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Published: April 26th 2018
San Juan Puerto Rico
They should put up a “Welcome Back, Jean and Cope” sign here. We have been to Puerto Rico many times and love this island. It has been sad to see the slow response to their needs after Hurricane Maria from the United States, but…despite this they are coming back beautiful and amazing as ever.
Today we have booked a food walking tour (we were worried we wouldn’t have enough food on the ship, LOL), of Old Town San Juan through Tours by Locals. Jorge Montalvo is to meet us on the dock.
What luck that we reached out to Jorge. He was the best guide ever! Personable, sense of humor, educated, perfect English and knows a lot about history. His Facebook page is @eltourguidePR if you’re heading his way.
After meeting up at the Walgreens across from the ship, we head along the harbor front to a coffee Café. We are lucky to be able to order Puerto Rican coffee as the plantations high in the mountains were virtually wiped out from Hurricane Maria. We sit and visit while drinking the smoothest lovely lattes yet. We learn a little about Jorge. He went
to college in the states and got his master’s at Rutgers in New Jersey. He loves history and has decided to try his hand in the tourism industry. He has been a tour guide for a number of years and also worked in the Segway touring business and Zip lining. We know already that this is going to be a good day with Jorge.
After coffee, we stop at plazas where we learn the history of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was settled by the Spanish in the early 1500’s and became a significant port for trade with the new world. Since PR is the closest island to Spain, all ships laden with goods came through here. As with many of the Caribbean islands, sugar cane was the first major crop, but there was also silver and gold mined here, but they were quickly depleted by the 1600’s. The rich history of Puerto Ricco and San Juan really came to life though Jorge’s knowledge of local history through the long family history he shared from his parents and grandparents.
Next stop, Hotel Milano where we climb the stairs to Punto de Vista Rooftop Restaurant where we are
going to try the local dish of Mofongo. Oh my gosh this was delicious. It is boiled plantains, which are mashed and combined with spices and then formed into the little walled circle and then fried. In the middle they put fried pork or beef or chicken or seafood. We inhaled it. We would definitely come back here.
Afraid that we haven’t eaten enough and needing to keep up our strength, we cross to the church and see the tomb of Ponce de Leon. He was an explorer and the governor of Puerto Rico for 2 years before going on to try and colonize Florida. It is cool in the church and we don’t want to leave but… the kites are waiting for us. We come upon a street that is covered in kites that are used for shade. So pretty. Might try it in my own backyard. Next is the governor’s mansion that has been continuously in use until now. The current governor spent part of his childhood there and opted not to live there as governor. From there we climb to the fort and on the ring road we find a restaurant, Cinema Bar 1950, just in
time as our food reserves are getting low. It has been at least 45 minutes since we last ate, LOL. The Cinema Bar 1950 has photos of its famous patrons all over the walls. We sit outside in the blustery wind under and umbrella and order the “sampler” and watched all the kits flying over the grassy area at El Morro, the fort protecing the harbor of San Juan for so many years.
Next port: home to Ft. Lauderdale!
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