The best place to obtain tourism information-- maps, advice-- is "La Casita" or "Little House" which is an attractive yellow building with a Spanish tiled roof located near the waterfront. It's a short walk from the cruise ships piers and right on the edge of the Old San Juan boundaries on Plaza de Darsena at the end of La Marina Street. On certain days you will also find a crafts market around the building, but the crafts market schedule fluctuates around the arrival of cruise ships.
Hours of operation for the tourism office is generally:
Monday - Wed, 8:00am to 8:00pm;
Thursday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9:00am - 8:00pm
For more information, call 787-722-1709.
You can use your own auto insurance. And, it is actually better to use your own insurance especially if you have history and had been with that insurance for a long time.
You can bring fruits back but you have to go through the Department of Agriculture.
Barrio La Perla (BAHR-ree-o lah PER-lah) is the neighborhood between El Morro (near the cemetery) and the harbor. Formerly it was a squatters community made famous by Oscar Lewis’s “La Vida; A Puerto Rican Family In The Culture Of Poverty" published in San Juan And New York, in 1966. I had to look up Oscar Lewis because I was unfamiliar with his name. He was born Oscar Lefkowitz in New York City and was an American anthropologist who is best known for his vivid depictions of the lives of slum dwellers and for postulating that there was a cross-generational culture of poverty among poor people that transcended national boundaries.
The Barrio was initially established because the laws required slaughterhouses, cemeteries, homes of former slaves and homeless non white servants to be outside the city walls. It is on land which normally would be where rich or well off people would build their homes because of the views of the water. There are only three access points, one through the "Santa Maria Magdalena Cemetery", one on the east side and one through a walkway right in the center of the northern wall.
Map Puerto Rico has been designed for the visitors to the island to help design and a trip of a lifetime.
If there's any place tropical that is truly a something for everyone 'wants it all', this beautiful island has it for you and your family! Map Puerto Rico will help you get there for your visit easily and trouble free.
Cathedrals, museums, and stately Spanish squares abound, many sumptuously restored for Puerto Rico's 1993 quincentennial. Shopping and dining combine the best of Old and New Worlds, while the nightlife, both in the cities and at the finer resorts, is a neon kaleidoscope of casinos, clubs, and shows.
"NO PASSPORT OR CUSTOMS REQUIRED FOR UNITED STATES CITIZENS!"
Like many people taking a cruise that started and ended in San Juan, I had a period of several hours in between when I disembarked from the cruise and when we needed to be at the airport. The cruise line had a very expensive option to have your baggage sent directly to the airport but as we were only checking one bag, thanks to United having a $20 per bag fee, and carrying on the rest, that option didn't work for us. So we asked at passenger services on the ship and they told us of a place in Old San Juan that had reasonably priced luggage storage, $3 large, $2 medium, $1 small.
We took a taxi to Pier 4 as our ship was docked on the other side of the bay, across the street from Pier 4 in an office/retail building there was a place that had a sign on the window that said luggage storage here, when we inquired he said he didn't have a set price for luggage and that he worked for tips so we gave him the $5 we were expecting to pay.
Verify what time they close when you are leaving luggage, we had to leave San Juan at around 2 pm, he said he usually stayed until 4 or 5pm. And this should be obvious, but don't leave anything valuable, including your passports, in your luggage.
Puerto Rico has loads of beautiful, historical and interesting things to take pictures of, so I suggest taking along a digital camera and plenty of rechargeable batteries. Jason was smart and also brought along his tri-pod. This allowed him to get some steady shots of some really pretty sites. The only thing with a tri-pod is you're gonna have to lug that around as well.
There is also good etiquette when it comes to taking pictures. You shouldn't take pictures of other people's children without first asking them. You should also avoid walking through other people's shots and avoid taking too long to take your photos. It's great that people stop and wait for you to snap a picture of your loved ones, but sometimes people take advantage and keep passers by waiting way to long.
If someone asks you to take a quick snap of them, you should oblige if you have the time. It is more than acceptable to ask others to take a picture of you and your loved ones as long as you ask nicely.
Just about every place you are going to eat in San Juan is going to offer you some type of Monfongo. Monfongo is basically smashed plantains mixed with spices and sometimes shrimp, octopus etc. The first place I had monfongo it was very dry. I didn't like it. I decided to give it another try at the second place we went to. I am glad that I did. The second place had monfongo that was seasoned perfectly and it was soft and moist with no huge clumps. My advice is to give monfongo a try at a couple of different places before making up your mind.
Fondest memory: Jason eating monfongo with octopus
On Board the cruise ship they have an internet cafe to keep you connected to school, work or loved ones. The cafe has a number of workstations available for use. You can also bring your own laptop and use their WI-FI service. Liz always needs to have internet access since she is in school and brings her homework with her wherever we go.
