It's really winter in New York. I don't mean just cold weather, I mean, bitter freezing temperatures with back to back snow storms that are crippling the subway system and making life miserable. Not only is the weather less than to be desired, the sunlight is limited and the after work activities are equally as limited. I'm not a 'weekends-at-Rockafeller-Center' type of New Yorker. After I've brunched myself to death, I'm usually drained and frankly unhappy. I have winter fatigue!
One of the best ways to take a break from the winter is to take an extended weekend trip to Puerto Rico from New York. Jet Blue, American, and Delta Airlines all offer amazing direct flights from JFK to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Not to mention, the flights are only 3.5 hours.
One Friday this January after being over-scheduled and completely stressed from the occasional perils of activism, I left work to head directly to JFK where it was 22 degrees to SJU where it was 82 degrees. No passport. Carry on luggage. No customs. Heaven anyone?
We started our day at 8AM by the pool. I fell asleep with a Starbucks coffee (next door to the Doubletree Hilton hotel) , woke up, and fell asleep again all before noon. The sun was so refreshing. As the temperature increased, so did my excitement. Every splash of water felt like it was the first time I'd ever felt water in my life. I strongly recommend starting your day by the pool, reflecting when the pool has few visitors.
What I love every time I get a chance to visit San Juan is the amazing cuisine. Almost every restaurant you go to in San Juan will have an amazing array of fresh seafood. The side is traditionally mofongo (mashed plantains). One of my favorite places to enjoy a nice seafood lunch in Old San Juan is El Jibarito. Not only is the customer service great, the food is never overdone, never too seasoned, exceptionally simple, and speak to my soul in a way that is authentically Puerto Rican. The visitors were obviously tourists but there was a healthy mix of locals.
I always order the 2 pound Red Snapper because no visit to Puerto Rico is complete without it!
If you have 4 days and 3 nights (and $500), I strongly suggest you give your life to San Juan. It will reward you in a number of amazing ways. One of the most important ways this city will reward you is with its beautiful beaches. The Caribbean Sea is everywhere and it is beautiful. Wherever you are, you are only 20 minutes away from a great view and some sand. Another way this city will reward you is with its history. As a history buff and Latin America enthusiast, it is always exciting to hear stories of Old San Juan with its cobble streets and old forts. Another way this city will reward you on a random weekend in January is its calm. Yes-I said calm. I've visited San Juan in the height of Spring and it gets crowded with college kids. In January however, San Juan is such a peaceful place. It is an amazing place to stroll around and take in a healthy dose of Vitamin D.
Cheers to Puerto Rico!