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San Juan (Puerto Rico)
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San Juan is the capital and largest city in Puerto Rico. It has one of the best harbors in the Caribbean.
- Old San Juan -- The historic core of the city
- El Condado -- Beach resort area of the city
- Isla Verde- located next to the International Airport Luis Muñoz Marín in Carolina. Many ocean front hotels in this tourist area.
San Juan is located in the north-east of Puerto Rico, and features distinctly century-old architecture, such as Spanish military forts built from 1540's to 1800's, an active harbour, and a very active economic area in the Hato Rey district. San Juan boasts magnifiscient beaches, hotels, plazas, historic sites, museums, etc.
San Juan is a tropical city, with tempature that can go in summer to 97°+/- to 67° at winter. Normally sunny, but has a tendency to rain from April to November at afternoons. Be also mindful that San Juan, as the rest of Puerto Rico has the possibility of having tropical systems such as hurricanes from July to November.
San Juan is a Latin American city, with Spanish-based culture, mixed with African traditions and Taíno culture. Museums of modern art exist abroad. The citizens of San Juan (called Sanjuaneros) are very festive, as the rest of the island. San Juan has bars and discotheques all-around the city, from Old San Juan to even the southern part of the city and that stay open to 3-4 AM. San Juan has become very modernized as of late, with its first Metro line (called Tren Urbano) and buses. Like most large cities, however, there is a small population of vagrants and beggars lining the streets.
Spanish is the native language of Puerto Rico. The majority of San Juan residents have a knowledge of basic English since it is taught as a foreign language at Puerto Rican schools from an early age, but you should be prepared to come across places where very little English is spoken. It could be essential to at least know very common Spanish words and phrases.
Essential Basic Words & Phrases to Know for San Juan
- ¿Dónde es/está ...? - "Where's...?"
- ¿Cuántos chavos(or "dinero") cuesta...? - "How much does it cost?"
- ¿Dónde es la Oficina de Turismo?- "Where's the Tourist Office?", this is the main information hub for tourists
- El Horario- hours of operation/opening & closing times
- Cambio de Moneda- "currency change", used during purchases and also designates Currency Exchange stations
- Lugar de Bebidas- "drink place", designates places where refreshments can be purchased
- Restaurán/Restaurante- "Restaurant", designates places where food/meals can be purchased
- Aperitivos- "appetizers", broad term used to describe anything eaten before the main course
- Joyería/Relojería- "jewelry shop/watch shop", these can be seen in abundance in the old city
- "sin"- "without", often used on food items to designate what it does not contain, for instance, "sin cafeina" means "without caffeine"
- "con"- "with", the exact opposite of "sin", "con" would designate what something does contain
- La isla - "The island", means for everything outside of San Juan Metro Area
- Air Atlanta Icelandic
- Air Canada
- Air Culebra (from Culebra, Puerto Rico)
- Air Santo Domingo
- Air St. Thomas
- Air Sunshine
- American Airlines
- American Eagle
- Britannia Airlines
- Cape Air (from Ponce, Puerto Rico)
- Caribbean Star
- Continental Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Iberia Airlines
- Monarch Airlines
- Northwest Airlines
- Pan Am 1 (http://www.flypanam.com/)
- Grupo TACA Airlines
- United Airlines
- Vieques Air Link (from Culebra, Fajardo and Vieques, Puerto Rico).
As of 2005, San Juan now is served by a new subway line (which mostly runs above ground) called "Tren Urbano" (Urban Train). This train connects the San Juan to the towns of Guaynabo and Bayamón. There are 16 stations along the entire alignment. A little known fact is that the train can be reached from Old San Juan. In the dock area look for the "Acua Expreso" terminal, which is ferry service from Old San Juan to the financial district. There is a train station called "Hato Rey" right besides the ferry dock on the San Juan Financial District.
If you dare, you'll get to wherever you're going by next week.
Rent a car at the airport. You could also go by taxi. They're mostly everywhere in more tourist-y parts of the city, but harder to come by in the more suburban areas.
- El Castillo San Felipe del Morro "El Morro" : is a sixteenth-century citadel that lies on the northwestern-most point of the islet of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site and was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1983. 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Morro_Castle).
- El Castillo de San Cristóbal is a Spanish fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was built by the Spaniards to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site.
- La Fortaleza (or The Fortress in English) is the current official residence of the Head of Government of Puerto Rico which is the Governor. It was built between 1533 and 1540 to defend the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The structure is also known as El Palacio de Santa Catalina (or Palace of Santa Catalina). It is the oldest executive mansion in the New World. La Fortaleza was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- El Catedral de San Juan Bautista: which contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León.
- Castillo de San Jerónimo is a small fort located in the entrance to what is known today as Condado, Puerto Rico lagoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fort defended San Juan from attacks by Sir Francis Drake in 1595, Sir George Clifford "Earl of Cumberland" in 1598 and Sir Ralph Abercromby.
- El Teatro Tapia is likely the oldest free-standing drama stage building still in use in a US insular area and one of the oldest in Latin America. Facing east, across from Plaza de Colon (Columbus), on Fortaleza street, and built about 1872.
