Tag Archive | "Old San Juan"

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Great Places for Photography in PR: Northern Region

Posted on 19 November 2010 by jose

To celebrate our island’s natural wonders, sights, and colorful culture, EyeTour has compiled the ‘Great Places for Photography in Puerto Rico’ post series. Throughout the series we will feature some of the most amazing spots for photography lovers, hidden places, and suggested photo routes found throughout the different regions of the island. Join us for our first look into Puerto Rico’s cialis 48 hours Northern Region !

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In the northern region of Puerto Rico you will find the world’s largest radiotelescope, one of the oldest cities in the New World usages of viagra and the world’s largest cave networks, among other amazing sights. This region is well balanced between its natural wonders, historical places, and amazing beaches – so prepare your cameras and be ready for an exciting journey!

Municipality of Manatí

Located on the northern side of the Island and at a one hour drive from San Juan, Manatí has some gorgeous beaches like Mar Chiquita and Playa Los Tubos. These beaches are not so hard to find but yet there might not be signs on the road so during the way pay attention to the northern side of the road (right side if you come from San Juan). Also you might want to visit the lovely Manatí town and plaza. Playa Los Tubos: Characterized by its big waves and white sand, this beach is frequented by surfers. Swimmers must be careful with the underwater currents but its beautiful shore is truly for everyone’s enjoyment. Town’s plaza: Centro de las Artes and Historic Church Mar Chiquita: This beach is renowned for its horseshoe-shaped cove surrounded by white sands. It is possible to walk through the rocky barrier and photograph the beach from that interesting perspective.

Arecibo

In the municipality of Arecibo there are different photo opportunities varying fom its beautiful shores to the mountain region where the world’s largest radar radio telescope is found. The Arecibo Observatory offers visitors a close view of the spectacular radar radio telescope of Arecibo. To get the whole shot to fit in the camera you might need a wide angle lens or a fish-eye lens. Arecibo Lighthouse: Heading out of the mountains an into the shore you will find the Arecibo Lighthouse inside the Arecibo Historical Park

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and there is an entrance fee; However, to the eastern side of the lighthouse there is nice beach were you can appreciate the lighthouse from afar. The best time for photography from this beach is at the mornings since you’ll be shooting towards the west.

San Juan

Puerto Rico’s capital city, has a great online canadian pharmacy coupon diversity of beaches, historical sites, architecture and more. This is the ideal place for photographing panoramic sites, the local culture and history of one of the oldest cities in the new world. El Escambrón: This beach has a unique view of the Capitol Building and the sea as well as the glamorous palm trees lined up in the coast. Old San Juan: The Fuerte San Felipe del Morro and the Views from its historical city walls combines a great opportunity for architectural and panoramic photography. We hope you enjoyed our selection of EyeTour photographs and remember you can share your favorite places using the comments section below!

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San Juan City Guide: Restaurants & Bars

Posted on 23 June 2009 by EyeFred

When our friends over at KitchenCaravan.com asked us to write a City Guide to Old San Juan gastronomy for their new sister site, Kitchen Caravan Travel, we told them, “It is not only a privilege but our duty to do so.” Well, we didn’t really say it out loud like that, but we sure felt it!  Enjoy an excerpt of Kitchen Caravan Travel’s City Guide to Old San Juan below and continue reading at their site, where you’ll find other city guides, including Miami, Rome, and Mexico City.  You are now ready to BE YOUR OWN GUIDE!

Walking the streets of Old San Juan, it’s easy to get lost in the history and culture of the surroundings as you make your way from museum to plaza, from fortress to fortress, from bar to beach and back again. Factor in some shopping and you see it’s not such a stretch to end up forgetting about food. However, the Caribbean sun is known to conspire with the city’s tapestry of streets and hilly climbs to work up an appetite in you. Thankfully, Old San Juan has developed into a Caribbean Mecca for food-lovers with a wide range of offerings that aim to accommodate all palates and preferences.hello kitty bouncy castle

Before delving into food, I’d like to (or rather, as your host, feel the obligation to) guide you through a couple of my favorite spots in Old San Juan.  La Plazuela de la Rogativa in Las Monjas St. is one of the Puerto Rico’s best-kept secrets.  The iconic statue standing in the middle of this plaza is a tribute to the women of the city, who are said to have saved the city from the British in the late 18th century by holding a religious procession with torches and bells (the British mistook them for reinforcements and opted to sail away).  The plaza holds one of the best views to the bay and is an obligatory stop for photo enthusiasts.  It also reminds me of my childhood.  My parents used to take my brothers and I to El Morro (located nearby, to the north of the Plazuela) to fly our kites and we would always stop here to rest and enjoy a ‘limber’ (an iced, fruit-flavored treat; I mostly went with lemon).  These are still sold by one of the neighbors living directly in front of the plaza to this day – just look for an open door in Las Monjas St. with decidedly homemade advertisements for bottled water and other refreshments and ask for today’s flavorsFeel free to explore the city by foot and visit its many historical sites, museums, parks, plazas, and shops – Old San Juan is small enough so that you are never more than a fifteen-minute walk away from the closest bar or restaurant for you to rest, recharge, have a meal or enjoy a couple of drinks.  Many of the city’s streets include a restaurant or two; even in the most residential areas you’ll find a cafetín (cafeteria), bistro, or pizza place lurking right around the corner.  However, there are some streets you might want to consider if you wish to explore your dining options quickly: Recinto Sur Street., Fortaleza St. (particularly its southern end, also known as SoFo), and Del Cristo Street. Each hosts a variety of restaurants and flavors.

