After 5 days spent in the east of the island in Fajardo, we travelled back to San Juan to experience the much talked about Fiestas de la Calle de San Sebastián,- a weekend of celebrations, food and drinks in the heart of the old town. The experience would not have been complete had we not stayed at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in the chic District of Condado in San Juan. The hotel is everything you expect form a 5-star hotel and more. It was originally build by Frederick William Vanderbilt in 1919 and was the “it” destination for many. It recently went through major $200 million renovations re-opening it’s doors in 2014. As soon as you step through the lobby doors it takes you back in time to the glorious 1920’s with its style, sophistication and service that the Vanderbilt was and is known for.
The hotel is split into two towers: The Commodore and the Biltmore The one and two bedroom suites range from 750 – 1,500 square feet. Our upgraded suite consisted of granite counter tops, African mahogany wood detailing and custom-designed lighting elements. White Carrera marble floors, dove grey walls, and neutral-toned furniture accented with locally-sourced artwork, touches of turquoise and yellow, and the striking backdrop of the translucent Atlantic. The bathroom was configured with a rain shower and C.O. Bigelow bath amenities.
The hotel has two pools located on either side of the towers, one is family-friendly and the other is adults only. We got to experience both. The West Tower pool area features a 200-square foot mirrored pool with a waterfall, surrounded by chaise lounges and private cabanas – a perfect setting for sunning and socializing while taking in the warm breeze. The West Tower’s , infinity-edge pool is perched on the edge of the ocean, and lies adjacent to an intimate, wooden sun deck, located directly above the crashing waves with only two beach chairs. If you want these seats you have to get up extra early or have it reserved. Either way there is plenty of places to bask in the sun. The other pool located at the east tower was smaller but featured a large hot tub. From here there is also access to a small beach with loungers and service provided by the beach butlers.
There are several restaurants and bars located in the restaurant and although we didn’t get to try all of them I can attest to the 5-star quality and service of the buffet-style breakfast served pool-side at the Ola Oceanfront restaurant. After staying here for 3 short days we were pampered, rested and ready to head back to reality. However, the hotel quickly made its way to my top 5 hotels that I have ever stayed at. While its not a cheap place to stay, it is worth every penny.
* Condado Vanderbilt is part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Group.
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
The anticipation of traveling to Vancouver with my son has been building up for the past few months. It is the first trip just the two of us which meant feelings of anxiety and excitement played a tug of war. But, finally excitement overshadowed anxiety and we made it. For the next month I will share with my son and viewers my perspective on Vancouver. This includes many nature walks, farmer’s markets and a variety of Asian food adventures.
Growing up I was itching to move away from home to go explore the world. I wanted to be anywhere but here and found any excuse to pack my suitcase and hop around Europe for months and years on end. But that was in my twenties. Now, in my thirties, with more travel options and more opportunities, all I do is dream and yearn to come home for the summers and winters and all the months in between just to take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It is funny how distance can put so many things into perspective and create so much gratitude where none existed.
And so here we are- just me and my baby boy.
The first morning we woke up to the sound of our neighborhood seagulls. They start early and keep going until just after sunrise. Some people have roosters. We have seagulls. I know It may seem absurd to some but its those very seagulls that I miss when I am away. Those seagulls represent so much more than what most think of them as: loud, large birds that grab your food at the beach. To me they represent the vicinity of the sea, the vast blue sea surrounding Vancouver which I took for granted growing up. So many places I’ve lived don’t have access to ocean, to sea-life and everything else the ocean represents. I miss and yearn for the sea. I miss the seagulls. Now I live in a place with no direct access to the sea. No seagulls. And who wants to live in a place that doesn’t have seagulls?
Later on in the morning, we went for a walk along the seawall towards Stanley Park. The sea breeze, fresh crisp air and sound of waves quickly caressed baby boy to sleep. We passed English bay and walked into the park towards lost lagoon where the nostalgic scent of blackberries started hovering in the air. It’s funny how a scent can bring back so many memories. That sweet smell of blackberries takes me back to my childhood picking berries in these very woods with my mother. It was our own paradise back then. Towards lost lagoon we walked through a family of Canadian Geese. How I have missed the site of these wild geese. They represent home. Along the lagoon, I parked under a tree, baby boy still asleep. I looked at his innocent face deep in sleep and wondered what a peaceful way to take a nap. So different than where we live where 40+ degrees in the summer prevent us from stepping foot outside. I sat at that bench for a while trying to take it all in, to cherish every moment because now unlike before I am a visitor in my own hometown. I have a round-trip ticket that makes every day spent here worth cherishing. And I will do just that-cherish every moment spent with my son in my beautiful city.
El Arado is one of those places that should not be missed if you are seeking a quality meal in Manuel Antonio. While the directions seemed easy enough we passed the street and went all the way down to Quepos only to drive back and finally find the road. The gravel road is dark and truly off the beaten path of all the fancy hotels and tourist spots. The restaurant is just a few minutes drive down the road.
