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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Seeing Old San Juan with New Eyes

It wasn’t my shining moment. In San Juan on our recent cruise, we were the last ones back on the ship.

We weren’t the ones who come running down the pier just as the gangway is pulled in, to the hoots of onlookers hanging over their balcony railing.

But pretty darn close. One of the crew came running over to usher us in.

I do have an excuse, if a lame one. I can’t tear myself away from Old San Juan.

When we were last there, it was right after Hurricane Maria. Most of the places were shuttered. The few that were open were dark and hot, without power or customers.

This time, however, Old San Juan was restored to its usual, fascinating self. And though I’ve been there many times, I felt as if I were seeing it for the first time. Never did the buildings look more colorful, more ornate or more majestic. The Golden Trumpets and bougainvillea seemed to burst with color and joy.

We wandered down side streets and found places we’d never seen before. Like the splendid little pastry shop shown below, a Spanish Parisian-style patisserie. We took pictures and moped away, tortured that we were in port too short a time to go in.

Another street found us facing a sprawling ceiling of umbrellas—a commemoration of Puerto Ricans who served in U.S. wars.

At every turn seemed to be a beguiling boutique and bohemian café. Lapis-toned cobblestones, mosaic tile stairways and storefronts. Tropical flora-laden parks. The forts. The fountains. And on and on.

How can you not love Old San Juan? It’s old world Europe meets trendy urban chic, and truly one of the best destinations for the Caribbean cruiser.

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