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From Panama City, Panama to San Juan, Puerto Rico

For the first time in many years, we arrived nice and early for our flight. We were hoping to rest up in the lounge for a bit before napping away the 4 hour flight to San Juan. Unfortunately, the lounges were all full due to a storm heading toward Panama, and our flight ended up getting delayed 2 hours. We checked into the Radisson Ambassador Hotel and Casino in Condado, San Juan at 1am, very ready for sleep.

Our newly renovated room at the Radisson

Our newly renovated room at the Radisson

Our room had recently been renovated- how recently? Our room was the only one completed on the entire floor- peeking in to the others, we could see that ours was the model for the others to become one day. That meant no neighbors, but a rather bizarre ambiance down the corridor.

Radisson Under Construction

Radisson Under Construction

San Juan had been a home port for us when we worked on the cruise ships, and had been host for many fond memories. I always loved San Juan, and hoped that the affection I felt had not faded. Walking around proved that it remained strong- the food, people, beaches, music, all pulled at my heart strings once more, so much that I began looking at property.

Nice hat.

Nice hat.

The old town (a quick but $15 cab ride  from Condado) is perfect for shopping, eating, and reminiscing. We watched the locals feeding the pigeons at Parque de las Palomas, drank a pina colada along the waterfront, compared how much had changed since we’d last walked these streets 7 years ago.

The many pigeons of Parque de las Palomas

The many pigeons of Parque de las Palomas

The first time I visited San Juan was on the day after I met Matt on the cruise ship MS Zuiderdam, and the day before our first date. He had already made plans for the day in San Juan, so we waited until the following day in St Maarten to go out for the first time. San Juan was also where I flew in and out of to meet up with Matt after he got a transfer from my ship to another. I traveled with him as briefly “girlfriend on board” (yes, that is a thing) before I had so say goodbye again, so this place has very bitter and sweet memories.

Kites flying over the old fort

Kites flying over the old fort

We ate fabulously- Dinner at Casita Miramar, with crab-stuffed avocados, veal stew, and delicious white sangria. The largest breakfast I’ve ever eaten at Blonda, with Crab Benedict, churro-like French Toast, and extremely fresh heirloom tomato salad.

Breakfast at Blonda

Breakfast at Blonda

But my favorite moments of the trip were those of complete surprise. Following faint strands of music down a side street in the old town, we found a band playing in the street behind a bar. Women fried up homemade empanadas, a feisty granny bought round after round for the band before they could finish the last, and everyone danced.

I could get used to this...

I could get used to this…

Another surprise- the block party that broke out behind our hotel. All the casino revelers and middle-late aged party people came out in full force to salsa behind the Radisson. If they had any mobility left, they were shaking it. All in all, San Juan recaptured my heart with the local food, weather, and joie de vivre. We will not be waiting another 7 years to see you again.

 

 

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • BlueButterfly November 11, 2013, 3:15 pm

    What a great long weekend. You manage to have such interesting trips with lovely photos. Many thanks for sharing it

  • Tara November 11, 2013, 3:38 pm

    Ugh, I hate when tourists misbehave on eco-tours! We didn’t go to Monkey Island but I can recommend the Rainforest Discovery Center just off Pipeline Road. They have nice trails, a canopy tower and lots of birds! I haven’t gotten that far yet on my blog, probably in a couple of weeks but it was amazing and no silly misbehaving tourists!

    • Allison from Saverocity November 17, 2013, 10:20 am

      Thanks for the comment- I checked out your blog and it looks like we share a lot of the same interests… your trips sound great, and I love the spotlight on different animals! Are you always on the move, or are you doing these posts retroactively? Either way, sounds amazing!

  • Jen January 8, 2014, 7:51 pm

    Just read this and had to comment first congratulations on your pregnancy! We’ve got 2 kids and have never stopped traveling with them. In fact we’re headed to SJU next month, and I’m much more excited after reading what you wrote here. Thanks for sharing. We also cringe at “those people” and just don’t get that mentality. My personal favorite is the American who gets irate in others countries when the locals don’t speak English. Argh!! Anyway, best wishes for a healthy and easy pregnancy. 🙂

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