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Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

Boston, MA
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Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

We had a great trip to Puerto Rico last week. Search on my name in a few days and you can find individual reviews for a lot of the places/hotels/restaurants mentioned below.

Saturday - arrived via packed direct flight from Boston and picked up rental car. To Acacia Boutique Hotel in Condado, walked around our neighborhood and went over to the Radisson in the evening to watch the NFL game. Loved that we were NOT staying in the big hotel area.

Sunday - took the bus into Old San Juan and found ourselves in the middle of the SanSe festival! Crazy and loud and fun. Explored some of the old city, including Castilo de San Cristobol - with amazing rangers giving a tour. Walked the waterfront promenade and then shared a collectivo home. Dinner at Mango's - nice lively local place.

Monday - drove to El Yunque mid-morning and did a few hikes. scenery was beautiful but we were surprised by the "trails" being paved. easy to get around. Then to Luquillo kiosks for late lunch (YUM) and the beach there - best beach we went to on the mainland. Like every night, we relaxed in the hot tub at the Acacia Hotel when we got back to San Juan. To Casa Dante for Mofongo for dinner. YUM again.

Tuesday - back to Old San Juan - saw the Bodies exhibit which happened to be there, then walked around more, including El Morro fortress, also beautiful. In the evening we drove to Caguas and went to a playoff baseball game which was really fun.

Wednesday - In the morning we went to Kasalta which I should mention we did nearly every day in San Juan - YUM. Drove to Pinones and rented bikes and the co-op- such a fun thing to do , beautiful, we almost skipped it but were so glad we did it. In the afternoon we we went to the little beach next to the Conrad hotel. Dinner we had at Budathai. Pricey (actually typical Boston prices) but great food.

Thursday - walk on the beach in the morning after ordering breakfast to our room (Niche has amazing french toast). then dropped off car at airport and caught flight to Vieques (we paid a little extra to fly out of SJU to make car rental drop-off easier). Picked up Jeep (Coqui Car Rental picked us up) and got settled in at Malecon House.

Friday - packed up the jeep in the AM with chairs and umbrella, stopped at Green Store for supplies, and headed off to beach - Media Luna was our pick for the day, empty, beautiful, great for swimming. Dinner at Bili's was really good.

Saturday - groundhog day? but this time to Secret Beach in the morning - similar to Media Luna, then Orchid Beach in the afternoon - the most beautiful turquoise water with fish (!) and choppy waves. Dinner at The Steakhouse was tasty with notable cheese flan for dessert.

Sunday - we hate the last day of vacation !! Packed up for a quick few hours on Playa Grande - MILES of empty beach with big waves and lots of shells to pick through. Then to the airport (stop at Sol Food en route) then caught NFL game in San Juan airport before flying home with a flight full of crazy happy Boston fans.

Overall we really enjoyed our trip to Puerto Rico. People were nice, and happy to give advice when asked. My Spanish came in handy outside of San Juan. We stayed away from the obvious cruise-ship destinations which kept us away from the annoying tourists. Having been to Belize, Iceland, France, Argentina, we thought we'd find PR ho-hum, but ended up pleasantly surprised by our trip.

Toledo, OH
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1. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I had a few questions....

1. What is a collectivo and how do you "share' one?

2. What trails do you recommend in El Yunque?

3. What is mofongo? I think I've seen pictures of it. Is it a type of pastry with meat served on top?

4. What was your favorite beach on Vieques?

5. Do you recommend Coqui Rental?

San Juan
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2. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

This is a great, detailed trip report. We in TA love to read your impressions, sharing your experiences. and encourage all travelers to do a trip report. Thanks!

SunMoonStars

Tamaralea, mofongo consists of a thick shell of fried (traditional) or boiled green plantain which has some garlic, pork rinds, a little of broth, olive oil, spices all mashed together in a mortar, then filled with whatever meat (s) or seafood you like with some sauce or onions on top, depending on your taste.

Originally the mofongo was filled with fried pork with onions.

Boston, MA
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3. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

Hi there -

1. What is a collectivo and how do you "share' one?

It's like a taxi but they pick up a bunch of people. We found one in front of the Sheraton going to our neighborhood, and it was $5 each.

2. What trails do you recommend in El Yunque?

The ranger station has a map and will show you which ones to do - we did La Mina falls and went swimming, then another one or two also.

3. What is mofongo? I think I've seen pictures of it. Is it a type of pastry with meat served on top?

See above.

4. What was your favorite beach on Vieques?

We loved all of them! Media Luna and Secret were both really sweet and calm....Orchid was wilder but also beautiful. Everything is close - it's easy to beach-hop to 2 or 3 within a day.

5. Do you recommend Coqui Rental?

Sure - they were a little pricey but had pickup and drop off at the airport, as well as letting us keep the Jepp on the last day past noon. They also gave us a bunch of advice about beaches and stuff.

San Juan
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4. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

The "colectivos " are called, in PR, "carros publicos" or just "publicos". They run on fixed routes. They are cheap shared transportation usuallydone in 17 passenger vans. (in the case of Sheryl, they overcharged her. The ride from San Juan to Acacia should not have been more than $2 pp. (Sorry)!

Boston, MA
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5. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

So funny I called it a collectivo - must have been from somewhere else I've been - Peru maybe?

We were happy to pay $5 each - it was one of the nights of San Se festival and we gladly would have paid $10 each for a seat, A/C, and a ride home! :)

Toledo, OH
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6. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

I wouldn't have known what a publicos was, either. Thanks for all the information. Those mofongos don't sound real appetizing. Are they good?

San Juan
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7. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

Yes, they are yummy!

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

FYI Mayaguez won the national professional winter league. How you find out about the local winter league? Thank you for the report.

Boston, MA
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9. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

Thanks for the trip report. I often tell people San Juan is not expensive compared to Boston or NYC etc.

Boston, MA
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10. Re: Trip Report 1/14-1/22/12 - San Juan and Vieques

Mofongo was tasty esp. with the criollo sauce at Casa Dante.

Learned about baseball by asking at hotel and they looked in the paper. But I should also add that a great source of info for my whole trip - including baseball - was www.puertoticodaytrips.com. amazingly helpful resource.