Ooooh I know its been a while but I just just returned from the colorful and magical island of Puerto Rico recharged and ready to take on 2017. Puerto Rico was too good not to share. From the picturesque crystal blue water and white sandy beaches of the coastal towns, sparkling bioluminescence bays, rainforest and the colorful streets of Old San Juan- Puerto Rico checked off everything on my list of a perfect vacation. And that’s not even mentioning the amazing fresh seafood and the oh so delicious mofongos…and endless empanadas! Guys I’m in love and already trying to plan my next trip.
We started our vacation on the eastern tip of the island in the beach town of Fajardo. From here there are ferries to the nearby Culebra Island which is claimed to have one of the most beautiful pristine beaches in the world (Flamingo Beach). We stayed at the El Conquisitor, A Waldorf Astoria Resort and Spa which had its own private and secluded island, Palomino Island (See Review). This large resort is perched on a cliff and has more than 1000 rooms, a funicular taking guests down to the ferry dock where guests can ride to Palomino Island just 15 minutes away.
The drive from San Juan took less than an hour on the main highway and was a great way to see more of the country. Other options on the east coast is the Vieques island where the trendy W hotel is located (on my list of places to stay). There are large biolumenscent bays where the water sparkles at night time.
After 5 adventure-filled days and 8 mofongos later we drove back to spend the weekend exploring San Juan. We had no idea that we happened to be there on the most exciting weekend of the year, San Sebastian Festival, where old san juan would be filled with colorful parades, dancing, music and street food. In San Juan we stayed at the beautifully renovated Condado Vanderbilt Hotel located in the trendy Condado strip of town. If you are planning a getaway to Puerto Rico and only have time for San Juan make sure to stay at this hotel. The attention to every detail and customer service was beyond 5* making it one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at.
Things Not to Miss in Puerto Rico
- Hike in El Yunque Forest
- Ride the free hop-on, hop-off trolley in Old San Juan
- Take a day trip to the island of Culebra
- Paddle through the Bioluminescent Bay off Vieques or Fajardo
- Partying in the streets of Old San Juan during the San Sebastian Street festival
Foods not to Miss Easting in Puerto Rico
- The Mallorca and Mallorca diner in Old San Juan
- Arroz con Gondulas
Due to the craziness leading up to our wedding, I really didn’t have the chance to research our honeymoon destination: St. Martin. Little did I know that it not only has some of the nicest beaches I’ve been to but that it is also a culinary heaven. Fact: It has been named the culinary capital of the West Indies due to the large variety of fancy French restaurants and European influences. Where are these restaurants mainly located? In Grand Case.
|Beach in St. Marteen
And as is the case in almost all our trips we started the trip driving all across the island in zigzags and several times in circles (of course no trip is complete with the Count getting us lost). After driving around for an hour, we were hungry- really hungry! With no food in sight we kept driving. Miraculously we ended up in Grand Case, which was closer to our hotel than we expected. Grand Case was not what I had expected when I looked on the map- I read that very morning on the plane that it was a small fisherman town with a nice beach and many fancy french restaurants. In my mind (having never been to the Caribbean before) I expected a beach side resort with fancy restaurants and shops sort of similar to the Cote d’Azur. So when we arrived on the main strip of Grand Case we had no idea where we were and that this was where we would spend most of our nights for the next 7 days.
Buying fresh produce for the kitchen
We smelled barbecued chicken and ribs and delicious Cajun spices. Mouths watering we immediately parked and said to each other that this shabby local out door diner would do. We parked ourselves at one of the many lolo’s packed in this tiny area: The Talk of the Town.
A lolo is what localers call an open air food stand which you may find alongside the roadside or beach all over the island and I imagine all over the Caribbean. Some are nicer than others but in general most that we visited had picnic style tables, smoke rising from the BBQ pits with the delicious smell of meats and seafood being grilled and a variety of stews and dishes lined up in large metal tins.
There is usually a variety of dishes that changes daily which you can order alongside your grilled meat. I wanted to try it all but contained myself to the red beans and Cajun spiced rice, friend plantains and barbecued chicken washing it down with a bottle of Ting.
The best park of this experience: it was cheap yet the freshest and best meal we had while in St. Martin.
You may (or may not) have noticed that I have been missing in action and that my blog has been post-less for several weeks. It is not because I have been lazy or not eating, quite the contrary- I have been eating tons and travelling lots. But most importantly it was my wedding or I guess its more accurate to say that it was the Count and I’s wedding followed by our honeymoon in Saint Martin. Hosting over a 100 out of town guests in New Orleans pre and post wedding didn’t leave much time to keep my blog up to date. But I am back with plenty of treats to write about.
Below is a photo of a slice of heaven on earth: Anse Marcel beach in St. Martin. My food adventures will follow shortly.