“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley. “
San Juan has maintained its old historic charm with houses dating back 450 to 500 years or more. Its cobblestone streets and authentically restored 16th and 17th-century buildings line the streets of Old San Juan. Shops and restaurants, mostly Mom and Pop’s, lie within this beautiful historic city.
Walking through Old San Juan brought so many memories of growing up on the island. As an adult, I realize the importance of maintaining its heritage and history – something I didn’t think about as a teenager. After being away from the island for so long, I also realized how beautiful it is. Puerto Ricans have done a great job maintaining its tradition and culture, which we’ve tried to keep and raise our children within even though we live in the U.S.
We visited several establishments and found a lot of interesting and beautiful handmade artifacts ranging from personal accessories, clothes, wall art, and home decorations. We walked into a few of them so I want to share our experience below.
Cool No Name Shop (really, it has no name)
We stopped at a small souvenir shop on Calle del Cristo which didn’t have a name and purchased a few items. The shop doesn’t have a name on the outside. I thought maybe it had been blown away by the hurricane, so I asked the attendant what the store’s name was. It turns out the shop doesn’t have a name at all and never did. According to the attendant when they opened, they could not decide on a name so they just opened the shop without one until they could figure out what to name it. But business went so well that they decided to leave it unnamed. Just in case you’d like to check it out, it is the last building (the yellow one) on your right, adjacent to Parque de las Palomas and across the street from La Casa del Libro at 255 Calle del Cristo, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901.
I found my home at Blue Lotus on 300 Tanca, Esq. Tetuan, old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is a shop specializing in cultural art. The sweet aroma of Tibetan sage just draws you in. They sell different types of incense, woodcarving, silver jewelry, Buddhas, Hindu Gods, masks and many more things. It felt very peaceful and relaxing. If interested, you can research them online, Blue Lotus.
Artisans and Crafters
Many traditional crafters line the streets around the San Juan port and Paseo de La Princesa selling their hand-made jewelry, bags, cigars, wall art and more. Mío by Maruchi is a unique hand-made jewelry vendor with many beautiful pieces to choose from. If interested, you can visit their site at Mío by Maruchi.
Artesanias Yaneska also has a line of handmade jewelry and beautifully crafted metal embossing art. They have an assortment of designs to choose from never seen before. If interested you can visit their site at Artesanias Yaneska.
GB Glass Gems is a self-taught lampworking glass bead jewelry and gem designer, as well as a metalsmith in fine silver, sterling silver and/or gold. Not only does GB Glass Gems have beautiful glass jewelry, but they also teach how to make them. And their jewelry can be personalized to your desire. You can see these beauties or book a class at GB Glass Gems.
Places to Eat
Puerto Rico’s cuisine is comprised of a large variety of foods – all delicious. You can enjoy a fried favorite at a food truck, local mom and pop shops at the beach shore or go for a full-service restaurant along the cobbled stoned streets of old San Juan. Here are just a few where we enjoyed delicious meals:
Café del Angel located on Calle Recinto Sur #307, Viejo San Juan. The food was delicious, and the plates were full and colorful – very appetizing to the eye. The atmosphere was good, and the staff provided a great service.
Restaurante Raíces is located on Calle Recinto Sur #315 in Old San Juan. I love the décor and environment. It took me back to when I was a child and visited the family in the mountains. The food was delicious, and the service was great.
Himalaya Ice Co. located at 102 Fortaleza Street in San Juan is an organic ice cream shop – a perfect place to cool down from the scorching heat. You can choose from their menu or make up your own and they will make the ice cream right in front of your eyes using fresh ingredients!
Of course, you cannot leave the island without trying a “piragua” which is shaved ice smothered in traditional fruit syrup of your choice. Or, the ice coquito or parcha from street carts local vendors. Either one will do the trick to cool you down. I’m sure you won’t regret it and will look forward to having many more while in Puerto Rico.