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Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico

January 14, 2013

By Annie Shustrin

Everyone has their limit when it comes to cold weather. It doesn’t matter how much I love crisp city mornings or the cold on my face on a snowboarding trip. At some point, I’m frozen to the core. I usually hit that point pretty early in the winter, often finding myself daydreaming of tropical beaches right after the New Year.

Isla Verde Palm Trees in Puerto Rico

One of the best tropical winter getaways I’ve had was not to some far flung culture or isolated island. Getting to an island in the middle of nowhere is—for me—one of the best kinds of travel, but not in this case. In this case, I need a quick fix. Get me to the beach as quickly as possible so my toes can defrost, please.

Isla Verde Beach

Instead, the best tropical getaway ended up being San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was easy to get to, offered easy transportation and great culture on the beach. Only a quick nonstop flight from many U.S. cities and a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport door, the beaches of San Juan, Puerto Rico was the perfect weekend solution for a cold jaded soul like mine. On my last visit, we sped away from the airport over to the San Juan Intercontinental Hotel, a beachfront resort on the wide open sand of Isla Verde.

Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

Just forty-five minutes after landing, I was glued to a beachfront lounge chair with a cold local beer in my grip. My toes, thankfully, started to regain feeling under the Caribbean sun. I could smell the warm scents of beachside cafes serving up all day snacks, ranging from gringo burgers and fries to Puerto Rican goodies like mofongo and anything with plantains. Though crowded with other sun-seekers, the resort was exactly the getaway I needed. (Their amazing frozen mojito may or may not have had something to do with it as well.)

Nighttime at San Sebastian, Puerto Rico

At nighttime, Old San Juan was the place to go. Restaurants of all cuisines lined the historic streets and salsa clubs spilled dancing patrons out into the cobblestone until the early hours of morning. Luckily, we were there just in time for the annual San Sebastian Festival, a nearly sixty year old weekend festival, full of music, food, drinks and revelry. The city was packed and the pulsing parties made our weekend feel farther away from home than a just a short, nonstop flight.

When Monday morning’s early flight came around, I felt much more relaxed than I thought I might have after a short two days in Puerto Rico.

Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? What other destinations have you escaped the winter for?

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Annie Shustrin is a travel addict. When she’s not on the road, she’s either thinking about past trips, planning future ones, or fantasizing about where she’d like to be right now.  She has visited over 30 countries on both long and short term travels, and is now based in New York City. She writes for her blog, as well contributing articles to other online travel publications. Though Indonesia and New Zealand are amongst her favorite destinations, her favorite travel memory was in China, where she got to hold a baby panda on her very own lap.

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