Tag Archives: Viejo San Juan

Circofest Puerto Rico 2014

The circus is in town! There’s nothing quite like the circus; the painted faces and funny hats, the striped pants and acrobatics… It’s fun for all ages. This weekend and all through next week Puerto Rico is blessed with an international cast of circus characters. The first of its kind, Circofest has brought together artists from all over the world to bring joy and happiness to our little island.

Aerial Silk Duo
Aerial Silk Duo

Jugglers, clowns, fire breathers, aerial silk dancers, slack liners, and daring adventurous magical people of all kinds. This weekend they filled the streets of Old San Juan with their art and will continue to spread the joy throughout various parts of the Island during the week to come. I recommend it. For schedules and maps check out their page Circofest.com I really hope they keep coming every year and I can get better pics next time.

This wonderful initiative was coordinated by the local circus artist community in Puerto Rico. Some of the emerging groups and companies are so good, they really need to be checked out. They put on a really good show and also give classes, so if you didn’t make it to the Circofest, you can still fly high or play at acrobatics with this crowd:

Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico

Compañia Subcielo

Educare

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Parque de las Palomas @ Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

El Parque de las Palomas is a pigeon park. At the end of Calle del Cristo and right beside La Capilla del Cristo, the pigeon park is a classic kid spot. Located right above one of the old city walls, the breeze from the bay wanders in. It’s a good place for a rest. You will notice holes in the big wall on the side of the park. Those are pigeon holes. It’s like a giant bird apartment building!

Pigeon anyone?
Pigeon anyone?

Why would anybody build a giant pigeon apartment complex? Well… the pigeons were kept for food. Yup! Back in medieval times pigeons were part of the regular diet.  It was practically a free food enterprise.

So, do you eat the pigeons? No, no… worry not. At the pigeon park you now feed the pigeons. They sell corn and petit-pois as food. Forget the corn! Go for green petit-pois. They love them! The birds stand right on your hand to feed.

NOTE: Not for the finicky! These are pigeons. They are dirty. They stand on you and scratch a bit with their claws. They peck at your fingers and they also swarm around you, so if any of that would bother you, don’t take the food. If you don’t have food in your hand they won’t bother you.

ANOTHER NOTE: If there should happen to be no petit-pois, go to the grocery shop in Plaza de Armas and get a bag. 😉 The pigeons at Plaza de Armas are the same ones from the park so go ahead and feed those too.

El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), Puerto Rico

Musician on the streets of Old San Juan. Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Musician on the streets of Old San Juan.
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

Old San Juan is different from any other place in Puerto Rico. Colorful colonial buildings with tall windows line the cobbled streets of blue. It’s filled with life. The walls are infused with centuries of history, the plazas filled with old men in guayabera’s (typical shirt), artisans, neighbors, workers, and tourists. Delicious restaurants of all kinds mingle between shops, hotels, and government offices.

The Governor’s house is there. La Fortaleza or Palacio Santa Catalina, was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as it is one of the oldest palaces in use in the Americas (finished in 1540).

Garita. A lookout spot in the city wall. Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Garita. A lookout spot in the city wall.
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

El Morro and San Cristobal Forts have daily tours and house more history reminiscent of pirates and rum runners. In fact, a famous Puerto Rican pirate El Pirata Cofresí, was executed on El Morro grounds in 1825. The castle walls still bear the wounds of old cannon ball hits.

The Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park) is a classic to visit and great for the kids. The Museo del Niño, also great for kids, is right next to el Hotel Convento, while the jewelry shops are supposed to have some of the best discounts.  Personally I’ve always wondered about the Underground Tunnels, rumored to traverse the entire city from La Fortaleza, to El Morro, to San Cristobal Fort.

This escalinata was buried under asphalt and road some 10 years ago. During plumbing work it was discovered and restored. Spectacular! Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
This escalinata was buried under asphalt and road some 10 years ago. During plumbing work it was discovered and restored. Spectacular!
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Don Tite Curet statue @ La Plaza de Armas in the center of the old city. Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Don Tite Curet statue @ La Plaza de Armas in the center of the old city.
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

Take your time to leisurely walk the streets and notice the peeled plaster in some of the abandoned buildings, the tiny plants growing between the cobblestones, the old man carrying a bundle of white flowers “aaazucenas”… buy some.

I bet you’ll like this town.