Jessie: In Maine preparing for another trip!
By the time this post goes live I will be well on my way to the beach. Not the sugar fine sand of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, my usual summer haunt but rather the balmy waters of San Juan, Puerto Rico. My beloved husband has a business trip to the island and kindly invited me to join him.
It is a bit of a last minute trip and I had to scramble a bit more than usual to prepare. I decided to channel one of the sleuths from my lastest series and throw myself into the adventure with Beryl Helliwell’s spirit of unrelenting spontinaity. I picked up a new sundress and a lightweight white shirt to be better prepared for a far more tropical climate than is found on the coast of Maine, even at the height of summer.
This morning I stocked the fridge for our house-sitters and briefed them on the proper care of my garden and window boxes. I ran a quick load of laundry and made a quick packing list. I filled my favorite fountain pen with ink and tucked it, along with my current notebook and my iPad into a safe spot in my travel bag.
What I haven’t done is look for things to do other than strolling the beach or exploring the streets of Old San Juan. As much as I am someone who loves to travel, I admit, Puerto Rico had not been on my radar and I feel slightly ill-prepared. Usually some weeks before a trip to a new destination I will start following businesses, tourist organizations, places of interest and locals on Instagram. I download apps for my phone of local points of interest, metro maps, public transportation etc… Since I almost always travel with only a small backpack I ruthlessly plan what to pack well ahead of time.
So, dear readers, I turn to you. Have any of you been to San Juan? To other points of interest in Puerto Rico? Do you have any suggestions about places or experiences not to be missed? Any restaurants to die for? Any museums or cultural activities to be sure to see/ participate in? Any and all recommendations would be appreciated!
Readers, have you been to Puerto Rico? D you like to go off on last minute trips or are you more of a planner? I will send one commenter an ARC of my next Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder Flies the Coop!
JUST finished the ARC and it is WONDERFUL!
Thanks so much for reading the latest Beryl and Edwina, Barbara and for your kind words!
How fun, Jessie! I’ve been to PR once but didn’t linger long in San Juan. The waters off the west coast are a delight to swim in, and my son lives and works in the mountains above Mayaguez. If you want to see an amazing permaculture educational farm, head to Las Marias! Have a great trip.
I am looking forward to a swim in vastly warmer waters than I am used to in Maine!
The Bacardi Rum Distillery, El Morro Catle, and a Scooner ride are among my memories. Best day was when we rented a car and visited El Yunque Rain Forest. I’d never seen a rain forest before (or since) and it was special. El Juan is interesting but there was a general disregard for street sweeping. Maybe it’s cleaned up a bit since. Loved the strong coffee.
Thanks for the suggestions! I do love strong coffee!
I’ve never been to PR, just the USVI. The above suggestions sound good. I always have a packing list way in advance of any trip. Looking forward to Murder Flies the Coop!
I would love to visit the USVI too! I have a set packing list for most types of trips myself but I have to admit that this one to a warm weather place during the hot season threw me a bit! I am all set with packable parkas but travel sized bottles of sunblock and gauzy shirts with long sleeves were not part of my usual kit!
Applause for spontaneous travel! Have fun! I’ve been to San Juan 3 times, all work-related conferences ( 1 mine, 2x with husband) It had not been on my radar either, but I found it interesting and fun. They are still recovering from tragic hurricane devastation, so some things might be different, but – the old city is worth some time for wandering. Only European walled city in US, I think, It feels very foreign, different and is lovely. Everyone goes to the Yunque rain forest and it is worth it. We rode horses there and it was great – PR has a special breed with very smooth gait. (Note I am not a rider, but often ridden trained trail horses with a guide in a new place- wonderful to gain a different perspective) We have never had time to venture out into the countryside. Would like to.
I will look into the horseback riding, Triss! Thanks for the suggestions!
I was there once for a day eight years ago. I did a bus tour which was a great overview. The old fort is amazing. Bob went to the Bacardi rum distillery and thought it was very interesting. Have a fantastic time!
Thanks! I hope to visit the fort!
I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, though I’d love to go. As you know, when it comes to tropical islands, we head to Key West (and once, memorably to Cuba). Have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures.
