Desperate for a bit of culture, I ventured past the usual tourist stops to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in Santurce. After much effort, I was able to convince a friend from the orchestra to join me. An overpriced cab dropped us outside the museum, but we opted to stop for coffee before going inside.
I checked Yelp for coffee recommendations, and found a great little spot, Hacienda San Pedro, half a block away. At first glance, it seemed like standard hipster coffee bar, with wooden counters, metal stools, and chalkboard menus, but was remarkable because of high quality coffee and a lovely garden patio. We took our coffee outside, but moved back inside before we were done because the humid day brought out hoards of mosquitoes!
After our caffeine fix, we went to the museum. We walked around the third floor, full of contemporary artwork (1950 and beyond). There were some interesting pieces, but nothing that stood out as particularly good or pleasing. The most remarkable piece of art was entitled Grief, but my friend, in his blunt German manner, described it as “two Asians with four tomatoes”. Apparently the symbolism was too subtle.
We then proceeded to the sculpture garden behind the museum. The first thing we saw after exiting was a beautiful, tree lined coi pond. Following a trail around, we saw a terrace, plenty of large, lush trees, and an occasional statue. The garden continues across the street, but hunger got the best of us, so we set out in search of food.
Since we were in a new, unfamiliar area, I once again relied on Yelp for a lunch suggestion. The closest “two dollar sign” restaurant that had wifi and a menu that appealed to us both was about a ten-minute walk away. We carefully crossed a highway, walked through a residential street, and ended at Café Marquesa, a lovely little spot, void of other tourists. We both ordered eggs benedict and chatted while also perusing a children’s book about Darth Vader and Princess Leia that we spotted on a shelf in the corner.
We finished eating and moved to a table outside to have coffee and talk with our respective families. He had the luxury of privacy since he speaks another language. I, however, sounded like a lunatic talking to my family… and dog.
I needed to pick up a few items for the week, so we set off toward Walgreen’s, and happened upon a SuperMax. It’s been awhile since I was in a real grocery store! The produce section teased me mercilessly, as I’m permitted from bringing perishable items onboard! I was able to find all the items I needed, and then we crossed the street to get a cab from a hotel.
Although the day was more expensive than my usual San Juan days, it was well worth it. I loved exploring a different area, and felt like a normal person rather than a tourist. I hope to see more parts of San Juan in the upcoming weeks.