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The Wall Street Journal
San Juan, Puerto Rico
By Wade Lambert
1 March 2005
Editor Wade Lambert visits San Juan, Puerto Rico, three times a year. His advice on what to do.
Where to Stay: Try El Convento, a 17th-century convent in Old San Juan transformed into boutique hotel, with rooms ranging from $200 to $400-plus. The beaches of Condado are just 15 minutes away by taxi. ( www.elconvento.com ; Tel. 787-723-9020)
What to Do: San Juan's art world comes to life every first Tuesday of the month, when galleries stay open late on Cristo and San Jose streets. Stroll down the newly restored promenade along the edge of San Juan Bay to the base of the 400-year-old El Morro fort; the walkway connects to La Princesa Promenade where locals gather at an outdoor cafe for live jazz and salsa.
Day Trips: Drive east of the capital to Pinones Forest, with its secluded beaches, biking and walking trails. Or visit Culebra, the tiny sister island to Puerto Rico's better-known Vieques Island -- you can catch a puddle hopper from Isla Grande Airport in the morning, snorkel off the pristine beaches and fly back late in the afternoon.
Where to Eat: Packed with regulars at almost all hours, Bebo's Cafe, near Condado, is known for serving basic Puerto Rican dishes such as rice and beans and roast pork (On Calle Loiza, 787-726-1008). In Santurce, locals dress up for La Casita Blanca, which resembles an eclectic farmhouse with pots and plantains hanging from the wall. The owner, Jesus Perez, or a member of his family, is likely to greet you with a plate of bacalaitos (codfish fritters), while the cook brings dishes such as veal stew right to your table (351 Tapia St., 787-726-5501).