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Puerto Rico Day 2: Weather Woes in Old San Juan

We didn't get a whole lot of sleep. I loved our little apartment. It felt authentic and was right in the center of Old San Juan, just off a main square called Plaza de Armas. But with that came a lot of noise...people yelling in the streets after the bars closed, in the morning going to work, garbage trucks, and just street noise in general. This particular morning also brought dreary rain. We planned to do our own walking tour of OSJ. The rain was a letdown but we forged ahead to see how far we'd get. Turns out it wouldn't be far.

We walked from our apartment down to the first stop, Castillo San Cristobal, one of two forts in OSJ. Cristobal is the largest fort the Spanish built in the Americas and it was completed over a period of 150 years in 1783. The fort helped to defeat a British attack in 1797 and in 1898, the first shot was fired from a cannon here against US navy ships which entered Puerto Rico into the Spanish-American war. Six months later, Puerto Rico became US territory after the end of the Spanish-American war. Cristobal remained an active US military base during WWII and until 1961 when it became part of the US National Park Service.



Map of OSJ. Cristobal is on the north side of the island on the east side of OSJ.

Inside the fort. The yellow building contains an altar and the white building houses barracks and access to the roof artillery.



The main plaza of the fort where troops performed drills

View of the eastern edge of OSJ from the top of the barracks


Alex walking under the US flag, Puerto Rico flag, and the Cross of Burgundy (Spanish military flag)

View looking west from the top of the barracks

You can see the first fort built in Puerto Rico in the late 1500s, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, on the northwestern edge of the island. The colorful buildings just below is a neighborhood called La Perla and that's where we were headed for lunch.

On the way there, we passed by the basketball court built by Carmelo Anthony, a native Puerto Rican and NBA player.

We had to walk down into La Perla which is not advised at night but relatively safe during the day. I felt fine going with Alex but probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. He did get asked if he wanted to buy some weed. :) La Perla is basically a shantytown with houses built on top of each other. The neighborhood was built around a slaughterhouse in the 1700s. During that time, slaves were not allowed to live inside the city walls so they built their houses here. La Perla was very hard hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and the slow disaster response was brought to national attention when the video for "Despacito" was filmed there later that year. To be honest, the entire neighborhood looked like an electrical hazard and fire waiting to happen. We made it safely to La Garita, a seafood restaurant on the outer edge of La Perla with a view overlooking the neighborhood.

I ordered a drink that matched the colorful houses.

For lunch, I tried the local specialty, lobster mofongo (mashed plantains)

Alex had the stuffed snapper

This turned out to be the best meal of the entire trip.

The torrential rain started just as we were finishing lunch. We wanted to walk next door to the Morro fort but we were getting soaked even in raincoats and umbrellas. So we walked BY the fort and called an Uber to take us back to our dry apartment.

Next door is the Santa Magdalena Cemetery which dates back to the 1800s and is the resting place for many famous Puerto Ricans.

Our Uber finally arrived and we retreated back to our apartment to wait out the rain.

By late afternoon, it was just drizzly instead of a downpour so we walked a couple of blocks to check out the Coach store and then drove to a Walmart to get some supplies. The Walmart was a two-story store and the escalator was flat for buggies. I thought this was the coolest thing and don't understand why we don't have that here at home, especially in airports. I have literally never seen this anywhere else.

Finally the rain cleared out and we got dressed for our fancy dinner at Marmalade. I took a selfie on the balcony and didn't realize I was putting on a show for the diners across the street. They yelled out to me when I snapped the pic which made me smile.

Marmalade was a short walk away so we arrived for what would be a five course dinner. Alex started with the Ahi Tuna Tartar which was made Moroccan-style.

I started with the "popcorn shrimp" which was actually grilled shrimp with popcorn pieces. It was my favorite course.

The second course was chef's choice and that was a white bean soup with mushrooms.

For the third course, Alex got scallops.

I got a homemade pasta but I can't recall the protein involved. I do remember that it was very rich and earthy tasting.

For the fourth course, Alex got a seafood risotto.

I had the beef tenderloin.

We still had the dessert course left but we were stuffed. Alex boxed up most of the fourth course already so we had them box up dessert for us and we took it home for later.

We were full and tired so we fell into bed hoping to sleep through the noise.

Posted by zihuatcat 23:29 Archived in Puerto Rico Tagged san puerto rico alex juan

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