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Monday, February 23, 2009

Blue Cobblestones of san Juan

Pristine green beaches, vivid architecture and a visit back in time that’s San Juan for you. On the island of Puerto Rico, you are sure to miss this mesmerizing beauty, as it generally is the dock for most cruises coming to Puerto Rico. Most visitors come here on a day trip, but the old, walled city has much more to offer.

Extremely narrow streets, buildings on both sides painted in a palette of tropical fruit colors with elaborate wooden doors, patios and eye-catching balconies. When you walk the historic district of Old San Juan you cannot help noticing the beautiful blue cobblestone streets. The stones were baked in Spain in the 1800's and brought to Puerto Rico as ballast. They are known as Aquinas for their beautiful bluish gray color. Many of the stones are very worn, which just adds to their charm.

To absorb city’s history and feel it through the cobblestone streets it is best explored on foot. This island has an array of exquisitely preserved architecture, sprawling forts, cruise filled docks, tiny antique shops and art galleries, retaining the old world charm.

Tourists mainly visit the EL Morro Fort, which dates back to 1539, the Cathedral of San Juan, where the island's first governor, Ponce de Leon, is buried and La Fortaleza, the oldest governor's mansion on U.S. soil. Old San Juan also boasts of several colonial plazas; and the triumvirate of Calle del Cristo, Calle San Jose and Calle Fortaleza for shopping. Calle del Cristo, in particular, is chock-full of art galleries, artisan studios and distinctive boutiques.

Duck into a bar for a Pina Colada (it originated here), sample the local cuisines and take some time out for hand carved wooden saints while enjoying the talented street performers. There are tons of shops to cater to everybody’s taste. And while walking through the peaceful buildings, you could capture the lovely view of the sea. Sure enough not to miss the warm sand and waters of the Luqillo Beach. Another treasure that San Juan offers is the La Plaza de las Palomas or the Plaza of the Doves; you cannot see your feet because there are just so many doves.

Just an hour south from the European styled city and you can visit America’s only rainforest, El Yunque. The experience is as breathtaking as the imprints of renaissance in the city. You'll see numerous waterfalls, ferns and wildflowers along the marked trails.

If you are able to get some time off your sail, do enjoy the vibrant nightlife and rum that is produced on this island. Be there to experience it!

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