The Impenetrable Fortress of San Juan

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San Juan appears to have called it a night. We expected non-stop salsa around every Christmas-lit corner, especially tonight. Instead we found a few bars blasting club music and one street that was swarming with minors.

Today included a fascinating tour with a park ranger at Castillo San Cristobal, one of three forts in San Juan. The tour included access to tunnels otherwise closed to the public. Our ranger explained the labor efforts to construct the daunting fort and how it was nearly impossible to approach as an opposing fleet. The fort was challenged once by the Brits. After two weeks they gave up and retreated. That was the only test of the fort. The tunnels were interesting to explore and a phobia check. I highly recommend taking the tour and seeing the forts.

The rest of the day was occupied by walking around and sampling food and coffee. For lunch we had Mallorca sandwiches, which are dusted in powdered sugar. Think of it as the love child between a beignet and a grilled cheese.

We grabbed iced coffee at cafe cuatro and walked by stands selling this and that.

We attempted to visit a book store that housed old manuscripts and texts, but they are in the process of moving locations and were unresponsive to knocks, calls and an email.

Travel tip: guide books are just that. Information can change and businesses can move. Even if you double check online before departing, things can change.

Anticipating a late night on the town, we stopped back at our hotel for tea, a foot dip in the rooftop soaking pool and a salsa nap. We got cleaned up before our hotel/home’s nightly wine reception. The terrace overlooks Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, one of the oldest buildings in San Juan. The current building dates to 1540. Someone was getting married so we watched with our wine as the couple exited the iglesia.

We went to mass where I understood about three words in the mass: Jesus, Maria and hermano. I’ve now seen mass in English, Italian, French and Spanish.

A college friend happened to also be in San Juan, so we met up for dinner to compare itineraries and discuss travel, jobs, literature and how no one ever describes me as “adventurous.” After that we wandered around looking for live music. We were only able to find one club and it didn’t sound like salsa. Instead we settled on a corner bar and got two cocktails. Soon after a man picked up his guitar and started taking requests. He played “Yesterday” for Leann.

You may note that we did not have mofongo today. So ends our streak of 2 days.

Tomorrow we tempt our luck with aquatic transportation to tour the Bacardi facilities. At least this time we know how to kayak if we miss the ferry.

Wish us luck.

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  • Nice pics of San Juan.

    • Chef Drew

      Thanks! It’s a pretty easy place to take nice shots.