Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Day {in San Juan}

Many of you know that I love to travel, but because of well, general life obligations, I rarely take long trips.  Such was the case this last weekend, when winter got the best of me and I had to leave town.  I needed to go somewhere warm.  Anywhere warm.  So I talked the hubs into taking a quick trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Warm temps, warm water,  perfect.

1787 It took some doing to convince him, as it is an 8-10 hour flight and we would only be in San Juan for 24 hours, but my whining won out in the end.  We made arrangements for the kids and took a red-eye to New York and then connected to San Juan early the next morning arriving right around noon. 

2059 As soon as we landed, we found a hotel.  We ended up at the San Juan Plaza Hotel.  It was listed on the Hotel Tonight app, and looked pretty good, so we went there.  When we got there, we actually secured a lower rate right at the check-in counter, so note-to-self, don’t just blindly book a room on the app.  Go there and actually see what they can do for you.  If they can’t do better than the app, then just book it through the app on site.  The hotel was undergoing some remodeling, so it was a little rough, but our room was clean, updated and comfortable and usually includes pool, exercise room and on-site breakfast.  Since they were under construction, our breakfast was next door at a different hotel, but still included. 

17862034After settling in, we hit the beach.  It was a little crowded, but there was still a ton of room to throw down our towels.  The sand was nice, the water was perfect.  Just what this Utah girl needed to thaw out.  We stayed at the beach a few hours and then went to find a late lunch.

1779We ended up at Orozcos.  It was rated well by Trip Advisor and did not disappoint.  We started with some virgin pina coladas.  In my opinion, one of the greatest joys in this world is a virgin pina colada.  I could drink them all day.  For lunch, I ordered a Puerto Rican platter that included roast pork, beans and rice, plantains, and something orange and sticky/mushy that I can’t remember the name of.  At first, it was a little bland, but I decided that I would try some of the house hot sauce that was on the table.  Let me tell you.  It.  was.  amazing!  So amazing.  Hours later, I was still recalling how amazing it was.  My husband got sick of me telling him how amazing it was.  I wanted to go back for dinner, that’s how amazing it was.  Travus ordered some equally amazing Puerto Rican food at Orozcos.  He had the Chicken Parmesan, which was delicious even without the hot sauce.  He opted for the crunchy plantains, though, which were certainly crunchy, and tasted a little like hard potatoes and bananas mixed with glue.  They were served with fry sauce, which to anyone outside of Utah, including our waiter, is ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together.  The fry sauce helped, but not much.  I guess crunchy plantains are an acquired taste.

P1200384 After lunch, we decided that we wanted to visit Old San Juan, which is an area that houses many government buildings, and some old forts that were built by the Spanish about 300 years ago. 

P1200385P1200388P1200391When we planned our trip, we didn’t know that we would be visiting during the Saint San Sebastian celebration, which was pretty much a colossal party that lasted 4 days.  We happened to arrive on the final day.  I have to tell you, it was nuts.  There were tons of people, all with some kind of noise-making device like drums or whistles or air horns, all trying to out-do the person next to them.  Every now and then the police would come through with their sirens on extra loud.  Imagine 4th of July parades combined with New Years and multiply by 20.  There were also several bands, tons of music, arts and crafts and lots to eat and drink.  It was a little late in the day, so by the time we got to the forts, they were just about closed, so we didn’t get to look around as much as I would have liked, but will have to do that next time.  When we were done, we headed down the hill to try to find a taxi, which apparently, 8000 other people were also doing at the very same moment.  We waited for 30-50 minutes in the taxi line, and when we finally got to the front, we were herded {by the taxi service under the supervision of local law enforcement} into a 10 passenger taxi van that was already holding 16+ people.  Travus and I ended up sharing the front bucket seat, while 2 drivers shared the drivers seat.  When we were not stuck in traffic, we raced around the city at break-neck speeds, narrowly missing parked cars and oncoming vehicles.  As we dropped more and more people off and were making our way to our hotel, the driver and some of the remaining passengers got into a disagreement about where he would drop them off.  Now, I don’t speak Spanish, but the gist of it was:

Other Passenger:  We need to go _____.

Driver:  But you said Condado, this taxi goes to Condado.

OP: You will drop us off ____!  We will not pay you if you do not drop us off ____!

Driver: {Angry Spanish yelling, Condado! Condado!}

OP:  We will pay you more money if you drop us off _____!

Driver:  I am going to Condado!

OP:  Let us off here!

Driver pulls over, other passengers start to leave.

OP: {sweetly, to me} Buenos Noches!

Driver gets out of the car with angry passengers and all proceed to yell at each other in the street until police come.  All I can see at this point is arms making angry gestures.  After a good 20 minutes, the driver gets back in, and takes us to the hotel that he thought we were staying at.  We weren’t, but at this point did not care.  We got out and paid the man and then found our own way back to our hotel on foot, which was 1-2 miles away.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for dinner at Crepe Maker.  The food was good and the service was great. 


The next morning we had a few hours before having to be at the airport, so we spent some time swimming in the ocean, and lying on the beach.  We also did a little bit of shopping for souvenirs, and got one last virgin pina colada at Orozcos on the way back to the hotel before checking out.

Overall, it was a great trip.  Great food, great people, great beaches, great weather.

Can’t wait to go back!


Amy @ The Happy Scraps said...

Sounds and looks like fun! And that taxi ride will be one to remember for sure. :)

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