Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pure Paradise, Part 1

Escaping to Puerto Rico was the highlight of this long, cold and bitter winter!

Months ago, my friend Allis asked if I'd be interested in joining her in San Juan while she was there for work... Lucky girl, huh?  My work trips aren't nearly that awesome.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance! 

Countless texts, lots of internet research and one plane ticket later, I was flying south!

And just in the nick of time might I add!  I flew out Tuesday morning and Tuesday night they got 8 more inches of snow at home...

When I arrived in San Juan I promptly shucked the sweater I wore on the plane, then ventured outside to locate Allis.  I didn't have to wait long before a neon green Jeep Wrangler pulled up and my gal pal jumped out!  After a round of ear piercing squeals, flailing arms and bear hugs all because Colorado and Illinois are too far apart, we hot footed it to the hotel!

Knowing how Allis prefers to travel, I wasn't surprised that we were staying in a suite on the 20th floor of the hotel.  What I wasn't prepared for was the view!

After depositing my bags and changing into a more weather appropriate outfit, we went down to catch up over some snacks and drinks at the beach bar. 

We went to supper that night just down the street from our hotel to a place called Oceano.  While we waited for our table, we each enjoyed a few Hendricks and tonic.  Not to be confused with Hennessy and tonic, which aren't good in the slightest! After eating our amazing meal we walked the beach back to the hotel.  To finish out the day, we sat on our balcony with a bottle of Spanish Tempranillo wine (my new favorite red!) and took in the sights and sounds of paradise!

Wednesday morning we headed out in the Jeep to Old San Juan to do some exploring.  I was surprised how busy this part of the city was, but because of San Juan's deep water port lots of cruise ships dock throughout the day and let their passengers explore the city.

For lunch on Wednesday we hit up a local diner, Cafe Manolin.  This restaurant was suggested to us by several people at the hotel and they couldn't have been more spot on!  The food was authentic and absolutely divine.  Our hotel concierge and some other friends we made over drinks, demanded suggested we have the Mofongo.  Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish of smashed green plantains that have been stuffed with some sort of meat.  I had the chicken with red beans, rice and two small fried plantains.  My mouth is watering just remembering it!

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to relax by the pool.  Brown Dog, the SIUC mascot also made the trip to San Juan and was so thirsty he drank not one, but two mojitos!

Allis and I are both TripAdvisor app junkies.  Do you use it when you travel?  I'm addicted.  Back when we first started planning this adventure, TripAdvisor was my first stop. If you haven't used it before, the gist is other travelers give their opinions of local establishments and then reviews are averaged thus creating a rank among restaurants and activities in the city you choose.

When you search restaurants in San Juan the #1 rated restaurant is Marmalade.  We had decided that we definitely wanted to try and have supper there one night just to experience the greatness everyone was raving about.  Thankfully, we were able to get a reservation and I'm telling you they are ranked #1 for a reason!! 

After gawking at the decor and menu, we each settled on the four course tasting menu and the wine pairing.  We each could select three items from the menu: appetizer, entree and dessert.  The fourth course was the chef's signature White Bean Soup.  Our favorite items were the soup, paella and warm banana bread pudding!

The only down side was when the meal was over and I realized that I didn't get any good pictures of the food!!  Just one of these two beauties...

After supper we headed back to the hotel and Brown Dog encouraged us to grab a glass, which turned into a bottle, of wine and head to the casino!  We weren't what I'd call 'big winners'!

Parts 2 and 3 of my escape to Puerto Rico will be up soon!  Check back for more of our adventures!

1 comment:

  1. This made me smile and giggle!! Thanks for the great narrative!