Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From San Juan, With Love

I usually want to choke myself when I hear the regular joes in my newsroom sling mindless banter around. My usual style is ear phones in, zone out.

But last week, I heard something that sounded like, “20 bucks round-trip to San Juan?”

I quickly investigated and before you could say, “Please shut the hell up – no one cares,” I booked two tickets to the gem of Puerto Rico.

Jet Blue just started non-stop flights to the Rock from Boston and some other East Coast spots so to celebrate, they offered extremely cheap airfares in between San Juan and St. Thomas for only 10 days and this guy (two thumbs pointed directly at me) jumped right on it.

My next stop naturally was Mama Gray swears by the whole bidding strategy for cheap-ass hotels and it works like magic in Vegas. Puerto Rico, not so much. Don't get me wrong, I still got a smoking cheap room just a 10-minute walk from the beach but many people don't operate like that.

“Dude, do not get one of those cheap rooms in Syracuse, trust me,” Michael Rothstein, a former colleague of mine from Virginia, told me when I was planning out my trip up north.

“Why the hell not?” I barked back.

“Prostitutes, dude. Plus, they rarely clean the sheets.”

Since my travel partner was my lovely girlfriend, the prostitutes posed little problems. The sheets, well, what can you do? I can't tip the cleaning ladies in advance. We were booked for only one day.

As we embarked on the 16-minute flight from the Rock to San Juan, I told Brianna that I would pay more for dinner that night than both our round-trip flights and hotel room combined. Then I told her we had reservations at Burger King. She was not amused.

I know we live near the beach but guess where we hung out during the day in PR? The beach.

Even though most of the pink and yellow hotels in Condado were under construction and the subsequent beaches were swallowed whole by the Atlantic, it was a nice change of pace from Limetree, Magens, and Brewer's Bay.

I ordered a Cubano sandwich from a coffee shop, stayed clear of the casino, took a long day-time nap and even ordered a little entertainment for that evening.

It was dinner and a show. He was drunk, slurred the words to many classic Christmas carols and wouldn't leave our table until I greased him. Now Brianna can't say I never serenaded her.

The morale of the story is that San Juan is great. Charlotte Amalie ain't got nothing on Old Town San Juan. If I could go back every week, I would. As we made our final walk around town, Brianna said, “This is nice. I could work here full-time, what do you think?”

Ear phones in, zone out. And then I stepped into a Jet Blue plane.


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