Island Hopping Part 1 - Old San Juan, PR
Because we can't seem to get enough of Puerto Rico, we went back for the third time in a 13 month period. It's a quick and easy flight and there is so much to explore. Last year, the Mann surprised me with the most beautiful hotel we'd ever been to, O:live Boutique Hotel. So there was no question that this year's trip would include a quick stop over in San Juan. We explored the top attractions last year (click here and here for those posts) so this year we had no agenda. We spent quality time at the hotel enjoying our room and the roof top bar and pool.
We also wandered into town to try a few new spots for drinks and food that our friends had recommended. We had another mission, too: for the Mann's birthday I made him a custom pair of Vans using a photo he took of the San Juan streets last year. We wanted to try to find the same spot from the photo. It took a few tries but we found the exact cobblestones!
With our shoe mission complete, our first stop was Sol Y Cruz which houses three bars/restaurants. We started off at al Fresco, the rooftop wine bar, for charcuterie and our first round of day drinks. The building is situated near the top of hill in the middle of Old San Juan and has great views of the surrounding building, balconies and cobblestone streets. In the afternoon, the Mezzanine at St. Germain opens it's doors. The Mezzanine has a speakeasy feel, with dark rooms that lead to bright Juliette balconies filled small cafe tables and miss-matched cushy arm chairs. We grabbed a couple of Medalla's and watched the city go about it's day below us. The fist floor of the building features a full menu restaurant St. Germain which looked cozy and delicious.
We couldn't resist a stop at our very favorite spot, El Batey for a bunch of drinks, a great juke box and a chat with new friends. Overtime we go to El Batey, we spend out time chatting with the quirky bartenders, locals and/or other visitors. The most interesting people find this place.
During this trip, we decided to check out a museum in the center of town. Unfortunately, it was closed for lunch so we popped over to a little hole in the wall for a rum tasting. Casa Melaza is a tiny rum boutique in "Casa del Cabildo", a house that once acted as the City Hall from the 1600's until the early 1800's. The space is old, full of character and a great vibe and features rums from various countries that you can taste and/or bring home. They also have a few cocktails if you're not into straight rum (like me). We tasted a few of the offerings and chatted with the bar tender about the rums, the islands they come from and traveling. Having waited out the museum's siesta and a passing shower, we headed back to the museum a bit boozier than before.
photo courtesy of Casa Melaza
Museo de Las Americas is a great museum with a variety of exhibits from the history of the indigenous people of Puerto Rico and the caribbean to contemporary art. We walked around for an hour or two and then headed off to find a spot for sunset watching.
On the way, we popped by La Perla, El Morro and the Cemetery and then wound our way towards the San Juan Gate.
Along our route (the Paseo), there were cats EVERYWHERE. Lazing around the parks, having naps on and under parked cars, roaming the streets and structures. The cats are cared for by an organization called Save a Gato who feed, traps and neuters the huge kitty population. We found a great spot above the boardwalk to watch the sun go down over the San Juan Bay.
Back in Condado, we strolled along Ashford Avenue, checking out the shops to the sound of crashing waves. We came upon Serafina, a chic Italian restaurant with an great indoor/outdoor space. We got a good bottle of wine, amazing food (the Nona mashed potatoes were a dream!) and chatted about the second leg of our trip.
The next morning, the Mann managed to catch a gorgeous sunrise at the beach in Condado and then we were off to the next part of our adventure!
Keywords: Architecture, Art, Boutique, Cats, Cemetery, Cobblestones, Forts, Olive, Puerto Rico, Ruins, Sunset
Work! Work! Work! Geez, how do you all do it? Love the blog to go along with these beautiful photos.
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