- Iglesia de San Jose dates back to 1523.
- Ayuntamiento or Alcaldia or City Hall.
- The municipal cemetery of Santa María Madgalena de Pazzis, located just outside the city walls.
- Ateneo de Puerto Rico (museum)
- Spanish barracks (now museum de Ballaja)
- La Princesa (former municipal jail, now a history museum)
- Museo del Niño (Children's Museum) at Calle del Cristo 150. Admission $5; $4 children 14 and younger.Through interactive exhibits, children learn simple lessons, such as the benefits of brushing teeth or recycling aluminum cans, or the value of caring properly for pets. Hours Open:Tues-Thurs 9am-3:30pm; Fri 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun 12:30-5pm.
- Felisa Rincón de Gautier Museum :At Calle Clara Lair. Open Mon-Fri 9am-4pm. Admission is free. Felisa Rincón served as the mayor of the city of San Juan for 22 years, between 1946 and 1968. The museum that commemorates her memory is in a 300-year-old building.
- Museo Nuestras Raíces Africanas( Our African Roots Museum) is located at Plaza San José, Calle San Sebastián. Admission is $2 for adults; $1 for seniors, children, and students; free for ages 10 and under.This museum documents the African contribution to the sociology of Puerto Rico. Open Tues-Sat 8:30am-8:30pm.
- Museo de Arte ( Museum of Art) is Puerto Rico's most important gallery, which opened in 2000 and was constructed at a cost of $55 million, is a state-of-the-art showcase for the island nation's rich cultural heritage. Located at 299 Av. José de Diego, Santurce. Open Tues and Thurs-Sat 10am-5pm; Wed 10am-8pm; Sun 11am-6pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, $3 for children under age 12.
- San Juan Hard Rock Café: Located at Old San Juan.
- Ajili Mójili Caribbean San Juan: Locals come here for a taste of mofongos (green plantains stuffed with veal, chicken, shrimp, or pork), arroz con pollo, medallones de cerdo encebollado (pork loin sautéed with onions), carne mechada (beef rib-eye stuffed with ham), and lechon asado con maposteado (roast pork with rice and beans). Located at the corner of Calle Joffre, Condado, San Juan.
- Al Dente:The oldest continuously operated Italian restaurant in Puerto Rico. Located at Calle Recinto Sur 309, Old San Juan.
- Parrot Club: Live music, either Brazilian, salsa, or Latino jazz, is offered nightly as well as during the popular Sunday brunches. Located at Calle Fortaleza 363, Old San Juan.
- Rico Puerto Kafe: at Calle Fortaleza 260, Old San Juan. Puerto Kafe is famous for it's low-cost food that strictly adheres to the tenets of old-fashioned Puerto Rican cuisine. Reservations are not necessary.
- Ramiro's: at Av. Magdalena 1106, Condado, San Juan. "Creole" style cooking pioneered by owner and chef Jesús Ramiro.
- Ostra Cosa: at Calle del Cristo 154, Old San Juan. Reservations recommended.The ambience here is one of the most sensual and romantic in Old San Juan.
- Luigi's Restaurant at 104 Diez de Andino, Condado, San Juan. Serves Italian and Genovese cuisine.
Bars & Nightclubs
- Babylon:At Wyndham El San Juan Hotel & Casino, Isla Verde. Cover $15, free for residents of El San Juan Hotel.Open Thursday through Saturday from 10pm until 3am.
- Cigar Bar: At Wyndham El San Juan Hotel & Casino, Isla Verde.Open daily 6pm to 3am.
- Dragonfly: Restaurant and bar on Forteleza Street in Old San Juan.
- Club Laser: At Calle del Cruz 251, near the corner of Calle Fortaleza.Cover $8-$12 (free cover for women before midnight on Sat) The club is usually open Thursday through Sunday from 10pm until 4am.
- El Patio de Sam: At Calle San Sebastián, Old San Juan. One of the most popular late-night joints with a good selection of beers. Live entertainment is presented here Monday to Saturday.Open daily noon to 1am.
- Rumba: At Calle San Sebastián 152.The site for the filming of many of the crowd scenes within Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Cover $15.
- Shannon's Irish Pub At Calle Bori 496, Río Piedras.A sports bar with TV monitors and high-energy rock 'n' roll.Open daily 11:30am to 1am (closes at 2:30am Fri-Sat).
- Park Plaza Normandie, Muñoz Rivera Avenue at Parque de Tercer Milenio, (Puerta de Tierra), 729-2929, 877-987-2929 or 800-448-8355.
- Tu Casa Boutique Hotel, 2071 Calle Cacique, (Ocean Park), 727-5100.
- Hosteria del Mar, 1 Calle Tapia, (Ocean Park), 727-3302 or 800-742-4276.
- Palm View Realty, 5970 Isla Verde Avenue, 888-268-5281, fax: 727-1415, 3 (http://www.palmviewrealty.com). Palm View Realty Specializes in short term rentals as well as condo, apartment and house sales in Puerto Rico. Affordable rentals are Beach Front and fully furnished.