Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Red Gate to Old San Juan

Huge stone walls of the Fort surround sun-soaked Old San Juan, a cobble stoned enclave of 16th & 17th century restored buildings.  A UNESCO World Heritage City, Old San Juan is home to several thousand Puerto Ricans and ex-pats.  It’s packed with gracious palaces and mansions, many now functioning as museums. I counted 13.

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El Convento, the aptly named former convent converted to a small very fine hotel, was home for a week. It sits kitty corner to Old San Juan Cathedral, where the body of Ponce de Leon lies entombed in the 16th church.  I lit a candle for my youth.

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Happy Hour is about to begin at El Convento, with a sunset view toward the Cathedral and beyond.

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View from the Fort to San Juan Bay.  A strategic port to the Americas, the Fort was built by the Spanish where they fiercely defended their interest in the New World for many centuries.

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Small cafes, shops, fine restaurants and a rainbow of charming houses make Old San Juan a walkers paradise. Through narrow blue cobble stoned streets, we enjoyed life at a leisurely pace. Sunny days of around 30C kept things fluid, as did the numerous small tucked away spots serving expertly mixed ice cold beverages,  many containing rum. Puerto Ricans also produce awesome coffee to keep you fueled and upright.

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The local theatre company takes set design to a new street side high.

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Old walls and new graphics make great partners.

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Locals take pride in their doorway presentations.  You can find posters and books of the celebrated doorways of Old San Juan.  It’s a photographers dream.  Yes, I am a doorway fan and we will be publishing another doorways book of Old San Juan.

Look for our doorways books at www.blurb.com. Titles are Doorways of Turkey and Norway’s Doorways.

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Toward the Cruise Ship dock from the Fort.  When cruise ship passengers hit the streets en mass, there’s great people watching. Passengers get off the boat for a short time and make haste to the souvenir shops and local attractions. Most cruisers reminded me of enormous kids on a field trip from a day care:   huge shorts, super white running shoes, baseball caps, all wearing the big cruise ship ID card on a string around their neck.   If this is future of tourism, it ain’t pretty.

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Late afternoon portrait with cobblestones.  My husband and intrepid travel companion Andrew Loen is most often the discerning eye behind the lens.




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