There’s no doubt that El Morro (short for: Fuerte San Felipe del Morro) is Puerto Rico’s best-known tourist attraction.  An impressive Spanish fortress from centuries back, it is undoubtedly a site to behold.  Trust me, you really have to see it for yourself.  However, I’d like to direct your attention to the large field in front of El Morro.  This is were adults and kids come to fly their kites on Sundays, were young couples hold hands and share their first kiss, were students from the nearby art school find inspiration, and people of all ages hold picnics with their loved ones.  The trade winds cast a spell (the ‘try having a cell phone conversation now’ spell) on those who wonder into this field, beckoning all to stay and stare at the fortress as it forever separates the emerald blades of grass from the deep blue waters of the Atlantic and the azure skies above.  Staring out into the ocean, breeze blowing by – now this is how you experience history!

El Morro and La Rogativa are some of the places I hold close to my heart, serving as inspiration for EyeTour.com – Puerto Rico’s Premier Online Video Guide – a project born out of love for technology, design, and my beautiful country.  I invite you to take a look at the site if you are interested in learning more about Old San Juan and the rest of Puerto Rico’s many wonders.  Now, on to some gastronomical exploration!

Restaurants:

I. Al Estilo Criollo
Visitors might want to try the local criollo flavors first.  Puerto Rican cuisine, known locally as ‘cocina criolla’ is a unique blend of European, Amerindian Taínos, African, and North American influences that although similar to Latin American and Spanish cuisines, but has a flavor that is all its own.  Here are some of the best places to try it out in Old San Juan.

Since its humble beginnings in the municipality of Caguas, closer to the island’s central mountain range, Raíces Restaurant quickly became synonymous with ‘mofongo’.  A signature dish in Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine, it consists of fried green plantain (or yucca), which is then mashed, seasoned (with garlic, olive oil, and chicharrones or pork cracklings), and oftentimes stuffed with meat.  The mofongo here is one of the best I’ve tried in my youngish life and their success in opening a second restaurant in Old San Juan’s Recinto Sur St. is ours to savor.  You can’t go wrong with Raíces’s specialty, the Mofongo Relleno de Churrasco al Chimichurri (that’s a mouthful – basically a mofongo stuffed with skirt steak).  Get the Festival Boricua, an appetizer platter, to sample several of the fried treats you’d buy off vendors in popular beach areas like Piñones and the Balneario de Luquillo.  Also worth noting is the restaurant’s central motif, which embraces the Puerto Rican criollo experience, recreating a typical countryside homecirca 1940 with local crafts, authentically dressed servers, and even live Plena music.  Some locals might find the décor a bit gimmicky, and I won’t argue with that statement, but ultimately it’s a good-natured effort to revel in our Puerto Rican roots and to let visitors join in on the fun.

What to read the entire article? Continue reading over at Kitchen Caravan Travel.

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EyeCandy: Taste of Rum Festival @ Old San Juan

Posted on 27 May 2009 by EyeFred

Get a glimpse of what the inaugural Taste of Rum Festival in

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Old San Juan had to offer: good food, lively music, great people, and the finest rums in the Caribbean. Also included are some awesome pictures from the High Flair Bartender Entertainment stage. Get started by clicking on the EyeCandy gallery below!

To learn more about rum in Puerto Rico click here. To learn more about the Taste of Rum event click here.

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Beginner's Guide to Photography in Old San Juan

Posted on 13 May 2009 by jose

As a resident of Old San Juan with over 50 video and photography productions on location for EyeTour.com under the belt, it’s with much pride and joy that I share with you now my favorite spots to photograph in the historic city. Since I live close to the piers that make up the San Juan Marina on the southern end of the city, for me it’s always a treat to hike up the city streets like San Justo St. and Cruz St. while enjoying the views that open up as one moves towards higher ground, always taking advantage of the casual encounters that the city provides the avid photographer. So if you have the chance to explore the city and its many photo opportunities, keep your head up and your camera securely on hand because in Old San Juan the potential for a great shot lies around every corner.

