Traveling alone, looking for ideas

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Oct 22nd, 2003, 08:49 PM
  #1
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Traveling alone, looking for ideas

Fodorites -
I will be traveling alone around the end of January to Puerto Rico for 10 days. I have never been there, but I have traveled to alone to Spain, rest of Europe, Mexico, Aruba, and Hong Kong.

Since traveling alone, I would like to meet people (especially women, but good,solid people of any gender -- I'm heterosexual fyi), enjoy the nightlife, learn to salsa(I like to dance), go deep sea fishing, and get to know the culture and people of Puerto Rico.

What would you do if you were in my shoes for 10 days in Puerto Rico? I'll probably be staying at the Marriott, btw.

Thanks

Talbot
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 09:03 PM
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I forgot to mention that I am 37, male, and like to run/work-out; but I hope this doesn't hinder getting your advice. Thanks
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Oct 23rd, 2003, 04:40 AM
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I travel alone frequently and enjoy it. I find that by involving myself in activities that I enjoy, is a great way to meeet people with similar interests. Escorted snorkeling, hiking trips ect. usually involve a small group of people. Since I enjoy meeting people, I am unafraid to begin a conversation with whomever I am near. It is great fun to meet people from all over. If you choose your tour groups from your resort, there is a good chance you will see them again. Often other mutually activities will follow.

I am an avid reader. I take a book everywhere, to the beach, on the boat and to dinner. Consequently, if there is no one to converse with, I read my book, never feel 'alone' and enjoy myself thouroughly.

Hope this helps.
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Oct 23rd, 2003, 01:18 PM
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I agree with the post above that doing some group activities is a great idea to meet people. Check travelandsports.com and rainforestsafari.com for operators that offer fishing, kayaking, & snorkeling trips. If you like to run, you'll find lots of kindred spirits running on Isla Verde beach in the mornings and evenings. Condado beach is smaller and rockier and not as good a stretch for running. You might want to consider staying in an Isla Verde hotel, if that makes a difference to you. As to salsa dancing, there'll be dancing and live music in the lobby at the Marriott and especially at the Wyndham El San Juan in Isla Verde. Other places for salsa are Rumba in Old San Juan (more casual) and Habana Club in Santurce. If you're interested in getting to know the people and the culture, you'll have no problems; Puerto Ricans are very friendly people. For that, I recommend that you spend more of your nightlife explorations in Old San Juan (especially bar hopping along San Sebastian street), than in the Condado or Isla Verde areas . Locals also go to those hotel strips, but the bars and restaurants in Old San Juan are smaller and cozier and, thus, easier for meeting people. If you want to check the locals' scene, also go to the Santurce Plaza del Mercado (marketplace) for Thursday or Friday nights "happy hours" from about 5:00-11pm. The marketplace closes for usual business, but the little bars and cafes around it start hopping. The streets around the marketplace are closed to traffic and the area becomes a street party. Also, if you're going to be there 10 days, considering spending part of that time on the west coast, or in the far east around Luquillo or Fajardo. Very different from San Juan and worth exploring. Have fun!!
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Oct 28th, 2003, 07:53 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I am appreciate them all.

PRnative: I am planning on being there 11 days. Any place that I could take Salsa lessons?

Also, I'm pretty sure I will be staying at the Marriott. Can I get around without a car? I would prefer not to?

Also, I do speak spanish; I spent a year in Spain, but it is very rusty. Where is a good place to get una intercambia?

Gracias por el ayudo.

Talbot2
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Oct 29th, 2003, 06:58 AM
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Salsa lessons: Don't know if any of the hotels are offering lessons now, but Habana Club in Santurce (area just south of Condado) usually has free lessons several times a week sometime before 10pm, before the partying really starts. You'll have to check with the club for exact times and dates. There's also an Arthur Murray studio in Santurce (Ponce de Leon Ave.) where you can pay for lessons. (I forgot earlier another place that has live salsa some days of the week: Solei Beach Club, soleilbeachclub.com, they have a van that provides free transportation from the hotel areas. It's in Pinones, a really cool beachfront area east of Isla Verde).

