San Juan, Puerto Rico

Day 1: We walked down the block to the square to browse around in the Supermax. There was a guy watching anime while checking out dressed in sweatpants and crocs, an interesting character indeed. Next, we walked down by cruise ships and took photo in front of I love PR sign. We ate dinner at the top of hotel Milano at a restaurant called Punto de Vista. There was a wonderful breeze and bright moonlight. You could see the cruise ship docked next to the boardwalk. The mofongo with pork was delicious. Also got fried sampler. Everything was very…fried. We slept poorly because of light in hallway that came in through a window and due to cars driving over metal plate right outside our window. Thank god we brought the white noise machine.

Day 2: We had to get to plaza colon by 7 am! The bus made several stops before heading to Fajardo – no food or coffee allowed on the bus! Once we got to the harbor we got coffee and guava/cheese quesito that was surprisingly good for being from a deli. We picked up our flippers and a snorkel then boarded catamaran. Chris was an amusing bartender. Huge waves slapped the catamaran as we made our way out to sea. At first the crew teased us by playing reggae for 2 seconds (whihch we very much enjoyed), then played horribly corny music. Our first stop was a “deserted” island with crystal clear and extremely salty water. We were so buoyant! Started drinking captain’s specials/other drinks with Don Q, the natives’ preferred rum choice. Amazingly, the crew served us a delicious and healthy lunch which included Pan de agua. A similar sized boat anchored next to us with folks dancing – Puerto Rican style. What a hoot!

Our next stop was near a coral reef where we snorkeled. We were able to see a multitude of fish as well as the coral reef itself. It was so neat! We noticed we were parked next to boat called “Spread Eagle 11.” On the bus home, Laura listened to sleep meditation and napped as the AC went out on bus. It was very uncomfortable! We showered after we got back and went to Ajo de Pais, which had a great, authentic atmosphere. We ate pinchos de mahimahi, seafood paella, and some conch “dumplings” – arepas de coco. Everything was delicious and the mojitos were refreshing. Great rum punch too! I figured out how to turn out lights I hallway and block light so we slept much better.

Day 3: Grabbed excellent coffee and quesitos (1 de quest y 1 de guayba) from Mallorca. Soooooooo good!!!!!! We walked a few blocks to meet folks from food tour at 9:45. Carmen and Ricardo were our knowledgeable guides for the Flavors of San Juan food tour. We saw a couple from the booze cruise – Asian guy, Tiny Puerto Rican – by way of Chicago – girl. Also lesbian couple from Las Vegas and 2 girls from China, one with braces. First stop – coffee shop called Cuatro sombras with excellent coffee. They served us a small sandwich on croissant with guava butter, Black Forest ham and provolone. Second stop: senor paleta where we tasted passion fruit popsicles. Third stop: cafe el punto which was the art place we saw the night before. We tasted ceviche with pineapple and sriracha and alcapurrias with hot sauce called pique. They say there are as many versions of pique on the island as there are people!

Fourth stop – We made our own mofongo with a mortar and pestle and had pollo criollo and mojitos. Fifth stop – Chocobar Cortes. They served us hot chocolate with square of chocolate and cheddar – definitely an interesting combination – and churros with no cinnamon. We learned about storybooks distributed with chocolate in 40s and 50s, which was one of the only sources of written material since the islanders were so poor during that time. We also learned why some of the cobblestones are blue – they were the original ones from ship ballasts and have oxidized over time. There’s a picture above that shows the difference between those and the new ones. The older ones have held up better long term than the newer ones. Additionally we learned that the wall which was 60 feet high was created with multiple layers of sand and stone so cannon balls could not fully penetrate the wall.

We went shopping after the food tour at Spicy Carribee and various stores to purchase souvenirs. We ate the the gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles at an Italian restaurant for dinner called L’Osteria Decanter – delicious! To finish off the night we walked to the bar La Factoria which was where Despacito was filmed and is also listed as one of the best bars in the world! The interesting thing about this bar was that it was a bar within a bar 4 deep – all with a different twist and opening later and later as you go deeper.

Day 4: Got pastelitos for breakfast and it rained most of the day. We got lunch at Cafe El Punto where we got the stuffed avocado (with ceviche) which was light and refreshing! We explored Santurce which was unfortunately dead at the time. While we were there we went into one art gallery and then called it quits. When we got back to Old Town, we got completely soaked walking back to the AirBnB – so much so I had to blow dry my shoes.

After it stopped raining we went for a walk to the north and then east where we saw a beautiful expanse of green space prior to a fort. People offered to take a video and pictures from a drone of us for a price. We declined. We continued south until we found a hole in the wall rum tasting bar called Casa Melaza which had THE best pina colada we have ever tasted! It’s definitely worth the trip there! Later for dinner we went out to Cayo Caribe to get the fish tacos. On the way back we got gelato with chocolate drizzle – yum!

Day 5: The weather cleared and we took a long walk to pigeon park where pigeons live like kings and queens in their own little cubby-holes. We wanted to see the little chapel but it didn’t open while we were there. There was a group of very annoying people with whistles. Why someone would give these people whistles is beyond me. After this walk we headed to the airport and sadly ate some food in the airport prior to our flight. I’m glad we managed to avoid civil unrest and hurricanes! It was a great trip!