Fuerte San Cristóbal

Recognized as the largest fortification in the Americas, El Fuerte San Cristóbal is full of unique photo opportunities and is the best spot for panoramic views of the city and for photos of Spanish architecture of centuries back, with its tunnels and barracks that once served as part of the city’s defense system. Explore all the different levels of the fort in search of the perfect panoramic shot, especially, the highest level of San Cristóbal, known as the Caballero, on which one may observe the entire city of Old San Juan and its bay.

Best Time For Photography: In the mornings if you want to take pics of El Morro and the northern end of the city towards the Atlantic. For great wide photographs of El Capitolio, which houses Puerto Rico’s Senate and House of Representatives, to the East – you’ll get a better shot after 1pm or at sunset. Plaza Colón can be seen from the south western side of the fort and makes for great shots too.

Fuerte San Felipe del Morro

The second oldest fortification making up San Juan’s defense system, El Morro is a sight to behold. From the gravel path that leads visitors to the fort there are good photo opportunities for panoramic views of Isla de Cabra and the Bacardi Factory across the San Juan Bay. If you look behind you as you walk the path to El Morro, you’ll also find good shots of the Escuela de Artes Plásticas, and of the Cementerio de San Juan to the East. Once inside the fortress you’ll find yourself bombarded with opportunities for great shots: there’s an ancient (renovated) lighthouse, soldier barracks, a dungeon, cannons, and the iconic Garitas (sentry box) from where soldiers kept watch of the seas. Be sure to make your way to the main platform of the “Santa Barbara Battery” – a good vantage point for views – and get a couple of shots from there. This is a fun place to wander around and simply explore all the different angles to the magnificent architecture.

Best Time For Photography: For a better view of the bay, visit the fortress during the morning. For spectacular high-contrast shots of El Morro, get yourself to its adjacent field as the sun is coming down (get there around 6pm to be on the safe side and have some time to set up).

Cementerio de San Juan

The cementery is a great place to explore and take photographs of the marble mausoleums and tombs, nestled between the fortified walls of the city and the waters of the Atlantic. There are also some good wide shots you can take of the cemetery from above, either standing on the fortified wall you can access by walking on the field adjacent to El Morro or all the way back from the Plaza del Quinto Centenario. Be careful as you walk down the small path that leads to the cemetery since it is a two way road and cars pass through occasionally. Also, be wary of exploring this (and any other) cementery at night, as there is no security around.

Best Time for Photography:
Anytime of the day – just don’t go there at night. Your shots will probably focus on the numerous marble sculptures, but in clear and sunny days you can shoot them against the blue hues of the Atlantic and make them really stand out in your compositions. Add a Puerto Rican flag into your frame for a nice touch of red.

La Muralla de la Ciudad

There is a winding path (favorite among joggers) that begins at La Puerta de San Juan, the last of three doors that were closed at night in order to protect the city and its residents. The path follows the outer side of the city walls around the San Juan Bay and the Atlantic, giving photographers an unique perspective on the majesty of these fortifications that shoot up hundreds of feet into the sky. If you walk to the end of the path (it will take you a good 20-30min depending on your pace) you’ll find yourself looking at El Morro from below.

The Garitas make for great shots from this point so aim at them too.

Best Time for Photography: Anytime during the day if the weather is fine. Bring water (and a snack) for the walk. This is also an excellent spot for pictures of a San Juan sunset since you’ll be able to see it clearly across the bay.

Plazuela De La Rogativa

La Plazuela de la Rogativa is a hidden gem of a spot between La Fortaleza and Casa Rosa that offers a spectacular view of the San Juan Bay – a must stop for photographers! This is THE perfect place for a panoramic photo out into the bay, a picture of the historic Puerta de San Juan from above, some shots of Garitas, and plenty of opportunities to capture the beautiful Rogativa Statue at the center of this small plaza.

Best Time For Photography: During the morning if you want the sun to work in your favor as you aim towards the view of the bay. The later during the day, the higher the contrast you will get from the sun. You can also get nice vanilla and purple skies during sunsets.

View from Casa Rosa

To the north of the Plazuela de la Rogativa, Casa Rosa also offers a splendid view of the San Juan Bay – additionally, from this point of view you have an extraordinary shot of La Fortaleza (the Governor’s estate) and the city wall. Get close to the Garita in front of Casa Rosa and you might also shoot some interesting photos from that vantage point.

Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico

This is a place that might go undetected by some tourists and locals alike but the historical building that houses the Instituto de Cultura is a great example of the Spanish Colonial Architecture at its finest. Feel free to explore its interior patios, walk its spacious halls and photograph all the colour and splendor that this place has to offer. This is a good place to take pictures of the columns and arcs that characterize much of the architecture in Old San Juan.  The Instituto de Cultura is open from 9:30am to 5pm and its is closed on Mondays.

