Gallery Inn – San Juan Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Beach

 

It’s Steamy Weather in Puerto Rico…

      It was steamy out when we arrived in Puerto Rico, literally. The airport windows were covered with thick dripping condensation. We too soon began to perspire. 

     My friend Terry and I were planning a road trip around the country and our 1st stop was San Juan. We grabbed our car from the airport rental and headed out into the heat. 

     We were able to see a golden beach and beautiful blue water almost immediately after leaving the airport. It was rainy and hot, maybe 86° and I could feel my hair curling up as though I was getting a home perm in the car on the way there. 

Passing Through Old San Juan

     We followed the GPS along the shore and passed a few historic churches on the way to the Gallery Inn where we were staying. I was excited after booking this 17th century mansion because of the tropical gardens on the property and the unique indoor-outdoor layout. The inn contains more than 150 original paintings and is like a hotel inside of a museum.

Outside the Gallery Inn

     We found the hotel which was surrounded by an iron gate. There was no parking on the property so we bumped up and down the hilly brick streets of old San Juan, looking for a spot. The narrow road wound us into some uncertain areas while we were looking for a garage.

Is This Even a Road? Should We Be Driving Here?

     “Soooo, this seemed to be a road when we turned here…but now I’m not so sure.” I announced to Terry, who was my ‘parking garage lookout.’

     “Yeahhh…” Terry agreed. “It’s a bit narrow…are we on a walkway or is this a road?”

     “Not sure…I think we just gotta plow forward and cross our fingers that we don’t get stuck.” I inched the car ahead. 

     Tires scraped curb as I attempted a tight turn and saw the end of the road/not a road where we could turn onto a real street. We made a right and circled back around towards the inn, finding a garage about 5 blocks away.

The Harrowing Hike Up the Hills of San Juan

Slippery Brick Streets of San Juan

     The steep winding streets were made from brick pavers and my rubber soled flip flops were sliding like they were coated in teflon. I opted for bare feet, dragging my giant suitcase behind me. The Inn where we were staying was at the top of a long hill. Our luggage kept catching on the bricks as we climbed, causing them to repeatedly tip over. My other smaller bag was balanced on the top, spilling its contents out each time the suitcase went down.

     “I’m not going to make it up this hill.” I huffed. “My feet are sliding everywhere and my suitcase is going all willy nilly.”

     “Almost to the top.” Terry encouraged, while her suitcase caught a rut and twisted on its side.

     “Must…keep…walking…” I puffed, wrapping my knobby blue hook that I use for my muscle knots around my neck so I had a free hand to balance my bag on the suitcase. The hook swung wildly, latching onto the suitcase handle, almost taking me down. I battled with my sideways suitcase and falling objects from my bag. Passersby and a few random cats eyeballed us as we fumbled up the road.

     It was sticky-humid and we were frizzy and perspiring by the time we made it to the iron gate. We had to get buzzed through and a young dark haired man led us towards the lobby to check in. 

Inside the San Juan Gallery Inn

      They were viney tropical plants hanging everywhere and some sections of the hall were indoors while others led into open air areas. We could hear the screeches and songs of multiple birds and there were statues around every corner. The walls were lined with paintings and there were decorative fountains trickling nearby.

     When we arrived at the front desk, there were colorful macaws perched in several places in the room, chatting and speaking. 

     “Helloooo.” A bird voice squeaked.

     “Holaaa…” Another responded.

     “Hello ladies,” the dark haired lobby attendant greeted us. “After we get you checked in, I will show you where you can pull your car up to drop off your luggage.”

     Terry and I were still panting and  looked wide eyed at each-other.

     “I think we’re good.” I breathed.

     We finished checking in and were shown the small kitchen and honor bar that we were welcome to use. We then followed the attendant and clunked our bulky suitcases up several landings of steps.

     He led us through a maze of twists and turns leading to various sections of the inn. Our room faced an outdoor courtyard thick with palm trees and foliage. There were enormous wooden double doors that swung open into the room. The young attendant showed us various features of the room as well as the latch locks on the bottom and top of the doors.  He told us we could feel free to explore the inn upstairs and down.

