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Trip Report Back from San Juan

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We just returned from a 9 night trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We spent the first two nights at El Convento in Old San Juan and then 7 at the Ritz Carlton in Isla Verde.

We flew US Airways from Buffalo to San Juan via Philadelphia on a very early flight (left Buffalo at 5:30am) and arrived in San Juan around noon. Taxi to Old San Juan was about $23 plus tip and takes about 15-20 minutes. Taxi service from the airport is really easy to navigate as the fares are all based on zones and you receive a ticket with the price prior to getting into the taxi.

We arrived at El Convento Hotel in Old San Juan a little before 1:00 pm. Our room wasn't ready so we walked around Old San Juan and got some lunch at Barrachina restaurant, whose claim to fame is that it is the original home of the Pina Colada. Who knows if that's true or not but we had a nice lunch there. Food was good and it was pretty crowded at lunch. We had previously eliminated this place as a dinner option because we thought that it sounded a bit too touristy. But it was perfect for lunch. After lunch, we were pretty beat since we had been up since 3:30 am and headed back to El Convento. Our room still wasn't ready so we walked the grounds for awhile. El Convento is a boutique hotel that was once a convent (hence the name). It's a pretty cool looking place, open courtyard, high ceilings, heavy doors, fairly ornate. The rooms are individualized and furnished with locally made furniture and artwork. Our 5th floor room (the hotel only has 5 floors) had french doors opening to a view of the city and, in the distance, the water.

Since we were exhausted, we took a nap, then showered and got ready for the complimentary nightly wine reception that the hotel provides from 6:00-7:00. The reception was pretty nice - several different choices of reds and whites and cheese and crackers, grapes, etc.

Following the reception, we headed out to dinner at the Parrot Club, one of many restaurants in the area known as SOFO (South Fortaleza). SOFO is around a ten minute walk from El Convento. We've eaten at this restaurant before but it had been several years. Glad to discover that it's still as good as ever. The Caribbean Spiced Grouper was particularly good, as were the mojitos.

Following dinner, we strolled around some and there was live Caribbean music and dancing in the square right down the street from the restaurant so we stopped and watched for awhile, We then headed to Dragonfly (another restaurant in that area) for some drinks at the bar. Ended up talking with the bartender for a couple of hours and, a few drinks later, we wrapped things up and headed back to the hotel.

End of Day One. (if this is excruciatingly boring, please feel free to tell me to stop. I won't be offended).

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