After surviving a hectic week of deadlines and a rigorous interview, a relaxing day and a half resting on the beach was exactly what I needed to recuperate. Upon arrival at the resort, we had no choice but to change into our swimsuits and wait on the beach until our room was finally ready. We were famished from having eaten only a small breakfast very early in the morning, so once we were situated we took a bus into Viejo San Juan
for dinner and drinks
. We walked a few blocks, checking menus along the way until we decided to take the advice of our airport cab driver. We easily located Cafe Puerto Rico and ordered a glass of albarino
while we waited for a patio table. We dined on a variety of plantain-centered dishes: cream of plantain soup accompanied by green plantain fries, and plantain-and-crab stew with rice and beans. Thoroughly satiated, we walked in and out of souvenir shops for a bit before embarking on an impromptu pub crawl, as is tradition. We found a recommendation, El Batey, from our roommate who had visited several months prior and stopped in for a locally brewed Medalla. The bar seating at the renovated prison was full, so we secured a table along the wall before placing our orders. When two bar stools cleared, Rufio and I moved next to an elderly man wearing an El Batey T-shirt. The WWII veteran entertained us with war stories, anti-American sentiment, racial slurs and misogynist banter until we decided to continue crawling. We had another beer in Old San Juan before hailing a cab back to Condado. We stopped at one more watering hole, Small Bar, where we sipped on craft beer and entertained ourselves with alphabet magnets. On the walk home we procured cigars to enjoy on our hotel patio before getting hours of much needed sleep.
After a surprisingly fresh and delicious breakfast at a Ben & Jerry's cafe, we spent the entire day lounging by the ocean. As the sun disappeared behind the resort, we got ready for another night wandering aimlessly through Old San Juan. Unfortunately the Sunday buses do not run quite as efficiently as the Saturday buses, so after an hour and a half of both waiting and walking, we finally boarded a bus before darkness completely enveloped the night sky. We ate in a tucked away restaurant called Mondito's, then grabbed glasses of wine at a Latin fusion pizzeria. A little drained from the sun, we had one more beer at Small Bar before retiring to the hotel with more cigars. The next morning we enjoyed one last Borinquen meal at the nearby Latin Star before returning to the airport. Our quick, but fun and relaxing getaway had come to an end.
The weekend nestled between Valentine's Day and President's Day seemed to be a perfect excuse to get away for a day or two. We threw around some local ideas, like exploring Georgia's Atlantic coast islands, hiking in north Georgia or visiting a nearby winery. Then Rufio offered me an early Valentine's Day gift: he handed me a list of international locations and said "pick one". We spent the next evening comparing accommodations and flights to a handful of cities from Belgium to Belize before finally settling on San Juan, Puerto Rico. While not as adventurous as some of our choices, it was the best fit for our two day mini-vacation. We booked a Saturday morning flight and after a slight delay were on our way to warmer weather.