Calle San Sebastián

San Sebastián street is the perfect place to mingle with locals. The colorful colonial houses and the laid-back atmosphere makes it the right spot to get lost walking the cobblestone street and wonder around. At the western end of the street you will find El Parque de la Beneficencia and Casa Blanca, both recommended places for further exploration and photography. During the night this is one of the main streets in Old San Juan for people to hang out in bars and restaurants.

El Arsenal

Located near the Plaza de la Dársena at the west end of the San Juan Marina, El Arsenal is a colorful place ideal for taking pictures of the interior patios and architecture. Also you might find on its premises a small chapel, old Spanish canons, and a wide view of the bay. El Arsenal’s interior space is also dedicated to galleries which often feature exhibits of local artists. It opens Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.

El Capitolio

The Capitol Building is an interesting place for photography. Located a short walk away from the San Cristóbal fortress and in front of a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean. You are allowed to take pictures inside the building, so make sure you take advantage of this opportunity, as you will find inside the original document for the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as well as several mosaics on the ceiling. Visiting hours are Monday to Fridays from 9am to 4pm.

Below are some links you might find useful:

Lose yourself within the city and its historic streets and be ready for casual encounters with Puerto Rican culture, colors, and flavors.  Be creative. Explore. Your curiosity will be rewarded with great photo opportunities!

Travel Photography Tips: From National Geographic , From Kodak , From Picture Correct

Composition: 4 Rules of Composition for Landscape Photography , Rule of Thirds

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Taste of Rum: An International Rum & Food Festival

Posted on 12 May 2009 by EyeFred

EyeTour.com is one of the media sponsors for the inaugural edition of the Taste of Rum International Rum & Food Festival to be held next Sunday May 24th, 2009 at El Paseo de la Princesa in Old San Juan.  Join us for a day of Caribbean music, culinary treats, and of course, the best rums in the world!  Prepare for the event by reading our featured article on Puerto Rican rum here.  We’ll be covering the event and will feature it on an EyeCandy Photo Gallery update on our blog soon after, so check back for updates!

Some information from the event website:

Location: Paseo La Princesa, Viejo San Juan
Date: Memorial Day Weekend, May 24th, 2009

Taste of Rum 2009 features a chance to experience a wide variety of Caribbean rums, great food from our neighboring islands, live music, and, last but not least, a feast of Puerto Rican joyful energy, culinary and musical richness, and culture!

The Puerto Rico International Rum Competition
Features the unique experience of rum tasting with international and local rums, to be judged by a panel of rum experts and celebrities. The event will be held May 23rd & 24th at Hotel Casa Herencia.

Day Event: Doors Open 12pm

– Closed @ 5pm (Tickets will be available until 4pm)

  • Sampling Cover Charge $10.00 Plus Tax. / Includes 2 Rum Samples & 1 Typical Food Sample Tickets
  • Premium Cover Charge $30.00 Plus Tax. / Includes 14 Rum Sample Tickets & 6 Typical Food Sample Tickets

Night Event: Doors Open 7pm – Closed @ 11pm

  • El Catador Cover Charge $45.00 Plus Tax. / Included Unlimited Rum & Food Sample
  • To benefit SAPIENTIS, a non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of Puerto Rico’s public education system
  • Learn about the organization at www.sapientis.org

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Walking Tour: Old San Juan Part 3/4

Posted on 04 May 2009 by GSV

For Part 1 of the

Old San Juan Walking Tour, click here.

For Part 2 of the Old San Juan Walking Tour, click here.

After experiencing Old San Juan’s beauty through sites such as Paseo De La Princesa, La Rogativa and El Morro, you might ask yourself: “What else is there to see in Old San Juan?”. But the answer is simple: there’s plenty more for you to discover so keep on reading below! On this leg of the tour we will continue to explore the northern section of the city and begin our descent through Del Cristo Street. So, let’s not waste anymore time and continue with part three.

The Third Time’s the Charm (Leg 3 of 4)

After enjoying everything Calle San Sebastián has to offer we retrace our steps a bit, heading north on Del Cristo Street, past Iglesia San José, towards the Convento de los Dominicos (Walking Tour site #19). Located on Norzagaray Street, the structure dates back to the 1500′s when it served as a convent for . Through restoration efforts, the building maintains the characteristics of period Spanish architecture and serves as a space for art exhibits and a score of other cultural events.

19. Convento de los Dominicos

19. Convento de los Dominicos

Although we’ve seen it from afar and walked alongside it, we still haven’t explored Plaza del Quinto Centenario (#20), located to the west of Convento de los Dominicos. The different levels of the plaza commemorate the 500 years since European contact with the New World. The fountain at the lower level not only adorns but also offers passers-by, especially children, a refreshing soak against the daytime heat. Going up the two flights of stairs we find the Totem Telurico, a 40-foot tall structure that stands at the city’s highest point and looks out towards El Morro and the Atlantic Ocean.

