Day Two: San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I woke up late and walked a few blocks to Plaza de Colón on the east side of Viejo San Juan to a little place called Café Berlin with outdoor tables. I had yogurt with fresh fruit and musli. I love Latin (by which I mean Italian/Spanish/Latin American) plazas. They have a way of making brick and concrete and fountains and statues and building facades and greenery all blend together in a way that seems so natural. It’s almost like they just grew there, which I guess is why Gaudi existed.

After breakfast I walked to San Cristóbal, the other fort. It was less impressive then El Morro, but did have some nice views of the newer parts of the city skyline. The new city is a lot of midrise condos near the oceanfront and then gets shorter as it moves inland. The whole city is pretty dense and traditionally urban until you get out to the gated suburbs. Anyways, I lingered a while and then went to walk through the old city some more and visit the museums and churches. The Cathedral was ok and I found an old church on Calle de San Francisco that had beautiful wood-carved stages of the cross. The Church that I really wanted to see, Iglesia de San Juan, was closed for repairs. It was the only colonial church in the new world that was old enough to be built in gothic style. The museums I went to were ok, it was mostly nice to stand in some air conditioning for a while. Most of the museums were also free or extremely cheap which was nice too. I also walked though Casa Blanca, which is the family house of Ponce de Leon.

I found it best to retire in mid-afternoon for a short nap, while the heat was the worst.

After lunch and my nap I decided to check out some other neighborhoods. I walked east to Puerta de Tierra, which was originally the neighborhood where the mixed race people who weren’t allowed to live within the city walls lived. A lot of the neighborhood was taken up by the Capitol building and some government offices. The rest was pretty run down housing. The Capitol was pretty cool. It looked like a Romanesque version of the US Capitol building. I guess the US paid to have government buildings built in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines when then took them over in the Spanish American war, so they all have buildings that mirror the US Capitol, but in slightly different architectural styles. Incidentally, that’s why they all have flags that are red, white and blue and look kind of the same. The north side of the neighborhood had some nice Atlantic beaches, so I waded a bit and watched some surfers.

From there I kept walking into Condado, which is an upper class neighborhood that’s wedged between the Atlantic and the Laguna Los Corozos. It was mostly resort hotels and six to twenty story art deco condos. I’m told that it’s a lot like Miami Beach. There was some okay architecture, but overall it kind of sucked. For such a dense neighborhood it was extremely unvital. I guess it’s a kind of urbanity for people who don’t really like cities.

It started to rain, so I took the bus back to Viejo San Juan (I had found a map) and did a little shopping. 25 cent buses. How cool is that?

Puerto Ricans are total foodies. Part of Old San Juan is called SoFo (South of Calle Fortaleza) and is just packed with high-end NYC style designer restaurants. Unfortunately it also means that good restaurants are really expensive. I don’t really care to eat alone in nice places anyways, so I was planning on just going out once. As I was walking, looking for a place to eat dinner, I heard some salsa wafting though the air. I followed it and came upon an open air Salsa concert. There were all kinds of elderly Puerto Ricans dancing the night away. I bought some food from a street vender (some kind of Pupusa, but stuffed with pizza stuff) and enjoyed the show. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

*That's the end of the journal for the day. I’m actual Zakcq talking now. I finished uploading all of my pictures. If you click on the angel at the right, it’ll talk you to the photo set.

I talked to Jessica this morning in Istanbul and she says she’s having a great time. She finished up her work in Chisinau. She said she’s got lots of great pictures and hopefully she’ll blog her journal when she gets back. She also said she had a great run in with a strawberry flavored hookah. Awesome.


bethany 11:17 PM  

it sounds relaxing, i like the pictures.

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