Thanks! I’ve never been to Key West but would love to go there! I try to be good at snapping photos but I do usually need a reminder!
I love surprise trips or used to when I could get around and still travel. ENJOY.
Thanks, Candy! I am enjoying it so far!!
I’m such a planner! My bestie and I thought about doing Spring Break in Puerto Rico in college, but ended up just hanging in Mass instead. I would love to go down and help stimulate the economy since I know they ate still recovering from the hurricanes. Have a great time!
Thanks! I will remind myself that I am doing a small bit for the economy when I stroll through town and choose some souvenirs!
I’ve never been to Puerto Rico. Trips seven days or more are planned, shorter ones tend to be
This trip fits your spontaneity criteria! Less than a week!
I have never been to Puerto Rico, so I have no advice on that front. And I prefer to plan my trips, but I like to think if the right opportunity arose I would be flexible enough to take off at the last minute. That’s never actually been tested though!
I hope you get the chance to test your flexibility!
I’ve never been either, so I don’t have any tips for you. You’ll have to let us know what you discover while you are down there.
I do still need to get my hands on an ARC of this book. Looking forward to it.
I’ll try to keep you posted over social media etc…Thanks for your kind words, Mark, about the ARC!
Have a wonderful and safe trip!
Oh, be careful with that fountain pen on the flight. I’ve had some flooky things happen with flowing ink pens and air travel.
If memory serves, the photo is Moro Castle – I used to stay at the Caribe Hilton in Old San Juan and you could see Moro Castle from the hotel – if you stuck your head between the iron bars over the hall windows (decorative of course) and then held your camera just so, and got the shot, and waited for the concierge to come to help you twist your head in just the right way while he held your ears…well, not that I have any experience in that regard, you understand.
Enjoy the trip!
Obviously not, Kait. Thanks for the completely impersonal suggestion!
I do both. I generally plan longer trips, but I’m also very spontaneous. I just returned from visiting my daughter. She lives on the other side of the country. Within a week, I had everything ready to go and drove 2500 miles to see her. It only took that long because I had a commitment to keep before I could leave. I travel enough to always have a bag with toothbrush, etc. and make-up packed. I’m a relatively light packer so it doesn’t take me long.
You sound like me, Ginny! At least, usually!
Jesse, how exciting! I was in Puerto Rico for three months right after college. Of all the tropical places, I’d go back in a heartbeat. If I was to buy a “tropical vacation home” it would be on PR.
How long is your trip? You should try to see El Yunque, which is the rain forest national park. Plan to see El Parque de Bombas in Ponce (take the afternoon to see the town, too). Luqillio Beach is on the west corner, Caribbean side. It is beautiful (the sand is softer on that side of the island, and the water calmer than the Atlantic).
Right in San Juan, stop and see the Castle of San Cristobal. Also try and see the original gates of the city. I remember somewhere in the city limits is a point where people would congregate to watch for ships coming in from the ocean. Stop by El Morro and La Fortaleza in Old San Juan.
Also (very touristy thing) you can tour the Bacardi factory.
Then there are day trips to the islands of Vieques and Culebra.
You can drive one side of the main island to the other. As you can see, you can also fill up a weeks long vacation without problem!
Thanks so much for your suggestions! I am heading to the forts today!
I am more of a planner when it comes to vacations – except when one of my sisters say, “I’m going to my cabin this weekend, want to join me?” Ahhh… yes!
That sounds like such fun!
I’m lucky to have FOUR siblings who own cabins!! Spoiled for sure.
Thanks , Liz for all the great suggestions!
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Puerto Rico. Enjoy your time there! 🙂
I have never been to Puerto Rico, but would really like to go there. I usually plan my trips, but there are times when I have decided to go out of town at the last minute.
Last minute trips bring out my spontaneous side too!
The only place I have been to outside the continental United States is the east third of Canada. I like to plan and I really want to see more of the continental United States before going “international!” Once I go outside continental United States I still only wish to see mainly United States territories so Puerto Rico, of course, is one of my dream visits!
I hope you make plans to visit, Cheryl!
I’ve never been to Puerto Rico. And I plan just about everything! firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m usually a planner too, Kara but it has been fun to shake things up this time!
I love to travel. I am absolutely a planner!
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