20. Plaza del Quinto Centenario

20. Plaza del Quinto Centenario

Continuing Norzagaray Street to the west, directly adjacent to Quincentennial Plaza, is the Cuartel de Ballaja, which contains our next two attractions: Museo de las Américas (#21) and Museo del Indio (#22). The three-storied building, which used to serve as barracks for Spanish soldiers, features an impressive interior plaza – a typical trait of Spanish architecture in the city. On the first floor of the building we find the Museo de las Américas. Boasting several exhibits focused on New World art, the museum is also home to a vast collection of “santos” – a Latin American tradition of carving saints out of wood and other materials. The second floor houses the Museo del Indio, which includes an extensive collection of artifacts pertaining to the Taíno culture and other pre-columbian inhabitants of the island and abroad.

21. Museo de las Américas

21. Museo de las Américas

22. Museo del Indio

22. Museo del Indio

Further west on Norzagaray and across the street from the Plaza is the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (#23). Constructed in the late 19th century, the two-storied building now serves as headquarters for the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP), the main government agency for promoting the arts on the island.

23. Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

23. Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

Walking south along Morro Street, with the ICP on the right-hand side, you will reach Parque de la Beneficencia (#24). A small, breezy plaza, you will normally see groups of local art students taking a break from their classes or skaters honing their skills on the steps and rails of the park. You may rest here and watch them practice or continue southward towards our next destination.

24. Parque de la Beneficencia

24. Parque de la Beneficencia

On the southwest corner of Parque de la Beneficencia we find the iron gate leading into Casa Blanca (#25). This residence would have been Juan Ponce de Leon‘s home, but he ended up a casualty – getting shot by an arrow – while searching for the Fountain of Youth in Florida before construction was completed. Instead, his lineage lived in the mansion for centuries after. The courtyard and gardens are incredibly well kept and serve as a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life; the foliage casts shadows that cool the area while the trickling harmony of the fountains adds to the serene and otherworldly atmosphere. Admission to the gardens is free of charge and you only have to pay a small fee if you want to browse around the refurbished mansion.

25. Casa Blanca

25. Casa Blanca

With a sense of rejuvenation, we leave Casa Blanca and head east on Calle San Sebastián until we reach Plaza San José once again. This time we head south, down Del Cristo Street. To your left you will find bars and restaurants, including one of our favorite dining places, El Burén. Further south is a lovely, small plaza with

benches, a huge tree providing shade and several strange and unique sculptures. This plaza, known as Plazuela or Caleta de Las Monjas, is surrounded by our next three sites.

Located at the intersection of Del Cristo with Calle Las Monjas is El Gran Hotel El Convento (#26). Formerly a Carmelite nun convent, the majestic building is now a first-rate hotel, attracting guests from all over the world. El Picoteo, located in the hotel, is a fine dining option.

26. Gran Hotel El Convento

26. Gran Hotel El Convento

Museo del Niño (#27) is situated on a three-story building to the west of Caleta de Las Monjas. The museum features interactive exhibits presented in a dynamic way, where children can have fun and learn with the very friendly staff. If a child is participating in this walking tour, the museum is a can’t-miss spot.

27. Museo del Niño

27. Museo del Niño

Directly in front of Museo del Niño – it’s kind of hard to miss – stands one of the island’s most significant religious structures, the Catedral de San Juan (#28). Construction of this imposing building began during the 16th century and some of its original components remain to this day. The cathedral’s main attraction is the marble tomb of explorer Juan Ponce de Leon.

28. Catedral de San Juan

28. Catedral de San Juan

As you walk down the cathedral steps, head north on Del Cristo St., we’re going to make a quick detour. Make a right at the first corner and walk towards San José Street. Right behind the cathedral is the Corralón de San José (#29). One of Puerto Rico’s oldest theatres, the historic site was recently re-opened after several years in disrepair. Continue to head south on San José Street to arrive at this leg’s final destination.

29. Corralón de San José

29. Corralón de San José

La Plaza de Armas (#30) is the expansive plaza located between San Francisco and Fortaleza Streets. Adorned with statues, fountains, benches and gazebos, the promenade is an popular meeting place because of its centric orientation in the city. Lots of pigeons meet here too. Across the street to the north of the plaza is San Juan’s City Hall, also an important historic building.

30. Plaza de Armas

30. Plaza de Armas

Wow, 30 sites and still more to go. There’s a lot of walking left and Part 4 promises to be memorable. So save up some energy for our final stroll and let’s meet up again for the conclusion to our walking tour of Old San Juan.

On to Part 4 of EyeTour.com’s Old San Juan Walking Tour.

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Get Your Ex Back

Posted on 28 April 2009 by EyeFred

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Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh, it’s a kite!