Checking Out Our Room at Gallery Inn

      After he had gone, we shut the door and checked the place out. The floor was a rustic uneven stone, the ceilings were high with wooden beams running across the length. The bathroom had a mosaic bowl sink and a window with no glass and shutters that opened above a courtyard.

     There was a separate room with just the toilet and a door that opened in halves, cowboy ranch style.

     “Hey, check me out, going or not going?” Terry called from the room. 

     Her head peered from above the door and we began cracking up. 

     “I would hope, not going,” I laughed. “Now me! ” I traded places and got behind the door for a photo. 

     The shower also had a huge glass-less window overlooking a tropical area. 

     “Shower and a view…not bad,” I called to Terry.

     After checking out the room, I did a quick ultrasound pain treatment for my jaw pain and jabbed my muscles with the blue hook. Then we made our way out to the town for some dinner and a drink. We were told to try the mofungo, a local fried plantain and vegetable dish and…holy yum…we did…and it was then that we decided we should have as much mofungo as possible during our trip.

Mofungo

Night Time at the Gallery Inn of Old San Juan

     We made our way back to Gallery Inn and grabbed a drink from the honor bar. We wove in and out of the intricately decorated rooms. There was a brick path leading down to the pool area. An outdoor seating area looked inviting and we hung out for a bit under the stars and sipped our beers.

     I got up to put my feet in the water and could see the statues and concrete heads situated around the area. The various eyes all around gave a somewhat creepy vibe in the dim courtyard.

     “Hey what’s down there?” Terry pointed past the pool where there were several steps down into a dark area.

     “I don’t know, let’s check it out.” I started heading in that direction. 

     “Do you have a flashlight?” I called to Terry behind me while stepping into the dark room.

     “I think there’s one on my phone.” Terry fumbled with the device and a small light appeared.

Going Bravely Into the Creepy Zone…

     We peeked into the darkness. There were a number of statue heads staring at us with blank eyes. There was the form of a covered piano and a glittering chandelier. Next was a room with a lot of pottery heads and tables.

Gallery Inn Statues

     “I have a weird feeling in here.” Terry whispered.

     “I know,” I whispered back. “All these heads are creeping me out…I’m getting the heebie jeebies.”

     “Yeah, maybe let’s get out of here.” 

     We scrambled towards the stairs as if we were being chased and burst back out into the pool area without incident.

     “Whew…that was a little weird.” I announced.

     “Yeah, maybe that’s a room for some daytime looking.” Terry agreed.

     We finished our drinks and then explored inside. Now that we had, ‘creepy on the brain,’ everything seemed to be looking at us. Going from room to room, there were paintings and statues and ornately decorated rooms that seemed centuries old. We sneaked around the hallways and courtyards, feeling as though we had stepped back in time to take a peek. We wound our way back through the night noises and foliage to our room and decided to call it a night.

Gallery Inn – Back In the Light of Day

     The next morning, we went down to the patio area for breakfast. We ate outside and had a few unexpected breakfast visitors.

      We made our way back down to the creepy zone, which wasn’t as creepy in the light of day, but still very old and interesting to look at. It felt as if we had stumbled across an ancient mansion that hadn’t been touched in decades.

     We then made our way up the steep stairs to the roof where we passed through a horse themed room and then stepped outside.

When we got out onto the rooftop patio, we were treated with a 360゚ view of the city and sea. The ancient city forts were visible on either side of us, the blue Caribbean waters ahead of us. 

Puerto Rico Road Trip Starts Here…

 

     We enjoyed the views and then went back to our room to get ready for the day. We walked suitcase-free to get our car and bring it up the hill to the luggage drop off area to retrieve it. We then spent the day exploring the seaside forts and walking through Old San Juan, and then we hit the road for an adventure on the west side of the island. 

View From the Gallery Inn Rooftop

Click here to read about our paddle to the  Bio-luminescent Bay in Vieques

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