Car: You can get by without one. Old San Juan, Condado, Isla Verde, Santurce are all close to each other. You can walk from Condado to some parts of Santurce. But ask around for the best routes before you do; Santurce has some bad sections. I have, for example, walked from the Marriott to the Plaza del Mercado at night, but only with other people, not alone. You can travel from Condado to the other areas by relatively short taxi rides. There's also a bus stop right in front of the Marriott that'll take you to Old San Juan. As for attractions outside San Juan, you'll be able to arrange for excursions to most of them right at the Marriott.

Language: I don't know how you can arrange an intercambio. But, there are language schools, such as Berlitz and Interlingua, in San Juan where you might be able to pay for private "refresher" lessons.
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Nov 4th, 2003, 07:55 PM
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PrNative - Thanks for the info.

Couple of other items. You mentioned something about running around the Marriott. Can I go outside for, say, a 3-5 mile run there on the beach or close to it?

How will the weather be at the beginning of February?

Finally, what should I expect from the locals? Are the women friendly? Do the men tolerate tourists? And what about the tourists? Old, young or all ages?

Thanks again for the help.

Saludos.

Talbot
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Nov 4th, 2003, 08:56 PM
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Travel with my camera. When my camera is with me, I never feel alone. There is always some new vista or interesting subject to capture.
Steve
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Nov 5th, 2003, 06:10 AM
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Hi, again. Like I said, the Condado beach is not a long stretch of beach. The sand doesn't go from one end of Condado to the other. There are rocky points in between, so you can't walk or run the entire length of Condado on the beach. I was trying to visualize how long the continuous stretch of sand is, but can't really venture an accurate guess (maybe a mile long? don't quote me on that). You could start or finish your run on the beach and incorporate part of Ashford Ave. (the street in front of the Marriott). I've seen plenty of joggers on Ashford & there's several spots were you can access the beach from the streets near the Marriott. If the construction projects on west Condado allow it, a good run would be to take Ashford west to the lagoon bridge, cross the bridge bearing right & continue past the entrance to the Caribe Hilton, past the Normandie Hotel and to the Escambron Beach park. You could finish off your run with a dip in the water there and walk or run back.

Weather: March is usually the start of the dry season. It might still be a little rainy in February, but showers usually come and go. Temperatures will be in the 80s most of the time, could go down to the low 70s at night.

Tourists: In February, I think you can expect older-skewing tourists, since there are no major school holidays around that time.

As to how people react to tourists, it depends a lot on how they're approached. But, in my experience, the best way for a tourist to befriend Puerto Ricans is to have a genuine interest in the island and culture, ask for their suggestions of places to see and things to do, or how to get somewhere. Most of the time, people will be more than happy to share their opinions on the "best whatever" and "must sees" and sometimes will even offer to take you somewhere. Be careful of conversations regarding island politics. Puerto Ricans happily and passionately debate each other about the eternal statehood v. commonwealth v. independence issue, but might not take kindly to comments by outsiders that they might perceive as too critical, judgmental, or prejudiced. As an outsider, you'd need to be tactful and diplomatic in any political conversation. Also, as a lone man (not part of a group or a couple), you have to be careful on approaching someone, male or female, not to give the impression you're just making a come-on. Puerto Ricans are hardly ever alone, and a solo traveler might seem, initially, a little strange. But, you'll be eyed less suspiciously if you approach a group of people to ask questions and advice.
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Nov 6th, 2003, 08:03 PM
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So, PrNative -

What you have been telling me is that:

I can't go for a three-five mile run near my hotel;

I can't talk politics with the locals, which I would never do, anyway;

I can't take salsa lessons in a local club;

And I would probably have to pay for refresher Spanish conversations.

As a single guy, who would like to run, meet a local woman, go dancing, and speak Spanish, it sounds like Puerto Rico may be a little difficult to do these things?

Is this correct, or have I just mis-interpreted your messages?

By the way, I really appreciate your responses. I'm just trying to find a vacation spot where I can get away and have a great experience.
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Nov 7th, 2003, 08:57 AM
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Ooops! It seems I've given you the wrong impression. I didn't mean to sound negative, just trying to be as detailed as possible.

1. You can certainly go for a 3-5 mile run near the Marriott. It's just that the beach the Marriott's on isn't 3-5 miles long. But people run along Ashford (the street in front of the Marriott). Like I said, a run west on Ashford towards the lagoon and across the lagoon bridge should be nice. Or you can run a few blocks east of the Marriott on Ashford, towards Ocean Park, and get on the beach there via one of the street access points. The Ocean Park beach is longer.

