I had the opportunity to walk Old San Juan with Javier Ruiz, one of the most knowledgeable local guides in San Juan. Walk San Juan provides private, personal, and custom tours of Old San Juan. The tours take place in groups of less than 8 and last approximately 4 hours. My tour (a group of two) began on Calle Fortaleza, the oldest street in Puerto Rico. I appreciated that Javier custom built a tour specifically for me based on what I had already seen in Old San Juan and what I was interested in seeing. Javier knew exactly where to take me in one of the oldest cities in the Americas. He not only knew all of the secret spots throughout Old San Juan, but also had the historical information to go along with the sights we were seeing.
Old San Juan is considered to be one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the world. Old San Juan is a part of the National Register of Historic Places and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). It wasn’t until after my tour with Javier that I fully understood the true beauty, culture, and history in Old San Juan. There is just so much to see, do, and learn about. I needed a professional to teach me everything there is to know about Old San Juan. Old San Juan has so much to offer with endless 18th century Spanish buildings, cathedrals, plazas, museums, historical buildings, restaurants, bars, and eclectic shops. Javier brought the old city to life as we meandered through the blue cobblestone streets.
My favorite types of tours are always the private ones because I am able to communicate and connect with my guide, the tours are more flexible and custom-built, and I can spend any amount of time at each stop along the tour. The tour was personable, while also being informational. Throughout the tour, I didn’t feel as if I was on a “scheduled tour”, but rather, spending a morning with a Puerto Rican. With Javier’s previous experience working with the Puerto Rican government in the Department of Natural Resources as an engineer he had a vast knowledge about the government. I asked Javier probably a thousand questions which probably drove him nuts, but he was happy to answer all of my questions and offer me opportunities to further inquire. Javier is one of the most kind-hearted and gentle spirits I have ever met and his main concern was making sure we enjoyed the tour.
Five Fun Facts about Javier:
1.Javier graduated from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing- He is able to listen to the needs of his clients and figure out the best way to meet them
2. World Champion Unicyclist
3. World traveler
4. Resident of Old San Juan for over 14 years
5. Bilingual in English and Spanish
Some of my favorite sights:
Casa Blanca Museum
La Fortaleza, Governor’s Residence
San Jan National Historic Site: San Felipe del Morro Fort
San Jan National Historic Site: San Cristobal Fort
Plaza Colon, Columbus Square
Entrance to the city
Parque de las Palomas
Plaza de Armas
Maria Magdalena de Pazzis – Cemetery
I see and understand now why Old San Juan is one of the most visited cities in the Americas with many cruise ships stopping there each year. There are hidden treasures around every corner. Some are even known to be haunted…
Walk San Juan is also on Facebook
*Media coverage for Walk San Juan