After visiting Puerto Rico last year with friends to see Hamilton, I knew immediately that I had to go back and take my family. I planned the trip for 2020 during our spring break from school, not knowing that a global pandemic would be declared in the middle of our trip. Thankfully we made it there and back with precautions, and made it home before things started closing down. Let’s do the last trip recap from me for awhile – we are doing the right thing and staying home!
Monday March 9 was our travel day – our family of three and my mom got ready to head to the Caribbean. There is only one direct flight from Dallas to San Juan each day, and it’s at 4:45 PM, so travel basically comprises the entire first day of a trip to Puerto Rico from here. We arrived at our hotel (The Condado Plaza Hilton) after 11 PM and got ready for bed as quickly as possible.
Tuesday March 10 was our beach and pool day. We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant (Cafe Caribe) and then headed out. The beach at our hotel (Playita del Condado) normally has very still water due to large rocks nearby, but some bigger waves made it through on this day due to very high seas in the area. There were several beach vendors from which we bought treats (pina coladas in fresh pineapples, fresh coconut water in a coconut, and helados – a fruit-based ice cream) for our time on the beach before heading to the pool. The pool was shady and the water was colder, with a big water slide and a swim up bar. We stayed until we were starving, then we grabbed some lunch. We did a clean up/relax in the room for a few hours before going to dinner at a local place called Waikiki. We thankfully made it back to the room before the evening rainstorm started!
Wednesday March 11 was our day to explore Old San Juan. We started by having mallorca for breakfast (the restaurant goes by various names according to google, yelp, etc – La Mallorca, Cafeteria Mallorca, or just Mallorca). We really enjoyed our meals and Jonathan and my mom loved the Puerto Rican coffee (I’m not a huge coffee person, so I didn’t partake). We walked up to the national park monument at Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro, as most people call it). This fort has parts dating back to the 1500s and it is massive! We didn’t tour the whole thing, but we saw quite a lot of it. We were hot and tired as we left and stopped for piraguas (a Puerto Rican shaved ice treat) to cool off. We walked through the streets, stopping in shops, and stopping for one more frozen treat – limbers (like a homemade popsicle made of fruit juice). We stopped for a lunch break (at Bari’s Handcrafted Pizza) as soon as an afternoon downpour started. After the rain cleared, we shopped a bit more and headed back to the room. After being sweaty and gross from walking around all day, we needed cleaning up before heading back to Old San Juan for dinner at Raices. Our hotel’s ice cream counter was still opened when we came back, so we got dessert and called it a night.
Our last day was Thursday March 12 and we truly tried to pack in a lot of great experiences. After breakfast, we rented a car and drove to Vega Alta to visit La Placita de Güisin and Galería Lin-Manuel Miranda. They’ve really expanded the exhibit and made a more permanent gallery that what I saw last year. Abigail was very kind and gave a detailed tour of each piece in the collection. On our way to the car, we stopped in the local bakery to grab a few treats to eat while packing later on that night. On our way back to San Juan, we stopped at El Meson Sandwiches, a fast food-ish chain, for lunch. Then it was time for one last trip to the beach and pool! We didn’t stray far for dinner and stayed at the hotel restaurant since we needed to pack and it was going to rain again.
And that’s it! on Friday March 13, we flew home that morning to a different world than we’d left. We had multiple cancellations happen while we were in flight (schools, theatre performances, concerts) and Puerto Rico began enforcing a curfew the next day. I have three trips scheduled for June & July, but who knows if those will stay as scheduled at this point. All in all, this was a great trip to remember during this time when we must stay home.