San Juan

St. Thomas St. John San Juan


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Ed Oravec Family
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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Settled in 1521 by Ponce de Len, San Juan is one the city on U.S. soil and the second oldest city in the Western Hemisphere (Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic was founded 25 years earlier).

San Juan Gate

Old San Juan remains partially enclosed by walls which were built 500 years ago to protect San Juan harbor.  San Juan Gate,  the last remaining of three gates of the old city wall, stands more than 16 feet tall.


Calle del Cristo

The streets of Old San Juan are paved with adonquines, small blue-gray glazed bricks cast from the residue of iron furnaces in Spain, and brought to the Americas as ballast in the Spanish galleons.  The Spanish used gold and silver from the Americas as ballast on the trip home.


Plaza de Coln

Located near the Castillo de San Cristbal, or St. Christopher Castle, the Plaza de Coln commemorates Christopher Columbus who discovered Puerto Rico on his second voyage in 1493.



The garita, or sentry box, line the walls and forts of Old San Juan.  The garita is Puerto Rico's official symbol and appears on just about everything official.



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Castillo de San Felipe del Morro

They used to roll cannons up and down that ramp.   Cannons on four of the six levels of the fort made El Morro the heart of the San Juan fortifications against attack from the sea.  This picture is taken from the Santa Barbara Battery (level 4) looking up at the main part of the fort (level 6).


Castillo de San Cristbal

Covering 27 acres, San Cristbal was built to protect San Juan from a land attack.  It's "Defense-in-depth" meant that each part of the fort was supported by one or more other parts.  If a fort has several barriers, each higher and stronger than the one in front of it, then the attacker can still be repulsed.


San Juan Marriott Resort

At La Vista in the San Juan Marriott, we had two enjoyable dinners complimented by the wonderful friendly service of our server, Armando.  We had the seafood buffet the first night we ate there, eating much more snow crab than either of us should have, and the second night Denni ate the Puerto Rican buffet while Jim had a nice steak.  Both nights, Armando was kind enough to answer our questions about Puerto Rico, its food, its people and culture. The second night he even introduced us to his wife and daughters who happen to be dining next to us.  We found the Puerto Ricans to be very warm and friendly.

Dining in Old San Juan

Our first evening in San Juan, we decided to head over to Old San Juan to see if some of the stores were still open.  While strolling the narrow streets, we were invited into Barrachina to sample their Pia Colada.  They claim to be the place where the Pia Colada was first mixed.  Well needless to say we had to try one, and indeed they were quite yummy.  After shopping some more, we decided to go back for dinner.  Jim played it safe with shrimp scampi, but Denni tried the Chicken Caribe.  It was a delicious chicken in a rum-pineapple sauce with plantains and rice.


Caribbean National Forest

On a lark, we took a trip to the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Park system.  Hundreds of streams flow down the mountainside forming countless waterfalls.  The forest vegetation is thick with animals and birds.  While we didn't see many, we heard their whistles and calls.