The Stay: CasaBlanca Hotel
When: November, during the week Good For: Couples
My best friend is better than yours. So without making this into a diary post, this trip was planned and booked as a romantic get away; 2 weeks prior to departure my guy told me he wasn’t going. Utterly distraught, my best friend booked a flight the same day and we had the of the best trips I could of asked for. I’m guilty of being a Repeat Trip Offender with this, BUT as will show in my prior post I went for completely different reason and did completely different things. I am glad I did go back, this trip made me truly love Puerto Rico. (cheap & pretty what’s not to like? <- this applies to trips not partner choices )
The first time around I went, I stayed in new San Juan, this time I stayed in Old San Juan. HUGE Difference. If I had known the difference of location between New and Old San Juan the first time round, I would have definitely made the choice to stay in Old from jump. Our hotel, Casablanca Hotel, was located in a great spot (to me at least.) Walking distance to El Morror, the local and free bus that travels around Old San Juan is up the street, all of the restaurants and local-ish bars are also within walking distance. Also the cruise docks are RIGHT THERE, so you
meet new people everyday and it’s a different crowd you can mingle with if that’s what you’re looking for. Surprisingly to me, at night it can be very quiet in the streets; I learnt its actually quite residential.
So I don’t want to be extremely redundant, but Puerto Rican food is soon orgasmic. Now of course they have and excel at typical Hispanic dishes, but they also have a few that are traditionally known by them and are a must when in Puerto Rico. Number one being Mofongo, some will argue it was originally Dominican or Cuban or African but, each territory has the same base but slightly different swag on it. Mofongo is a plantain based food, usually served with the meat of your choosing traditionally pork or shrimp. It’s amazesauce (pun intended, the sauce hold all of its secrets.) The Mofongo on the right was from Cafe Puerto Rico and my first time having it with that sauce. Asopao is also a very popular local dish that is like a Puerto Rican spin to gumbo. Puerto Rico has tons of restaurants to choose between to try, and if I were to name them all that would be what this whole post is about, but one restaurant that I personally believe needs to be at the top of anyone’s list is Dragonfly it’s in old San Juan and serves Latin-Asian cuisine. (refer to part 1)
The Club Scene
Last time in San Juan I went to their popular dance club “Brava”. From that trip’s experience I was convinced Puerto Rico just didn’t have turn-up places. So this time I was going to find the fun. What I think helped on this trip more than the last with this is that we became very friendly with the locals, (like here’s my number let me know what time you’re heading to the bars friendly) and it worked in our benefit.
One plaza I strongly suggest is called “La Placita”. It’s just strips of bars with extremely cheap drink options, a good mix of music between the bars, a nicely mixed crowd, and apparently is where college students in Puerto Rico go. (New Yorkers can compare it to the LowerEastSide, Philadelphians can compare it to Old City, D.C people Adams Morgan.. get the gist now?) I had a really great time there, it’s a short cab ride from Old San Juan, and I think a hidden gem.
As a New Yorker I love the Nuyorican Cafe in the city and go often, it originated in Puerto Rico so of course I wanted to check out the original. Lucky for me the original Nuyorican Cafe was located right across from my hotel. They had a live band who’s music was sensational, and the dancers who come out there to salsa were amazing. If you’re into salsa music and dancing, then this is the perfect place for you to visit.
Marmalade Restaurant in Old San Juan is a restaurant by day and by night just turns into a local bar (like most places), they have a very extensive cocktail menu and reasonable prices.
A more local bar/discoteca that people told us about often was La Factoria, we didn’t get a chance to go because of the day we were there, but we heard it’s a great time and gets busy. It’s located close to El Morro, so near many other strips of restaurants turned bars.
Puerto Rico is a very scenic place. They offer tons of tours that can appeal to anyone. Last time in PR I really wanted to go to the rainforest but due to how far it was and other time restraints didn’t get the chance to. I made it a priority this trip. So we booked through Trip Advisory and got a half day tour of El Yunque Rainforest. This tour was perfect for the schedule we were keeping. The tour guide was nice and very knowledgeable, he took us on nature trails and through waterfalls. Taught us about the history and biology of the rainforest as well as San Juan. Our driver was dope though, rather than drop us back to our hotel he dropped us off at Isla Verde, so we can experience a beach day. By a beach day I mean we went to the bars on the beach, then drunkenly ran through the water lol.
Staying in Old San Juan made it very easy to tour El Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal. El Morro is the oldest and was the most important fortress in Puerto Rico, originally to protect the Spanish colony from being attacked. They offer guided tours which are probably extremely informative but we just did the tour ourselves; explored the fort and read the passages. It’s huge and beautiful and historic and the being the history geek I am loved it. (and was great for photo opps)
All in all I think between the two visits to Puerto Rico I was able to have a well-rounded experience. Do i think it’s necessary to go twice to get that? No. But definitely need to be prepared, do your homework as far as what you want to do and plan accordingly.
~thanks bestie ❤