Posted on 28 April 2009 by GSV

As spring turns into summer, and the skies begin to clear up, the time-honored tradition of kite flying returns to occupy open spaces all around Puerto Rico. The most popular spot on the island for this type of activity is the wide, open field of El Morro. The area around the historical landmark contains all the necessary conditions for successful kite flying in a picturesque setting: the sprawling green lawn, the unobstructed airspace (no power lines or aircraft), and the constant, unrelenting trade winds. With these characteristics, it’s no wonder why kite flying in El Morro is something every Puerto Rican family tries at least once. Picnics are commonplace with parents and children participating in the event; the terrain strewed with blankets, chairs and coolers, the sky dotted with simple or fantastical chiringas – as the flying objects are locally known. Kite flying is such a beloved leisure activity that the National Park Service has an annual Kite Festival celebrating the tradition, as well as raising awareness about the environmental repercussions we can avoid by being mindful of our surroundings. In fact, kite safety and etiquette are things you should familiarize yourself with before setting out. With the knowledge at hand, you’ll be able to better enjoy the experience.

And what else do you need to enjoy the experience? A kite, of course! Kites are fairly simple to make right at home, so you can certainly turn your weekend into a full-fledged experience by making your own kite and proudly displaying your unique creation up in the sky. You can also bring your own store-bought flying sensation or buy one from the numerous street vendors (or the local pharmacy or toy store) lining the streets around El Morro and the Plaza del Quinto Centenario. Gayla is one of the most trusted brands for cheap yet incredibly sturdy and easy to assemble kites – and their classic designs like the ‘Baby Bat’ look great when displayed up above. Readily available in Old San Juan for less than five dollars, there is a lot of fun to be had on the cheap! Kite-flying season runs ostensibly from

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mid-spring to late summer and isn’t just focused on El Morro. Several other municipalities, like Fajardo and Lajas, celebrate the season with festivals of their own.water slide hire sydney

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Walking Tour: Old San Juan Part 2/4

Posted on 22 April 2009 by GSV

For Part 1 of the Old San Juan Walking Tour, click here. We’ve already seen Old San Juan’s southwestern quarter and it’s host of plazas and monuments. As we travel towards the city’s northern coast we will find all sorts of specialized museums, historical buildings, streets lined with bars and restaurants, and, of course, the island’s most visited site. So let’s continue with the second part of our Walking Tour, shall we? As Far as Sequels Go (Leg 2 of 4) By now you’ve soaked up all the spectacular views from Plazuela de La Rogativa and you’re feeling refreshed and energized to continue with your exploration of the city. Head north on Calle Las Monjas (past La Rogativa to your left and past a white-columned gate) and you will find Casa Rosa (Walking Tour sight #10). Literally meaning “pink house”, the distinctive building was used as a garrison during the Spanish colonial period but now serves as a daycare center.

10. Casa Rosa

10. Casa Rosa

Continuing the tree-laden path north leads to the open expanse of El Morro’s field. But before we reach the fortress, you’ll find another point of interest to our right: la Escuela de Artes Plasticas (#11). Formerly an insane asylum, this historic building, a prime location for inspiration and beauty, currently houses the premiere school for arts in Puerto Rico.

11. Escuela Artes Plásticas

11. Escuela de Artes Plásticas

After meandering around the school (you never know if you might witness some sort of divine inspiration going on) we’re ready to tackle the big one – Fuerte San Felipe del Morro (#12). To reach El Morro just follow the quarter mile path that runs through the open grass field where you might find families enjoying a picnic out in the breezy,
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sun-drenched space. Kite flying is immensely popular here; the trade winds blasting from the Atlantic and the vastness of the open sky are a perfect medium for this time-honored tradition.

12. Fuerte San Felipe del Morro

12. Fuerte San Felipe del Morro

The fort of El Morro is without a doubt the most popular destination for visitors to the island, and for good reason. The imposing structure was begun in 1540 but didn’t achieve it’s completed state until several centuries later. As San Juan’s principal defense against attacks by sea, El Morro has served on several occasions as repellent to invasion forces – from the English (1595, 1598 & 1797) and the Dutch (1625) to the Americans (1898). Take your time while exploring the area, history is seeped into the walls of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and the views of the bay and surrounding ocean are a marvel to look at. Adjacent to El Morro is another
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much-photographed spot in the city, el Cementerio de San Juan (#13). To get there, walk the length of El Morro’s grounds heading east towards Plaza del Quinto Centenario. A road leads down into the surreal atmosphere of the cemetery where ghostly statues and elaborate decorations adorn some of the tombs. Many important Puerto Ricans are buried here: nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos, pro-statehood movement founder Jose Celso Barbosa, and poet and politician Jose de Diego. After you’ve taken in the views from the cemetery go up to the street once again. We’ve still have some ground to cover and much more to see.