2. I did mention the free salsa lessons at Habana Club. There might be others I don't know about. This is not something I really keep up with because I've been salsaing almost since I've been walking ;-) Ask at the Marriott if they have lessons for tourists there or at some of the other hotels. There's certainly plenty of salsa dancing going at the hotels! The Marriott, the Wyndham El San Juan, and the Embassy Suites in Isla Verde are all pretty hopping.

3. You'll be able to hear and speak plenty of Spanish by striking up conversations with the locals. I just meant that I'm not familiar with any resources for setting up formal language exchanges.

So, in sum, you should be able to run near your hotel, speak Spanish, and dance salsa. As for meeting women, that'll be up to your charms and talents ;-) You'll have lots of fun, I'm sure!
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Nov 9th, 2003, 12:59 PM
  #12
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Native Pr -

I really appreciate the information you have provided! My last note may have been a bit sarcastic, but some truth to it, still.

With all of the knowledge that you have of PR, you probably work in the tourism industry for PR.

I have a few remaining questions. Could you please contact me at [email protected]. I don't want to bore our fellow fodorites with my questions.

Again, thank you very much for your information. You have been instrumental in my decision to go or not to go to PR on my annual vacation.

Talbot
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Nov 18th, 2003, 09:30 PM
  #13
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PR Native et. al. -

My other questions concerning PR. What is the dress club at nightclubs?

Is it safe to walk around? Where should I be careful of?

What is your favorite local bar, restaurant and nightclub?

What are the three sights in PR that I should not miss?

What is the prettiest golf course?

Thanks, again, for the info.
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Nov 20th, 2003, 08:25 AM
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Hi. No, I don't work for the tourism industry in PR. I only do this for fun and anonymously, so I'll stick to responding on forum.

Dress code: In general, people like to dress up in PR. You don't need a coat, but avoid jeans. A nice sports shirt and slacks will do.

Safety walking: Isla Verde, Condado, and Old San Juan are safe to walk around in. In Condado and Old San Juan, stick to the main thoroughfares, which will be easy to identify because of car and foot traffic. Avoid walking on the beach at night, unless you stay within sight of beachfront cafes and restaurants. In Condado and Old San Juan, avoid the quiet, deserted streets at night. Don't go into the oceanfront, cliffside neighborhood of La Perla, off Norzagaray St. in Old San Juan. Lots of drug deals and dealers in there, but it's sort of hidden and self-contained; doesn't spill into Norzagaray St. Many parts of Santurce and around Loiza St. can be iffy. If in doubt about whether you can safely walk from point A to point B, ask a local at the hotel, the bartender, whatever.

I haven't been nightclubbing in a long time. Babylon at Wyndham El San Juan seems to always be popular, but I'm not really current on the nightclub scene.

Bars: My favorites are the little hole-in-the-wall bars along Cristo and San Sebastian Streets in Old San Juan, like El Batey, La Tortuga, Los Hijos de Borinquen, and Rumba, where's there's usually good salsa dancing. More upscale and very hot right now is the scene at The Waterclub Hotel in Isla Verde. Wet and Liquid, I believe are the names of the bars there, are the places for the hip and beautiful Sanjuaneros.

Restaurants: There's too many good places to think of a favorite. There's lots of recommendations if you search the forum. I'll just name a few: Ajili Mojili and Zabo in Condado, Pamela's in Ocean Park. Amadeus, Baru, El Picoteo in Old San Juan. I haven't tried some of the hot places on Fortaleza Street like Tantra, Dragonfly or Aguaviva, but people generally like them. I've been to Parrot Club, but though it's a fun atmosphere, I've never found the food to be good enough to justify the price. But my opinion is apparently in the minority. These are all fairly expensive places. For cheaper eats you won't go wrong at the panaderias, like Kasalta, La Asturiana, Espana, etc. They have good sandwiches and delicious finger foods and pastries.

Sites: Old San Juan, a visit to the rainforest or into some other spot of the central mountains, and a visit to some of the less developed beaches out west or on the outer islands (i.e. a boat trip out of Fajardo).

Golf: I don't know anything about golf, except that the courses on the Hyatt/Hacienda del Mar complex in Dorado, and the Westin Rio Mar near Luquillo are well-regarded. But, I don't know if they're accessible to non-hotel guests. Check this site for information on a golf course that's open to the public: www.golfbahia.com.
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