Travel

Going back in time in old San Juan

Sometimes, cities just have a hold over you. Maybe it’s the locale, maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s the attitude you bring to your visit. But sometimes a city sucks you in and you fall in love.

San Juan was that for me. It was BY FAR my favorite stop on our cruise.

For one, it was absolutely gorgeous. The architecture was old world Spanish meet colorful Latin America.

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

I could’ve spent hours wandering around the city just taking in the buildings.

We lucked out because the ship pulls in right outside old town, so seeing the picturesque, historic part of town is as easy as walking around.

We signed up for an excursion in San Juan, too: a mini guided tour of the old town, salsa lesson, and mixology class. When we were researching the trip, Logan took one look at this one and knew I’d love it. He knows me so well!

Our tour guide was wonderful: she walked us around parts of old town, taught us how to use the free bus system (that’s clutch), and told us a bit about Puerto Rico’s history.

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!
Part of the original wall around San Juan.

After a bit of exploring, we headed to a local bar where we learned a couple drinks. Rum is made on the island, so naturally it was the star of our cocktails.

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

First we learned to make a pina colada. Confession: I don’t like coconut. Before this trip, there are no forms of coconut that I can tolerate. I just don’t like it.

But I liked these homemade pina coladas. They were so smooth! Yes, they did have some coconut flavor, they didn’t have any of that texture that grosses me out and the pineapple flavor mellowed the coconut to a point that I really liked it. So much so that the day after getting off the cruise, I made these for dinner for some friends.

The secret is cream of coconut. Not coconut milk – it’s thicker, and it melds with the pineapple and rum better.

Next up, we made mojitos. Again, mojitos haven’t been my favorite in the past because I’m not the biggest lime fan. (These cocktails had practically the only two flavors I don’t like – how is that even possible??) BUT once again, my prejudices about lime-flavored drinks were overridden and the results were delicious. The balance of sweet and mint (and rum!) with the lime flavor meant that the lime wasn’t overpowering. I could still taste it, but with sweet fresh twist.

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Mojitos may now be one of my favorite summer cocktails. (Just one more reason to love San Juan: educating me on delicious cool drinks.)

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Clearly I enjoyed it.

Finally, we made a rainforest cocktail. This one was called the Coqui, after an indigenous frog. It was a mix of coconut rum, blue curaçao, and orange juice. Definitely less delicious than the previous two, but we got to learn about the frogs and it made me wish we had time for a hike on the island!

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!
Enjoying our mixology class!

After the mixology class, we had a salsa lesson. I love to dance, so it was definitely a highlight for me! I just wish it had been longer – never enough salsa!

When our time with our tour guide was over, Logan and I wandered the streets of the city. We wanted to soak in as much of the beauty as we possibly could before getting on our (fun, but decidedly American-themed in decor) cruise ship.

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Latin American colors meets Spanish flair in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

We eventually made our way to El Morro, one of the still-standing Spanish forts in San Juan. That site deserves a blog post on its own, so stay tuned for more on that soon!

San Juan, we’ll definitely come back someday. You deserve far more than the 8 hours we gave you this trip. Until next time, these photos will keep me dreaming of your colorful houses and glistening waters.

all images copyright Teaspoon of Nose

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