So, for my last Puerto Rico post, I present you with the whimsical architecture and colors of Old San Juan. I loved how I could look down a narrow, cobblestone street lined with colorful buildings and see the sea at the bottom of the hill. Honestly, I just get excited to see hills period half the time because southeast Louisiana is so flat and I grew up in hilly, mountainous Maine. Until my next visit, I sadly conclude my Puerto Rico posts, but I highly recommend that anyone who loves history, good food and the ocean visit. It’s as affordable as going to the keys, yet more storied and you really feel like you’re getting away, that it’s foreign. And if you are passport challenged it is perfect because as a U.S. Citizen, you don’t need one.
Castillo San Cristobal is a national heritage site we got a chance to visit while in San Juan. The fort was built by the Spanish in the 1700’s and originally covered almost 30 acres, barring access to the city with its walls. Some of the walls were removed much later to allow traffic to flow more freely, but the fort is still huge. It was at least three stories high, with sections cropping up here for troop quarters, there for officers, and areas for cannons, a dungeon, for sentries, etc. It’s a very impressive structure, with a long history, like Puerto Rico itself, of changing powers. The view from the windows and lookout areas was expansive and stunning, I eventually just put my phone away and made myself stop taking pictures so that I could just soak it in.
Top left: One of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. Fried Pork Belly Mofongo (a Puerto Rican dish made out of plantains, meat and deliciousness). It was so heavy I coould barely walk around Castillo San Cristobel after, but it was worth it.
Top right: pineapple mohito ( it came with fresh strawberries, but luckily my spanish was good enough to understand that and sub pineapple since I’m allergic to strawberries)
Bottom left: coconut mohito at our hotel. Yum.
Bottom right: whole fried red snapper with fried plantain. It was fall-off-the-bones tender and the fry was nice and light so it didn’t obscure the fish. The plantain chips were so good I wished I could order them as a side and eat even more.
We also had 4 bottles of champagne over the long weekend and my favorite white wine ever, which I discovered there, but can’t even find on google. It was Albarino something (brand) and the type was marino. It was so amazing- light, fruity, not too sweet and didn’t leave an aftertaste. It was just the best and it is my life mission to find it and buy cases of it.
I just unpacked from my long weekend in Puerto Rico, and as I did, I buried my nose in the pile of chiffon dresses I’d worn during those nights at the beach restaurant/bar, taking in the scent of the beach one more time before washing it away. It’s amazing how something can smell exactly like a certain place, it wasn’t simply a beach smell, it was Isla Verde… clean and sweet and turquoise sea smelling. This is probably the weirdest paragraph I’ve written yet, but I have to say that Isla Verde is probably my favorite beach destination yet. It’s next to San Juan, but is quieter and because it was surrounded half by apartments and half by hotels, the beach was never even close to crowded. The sand was silky soft, the water clear and turquoise, and the best part was that we spend at least an hour and a half per day in the ocean, chest-deep, jumping with the waves and not once did we encounter even a fish, let alone a jelly fish, stingray or anything more sinister. I looked it up when I got home and there have only been 6 shark attacks in the all of Puerto Rico in all of recorded history. The whole island apparently has some sort of shark-repelling magic. There are areas where there are barracuda, but yeah I guess they really don’t see shark activity. The waves were also perfect and that’s the only reason I put Isla Verde beaches over the beach in St. Lucia near Soufriere, same lack of scary/annoyingly stinging creatures, same gorgeous waters but add waves. I’d still highly recommend St. Lucia to anyone though because the island and waters are stunningly beautiful in a unique way. I just happen to love a good wave.
WordPress doesn’t like to cooperate with me when I post pictures, so I may do further posts with Old San Juan and Castillo San Cristobel. Talking about them without pictures doesn’t do them justice.