In comparing Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands, the two locations couldn't be more different. While St. Croix has a largely Afro-Caribbean culture similar to that of many nearby islands, Puerto Rico's is markedly more Latin American. Arriving in San Juan, a bustling, urban metropolis, was a far cry from the slow pace of life on St. Croix. In addition to adjusting to the heavier traffic (and smoother roads), I also had to get used to driving on the right again, and reading road signs in Spanish. Nonetheless, there were some pretty good benefits to being in Puerto Rico. First and foremost was the coffee (seen below). If you're an Espresso fan, Puerto Rican coffee honestly puts Starbucks to shame. It's quite similar to Cuban coffee, though diabetics beware: everything in this part of the world comes with sugar!
|Traditional Puerto Rican coffee|
My hotel in San Juan was in the Condado section of the city, which features high rise condos and hotels, as well as scenic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. I greatly enjoyed staying here because it had a good mix of Puerto Rican restaurants and bars, as well as some more familiar places, such as Walgreen's and Chili's. As much as I like to assimilate as much as possible to a local culture, I was happy to see an American chain restaurant after so long!
|Avenida Ashford in Condado, San Juan|
|Didn't expect to see these!|
|What ended up being a pretty good Mojito|
|The beach at Condado.|
|The main entrance to the Castillo|
|One of the Castillo's famous sentry towers.|
|Looking east toward Old San Juan|
|The weather was a little dodgy, but the photos came out well.|
After visiting the historic sites, I ran into a bit of trouble at the airport, as my flight was delayed and eventually cancelled. Luckily, in large part due to the advocacy of one of my fellow air travelers, the airline found us accomodation for the night, and I got an extra night in San Juan gratis. I took the opportunity to have a really good Puerto Rican breakfast the next day, one which is hard to find in restaurants on St. Croix:
While our accommodations were a little unconventional (vacation condos attached to a hotel), the hotel managing them had a great location on the beach, and I was able to enjoy some more scenic views on my final day in the city.
|A nice morning view!|
|So long, San Juan!|