Difference between revisions of "Mayaguez"
Revision as of 20:31, 6 July 2011
Mayagüez is served by PR-2, a primary four-lane road that links San Juan and Ponce and passes through most towns in the northern, western, and southwestern coasts of Puerto Rico. Should you drive it from the north, you'll enter the municipality through the bridge over the Río Grande de Añasco; from the south, you will enter town by driving past the Mayagüez Mall, right after the overpass that serves as the terminus to road PR-100, which leads to the resort town of Cabo Rojo.
Mayaguez also has a local airport Eugenio María de Hostos (MAZ), which has daily flights to and from San Juan operated by Cape Air. International charter flights from Spain, Canada and the United Kingdom arrive at nearby Rafael Hernández Marín International Airport, (BQN), about 25 mi. north of Mayagüez.
Mayagüez is a small city, roughly shaped like a crescent. Many of its landmarks are within walking distance, but the location of some will demand that you use alternate means of transport. The downtown section roughly follows a grid pattern. The main thoroughfares of the grid are the Calle de La Candelaria (from west to east) and Calle Méndez Vigo (from east to west), which run parallel to each other. They are closest to each other at the town square, the Plaza de Colón (Christopher Columbus Square), whose four corners are still called Las Cuatro Esquinas by some older mayagüezanos. City Hall (whose bell tower is roughly modeled after New York's) and the local Roman Catholic cathedral, Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria are located at opposite sides of the square. Slighly west of the city center the Avenida Ramón Emeterio Betances runs across the city from north to south.
Public transportation is scarce. If you rent an automobile, be advised: parking is even more scarce. Parking meters abound in the downtown section, but parking laws are not consistently enforced. You are advised to cover your stay by using them, though; fines cost $25-$250 depending on the infraction. There are private parking lots around town, whose hourly rates are relatively cheap (roughly $1/hr), but most are small, and many close by 5:00 PM. Should you be staying at a downtown hotel you may be entitled to use a parking space at one of these for the night.
If you need to travel reliably through town your best bet is to book a taxi, which is relatively cheap compared to San Juan's (a drive within the downtown section is approximately USD$7). There are two taxi companies: Yellow Cab (just south of the Cathedral) and White Cab (on Calle José de Diego, two streets north of the Plaza de Colón)
There's a free municipal trolley which makes a short circuit between its terminal just north of City Hall and the Palacio de Recreación y Deportes, which has a large, free parking lot. It mostly runs during work hours, 7:00 AM through 5:00 PM.
If you are adventurous, you may walk to the Terminal de Carros Públicos and take a publico (fixed-route public car). Most likely you will have to wait until the vehicle is full of passengers before the driver departs. Most routes cover nearby towns as well as Mayagüez Urbano, defined roughly as the expanse covered by Betances Avenue, and PR-2 up to the Mayagüez Mall. The rides are cheap, but please discuss your plans with the driver before boarding.
Travel by bicycle, although convenient, may be limited by the availability of parking facilities. Assume that, if you travel with one, you will have to lock and fasten it securely. Many drivers are not used to cyclists, although there is at least one dedicated bike trail on road PR-3108, near the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
Mayaguez is similar to most U.S. cities in that you will find multinational chain stores such as Sears, Wal-Mart, and KMart. Their presence, however, has determined that local commerce gravitate towards shopping malls and away from the city center.
The city's main shopping center is the Mayagüez Mall, at the southern edge of the city. The mall features about 100 stores, its anchor stores are Sears, JC Penney's and Wal-Mart. Two other large shopping centers are Western Plaza, at the northern side of the city (anchor stores are Home Depot, K-Mart and Sam's Club) and Mayagüez Town Center (whose larger retailer is Pueblo Supermarket)
Truly local to the town, however, are many eateries: Mayagüez and nearby Cabo Rojo are renowned for their gastronomy. There is also a once-a-month arts and crafts fair, set up on tents at the Plaza de Colón.
Mayagüez is known for its gastronomy: many popular Puerto Rican dishes and treats were either developed or popularized in town. Arguably bread is the food staple Mayagüez is best known for. The Ricomini Bakery chain has by now become the best known provider, and its flagship store at Calle Mendez Vigo near the city's center (which dates from 1905) has become a popular meeting place for locals. It features deli sandwiches, pastries, and local Puerto Rican fare.
Another revered institution, E. Franco y Co. (near the end of Calle Mendez Vigo) dates from 1850. Its jelly rolls ("brazo gitano", or Gypsy's Arm) are well known around Puerto Rico; they're sold in twelve flavor combinations (most popular are guava, Bavarian creme and cream cheese) and two sizes (the shorter one is sometimes called a "tuco gitano", or Gypsy's Stub). Franco also features gourmet imports (particularly from Europe), deli sandwiches, and local Puerto Rican fare.
Two other small eateries on Calle José De Diego also have a following: Siglo XX and El Cacique Lounge. The former is better known for its breakfast variety; the latter is known for its Cuban lunches. Both have reasonable prices: Siglo XX is favored by senior citizens, while Cacique Lounge is favored by students.
Other establishments are:
If you prefer familiar fare, multinational chain restaurants such as Burger King, McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, Sizzler, Applebees, etc. can also be found here.
Mayagüez has the largest brewery in Puerto Rico: the Compañía Cervecera de Puerto Rico (CCPR), founded in 1937. Its flagship brand is Cerveza Medalla (Silver Key is another brand, and the company has plans to diversify its offerings in the future). The local brand is usually cheaper than imports, and it is decent enough to have deserved awards in Europe and New Zealand. A family business, CCPR sponsors the local baseball team, the Indios de Mayagüez, as well as various sport events and festivals through Puerto Rico. Occasionally the CCPR also hosts events of its own, particularly near the start of the University of Puerto Rico's start of term in August, near Halloween (late October), and during the summer. International DJs such as Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren have been featured in these.