Travel: Puerto Rico
Before we had kids, Noah and I traveled every chance we got. We zipped to Japan for a week. We ate our way through Italy during the world cup. We lived our best life biking through the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. There are approximately 2 things we are willing to splurge on and they are brand-name peanut butter and traveling, in that order. You get it: traveling is our jam.
When we decided to have kids, we agreed emphatically that: kids will adapt to us! They will go where we go! This need not have any impact on our traveling! Obviously this proved to be a very practical approach and we have spent the last 3 years gleefully and effortlessly traversing the globe, toddlers in tow.
We took a bit of a break.
When we came up for air at around 2.5 years of parenthood and
felt ready could find someone willing to watch 2 energetic toddlers for a week, we threw 5 things in a suitcase and did not let the door hit us on the way to lovely Puerto Rico.
Full disclosure, we selected Puerto Rico less for its attractions (there are many) and more for its proximity, availability via direct flights, and lack of our children. Whom we love. That said, we were blown away by the beauty, the ease of travel (English! Dollars! CELL PHONES WORK!), the culture, the warmth of the people, and the beaches. With so many places in the world to see, we don't make a habit of going back to visit the same place twice- but we will probably make an exception for Puerto Rico.
We landed in San Juan in the afternoon and drove to our hotel in historic 'old' San Juan. I have a penchant for boutique, small, family-owned hotels and the one we booked here was all of that plus a view overlooking the ocean. It was called the Gallery Inn, and it had everything from cobblestones to a rooftop terrace to a cave-like grotto pool. This place was so chalk full of quirk, it was difficult to decide where to look first (the talking parrot at reception is a good start). If your definition of roughing it is a four-star hotel, this may not be the spot for you- but it was perfect for us. The location, the view, and the charm were beyond memorable.
I will say that parking in old town kind of makes you want to drive off an overpass. They have reserved what seemed like all of the street parking for people who live there with permits (the NERVE), but luckily our hotel was next door to a convent whose nuns make a little fun money by renting out parking spots for $25 a day.
Noah [whispers as we walk up to convent]: See if they'll take $20.
Me: [does not lowball nuns]
We checked in, got dolled up, and went to dinner at Oceano where we ate food at a normal pace, enjoyed drinks, and actually tasted everything we put in our mouths. It was the best meal we'd had in
days weeks months years- and another breathtaking view.
Day two was Noah's day. What can I say? I'm a giver. I planned the bulk of our
life trip with the exception of this day, and Noah really rose to the challenge. He found online that Puerto Rico is home to a pretty fantastic zip line in the middle of all of this:
On our way back to San Juan, Noah craftily planned our course so that we swung through a little dot on the map called Guavate. Through the power of Google, he had learned that this town roasts some killer "con leche" (rough translation: giant pigs on spits over open fire) and basically parties and eats pork every Sunday afternoon. I was skeptical and it was a little tricky to find, but I had to admit that the food and atmosphere were so authentic and wonderful, and getting off the beaten path to see how the locals do things is my favorite thing to do in another country. Plus, he was so happy:
The next day we toured the city of San Juan, which included the historic military fortress and lots of wandering the streets downtown. Puero Rico has a fascinating history due to its strategic location as the entry point to the Caribbean. It's also beautiful:
We capped the day off with a sunset cruise around the island and it was so relaxing and beautiful.
After a few blissful days in San Juan, we caught a little puddle jumper to an even smaller island called Vieques. We were already pretty smitten with the country, but Viequez is where we fell in love. Where to begin?
- We rented a Jeep, Noah's dream car, and it was a blast driving around topless (the Jeep)
- We stayed at this adorable little B&B called Hacienda Tamarindo with a gorgeous pool and a 2 minute walk from the beach
- We visited 2 different public beaches where we had the entire beach to ourselves. It was unreal.
- We lounged by the pool and lounged on the beach and pretty much just lounged anywhere a person can lounge
- We went on a tour of a bioluminescent bay; if you EVER get the chance to see one of these, DO IT. There are little microorganisms that live in the water and glow when agitated- so basically when you dip your oar in the water or splash your hand, the water glows. It was magical.
- There were wild horses wandering the entire island
Day 5 After 2 blissful days in Vieques, we sadly headed back to San Juan for one last everning before heading home.
1. As always, we were served very well by my trusty itinerary. I have been mocked relentlessly for my now infamous itineraries, but inevitably these are the same people who saunter up 6 months later asking, "can you send me your itinerary from your trip to ___?"
The thing is, everybody hates the itinerary person, but they love the itinerary. "Don't hate the player- hate the game," like I always say. We saw more in Italy in 7 days than most people can fit in 14. What's the confirmation number for our rental car? Check the itinerary. Which subway line should we take to our hotel? Itinerary. Should we waste time looking for a Starbucks/ATM/cute bar? No sir- obviously it's marked with a tiny coffee cup/dollar sign/martini glass on the map IN THE ITINERARY.
2. Our selfie game needs some work. #worstmillenials
Our week was dreamy and relaxing and this guy is and will always be my favorite person to traverse the globe with. We can't wait to take our kiddos back... when they've learned to wipe their own bums. ;)