Monday, February 10, 2020

Forts And Flags And Pina Coladas

On our second day in San Juan, we decided to explore the two forts and the old city. There was a big festival happening in Old San Juan while we were there and, since we didn't want to get caught up in the crowds, we went to the forts early.
We started at the Castillo de San Cristóbal. We discovered that Puerto Rico was the gateway to the New World and so these two forts, at the easternmost tip of Puerto Rico, were very important and defending the Spanish conquests. Above is Rachel taking the lower tunnel from the entrance to the main part of the fort.
We had incredible views of Old San Juan and the other fort, Castillo de San Felipe del Morro from the first fort.
The accommodations would have been quite spartan. I'm glad I live in modern times.
One of the most important duties would have been sentry duties -- keeping a lookout for attacking ships from other countries. The sentry boxes, below, have quite small slits for looking out over the ocean.
 Another gorgeous view from the fort to the Old City.
These ships were drawn in the dungeons by a prisoner. The artwork was amazing.
There was something about the stone of the fort, the green of the grass, and the blue of the ocean which I found so beautiful. Stark, but beautiful.
After exploring the first fort, we decided to wander around Old San Juan for a bit.
This big flag led up to the governor's mansion. I found it funny that it was almost 30C (86F) out and there were Christmas decorations. To me, Christmas is associated with snow and cold, not sun and the ocean!
The Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista, or in English, Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint John the Baptist, is one of the oldest buildings in Old San Juan. It was built in 1540 and is the oldest cathedral in the United States. We didn't go inside but we did enjoy the park across the street from it.
This is the San Juan gate. It dates back to 1635. It was the formal entrance to the walled city. We went through this gate to walk to the other fort, by going along the ocean, rather than through the city streets.
It was an incredible walk. It was funny because we saw a TON of cats. Supposedly, Old San Juan has a wild cat issue so there is an organization that sets out food and cares for them. But it is limited just to cats in Old San Juan. There were feeding and water stations about every thirty feet or so.
We discovered that certain measures have been put into place to prevent the ocean from ruining the forts. These rocks were one of the barriers. Both Dave and I took a TON of pictures of the water hitting the rocks. It was so crazy!
One with Rachel to break up all the ocean pictures!
This was a HUGE lizard sunning itself in the second fort. It was probably three feet long.
By the time we got to the second fort, we had run out of energy so we walked back to the first fort to catch a taxi back to our place. On the way, we enjoyed some street art.
That afternoon, we took some downtime (I napped for over an hour) and then we went to Caribe Bar, where supposedly the Pina Colada was invented. (There is a ongoing discussion whether Pina Coladas were invented by Ramon “Monchito” Marrero in 1954 at the Caribe Bar or at the Barrachina Restaurant by Ramon Portas Mingot in 1963. You can read more about that debate here.) Our cruise Facebook group was having a meetup there and I wanted to go. Rachel met her new BFF and Dave and I enjoyed original Pina Coladas!
I took my sunglasses off my head for this picture but clearly I should have left them on because they were holding my hair down. Ha!

We met up with my mom and dad for supper and then all turned in for an early evening. The next day we had a boat to catch! Whoooo hoooo!!!!!

*You can read about Days 3 and 4 here


  1. Awesome photos. We love visiting forts too. The colourful houses and the bit PR flag look so cool.

    1. The fort visit was seriously so much fun!!! And I love colourful houses anywhere I go.


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