One of my best friends from university, Rachel, came to visit me in Fort Lauderdale for her spring break this year. Seeing as though I am always looking to go somewhere myself, I ended up finding fairly inexpensive flights to San Juan and convinced her to go with me for 2 days! Everyone thought it was a crazy idea, but I beg to differ! I have been there before, which made the idea seem a little less crazy to me. Since we were only going for 2 days I thought I would pack as light as possible. This meant bringing a small backpack with 2 changes of clothes, my camera, swimsuit, and a beach towel. Let me tell you how good it feels to pack that light...WONDERFUL! No checked/lost luggage, no hassles through security, no heavy pack on your back, and you can pack up and go in a moments notice! Plus, when you go to a Caribbean island all you really need is a swimsuit anyways!
I strategically booked our flights so that we got to San Juan early in la mañana (9:30am to be exact) and we would fly back at 22:00 the following night - so it would essentially give us two full days in San Juan.
Immediately when we landed we got a taxi to Isla Verde beach. We must have looked like homeless people because we had all of our belongings with us, were changing in public, and fell asleep in the sand. After we got good and burnt, we caught another taxi into Viejo San Juan and ended up back at the awesome guesthouse I had stayed in last July - Guesthouse Old San Juan. The same old man worked there, Castro, and I asked him for a balcony room again. This time, the weather was much more pleasant than it was in July so the non air-conditioned room was perfect!
That day we wandered around Viejo San Juan and went to the San Cristobal Fort. I actually had not been to either fort before and they were pretty impressive and had amazing views of the city and ocean. As we were walking around I heard someone come running behind us and immediately jumped as I felt a hand on my ass.
I thought I was being attacked for a second until this guy goes running in front of us saying "oops...you're not my girlfriends" and then proceeded to take photographs of us as we told him to "shove it!" What kind of guy thinks he can run up and grab a girl's butt (excuse me, two girls' butts) and then make a joke about it?! Creep. If you ever read this: I WILL GET YOU ONE DAY! muahaha Anwyays, we walked all around the city and by 17:00 were exhausted so we went back to the guesthouse for a quick rest before dinner. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I was extremely sick with a cold/flu so I was coughing and sneezing and miserable but I would NEVER let that ruin my vacation! :) Ok, so Rachel slept and I went out to get some medicine that actually worked because whatever I had been taking before just made my head feel like it floated away but did not do much else.
I called my friend who lives in San Juan, Lourdes to meet us for dinner at Tantra. We ordered fried calamari, coconut shrimp curry, and naan. Unfortunately because I was sick, I could not taste food. Apparently it was delicious and I wish I could have enjoyed it but I will take their word for it! I was trying to drink a beer but nothing would make me feel better until Lourdes suggested I order a whiskey and sprite with limes and take lime shots and chase it with the whiskey. I guess that was the Puerto Rican secret cold relief...and it worked! Almost instantly I felt better and was able to continue drinking! We met a few other people in Tantra, 2 Venezuelan guys and a Puerto Rican girl. They thought it was funny that I knew all of these Spanish songs (I listen to Spanish radio) and I had them laughing hysterically when I busted out Daddy Yankee's "Machucando".
..which is kind of a dirty thing, I guess! We eventually left Tantra and headed for the Water Club in Isla Verde which would have been a cool bar had it actually been open. There were all these white lounge couches and a pool on a rooftop bar, not to mention an elevator that had a waterfall in it! Since it was closed we had a sober driver take us back to the guesthouse (I won't mention that the person who drove us there to begin with probably could not see straight!).
Guesthouse Old San Juan is located on Calle de la Tanca, along with at least 3 bars/nightlclubs and we really needed the balcony doors open all night for cool air. Luckily I can sleep through just about anything so the thumping music and loud people until all hours of the morning was not a problem.
In the morning I think everyone and their mother was on the street below us being as loud as they possibly could. Rachel described it as the "f****** Thanksgiving Day Parade" right below our bedroom window. After some much needed rest, I actually felt a lot better. We packed up our belongings that had been strewn all over the room (I have a tendency to trash hotel rooms) and said "adios" to Castro and headed out to Viejo San Juan. We walked down to the picturesque cemetary (name??) and then to El Morro. Being as though I live in Florida nothing is ever too hot for me but Rachel was getting exhausted so we walked becak into the city centre to get an iced coffee and catch a taxi to Ocean Park
The people we met the night before told us to go to Ocean Park instead of Isla Verde because it was where the younger people hung out. We get to Ocean Park and it is like Puerto Rican spring break madness....loads of people drinking Medalla beer with loud reggaeton playing. Paradise.
Later in the day when we were feeling pretty sun burnt we moved into the shade. By this point we were tired and hot but had no place to go. We ended up at Pinky's for a pitcher of vodka-infused strawberry papaya smoothie before we had to catch a taxi back to the airport. I was feeling a little buzzed by the time we got to the airport and then had maybe the weirdest airport experience. We go to check in and they tell us our flight is delayed due to bad weather in Atlanta but they could not tell us anything else.
We went to our gate and no one could tell us anything there either so we go in search of the hotel bar. After walking all over the airport we see a sign for airport hotel/casino and assume there is a restaurant in there. Sure enough there was and turns out they have an amazing sushi chef! We ordered a few rolls and then I ordered myself a caprese sandwich and Rachel ordered some kind of salad. Ok...sushi, good. Other food, not so much. The best thing on my plate was the potato chips. I am not normally one to complain about food but it was so bland and just not good at all...I think I could have put together a better sandwich being blind and with no hands. And Rachel's salad had been microwaved so the lettuce was warm and the chicken juices had leaked down to the bottom of the bowl.
View from San Cristobal of La Perla and El Morro
But then again, it was the restaurant of a hotel in a relatively small airport so they probably do not have the greatest menu! We paid our bill and went back through security for the second time and by this time everything was closed and our flight had been delayed another hour. I went in a desperate search for water to take my medicine but instead ended up chatting with the Puerto Rican police for a while. Meanwhile, Rachel thinks I have been kidnapped. I have a tendency to go wandering off sometimes. She was not too pleased when I got back but then I told her to come back with me to actually find some water and by this point I think I had made friends with everyone in the airport so the TSA people let us through reverse-security because it was quicker than going out and all the way around the airport just to get to the one open restaurant to get some water.
Oops...maybe I should not tell anyone they let us do that. So I get my water and go back through security for like the fourth time. We walked back to the gate and no one was there so we were scared that the flight was cancelled. Just as we started to panic we noticed that the gate had changed and that is where everyone went. We were so bored and everything was closed but ended up finding some magazines in a dsiplay case that we managed to steal (and return later). We finally got on a plane and I had been sat in front of a 'kicker'. Yes, a child that kicks the seat in front and the parents do nothing. Luckily it was an almost empty flight so I moved to another row, layed down, and slept the entire flight home.
Oh, and did I mention we had perfect, beautiful weather the entire time??
I was sad that my 2 days of being a vagabond ended but you have to shower at some point! :D