I’m not gonna lie, our reasoning for traveling to Puerto Rico was three fold.
- Flights were cheap
- We are SO ready for warm weather
- It’s one of the most colorful places around**
I’m a go-go-go type of traveler. You won’t catch me flying across the country just to read a book by the beach, no no. I like to engross myself in the culture, eat all of the local cuisine, and find at least one adventure.
So when I read San Juan itineraries that included a full day of exploring Old San Juan, I was worried. “And do what?”
I underestimated it, no doubt. With camera in hand and those colorful buildings I expected, I could spend more than just one day in beautiful Old San Juan.
We’re loyal Starwood Hotel guests (also: point collectors), and there are four Starwood Hotels in Puerto Rico. Mark was leaning toward The St. Regis at first–though I’d like to visit one of the hotels that fall under that name, I’m just not a fan of staying in resorts outside of the states. We have beautiful beaches in the U.S., and resorts, to me, only replicate the luxuries of American life, keeping guests in a bubble while disallowing the local economy to develop as a result of the increased tourism. I just don’t think that’s cool.
So, we picked a cheaper hotel, closer to colorful streets and delicious eats: The Sheraton Old San Juan. We roomed in a suite that had a balcony with views of Bahía de San Juan and a door between T in the living room and us in the bedroom. (Something we always try for, but some suites are not as private.)
The buildings of Old San Juan are picture perfect examples of Spanish Colonial Architecture: simplified, flat-roofed structures with ornate details, like wrought iron balconies, that were imported from Spain.
It’s so crazy to think that at one point, these beautiful buildings were nearly destroyed.
“So, the streets are pretty and all, but, are they safe? And for KIDS?”
A few days before we left for the island, M’s coworker, who is Puertorriqueña, suggested many places to see and eat (he took more interest in the latter, of course) and warned us of the dangers. Puerto Rico holds a reputation of having the most murders of any U.S. state or territory, due mostly to the drug trade in the Caribbean, but also–it’s poverty stricken and densely populated. Those are the first ingredients for crime in any part of the world.
We were only in the most tourist dense parts of PR for the entirety of our brief trip, we stayed away from the areas the internet warned us about, and we were safely tucked into the hotel before night fell–with all this walking, kids get tired! Don’t be afraid to visit Puerto Rico because of the crime rate, but do be afraid to have anything to do with the drug trade anywhere (duh) and do take precautions.
We had several people suggest that we go to Ole Curiosidades to buy some authentic Panama hats at the only full-service hat shop on the island. Mark has a new found obsession with hats in general, so we had to make this our first stop.
We all love our hats!
At the edge of Old San Juan, you’ll find a gorgeous park, a National Historical Site, and UNESCO World Heritage site: Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which I wrote all about on yesterday’s post.
Use the subscribe button on the right hand side of the screen, and tune in for following posts where I write about great places to eat in Old San Juan and trying to take my afraid-of-heights seven year old ziplining in Puerto Rico.
**I’ve become captivated by this list of colorful places to travel to. I’ve been to a few, may never go to most, but to get a better idea of where they are in the world I made a map of the world’s most colorful places on Google.