We stayed all five nights in OSJ at CasaBlanca Hotel. One of lowest prices on the old boutique hotels. Old? yes, of course. Small room and bathroom? yes. Impeccably clean, great shower, and very nice towels. Comfortable beds, and could keep thermostat at cool temperature we prefer. Also, whenever staying at an old property - TAKE A LONG CORDED surge protector-type multi-outlet with some USB ports. That made all the difference for us being able to unwind on the internet in our beds before sleep. The WIFI at Casablanca was very good. Also excellent T-mobile service everywhere we went.
Tuesday 11th: We arrived around 2pm at SJU. Paid $54 for private taxi so we would be sure to make our (Spoon) Sunset Walk and Taste Tour. Except for the great people in our group, it was a big disappointment. Very little food, and not great. First small plate was about 2 square inches of grilled grouper on a sweet potato puree. Very tasty for one small bite. Second plate was (I kid you not) about a 1.5 inch slice of a sub sandwich. Again, tasty but small. Several of our group, beginning to understand that we would be ending the night hungry, ordered whole sandwiches to pick up later. The next dish was a small portion of pork and rice on a bread-sized plate. And dessert was a popsicle. Not even a choice of flavor. My cousin, on the other hand, did the Taste of Old San Juan Tour the week before and she said it was excellent. More food than they could eat and really delicious.
MASKS- yes, everyone had them on, but since I HATE MASKS, I carried on my own private little rebellions. I bought kids-sized masks before we left and cut out the liners. Much more comfortable and easier to breathe. THEN during the first full day, we discovered that if you order a drink and put it in a to-go cup, you can carry it on the street. And, of course, if you are eating or drinking, you don't have to wear a mask. We drank a lot - (my new favorite) Coconut Mojito or bottled water. Picture this: drink in left hand with mask dangling from pinky and cell phone in right. Breathing fresh air constantly. Smiling broadly at everyone we passed. Even the police. No problem!
Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th: Light breakfast each morning at Chocobar Cortes. I had the Choco-Latte every time, as it was wonderful. Husband loved the Breakfast wrap on the one morning he went. I went three times and had the breakfast sandwich on Mallorca bread, the Quesito Cortes, and then the Chocolate Grilled Cheese. Most of the places we wanted to go were open. The forts did not disappoint. They were amazing! I was very impressed with the newly restored Iglesia San Jose - one of the earliest surviving examples of Spanish Gothic architecture in the entire western hemisphere.
During the week there were no crowds and no lines. Evenings were busier, but not bad. Loved walking the streets, but needed four full days instead of two. Will go again when everything is open. The statuary all around the city fascinated me - sort of a lithe, airy style I loved. Every view around the city is beautiful. People very polite and friendly.
Rented car for Friday 14th and Saturday 15th. Parked at Dona Fela parking garage. Very easy. $17 for one overnight.
The 14th we drove part of the Panoramic Highway and went to the highest point in PR, Cerra la Punto. When we stopped to get directions, a local offered to follow us and drive us up the last very steep gravelly stretch of road in his truck. (we did not have 4x4 in our rental. The place itself is full of cell-phone and tv towers, but the views were gorgeous, even though it was a very cloudy, damp day. I understand that when it is clear weather, one can see the entire island and the oceans beyond.
We had read that the Panoramic highway was a rather harrowing drive. But "La Ruta Panoramica, " at least the part we drove on, was not bad at all. No one honked around curves or needed to. We took 52 south and then west to near Ponce, and then took highway 10 up to the scenic route, where we then drove east. We got back on 52 North at some point in the afternoon. We took the exit to Highway 184 to Guavete, or the "Pork Highway" and had dinner at "Lechoneros Los Pinos." My husband got the ribs and I had the pork. Both were excellent. My pork had plenty of the crunchy cracklin.' I had read reviews, both pro and con, but I was not disappointed. So glad we went!
Last day we drove the north coast to Isabela and met my cousins for a four hour lunch at Uma's. Food was fine, Coconut Mojiotos were great, and the beach was gorgeous.
One note: we rented from Avis at the Sheraton at the Convention Center. Pickup was easy, but it was hard to get back to for return at night. Drivers were CRAZY. Traffic was going too fast for us to follow GPS instructions. It was almost a traumatic experience to find a gas station and then get the car back to Avis.
All in all, my husband enjoyed it, but I LOVED it. Liked Puerto Rico much better than I expected to, and will certainly go back when everything is back open. I will go for two weeks. Two or three more days in OSJ, then do the entire Panoramic Drive, a drive along entire coast of the island, El Yunque, Culebra and Vieques.
I benefitted so much from this forum while we did out planning. I hope I have been of some help and welcome any questions.