13. Cementerio de San Juan

13. Cementerio de San Juan

Norzagaray Street, due east, lands us on our next stop, Museo de San Juan (#14). Dedicated to the preservation of the city’s history, the museum is the ideal place to learn all about your surroundings during your stay in Old San Juan. Included in the displays are works from Puerto Rican masters Jose Campeche and Francisco Oller.
14. Museo de San Juan

14. Museo de San Juan

After you’ve caught up a bit with the culture, it’s time to discover another aspect of it first-hand. To the south of Museo de San Juan we enter Calle San Sebastian (#15), a favorite hangout spot for locals and tourists. The street is famous for the festival held every January, when hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to San Juan to experience the festivities first-hand. But San Sebastián St. is active year-round with plenty of restaurants and bars inviting patrons to take a load off, if only for a little while. Have a drink or order up some food if you like, but we still have 3 more spots to go on this leg of the tour. You’ll have more time to explore the street and have as many drinks as you want afterward – promise!

14. Calle San Sebastián

15. Calle San Sebastián

If we go west on San Sebastian Street, we’ll reach it’s intersection with Del Cristo Street. At this juncture we find Plaza San Jose (#16). The plaza is easily recognizable thanks to the statue of Puerto Rico’s first governor, Juan Ponce de Leon, and to the centuries-old church that gives the square it’s name. The shaded benches offer a welcome respite for those in need of it. Fortunately for us, the last 2 spots surround Plaza San Jose.
16. Plaza de San José & Iglesia de San José

16. Plaza de San José & Iglesia de San José

To the right of the statue – perpendicular to the church – is Museo de Casals (#17), dedicated to the life and work of world-famous cellist and composer Pablo Casals. Though born in Spain, Casals has been adopted as an important figure in the development of the fine arts in Puerto Rico.
17. Museo de Casals

17. Museo de Casals

Next to Museo Casals is Museo de Nuestras Raices Africanas (#18). The museum chronicles the rich cultural heritage of West Africa that has contributed to Puerto Rican society. Apart from the fascinating exhibits, the building that houses the museum is also an architecturally significant piece of history.
18. Casa de los Contrafuertes/Museo de Nuestras Raíces Africanas

18. Casa de los Contrafuertes/Museo de Nuestras Raíces Africanas

This concludes the second leg of our Walking Tour. Head back to Calle San Sebastian for more cocktails and a proper meal or join us for Part 3, where we’ll explore more historical buildings before heading down Del Cristo Street.

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Walking Tour: Old San Juan Part 1/4

Posted on 17 April 2009 by GSV

There’s a certain mystique to Old San Juan – the historic sector of Puerto Rico’s capital – a timeless aura difficult to describe to people who’ve never experienced the Caribbean’s bona fide international city first-hand.  Cobblestone streets and centuries-old architecture mix with the trade winds that blow from the Atlantic, the hustle and bustle of city life, Puerto Rico’s central government, the island’s liveliest nightlife, and some of its best cuisine, making the city a very special place to wander around

in.  The true charm of Old San Juan lies in exploring every nook and cranny, every oddity, be it by yourself or with love ones.  You can find relaxing spots from which to gaze out at the horizon, enjoy the sunset or watch the stars twinkling in the moonlight with ease.  Opportunities to discover and take in the history at the heart of Old San Juan open up with every step.  Every visit is a chance to explore something new, or rediscover old things and see them in a new light.  It happens to everybody, be they residents, visiting locals, expatriates or tourists; the city is magical that way.

No matter where you stand, sculptures, plazas, churches, museums and many other places of interest are just around the corner.  But where should you start? What exactly do you want to see?  “Gosh, I sure hope I don’t miss anything worthwhile” – says the lonely traveler desperate for some, any, direction.  Worry not!  To make your exploration of the Old City a more organized and informative proposition, we gladly present the first installment of EyeTour.com’s Old San Juan Walking Tour.

In the Beginning (Leg 1 of 4)

Let us assume, for the purposes of this exercise, that you’re starting off at the Marina (Walking Tour sight #1) in the southern area of Old San Juan.  Cruise ships dock at the piers year-round, bringing with them millions of visitors eager to explore the city.  The first building you might see just across the street is the Sheraton at Old San Juan and its two restaurants – Chicago Burger Co. and Palio.  Several other shops, restaurants and bars are lining the avenue so feel free to explore the area to suit your needs but don’t wander off too far, we’re gonna head west to continue with our (eye)tour.

