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Our home base in Old San Juan was exactly what we wanted in terms of location (and everything else). It was so close to many restaurants and beautiful spaces that it encouraged us to walk and explore all over, burning off some of the rum drinks that we enjoyed while relaxing in Luquillo.

rum tasting in old san juan

Casa Melaza was the cute rum bar just around the corner from our hotel. It was a lovely space with door open to the street and a healthy selection of rum. We enjoyed all of the rums we tasted, but we weren’t thrilled with the service. There was no menu or tasting list with prices, and when I asked the staff member got an attitude. I’m not sure what it was, maybe a little arrogance, that just got to us, and we agreed we would hesitate to go back.

 

Mallorca sandwich

Aside from that, everything was perfect, with delicious food and lovely people.  One of the staples of my Puerto Rico diet (and half the reason I need a real diet now) was my love for Mallorca Paninis, thin pressed sandwiches stuffed with ham and cheese and sprinkled with delectably messy powdered sugar. The salty ham and cheese paired with the sweet? Heavenly.

Anam Spa and Cocktail Lounge

Also heavenly? A salon/spa/cocktail lounge in one. We discovered Anam Cocktail Spa in the evening as it was about to close and had a quick cocktail on their terrace in a beautiful, dusky setting overlooking the city and the sea.

And we vowed to return the next day for cocktails and spa!

al fresco drinks in Old San Juan

Massages were $1/minute, and anything above $20 included a glass of sangria.

Anam Spa Old San Juan

Our massages were done side-by-side in an airy room with light music playing in the background, and I swear I would fly to San Juan just for this massage. It was blissful. I was in a sleeping/awake state the whole time, and then gazed out the door with a strong and delicious sangria after.

Anam Spa

 

 

El Convento

We spent a good chunk of our time in Old San Juan visiting El Convento, an iconic spot in the city, and for good reason. This was one of the only places we visited on our brief layover on the way home from Grenada, and we knew we wanted to go back. It was our first stop, for a morning mojito in their gorgeous courtyard.

mojitos at El Convento

 

mojitos And then we went back later to El Picoteo, a practical tapas institution that was recommended by many people, including Molly.

We had rum drinks and a couple of tapas, followed by a long walk for the sunset.

san juan sunset

Followed by another walk and then a return to El Picoteo for more rum drinks and tapas. It actually felt really good to stretch out the meal and drinks with some movement and fresh air.

el picoteo

We loved the bartender at El Picoteo, who had moved from Michigan (or Wisconsin?) with his fiance, gotten married there, and stayed. It made me want to pick up my life and move there too!

We had some amazing sausages in wine and classic gambas al ajillo, in addition to Manchego with truffle honey. Yum.

cheese and truffle honey

And we loved El Convento so much we returned for breakfast the next day, and you guessed it, a Mallorca Panini (with mimosas).

Mallorca sandwich

Our final day in Puerto Rico was super hot (even for me), so in addition to lots of wandering, we also sought cool breezes in shady courtyards with cold drinks. You can’t go to San Juan without a trip to Barrachina for a Piña Colada where they were created!

original pina colada

We talked cocktails with the fun bartender while sipping slushy, coconutty deliciousness and loved it. The only downside of that experience was the arrival of throngs of cruise ship passengers in town for the day. They basically fit the stereotypical American tourist bill; loud, pushy, rude, unwilling to try new things. We had a chuckle and bushed it off, too happy with our cocktails and relaxation to let their takeover bother us.

ceviche

empanada

All good things must come to an end, so before we left for the airport we had one last taste of the flavor of San Juan. Nono’s was another open-air spot with a huge menu, and we went for a tangy ceviche and lobster-stuffed empanadas. Delicioso!

San Juan has so much to see, do, and taste, and we only got started on making our way through this magical little city. We fell in love with Puerto Rico, and I hope someday that you get to as well.

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Tags: cocktails, Dining out, Food, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, rum, Travel, travel blog

Take me back to Puerto Rico, please. I have had enough of rainy spring and am well ready for summery temperatures and sunshine again!

