“Voy a reir, voy a bailar, vivir mi vida, la la la…” Marc Anthony knows a thing or two about the life and culture floating around in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is where my journey continues, the lyrics above translate to “I’m going to smile, I’m going to dance, live my life…” This is exactly what you feel walking through the streets of San Juan. Their culture is vibrating through the streets with the smell of amazing food, the sounds of Marc Anthony, Daddy Yankee and other reggaeton artists from the cars and houses, to the children playing and enjoying life with one another.
My trip starts with an amazing deal by again using Expedia and bundling a flight and hotel. We left from Fort Lauderdale airport straight into San Juan and stayed at the Condado Plaza Hilton for about $440 total! It was a quick weekend trip for my friend’s 25 birthday, we left Thursday and returned Sunday. The flight was quick and relaxing with JetBlue. Great leg room, free carry-on and snacks! The hotel? Amazing! Underneath is a video of the bathroom and photos of the balcony. This hotel is worth the stay: one there’s a Starbucks right outside, two it’s right on the water and has a small little private beach, and third it’s about a 15-20 minutes to the heart of San Juan so totally walkable to see more parts of the city.
Our first day we decided to go explore El Morro Fort, which was built-in the 1500’s to protect the city. The fort is in great condition considering it has seen its good share of attacks. To visit the fort, it is $3.00 or $5.00 if you want to go see the San Cristobal Fort as well. (Which you should because it’s great history and literally right next to it plus its only 5 DOLLARS!) San Cristobal Fort is the largest Spanish fortification in the New World and along with El Morro Fort it has helped protect the city for hundreds of years. Both forts are worth the walk because of the views you can see of the city, the beauty of the ocean and to see how the military would build tunnels and shoot cannons is truly an incredible experience. This is literally an all-day activity and there’s a lot of walking. So make sure you bring your water and wear your most comfortable sneakers. Grab a local bowl of arroz con habichuela (rice and beans), or go into the market and get a sandwich and enjoy lunch with your family or friends right on the fields outside and around the forts.
Since we decided to walk to the forts we had a good 15-20 minutes’ worth of exploring the nature Puerto Rico has to offer. We also saved cash on not having to pay for a cab, which isn’t a lot but its lunch and drink money. Plus, you get to see other hotels along the way, the port where many cruises dock for the day, and the city plaza. You truly get to see the beauty San Juan has to offer, and there are many places for photo ops too! 🙂
Day two we decided to take a cab to the famous Bacardi Factory, which was about a 30-minute drive. They offer three different tours: a historical tour, a rum tasting tour, and a mixology tour. We decided to do the historical tour and the price was amazing. It was $15 and the others about $50-$60, plus with each tour you receive a commemorative Bacardi cup, a welcome cocktail (if you’re old enough) and the other tours offer a little more goodies. Our tour took us inside the factory to see how Bacardi is made and the process of creating the rum. Also features a little welcome movie inside their theatre room where the ceiling is literally made of stars. Plus, you learn how the infamous symbol was created.
We also decided to explore the inside of the city, the forts are right on the water, and we wanted to go into the city and see the nature San Juan has, the political buildings and the memorials. We learned about famous men in Puerto Rican history, they also have memorials for the Holocaust and Vietnam War. All stunning to see but be careful because the nature of San Juan is beautiful but it is also inhabitant by many lizards and iguanas which are huge! (So just keep an eye out.)
There’s plenty to do in San Juan even if you’re only there for a couple of days. The Yunque Rainforest is one thing we wished we had time for, but if you have longer time make this rainforest a stop. You can go zip lining, hiking, and eat at the café in the trees. Experience the culture, dance in the streets with the locals, eat the authentic Spanish food, drink away and explore a city of life. We only have one life to live and it should be used doing something you love, something that makes you happy, something that gives you a different perspective of things. If you’re like me, traveling gives you that. In Puerto Rico, I found a different appreciation for other cultures and people. The city just breathes wonder. Go find it and you just might learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.