"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Visit to the "51st State"

April 20, 2013 - We flew out this morning for a long weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico to celebrate my birthday.    

We chose this trip thanks to a new route offered by Southwest Airlines and a great opening sale ($110 each way!) celebrating their first destination out of the Lower 48 states .

Our flight down connected in Tampa and the plane from Tampa to San Juan was one of Southwest's new 800 series and this particular one we were on looked (and smelled) brand new.  And it was amazingly only about half full.
The flight to Puerto Rico was beautiful as we passed over The Bahamas with tremendous views.

We stayed near the airport at The San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel, a swanky, art-deco boutique hotel right on the beach that we got a great deal on booking "blind" through Hotwire.com.  We capped off the day of travel with a moonlight stroll on the soft sand beach in front of our hotel followed by some room service and champagne.  Not a bad way to spend a birthday.
Sunday, April 21, 2013 - We got up early this morning to go on a hiking tour of the El Yunque Rainforest followed by a sunset food and walking tour back in Old San Juan.

The only U.S. National Forest that just so happens to be a rainforest also, El Yunque is beautiful and very close to San Juan.
A little over a half mile from the main road down the Big Tree Trail is beautiful La Mina Falls.

Our first of four stops in the Old San Juan Food Tour was on of our favorites.  This traditional Puerto Rican dish is called mofongo and was served at Café' la Princesa .  Under that dome of mashed plantain on the left was yummy grilled flank steak.  The beans and rice on the right were super-flavorful.
With the walking tour starting at 5 PM, we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the harbor during it.  We have been to San Juan just once before for less than a day as a cruise stop.  We did a car tour of Old San Juan and while it was enjoyable, it was nowhere near as in-depth as a tour on foot with our wonderful guide, Hiriam.
As night falls on Old San Juan, the beautiful walled city takes on another great personality.
Monday, April 21, 2013 - We spent most of the day today on the beach, but we did find our way back to Old San Juan again for another cool tour and some more great food.

Good mornin', Puerto Rico!  Enjoying an early morning mimosa up at the roof-top pool of the hotel.

They call it a "Shandy" - light beer (in this case the locally-brewed Medalla Light) and Sprite (or in this case Diet 7-up).  A light, refreshing blend that is a perfect beach drink.  Thanks to our hotel for introducing this drink to us at breakfast so we could modify it slightly and take a few to the beach rather quickly thanks to a Wal-Greens being within walking distance to us for all the ingredients as well as a cheap cooler.
The beach in front of the hotel is beautiful and not very crowded.  Those white legs definitely need that sunscreen!
We spent the late afternoon on a tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory which is free (and they give you two free sample drinks in the open air bar pictured above!!) It's located across the harbor from Old San Juan via a 50 cent ferry ride.  We got back to Old San Juan afterwards for a yummy light dinner of appetizers at The Parrot Club (we loved the black bean croquetas ).  After dinner we went and  found La Taberna Lúpulo (The Hop Tavern), a great craft beer hall with an impressive selection (thanks for the suggestion, Hiriam!).   We ended the evening in Old San Juan with ginger mojitos at the bar inside El Conventa Hotel (yep, the beautiful building used to be a convent and yep these drinks were another Hiriam suggestion).  We sipped these delicious libations outside watching Old San Juan just pass us by on the cobblestone streets on a lovely Caribbean evening.  What a great day!
Tuesday, April 22, 2013 - Another morning walk on the beach before heading to the airport to say goodbye to this beautiful island.  We will definitely return probably well before it actually does become a state which it so should be!!

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