For  Puerto Rico travel blog posts check these out:

Outdoor adventures in Puerto Rico

Luquillo, Puerto Rico is paradise

Colorful Old San Juan

 

Boardriders in Luquillo was one of the highlights of our stay trip to Puerto Rico. Its laid back surfer vibe, great music, and gorgeous ocean views made it so good that we went three times, once for dinner, once for drinks, and once for brunch. Being there made my shoulders drop and the more relaxed, less anxiety-laden me come back for just a little bit. I miss that girl.

Boardriders Luquillo Boardriders Boardriders had a pretty extensive menu of bar-type food featuring great local ingredients, along with rum cocktails to spare. I kept it simple for the most part with a Cuba Libre or three while listening to the crashing waves.

cuba libre

We enjoyed simple but incredibly delicious dishes like shrimp tacos and spicy tuna bites. Food just tastes better at the ocean!

shrimp tacos tuna bites

On our first night there, the moon was so amazing that all of the patrons in the restaurant got up to admire it. It was a special kind of moment seeing people from all over come together, wowed by the power of nature. There was late night dancing, at least on my part!

moonlight in Luquillo

Brunch at Boardriders was extra special because it started with passionfruit mimosas and overlooked that view. Breezes kept us cool, and hearty breakfast sandwiches and burritos fueled us for our next round of swimming (after 30 minutes, of course).

mimosas Boardriders is really a must visit in Luquillo, and I suggest you visit on your first night to help set the tone of a relaxed beach bum vacation.

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Tags: Food, Luquillo, Puerto Rico, Restaurants, rum, Travel, travel blogger

That’s Massachusetts for you. Just when you think you’ve discovered all of your favorite MA beaches, seaside towns, and waterside watering holes, friends have suggestions for more, and locals lead you in new directions. The possibilities of summer in Massachusetts are endless; why is the season so short?! Next year, we are taking a week off for a staycation. I long to have extra days to sip and linger at Westport Rivers Sunset Music Series and trips to Horseneck Beach and to camp at Spectacle Island or hike at World’s Endto take the ferry to Provincetown, not to mention to indulge in the bounty of the sea and local farms. It is summer, and I am in my annual love affair with Massachusetts.

 

Our July 3 truly felt like a holiday. We got together with friends and headed North to the sweet town of Ipswich where we were introduced to Salt Kitchen & Rum Bar and instantly saw why it is a local favorite. And it’s not just because they offer so many different types of rums, including local option Privateer. The interior is adorably  coastal and rustic, staff is friendly and warm, and the food was delicious.

Salt Rum Bar

I loved my Big Foot cocktail, which included Ragged Mountain Rum, Chipotle Maple Syrup, and Lime, for a sweet and spicy kick.

 

Big Foot rum cocktail For lunch I indulged in the Lobster Wellington, which was amazing, with its tender sweet lobster and corn in a flaky puff pastry, served with a salad to balance it out.

Lobster Wellington During lunch we learned that our destination, Crane Beach, was at capacity, which 1) made it impossible to go there but 2) made us not really want to even attempt it if it was that crowded. Luckily, bartenders and bar patrons always have the best knowledge, and we were on our way to a hidden gem of a beach nearby that turned out to be even better than our first choice. The water and sky were perfectly blue, and it felt so good to be on the hot sand. The water, on the other hand, was a little chilly, as you can see from my bracing below. Still, it was all so perfect, the quintessential New England summer day, so very welcome after a hellish winter.

beach in Ipswich

Since laying at the beach works up quite an appetite, we stopped at CK Pearl on our way home. This was another new-to-us spot, and it is a new favorite. The deck is right on the water, providing great views of beautiful nature and boats.

CK Pearl

CK Pearl The filter for this photo is sunscreen. I love it.

 

Our waterside feast included Octopus Carpaccio and oysters, paired with bubbly, of course. CK Pearl is an amazing spot to relax, and it’s right across the street from the famous Woodman’s if you also need a fried clam fix. We’ll definitely be back this summer.

Octopus Carpaccio    oysters  I took a little over a week off from blogging to visit family, get lots of work done, and enjoy a holiday weekend, and I am now excited and refreshed and looking forward to catching up on all of your blogs and updating my own.

Cheers to the best month of the year!

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Tags: beaches, cocktails, Food, Ipswich, Massachusetts, oysters, rum, staycation, summer, vacation, wine

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