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San Juan – Puerto Rico

March 5, 2018

How did we end up in San Juan, Puerto Rico? Ummm, this was not a planned stop but when we were sailing by it was either keep going in uncertain winds or stop in San Juan. Stopping didn’t sound so bad considering to sail west from Fajardo had been a little stressful what with shallow seas and breaking waves threatenjng to roll us onto our beam ends.

The entrance to San Juan was not wide but what thrilled us was the fortifications at the port side entrance that has beckoned to sailors for 6 centuries. The picture below is of the current governor’s home and the red portals are the original western gates to the old city where sailors anchored and entered the city. This would be a great place to anchor today but it’s prohibido!

The fortifications stretch for miles and are partially destroyed through successive centuries – not from warfare but simply through the growth of the city. Walls were torn down to make way for the expansion of the city to the east and south. It leaves the old city behind the walls intact for the most art. Below is the governor’s mansion at night.

Now the old city is a mecca for the cruise ship industry. It is the one place we’ve seen that can effectively absorb passengers from 4 cruise ships at a time. Streams of people flood the streets but the jewellry shops, restaurants, art galleries and historical moonuments absorb the influx and one can still find quiet places within the fort itself or in some small quiet green spot to contemplate the history this place represents.

Not only do the cobblestone streets absorb the tourist but many of the original fortifications remain providing glimpses of what protected this area for so many centuries. Guard towers ring the fortifications providing beautiful views over the north Atlantic Ocean.

The lighthouse continues to welcome sailors into the harbour and one is not to be disappointed by the range of things to see and do in San Juan let alone the rest of the island.

The National Parks maintain tbe old fortifications and it easily takes a day just to walk around what’s left of the old fort.

And views both into the inner bays of San Juan harbour and

Views into the old city

And nighttime strolls tbrough the back streets of a 16th Century town

And more daytime strolls

And

And

And

And

But what of San Juan today. Despite damages from two hurricanes in the 2017 summer season, Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the lights are back on (with very occassional black outs), and life is returning to normal while repairs to infrastructure continue. One can see some of the damage even in high end places like Paseo Caraibe with windows blown out of penthouses and torn balcony railings.

But for the most part San Juan continues to function well. This is our first big city since leaving South Africa more than a year ago. We’re enjoying seeing a city with bike paths, a public transportation system that costs .35c/senior, art galleries, theatres and an incredible array of restaurants and great places to buy food. Not only are there art galleries of high quality but in many places art adorns public and private spaces.

And

And

And

We’ve wandered the streets, walked the beaches, sampled the food, gone to the theatre talked to the people and are always amazed at the diversity, the pride of the Puerto Rican people, the quality of the food and the determination to make things work. Before I end this I do want to mention a visit to the hotel Vanderbilt located in Condado. Our evening guide on a tour of the old city recommended a visit. I am sure it’s not a hotel we could afford to stay in but we sure had fun walking through, sitting in the bar and generally getting a good feel for the place. It’s a mixture of Art Deco and modern; blending the two perfectly. Below are a few photos and I am sure you can go online to see more if you feel your wallet can afford a few nights of luxury.

And

And

Blessed with good winds (unlikely) we hope to be in the Bahamas soon.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. MICHELLE GUERRA permalink
    March 5, 2018 12:37

    Hello canadian friends,

    Thanks for these wonderful pictures.
    hope you are well
    Here much cold ;
    From Michelle french old friend !

  2. March 5, 2018 12:43

    Hi – just read you report from San Juan – interesting as always, and lovely photos. we thought we would have caught up by now and met you finally, but not so. We are anchored in Fajardo, and have a hire car to drive to San Juan tomorrow! Can you tell me where you anchored? Or did you go to the big marina?
    Maybe we will catch you in Luperon – are you going there or another place in Dominican Rep.?
    Regards – we’ll keep pedalling hard and maybe catch up
    Pauline

  3. March 5, 2018 14:50

    Tony:

    Turn the screws a little more! Great photos; thanks.
    Fred

  4. March 5, 2018 15:07

    Good read and photos!
    Rose & Steve

  5. Wayno permalink
    March 5, 2018 16:23

    Nice one ☝️ enjoyed that 😊

  6. Jazwinski Elzbie permalink
    March 5, 2018 16:37

    Wow looks wonderful, safe sailing to the Bahamas!

  7. March 6, 2018 10:29

    I have been following the journey since we met in Galle and love living vicariously in your sea adventures! Since we just ended our annual 7-week holiday, I had some catching up to do in reading the blog and I was excited to see your current locations. We were in Puerto Rico this past summer, pre-hurricanes, so I was thrilled to see your snapshots and see that it (and many islands around it) on the mend. I agree that the artwork of PR is amazing.

  8. Dale permalink
    March 18, 2018 23:57

    Hi Connie and Tony.
    I was thinking of you and reached out to Sue D and sent me your link to your blog..amazing!
    I will be happy to read your blog and hear about your adventures:)
    Happy to hear your doing what you love.

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