1. La Marina

As we continue west towards our second sight, Plaza de la Darsena and La Casita (#2), you might want to make a stop at the corner of Marina and Tanca streets where you will find Casa Don Q.  Besides being a museum dedicated to the history of rum production on the island, it also has rum products available for purchase – not to mention the complimentary cocktail at the bar.  The same building that houses the Casa Don Q, known as the Edificio Ochoa or Ochoa Building, is the current site for the Puerto Rico Tourist Information Center and the Rums of Puerto Rico Tasting Bar, where you can have another cocktail if you’re so inclined (And no, Puerto Rico is not trying to get you drunk! We just like to share our rum, being the Rum Capital of the world and all…).  Across the street from this building you will find the Plaza de la Darsena, a picturesque plaza overlooking San Juan Bay where gently blowing breezes refresh weary travelers (not you, though, we’ve only just begun!).  The main structure here is La Casita, which has served time and again as a tourist information center.  This plaza is often host to artisans and local vendors, as well as a horse carriage service that takes visitors around the city.

2. Plaza de la Darsena

2. Plaza de la Darsena

Directly to the north of Plaza Darsena is another small plaza – Plaza de Hostos (#3) – named in honor of one of the most important figures in Puerto Rican history, Eugenio Maria de Hostos.  The plaza is also oftentimes host to artisans as well as vendors selling fried treats, sandwiches, and refreshments.  Particularly popular is the piragua – a perfect way to cool off from the sun’s scorching heat.

3. Plaza de Hostos

3. Plaza de Hostos

El Arsenal (#4) is located south of Plaza de Hostos, going down La Puntilla Street, at the southern most tip of Old San Juan.  Though previously used for weapons’ storage and as a naval station, El Arsenal is now used for more peaceful purposes, mainly artist showcases and other cultural events.  We’re now almost halfway through our first leg of the walking tour.  Let’s go back north the same way we came so we can stroll through the most picturesque promenade in all the island – the Paseo de la Princesa!

4. El Arsenal

4. El Arsenal

Paseo de la Princesa (#5) is without a doubt one of the signature sights of Old San Juan and the entire island.  If we walk west from Plaza de Hostos we’ll be able to enjoy the whole brick boardwalk in all it’s glory.  The wide-open space of the promenade lends itself to picture taking or just a pleasant stroll.  A cafe/restaurant is shaded by huge trees and palms that line the sidewalk.  Further ahead is the headquarters for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a refurbished building that was once a prison during the Spanish Colonial era.  After walking the length of Paseo La Princesa you will find the Raices fountain, a breathtaking homage to the roots of Puerto Rican culture.  Photo ops abound, either of the beautiful fountain sculptures, the surrounding city walls or the unobstructed view of the opening to San Juan harbor.  And if you thought the fountain was beautiful during the day, be sure to check it out at night if time permits, when the whole paseo is illuminated by streetlight.

5. Paseo de la Princesa, Antigua Cárcel, and Raíces Fountain

5. Paseo de la Princesa, Antigua Cárcel, and Raíces Fountain

Continuing the path northward along the shore we reach La Puerta de San Juan (#6).  A relic of the time when the city used to be closed off at night to keep attackers at bay, this entrance is the only one (out of three) left standing.  It’s still an imposing sight and it serves as our tour’s gateway into the city proper.You may like cheap nike sneakers.

6. Puerta de San Juan

6. Puerta de San Juan

At this point, you have two options.  Before passing through La Puerta de San Juan, you can continue the trail to the left and walk along La Muralla de la Ciudad (#7) with spectacular views of the bay and the coast on the other side.  The path leads directly to the northwestern tip of San Juan, directly below El Morro (even though there is no access to the fort through that path, the unique view of the surroundings is worth the extra effort).

7. La Muralla de la Ciudad

7. La Muralla de la Ciudad

If you prefer to bypass the path along the old city walls you can pass through La Puerta de San Juan and cross the street to Museo Felisa Rincon de Gautier (#8).  This 300 year-old structure was the original residence of Doña Fela, the first female mayor of a capital city in the Americas.  It now displays personal effects and memorabilia pertaining to the life of this beloved politician.

8. Museo Felisa Rincón de Gautier

8. Museo Felisa Rincón de Gautier

Our last stop in the first leg of EyeTour.com’s Old San Juan Walking Tour just happens to be my personal favorite.  Across from Doña Fela’s Museum and up a flight of steps is the Plazuela de la Rogativa (#9).  Featuring a jaw-dropping view of the surrounding ocean and coast, the 12-foot tall bronze statue is one of the most photographed sculptures in Puerto Rico.  As with the Paseo de la Princesa, the awesome view is only magnified when the sun goes down and streetlamps iluminate the area.  It is then that the twinkling lights of ships at sea join the stars up above to create an almost ethereal atmosphere.

9. Plazuela de la Rogativa

9. Plazuela de la Rogativa

So, you’ve made it this far.  Might as well stick around for Part 2 where we’ll visit other places of interest like El Morro, San Cristobal and Capilla del Cristo. What are you waiting for? Continue your exploration of the historic city of Old San Juan by clicking here!

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