Sunday, November 26, 2006

Vacation in Puerto Rico - Trip to San Juan

Danny had estimated the trip to San Juan would take about two hours, so we grabbed a quick breakfast and hit Highway 22, (named after Luis A. Ferré) which is Puerto Rico’s version of the turnpike.  The tolls were about what you would encounter on a similar stretch of US highway, but the roads were bumpy in contrast to the well maintained freeways.   

Driving in San Juan is similar to driving in Boston or any other congested American city: a nightmare.  Traffic moved at a crawl but eventually we found our way to a parking garage in old San Juan near Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square). Columbus Square

It was only a short walk to San Cristobal, which was built in the 16th Century.  The fort is a vast maze of tunnels, dungeons, outposts, ramps, and barracks (the soldiers slept 12 to a bunk), and was cleverly constructed to repel enemy attack, yet could hold troops for an indefinite period, thanks to an ingenious irrigation system.  There were numerous examples of period weaponry, including canons and rifles.  From San Cristobal, we walked along the northern coast to San
Felipe del Morro
, a somewhat smaller fort with many of the same features. 

A sentry post

A sentry post from above.

In Condado, we found an Internet Cafe, where we had our first contact with the outside world while taking a break from walking. 

Condado is known as a "gayborhood", but it was not a blatantly gay neighborhood like parts of the Cleveland/Lakewood border.  The lack of openly gay life was rather disappointing and I became a bit irritable since I stupidly wore a pair of sandals for walking, and the strap was cutting into the back of my ankle.  After being unable to locate a gay restaurant advertised in the Breeze, we ate dinner at a Chili’s before heading out to a gay bar at the Atlantic Beach Hotel which Danny wanted to show me.  On the way, we belatedly spotted the restaurant we had been seeking.  At the bar, we found ourselves in the midst of aging gringos cruising for young Puerto Ricans. 

As we left the bar, we learned that the other side of the street had lost power, and it was very dark.  We hastily headed to the safety of Danny’s car and endured a hellish drive out of San Juan, assuaged by, of all things, a rebroadcast of the 2005 Cleveland International Piano Competition on San Juan’s NPR station.   

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