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Trip Report San Juan Weekend-brief trip report

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This was our third visit to San Juan. We try to have an annual long weekend away without the kids during the winter months and San Juan is always a good choice for us. Last year we were in St. Martin/Anguilla which was also wonderful but there is something about San Juan that really appeals to me for these long weekends. I like the convenience of not having to deal with customs and immigration, which maximizes precious vacation time during a long weekend. However, aside from that I love the great restaurants, cobblestone streets and history of Old San Juan, interesting beaches filled with locals and tourists and I find most people so friendly which just makes for a pleasant experience. San Juan obviously doesn't have the stunning white sand beaches of islands like Anguilla, but everything else it does offer more than makes up for that to me. We also also went to St. Bart's last year and while we enjoyed those trips very much, there was something very welcoming about returning to San Juan.

Our trip was sort of the same as previous trips which was a mixture of beach time, wandering around checking out the neighborhood and taking part in the fun nightlife including wonderful meals, cool bars and some exciting casino time. We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris in Condado, which is a pleasant place to stay. It doesn't have the hip vibe of La Concha and certainly not as luxurious as the Condado Vanderbilt but has the same great Condado location making it so convenient to walk to many restaurants and is a quick and easy trip into OSJ. We did enjoy the casino and some drinks at La Concha and visited the bar at the Vanderbilt. La Concha still has the fun vibe that it had during our stay there a few years ago. The Vanderbilt is very luxurious and while I can appreciate it's appeal, I think I would prefer La Concha and that is probably where we will stay again in the future.

Our first night we went straight to Old San Juan to meet friends for drinks at St. Germain Cafe. The setting was beautiful and we felt like we were in a small city in Spain as we sat in the mezzanine and sipped drinks while looking out of the big windows at the great architecture of OSJ. We had dinner at Parrot Club, which was good but not great. It's not surprising I guess given it's location right off of Plaza Colon but it was still a decent meal and we enjoyed the evening. We had some wonderful meals the following nights at Oceano, Budatai and Santaella. They are expensive but the quality was worth the price. The Oceano setting is great being right on the beach and the food was delicious. Santaella was also wonderful and it's location in La Placita is great for pre or post dinner drinks. Again, one of the great things for us about San Juan is to hang out in a place where locals and tourists mix so wonderfully. We were in La Placita on a Saturday night and it was busy and buzzing with activity but not as crowded as it was on a Friday night during a previous trip. For us, that was better as we are in our 40's and like some activity but don't need it to be so crowded as we might have preferred in our 20's. We enjoyed the live music, dancing in the streets (well observing the dancing is more like it) and very affordable drinks served at the local bars. The Puerto Rican mojito from El Coco de Luis is really good! We took a taxi both ways from the Stellaris which was about a 5 minute ride.

During an afternoon in Old San Juan, between visiting El Morro and wandering the streets, we stopped at Hecho en Casa for lunch. The mofongo was really good and as with most places in San Juan, the service was very friendly. The other days our lunches were either at the pool bar at the hotel or from a little local place next door (Piu Bello). We had mallorcas, cuban sandwiches and tostones which were all tasty and went well with some cold Medallas.

The four days went by quickly but we enjoyed the amazing weather. It was between 82-85 degrees every day and not a drop of rain. The evening temps were very comfortable in the low to mid 70's. The water in the Condado section is rough and there were some swells coming from the north which made the waves powerful. It was fun for jumping in the waves and the local teens loved surfing and boogie boarding. The water was a comfortable temp which is important to me when I am on my winter getaway from the cold in NYC. Once again, a pleasant time in San Juan!

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