The internet pricing is $.55 a minute or you can buy a package. We always buy a package. The package rates are: $28 for 60 minutes, $38 for 90 minutes or $55 for 150 minutes.
WI-FI areas of the ship aren't always very good. We seems to have the best connectionin the Schooner Bar. Be aware the connection is very slow and can be frustrating to use.
While living in PR as a teacher, my friend got her Master's degree - her experience in school was that needing Spanish depends on your professor - some used English, some Spanish. She quickly formed study groups with bilingual students so she didn't miss any information.
Socially, you'll do fine...in one year of living in Guyama and traveling extensively, the only place I had a problem was at a mechanic shop -- and the Tom's Peanut vendor saved us!
You'll love it...don't forget to go to: www.biobay.com !
Fondest memory: In the Old Town area, near the cruise ships, is a small shop where you can buy Don Q - the best rum on the island! Much smoother than Bicardi, but, to my chagrin, it isn't exported. Be sure and stop in and taste the Dulcinea! The story of the company is told there (the distillary is in Ponce) and it's very interesting!
WHAT I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME BEFORE MY TRIP: #1...Condado (San Juan) will be at its peak in 2-5 years when construction on hotels (etc) is complete. #2...Bring comfy shoes. PR is best when walked. #3....If you have time, brush up on your Spanish. Not necessary by any means, but kinda fun. #4....Ask the locals; they're happy to help (except bus drivers! See "Transportation" tip by "ct-traveler") #5....Gambling is only one thing to do in PR. Casinos abound---use them in moderation #6....You can visit the duty-free shop for certain items when flying from PR to the continental US. Cigs are about 20 bucks/carton #7....Buy rum early in your trip and party pre-game; it'll save you tons of drinking money. You can buy a gallon of it for the price of two Mojitos at a bar. #8....You don't have to stay at a fancy hotel to use a fancy hotel. Stop by the pool/bar/casino/conceirge of the Marriott (etc), they're happy to have you, though you may or may not want to tell them you're not a guest of their hotel.
Fondest memory: (list continued)#9.... Medalla (Puerto Rican beer) is fine when ice cold, bad when cold, and disgusting when not #10....Expected gratuity is 15%. Don't be afraid to go higher for good service. #11....Many taxi destinations have a fixed rate (example: Airport to Condado, $16 with two bags). Ask the driver if yours is fixed; if not, insist on the meter. #12....If/when visiting Old San Juan, give yourself a full day for exploring (and wear those comfy shoes!) #13...Be selective. As with most tourist destinations, you'll see the same gifts, souveniers, clothes, restaurants, etc more than once. Try to wait until at least day two for the big spending spree.
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SEE ALL MY SAN JUAN TIPS; CLICK ON 'ct-traveler' AT THE TOP
San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States of America. It is also the oldest city within U.S. territory. Puerto Rico is the smallest and easternmost island of the Greater Antilles, which also includes Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica.
The island is rectangular in shape, covering an area of over 3,400 square miles. It measures 110 miles from east to west and 35 miles from north to south. Puerto Rico has 272 miles of coastline with many gorgeous beaches.
There are about 3.7 million people on the island and nearly 1.5 million in San Juan.
Famous as the discoverer of America, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS sailed from Spain in 1492 and landed in the West Indies.
In his second voyage to the New World, on November 19, 1493, Columbus discovered Puerto Rico. Originally the newcomers called the island San Juan Baptista and the town Puerto Rico ( rich port ). It was not until later that the two names were switched. Thanks to the enthusiasm of Juan Ponce de Leon, a lieutenant to Columbus, the city of Puerto Rico became Spain's most important outpost in the Caribbean.
In the Old Town of San Juan, there is a Tribute to Christopher Columbus, recognizing the role he played in the discovery of Puerto Rico.
San Juan's City Hall or ALCALDIA
Construction started in 1602 and completed in 1789. Intended by its builders to be an exact replica of the one in Madrid, the building was heavily remodelled in the 1840's, creating its present day facade. Inside the building there is a tourist information Center and a small gallery for exhibitions.
The Capital Building or EL CAPITOLIO was built in the 1920's to house the offices of Senators in one wing and those of representatives in the other.
Inside you will find galleries, friezes, mosaics and an impressive rotunda in which Puerto Rico's constitution is exhibited.
San Juan Cemetery or CEMENTERIO DE SAN JUAN is located between El Morro and the rocky cliffs above the Atlantic and is considered one of the most picturesque of burial grounds. The Cemetery is particularly noted for its elaborate tombstones and the circular, pink-domed neoclassical chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalen.
We had an excellent view of the Cemetery from our cruise ship the "Enchantment of the Seas". The pink-domed chapel is clearly visible.