Friday morning C and I woke up to rainy skies and before we knew it, the rain was pouring down! It hasn’t really rained for the last two weeks, so I told C that it was just to make sure that her transition back to rainy Brussels would be smoother😉 It cleared up eventually and we decided to take the bus back to the Old San Juan for some last minute enjoyment of the beautiful buildings and to see la fiesta de San Sebastián in day light!
However, the buses in San Juan are not the most reliable (I’m not complaining, the Brussels buses are not one bit better, and on top of that more expensive!) and we waited for quite a while. In the end we were invited by a nice gay couple from New York to share their taxi (and not pay!), they had just struck up a conversation with us at the bus stop. We had a great taxi ride with them, and were swiftly deposited in front of Plaza de Colón (commemorating the first 400 years of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery”). It was one of those fun encounters that makes your day!
Already hungry, we tried a new place (of course mentioned in the LP) – Yurta in Calle San Francisco for lunch. As C and I speak French together, people assumed that we are both French, (which of course flatters me a lot) and made people very curious about us – it turned out that the owner of Yurta is Swiss-German and we ended up ordering in French!
C had a few souvenirs left on her shopping list and we quickly bought some Café Rico (locally grown coffee) in a cool yellow & red metal container and two bottles of Don Q-rhum (according to the locals much better than Bacardi) in the supermarket on Plaza de Armas, a few beautiful postcards (hard to find in PR, most of them look like they were designed in the 80’s) in the Poet’s Passage (check out this web-site as the Poet’s passage web-site is under construction) in Calle Cruz (I also bought a sweetness-in-February-present for O – we don’t celebrate St Valentine’s day but have our own tradition!).
Almost next door, there is another beautiful shop with lots of arts and crafts – run by a very nice Québécoise called Claire! In this shop, we finally found the Putumayo compilation cd Puerto Rico that C had been looking for since she arrived (you can actually hear samples of the songs on their web-site).
C wanted to take me to this art gallery Oh la la Arts & Craft that she had discovered when she visited San Juan on her own earlier in the week, it is run by a very special Québécois (yes, another one!) called Michel Loiselle on Calle Fortaleza. He sells his father’s litographies and other pieces of art in a tiny space, in an alleyway off Fortaleza. I bought a beautiful photo of the interior of the cathedral of San Juan, while C had to promise to come back soon to Puerto Rico and visit Michel🙂
Isn’t the wall behind the bar just wonderful?
Needing a drink, we decided to stop at El Convento, hotel and restaurant / bar complex in an old convent just up from Calle Fortaleza on Calle San Cristo. We sat out in the courtyard, fortunately under a parasol as it started to rain again… but the piña coladas were great!
Heading up to Calle San Sebastián to check out the festival during day light, it was difficult to imagine that the evening before the streets had been packed with drunken party people – why? Well, the streets were immaculate, not one piece of garbage could be seen! However, the bars and cafés were all gearing up for another party night with beer and ice deliveries (it’s big business in Puerto Rico, you see Se vende hielo (Ice for sale) everywhere at shops and petrol stations, even at the side of the roads), and artists setting up their stands on the side of the street. We couldn’t resist buying another few pictures, I bought a poster with all the street signs of the Old San Juan by the photographer Salvi Colom and C bought a beautiful litography of the 3 kings (epiphany) by the artist Romorac. I will definitely visit the art gallery of Romorac in Plaza del mercado de Santurce – it’s walking distance from our home.
The rain increased in intensity and we decided to take the bus back to Condado – while snapping some photos of the pretty buildings on our way…
Somebody’s trying out different colours on the building in the centre?
C left on Saturday morning and it hasn’t stopped raining since, and I have a really bad cold / flu – feeling miserable… Fortunately our next guests are arriving on the 3rd February and hopefully the weather will improve until then!