Sunday, September 9, 2012

"You spend a week in Old San Juan..."

Vampire Weekend (ref: song lyric in this post’s title) always plays through my head when we go to Old San Juan.   We may not have spent a week there, but we did spend one night longer than we’d originally planned this weekend.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Friday evening, we left for Old San Juan.  The plan was to eat dinner in the city, go out salsa dancing afterwards, and spend the night.  Saturday we’d go out to breakfast, then spend the day sightseeing in Old San Juan, returning to Guayama in the late afternoon or early evening.  For once, we more or less followed the plan…up until Saturday afternoon, at least. 

Friday night was great.  We missed most of the rush hour traffic and made it to OSJ in about an hour and a half.  Not bad.  I dropped my things off at my Da House, where Kelsey and Jenni and I stayed, and then we went to the hostel where everyone else was staying. 

When we got the hostel, we were met with an iron gate of a door and an intercom.  A caring stranger informed us that the intercom system doesn’t work, so we’d have to wait until someone came into or out of the hostel in order to let us in.  That didn’t sound too promising, so Amanda pulled out the number for the place and called them, and they sent someone down.  While we waited, another traveler ready to check in pulled up, and we met Chris.  A little more on him later.

When the woman came down, she showed us to the elevator—a small, antique looking thing.  She shepherded all seven of us inside.  We just barely fit.  As she closed the door, the heat was sweltering; we were immediately dripping with sweat.  So, she pressed the button for the 6th floor…and nothing happened.  She pressed again.  Still nothing.  She pressed the button for the ground floor.  Nada.  She made half an attempt to open the gate (yes, it was an elevator with a gate you pull shut).  The gate stayed in place.  We stood in our sweat.  Stuck, for all intents and purposes, in a motionless elevator.  Finally she gave the gate a good shove, opened the door beyond it, and we all clambered out.  Three of us opted to take the stairs, and the other 4 chanced the elevator with the reduced weight.  All of us made it to the 6th floor (at approximately the same time, as well). 

view of Plaza Colon from the hostel

After check-in, we dined at one of my favorite restaurants in Old San Juan: El Jibarito.  Great food, good portions, and approximately half the price of most awesome restaurants in OSJ.  We moved on to the Nuyorican café for dancing, and eventually I finished the night in the hot tub on the roof of Da House, where I was staying.  Though Scott and I tried to match last year’s feat of staying up to watch the sun rise, we gave up and went to bed around 4:30am.  A valiant effort. 

Saturday morning began with breakfast at La Mallorca Café—an excellent local diner that’s even been featured on the travel channel (or the food network? I can’t honestly remember). 
Everyone was moving at different speeds in the morning, so after Josh and Amanda and I ate, we went for a walk while we waited for the others to get up, pack up their rooms, and head to breakfast.  By 12:30, everyone had eaten.  There was some confusion about rides home, because one of our 2 drivers for the 7 of us wanted to go home early.  Everything ended up working out, though, and 3 people left after we saw San Cristobal fort (amazing, as always), and the rest of us stayed for the afternoon.

San Cristobal, San Juan

Josh may or may not have climbed over a wall...

View from my very favorite spot at the fort.  Pictures don't do it justice.

At about 4pm, as we sat at an outdoor patio enjoying beverages and each other’s company, Jenni remarked wistfully, and not for the first time, “I wish we could just stay one more night.”  I’d been the reason we were going to go home, and at this point, I finally conceded, that as long as we came home right after breakfast on Sunday so I could get some work done, I wouldn’t mind staying. 

I really do love making the occasional spontaneous decision.  Kelsey and I headed back to Da House to see if a room was available for the 4 of us who would be staying the night.  Then we met up again at Marshall’s, where all 4 of us bought an outfit for the evening (since we had all only packed one change of clothes). 

We all have our own ways of getting ready... :) 

Back at the hotel, we ran into Chris—the guy we’d met the night before checking into the hostel.  He’d moved, and was now staying at Da House as well.  We invited him to come along with us to hang out for the night, and he did. 

What a great night.  The 5 of us had a delicious dinner, found a few new places to hang out, and just had a fantastic time together.  The night ended, again, in the hot tub on the roof of the hotel.  Once again, we didn’t make it quite until sunrise, but that was okay.  Just being there was more than enough.
I sure am glad we decided to stay.

Sunday we had a 2nd delicious breakfast at La Mallorca, and then we headed for home.  I really couldn’t have asked for a better week(end) in Old San Juan.  

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