For our last night/day with Discover Puerto Rico it should come as no surprise that naturally we had to experience San Juan. The most visited city in Puerto Rico, it is a good mixture of old and new. You have the high rises of Puerto Rico’s financial district: Hato Rey. The upscale residential area: Miramar, where we had our last dinner at Eter Rooftop and Lounge. And of course, Old San Juan with its cobblestone streets and vibrant colorful buildings. The whole city is larger than I was expecting and bustling with excitement.
Starting with our Dinner at Eter Lounge; this is an experience you should not miss if you are wanting to do something on the swankier side of things. Located at the top of a hotel, this rooftop restaurant and bar overlooks the whole cityscape of San Juan. The port is illuminated by the twinkling lights of the city. The food was traditional Puerto Rican. It was not only visually stunning but also tasted fantastic. Out thirst was quenched with thoughtfully craft cocktails, not surprisingly my favorite was the Mezcal with Lavender. Whether you want a full meal or perhaps just a cocktail to get your night started, Eter delivers on vibe, quality, and of course views!
When traveling I derive great joy when visiting a new locations old cities. My favorite neighborhood in Barcelona was the Gothic Quarter, and I was pleasantly charmed by Old Town Ibiza. There is something so awe-inspiring about walking old cobblestone streets, the same as many people have done for years before. Old San Juan was no exception. This vibrant part of San Juan is 510 years old. The buildings are all modest 1 to 2 story, and painted the most beautiful colors. For a content creator, you could spend days wandering these street and find charming new shots again and again. The molding and architecture of the buildings are visually pleasing, and again it evokes the feelings of something that has been around long before you, and will continue to be around long after. The colors were absolutely one of the highlights that draw you in. From delicate pastel pink, the vibrant yellow, and rich chartreuse, you will find the whole spectrum with each passing street!
And of course there are the businesses of Old San Juan. An absolute must stop is La Factoria Bar for amazing nightlife and delicious craft cocktails. Named one of the top 50 bars IN THE WORLD you will taste amazing and thoughtful drinks as you dance the night away. There are four rooms at La Factoria so a mix of music that will fulfill the desires for anyone that walks in the door. As you enter, the main room is strictly their bar, so if you are wanting to grab a couple drinks and chat with your friends this is the best option for you. The biggest room and definitely the most crowded is the second room, which plays upbeat latin music, and this is where you will become mesmerized by the many couples Salsa dancing their night away! I will admit I am jealous because it seems everyone knows how to Salsa dance in this room. I vowed to myself that next time I visit San Juan I will without a doubt come back to La Factoria, but I will also enroll in dancing lessons well before! Not that this is a requirement to dance in this room, I was just envious of that passion and coordination of the dancing. They also have a smaller room that plays house music, and an intimate back room for those that would like a calmer vibe; but hands down my favorite was the Salsa Dancing room. The experience of watching amazing dancers while sipping on delectable cocktails was so unique and exotic that it will be one of my fondest travel memories for the rest of my life. You must stop in here to create your own version of this, you will not regret it! If I have one woe, it is that I did not take enough pictures here. However this will just add to the mystique and inspire you to book your own trip so I suppose that’s ok. 🙂
The next morning, when you are looking for the perfect spot to grab breakfast after dancing the night away I cannot recommend La Bombonera enough. This delightful bakery and breakfast spot is over 100 years old so they have been cranking out these delicious breakfast delights for quite some time. A Mallorca is a sweet bread that originated in Spain, and if I had to describe it I would say somewhat like a croissant, but much thinner and a bit more dense. La Bombonera traditionally serves this bread with Ham, Egg, and Swiss inside and topped with powdered sugar. If you have been following me for awhile you know I am 95% Pescatarian, and I will admit I tend to not enjoy mixing sweet and savory. But if I learned one thing from my time in Spain, it was to try food how it is traditionally served to avoid regretting not getting the full cultural experience. I’m looking at you Jamón ibérico. So I ordered this exactly how its recommended and let me tell you….life changing. The sweetness of the powdered sugar with the saltiness of the ham and swiss. Oh my god. It was so good one of our group members ordered a second one, and I will admit, I am still a bit jealous I did not follow suit! When you pair this delectable little sandwich with the fresh Coffee Con Leche, and in House Squeezed Orange Juice, you are in Heaven. I want to go back to San Juan for this sandwich alone. And of course the ambiance is charming old town diner, with a sprawling breakfast bar along the kitchen. It was the perfect last meal and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
And if you would like to get your history in while visiting San Juan, I recommend you visit one of the forts that was responsible for protecting the city many years ago. We went to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and it was so interesting to see the ancient building. Built on the cliff with an expansive lawn, you can imagine what it would have looked like many years ago. We saw where the soldiers slept and ate, as well as where the cannons were located to fend off pirates and intruders. It is always so remarkable to be in the presence of these buildings and see the workmanship that has kept them around for hundreds of years. The term fortress takes on new meaning when standing inside one, and imaging the fear and excitement they must have felt when having to defend against trespassers. And the views of the Coastline and Port are so beautiful, especially when you witness the crashing waves by the historic cemetery. I firmly believe that we should always include at least one cultural experience, and learn something about each city we visit; and this fort is a great choice.
If you come to Puerto Rico, I have a few pieces of advice for you…Absolutely explore the beautiful city of San Juan. Visit the places I mentioned or perhaps forge your own adventure. But check out the rest of the island as well. It is a great way to get all the adventure you crave on your island vacation. And send pics of the Mallorca.