Puerto Rico is this little island tucked in the Caribbean close to Cuba and Jamaica. In October 2014, I had to work in New York and taking advantage of the National Chinese Holidays for October 1st, we decided to make a “detour” by Puerto Rico (I know, Shanghai – New York with a detour by San Juan, PR, does not make much sense, but well, that’s the way we are).
The goal of this trip was really to enjoy our time and not about going around and do it all, so we focused on a couple of things to do for the 3-4 days we had there. And for that we found a very nice little place in the heart of Old San Juan in one of the typical colorful houses that have been turned into a hotel, La Terraza de San Juan. We had a huge apartment type of room with a fantastic hacienda feeling. The hotel has a great roof top with a little pool.
Old San Juan is very colorful and is probably a more preserved Cuba, from what I know. We enjoyed our time around the old fort and went to visit the Bacardi Factory (not worth it) but the best was our one day trip in the tropical Rain Forest named El Yunque National Forest where we went around with a guide who showed us different water falls and landmarks before heading back to the civilization and the amazing Playa Luquillo where we enjoyed more than a few margaritas in the kioskos (Little restaurant joint) area and specially at Terruno.
To end the day, when it was absolutely pitch black, we went kayaking to Fajardo Bay. This place is famous for it’s bio-luminescent alga and witnessed this amazing phenomena when you put your hand in the water, it turns fluorescent.
The Caribbean food in San Juan is mainly based on Mofongo (Big bananas that are usually not sweet and fried), rice and of course lots of seafood and fishes. Our best experiences were probably in Old San Juan at Fattie’s, a little joint (5-6 seats) owned by a Jamaican woman who makes real home-cooked dishes and in Condado at La Ropa Vieja a cuban restaurant. However, I didn’t start a day without stopping by mate. to get my empanadas.
Even though Puerto Rico is the cradle of many of our actual Latino pop music, I was actually expecting a lot more music all over, but we were probably in a low season or we didn’t find the right places except the street bar on la Calle San Sebastian. However, the Nuyorican cannot disappoint. Amazing live band and great Cuba Libre to help you dance the night away.
Puerto Rico was a great stop and witnessed some life changing events on the personal level. Flights are usually quite cheap from the US which is perfect since I feel like I will have to go back .