the man behind the desk. I first asked about the pedicure and was dumbfounded when he replied $40.00! So I asked the same question in Spanish to ensure that I had made myself understood, and the answer came right back at $40.00. So I dared to ask if there was any special treatment that came with the pedicure like massage, paraffin, what not. Well, no, just regular pedicure. I made a U turn, and rejoined Chuck on the sidewalk.
The identical scenario, or somewhat similar took place at a predominantly male clothing store (a few token dresses), where silk shirts were upward of $120. They had signs in the window advertising pants for $20.00, and as long as we stayed at the Marriott, we never were able to see anyone shopping there.
So, we cross the street, and find a condom shop and we always find these to be great fun, so in we go. There is one thing that you will see here that just does not go over too well on the mainland, and those are huge bathing towels with bare breasted women on them. They are also prominently displayed in souvenir shops as well. It's refreshing to see such openness; but it does go hand in hand with the cat and mouse game that Latins play between the sexes. Well stocked in sex toys, games, gags, and flavored liquids.
As we continue our walk, I notice a very charming, small parador that used to be the consulate office for Spain. Info below:
Hotel El Consulado
1110 Ashford Avenue
We go inside to inquire about the rates and look at the rooms. It smells really clean and a young woman shows us 2 different rooms: one with balcony and one without. Both looked very comfortable and streamlined. The facilities are air conditioned, and the manager quotes us $85/night with complimentary continental breakfast. It is good to remember these folks, as they are part of the very first chain of Puerto Rican hotels designated as IHPPR. They have other locations near the beaches, and you can check out their website at www.ihppr.com.You're in the heart of Condado, so if you don't mind being away from an ocean view, I certainly wouldn't mind staying here.
This was the day we went to rent our car at Avis who are also located on the Avenue. We also caught the bus here, # B21 which takes you right into Old San Juan for $0.25. As a footnote, I'd like to say that drivers here are extremely courteous and do yield the right of way to pedestrians.
We did Ashford in the other direction the night we went to dinner at Stone Crab Alley . The Avenue was really dressed up in lights including the restaurant, and after the meal, we walked and saw a few other restaurants, Italian, Mexican, and see posh shops, one of them is Oggetti which I've been dying to go into, and is having some sort of private tasting in one of their rooms. There are also expensive and elegant clothing stores.
We also go by El Canario hotels is on Ashford, and we did go in to get some information. They have 3 locations, and the Canario by the Sea is around the corner from the Marriott facing the beach. The street is a dead end, and has served us well for parking our little Echo. We end the stroll by going into a local grocery store which is a couple of blocks from the hotel.