Updated: Apr 12, 2020
The clouds part as my flight placidly descended into Old San Juan. Childish Gambino's "Summertime Magic" floods my ears as the wheels kiss and skip against the runway. "Welcome to San Juan," a stewardess coos. "The local time is 10:45 AM and it's 81 degrees. On behalf of your Florida-based flight crew, we hope you had a delightful flight and we look forward to seeing you on a future flight. Enjoy your time in beautiful San Juan!"
Winding city roads and smooth freeways lined with luscious palm trees gave way to tight cobble-stoned streets as my Uber delivered me to the glorious reconstructed Rum Mansion I'd be staying in for the week. Pastel homes bathed the neighborhoods in rich hues contrasted with blooming trees. With the sun dancing on the horizon, I began to explore this old world city.
This trip would be my first time eating mofungo--a Puerto Rican delicacy! This delectable dish is comprised of velvety, mashed plantain topped with your choice of chicken, lamb, shrimp, lobster, crab, tilapia, or pork. I chose crabmeat, which was shredded and sensational! The flavors lit up my taste buds with every savory, buttery bite and paired perfectly with a classic margarita.
Charming and vivacious by day, San Juan absolutely explodes at night! Taverns bloomed along cozy stoned roads. Most libations were made to enjoy on the go, and people spilled onto the tight sidewalks in search of a new dance floor or bar. Latin music blares throughout the neighborhoods. Miraculously, the city is built on a grid which made navigation extremely easy--or in my case, even when I got lost, I was still only a block or two away from my destination.
Though San Juan is the 3rd oldest European-established city in the Americas, Spanish charm is elevated throughout the city, punctuating newly build homes with wooden architecture and décor. Small open air markets and plazas juxtapose with high-rise condos and street art and murals, Old San Juan meets the new world with a distinctly contemporary flair that washes over blocks at a time.
When I finally made it to the beach, I was caressed by brilliant turquoise waves lapping onto brown sugar sand. The water was calm though warmed under the high Caribbean sun. Relaxing with a fresh beer and sliced pineapple was an exquisite pleasure. Though the sun was high and heavy, there were few people visiting La Playa Puerto Nuevo Vega Baja giving me the thrill of enjoying my own private beach. I almost dared to go nude. Would you have if you were with me?