We arrived to an empty restaurant. One old and friendly tikka came to greet us and showed us to our table. The owner and the cook were watching a Spanish soap opera. The owner came over to greet us but his limited english and our limited Spanish led to a stale conversation. We knew we were getting the baked whole seabass and so we quickly ordered and preparations were under way. About half an hour in a French couple came in to join our lonely meal. The restaurant doesn’t offer much of an ambiance, however, the meal was truly spectacular. The fish were wrapped in foil and baked to perfection on a barbecue pit, served with a side of rice, plantains and black beans. Let’s just say our meal was so good that we wanted to return night after night. If you are visiting Manuel Antonio and want real, quality, tico cuisine do make the trek off the beaten path to this gem.
One of our favorite places to have a cozy breakfast in New Orleans is Tartine. You could imagine our excitement when we found out that the owners behind Tartine had opened up a new breakfast joint in uptown. Toast is located in the former home of Laurel Street Bakery in a once again extremely cozy and inviting space.
The menu not surprisingly, features many various options on large generous pieces of toast. A particular favorite was the toast with prosciutto,honey and ricotta cheese and the smoked salmon, egg and cheese. Also on the menu are the much talked about Danish pancakes, aebelskivers, biscuits, crepes and sandwiches.
The concept is original and like no other in New Orleans and the result is delicious. Don’t take it from me but from the crowds that line up every weekend to dine at Toast.
Where: 5433 Laurel Street
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.
Contact: (504) 267-3260, toastneworleans.com, @toastnola
The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience takes place every year over the Memorial Day long weekend. In it’s 22nd year, the festival has become one of most incredible culinary events in the nation, attracting over 10,000 gourmands and connoisseurs as well as art and music lovers. Each year, hundreds of wineries and restaurants participate. Menus feature local flavor and innovative new creations inspired by diverse cuisines. Top chefs from around the city create culinary experiences like no other. Over two dozen restaurants feature special dining evenings throughout the New Orleans festival. The weekend also features over 1,000 wines from around the world, with special tasting events from wineries. The events this year included the Grand Tasting events at the Convention Center, the Royal Street stroll in the French Quarter, the Big Gateaux show and seminar series to hone your palate. It ended with a grand finale gala. The NOWFE is the perfect way to experience New Orleans Cuisine at it’s best. Chef’s from all the best and greatest NOLA restaurants showcase their talent on the plate.
The Hungry Nomad team was there in full force this year to experience NOWFE at its fullest and share with our readers. Hope you enjoy the photos!
The Royal Street Stroll:
Big Gateaux Show:
The Grand Tasting:
After our three days of adventures in Madrid we packed our bags hopped on the train and made our way south to Sevilla.
Sevilla was all that I imagined it to be and more: bursting with color and antique charm, beautiful historic buildings, endless rays of sun and flamenco. The Alcazar Palace Complex is a stunning collage of architectural styles and beautiful green gardens took our breathe away and the Cathedral was impressive you with its beauty and its status as the burial site of Christopher Columbus. We spent our days touring the town on foot and nights eating tapas in only a few of the more than 4000 tapas bars in town. On the first day that we visited the town we ended our walk at the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza. Around the corner from the Plaza de Toros we found a restaurant called Baratillo dedicated to the art of bull fighting and decided to give it a try.
Bull heads lined the walls and locals and tourists alike crowded the room. As a newbie to the art of tapas we werent too sure of our selections but there was one thing that I discovered while in Sevilla which was so delicious that I ended up having three servings per day.I wish I remembered the name but only have the photos to remind me of the taste. Fries served with a meat stew and gravy. Very simple but simply delicious.
The dish called Broken Egg or Huevos Rotos is quite popular all around Spain consists of fried eggs, fried potatoes and pieces of Iberico ham. It is simply delicious and made it to our list of orders on every occasion.
The house special- the Berenjenas Baratillo was to die for. Not sure what the sauce that covered the thinly sliced eggplant dish consisted of but whatever it was- it was so delicious we had to order more.
Baratillo restaurant is located at: Calle Adriano, 20, 41001 Seville, Spain, El Arenal
Our tapas adventures continued on the next evening starting off with the famous fried cod at Casa Labra. I had read about this place in travel guides but came about it quite randomly while taking a wrong turn off of Plaja del Sol. Cod and cod croquettes are the specialty served in a room that has remained almost untouched since the 19th century. The crowds and the smell of fried cod made it hard to resist. We walked in and ordered from the friendly man at the counter. Beer and delicious hot pieces of fish were served to us at the standing bar.
Casa Labra is located at: Calle Tetuan 12, close to El Corte Ingles Store located in Sol
The hip neighborhood of La Latina is covered with bars, restaurants and tapas bars. One tourist friendly tapas bar that should not be missed is Casa Lucas. A cozy, sleek tavern offering a range of wine and innovative yet traditional tapas. On our quick stop we ordered in broken Spanglish the fried calamaris, served whole and chopped up bar-side and generously covered in black squid ink. Fresh, tasty and delicious.
Casa Lucas is located at: Cava Baja, 30 28005 Madrid, Spain, +34 913 65 08 04