Vamos a Puerto Rico (Let’s Go)

If you have been traveling through the Caribbean looking for new places to visit and haven’t been back to Puerto Rico or if you have never been to Puerto Rico it is time to make it your next tropical island vacation.

When was the last time you went to a restaurant anywhere and found the owner of the place entertaining you with his singing while a family member was in the kitchen cooking up the food that you ordered?  In San Juan I have just the place where you can find such fun at dinner.

I prefer staying in San Juan either in the Condado area or Isla Verde.  Since I just returned I can tell you that there is a nice choice of hotels that are maintaining their own standard.  In Isla Verde I have 3 choices for you, each of them have a different style.  Depending on your budget you have the following:

Ritz Carlton: Naturally as expected the highest standard is there.  The hotel is very pretty, lined with luscious plants.   Even when the hotel is at maximum occupancy you will still receive optimum service , you will not ever feel neglected as if there is at least one staff member assigned to you.  The layout just makes for an easy access to the beach and if you forget something in the room you can easily walk back to the elevator back to your room.  Only take a room facing the water, any water view will do, but be sure not to face the city because basically you will see the airport and may be disturbed.  If you can swing it stay on the Club floor because the Club access will be the cherry in your pina colada to thoroughly complete your visit.  It serves snacks continuously beginning with a continental breakfast, light lunch and appetizers before dinner that may be enough for the night!  Drinks are also included in that area from noon time until 10 p.m.  Il Mulino is in the hotel for dining if you choose and is situated off the lobby and right next to the casino.

Intercontinental and The El San Juan are both within walking distance to the Ritz Carlton.  I would not put them in the same quality category but they do a good job at both.  EL SAN JUAN is full of action.  Upon entering you will find yourself in the middle of a huge bar scene.  On Saturday night be prepared because upon entering you will feel as if you need to begin dancing and you will, the band is loud,  the rhythm is contagious and take my word I would be surprised if you don’t find yourself moving to the beat.  If you do not like that much action then the INTERCONTINENTAL may be more suitable for you.  It has a nice flow upon entering, very nice but a lot more mellow.  Both hotels have a casino.  I prefer the casino in the El San Juan.  It always did have a special vibe going on and so it continues.

The Condado section in San Juan has several hotels.  I really like La Concha.  As soon as you arrive at this hotel you feel Puerto Rico all around you.  It has a warm, sleek,  tropical feel upon entering, it gives you what you should feel when on this island, very inviting.  The bar is in the center of the lobby, quite attractive with a Latin rhythm playing in the background, while the casino is off to the right a few steps away and it is a real nice one.  They have an excellent restaurant there, La Perla, along with the decor and the location of it makes the price worth it.

Getting back to the restaurant where the owner sings to you, it is called El Estribo.  It is not fine dining but it is good food and very well priced.  Satisfaction is pretty much guaranteed, old-fashioned Puerto Rican cuisine.   I hope you will rent a car so you can easily get around to all my places.  Another idea for dinner is going off the beaten path in the direction of PINONES.  It is on the way out of ISLA VERDE.  Driving into the neighborhood you will notice the difference and get a sense of what San Juan was like before it became as built up as it is today.  There are few restaurants out on this way but one is worthwhile going to for either lunch or dinner.  It is situated in front of the beach and is completely open, no doors just a roof and quite casual.  The name is Soleil, it serves real traditional Puerto Rican cuisine too.  I will give you one more because it has a unique setting.  Take off your shoes and walk onto the beach and have dinner at Pamela’s, A.K.A. Numero 1.  It is also a guest house that is reasonably priced if you like that style.  Dinner is good but it is pricey, and I have a hunch you will say it is worth it.  I have one more that I must share with you.  La Casita Blanca is located in a neighborhood and was converted from a house to a small restaurant.  It is as simple as it gets but it may be as close to eating in one’s home in Puerto Rico that you will get.  Check it out and let me know how you like the way the owner runs to serve you chicken soup from a cup as soon as you sit down!  Of course you will order their homemade recipe for SANGRIA which they serve well chilled.  The menu is a blackboard with a handful of choices all of them good ones.  I have no doubt that it will be a unique and authentic eating experience.   All of this food is prepared with specific Caribbean spices that I am confident you will find muy delicioso!

It is quite nice and refreshing to visit El Yuque, a rain forest.   Take in a hike or two when in there.  Also bring an umbrella and water, you never know!

Old San Juan is great for visiting day and night.  A lot to walk around, it gets quite warm so have a handy bottle of water just in case.  Park in the parking lot because it is just easier and not expensive.

ENJOY The Sunshine in Puerto Rico!  Andale!



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