Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Relaxing Week in Puerto Rico...

Sipping a Coconut in the Rainforest
This October, Chapin and I took a much needed vacation, visiting Puerto Rico for the first time. The Caribbean sun, short (and very reasonably priced) flight and the fact that we wouldn't need to go through customs made Puerto Rico a perfect destination for us.

Chapin and I have both been working extremely hard lately, and we saw this time away as an opportunity to reconnect with each other, as well as to rest, relax and replenish our energies for the busy winter months ahead.

We picked a great day to leave Atlanta, as the temperature started to dramatically drop right as we touched down in Puerto Rico. Our flight did not take off until noon, so by the time we made it to our hotel, the La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort, we were ready for dinner. 

This Mariott hotel (thank you, Mariott reward points) was probably one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in, not including the Four Seasons Atlanta Hotel we stayed in on our wedding night, and the Rihga Royal Hotel we stayed in one time when Chapin accompanied me to New York for a movie junket. Since our room wasn't quite ready when we arrived, we walked from the hotel to a nearby restaurant that the hotel recommended: Casa Lola.

As we were browsing the menu, we realized that a popular fish in Puerto Rico shares its name with my husband. After that, whenever someone asked Chapin his name, he would say, "like the fish!" It was very cute.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to change and hang out at the bar in the hotel lobby. We had a few drinks but did not stay too long since we were so exhausted from our travels. The next morning, it was so amazing to wake up to the sound of the waves on the beach. I could definitely get used to that.

The amazing view from our room in Puerto Rico

Our first full day in Puerto Rico, we decided to just relax and enjoy ourselves. We switched back and forth between the beach and the "adults only" infinity pool. I didn't check my work email, either. I just read my Kindle, drank frothy, calorific drinks and napped in the sun. It was heavenly.

That evening, we decided to walk to a restaurant that was about a mile away. Chapin assured me that the walk would be worth it, so I put on my new MICHAEL Michael Kors Halter Maxi Dress that I had bought especially for the trip -- with Chapin's blessing -- and we headed out.

We walked and walked, from the hotel through suburban Puerto Rican neighborhoods, where we saw nannies with young children and people out walking their dogs after the end of the workday. Finally, we reached our destination... which turned out to be more of a grocery store/ deli than a restaurant. We looked at each other and decided to head back. We would not be eating there after all.

We had passed a Mexican restaurant on the way, so that's where we ended up about 20 minutes later. We ordered margaritas and browsed the menu. Chapin wasn't impressed, so we left after our drinks... which were literally the strongest margaritas I had ever had in my life. After finishing mine on an empty stomach, I was DRUNK. We went back to the hotel and ended up eating a very nice meal in the pricey hotel restaurant. I had seafood. That's about all I remember.

The rest of the trip, we decided to do at least one activity before heading to the pool and/or beach to relax the afternoon away.

We visited the Bacardi Rum Distillery on our second day there, where we got two free drinks and learned about the history of the famed brand in Puerto Rico. (The tour was free.) It was so much fun to be drinking before noon on a weekday! We also picked up some special aged run for Chapin's father (and Chapin), and I got the cutest hoodie for myself. I did not bring any long sleeved shirts with me, and I wanted something casual I could put over my bathing suit when the sun would start to set.

After our tour, we headed back to the hotel, where we immediately went to the beach. Since the beach was man made, the waves were very rough, and I lost my Fendi sunglasses that I'd had for years in the surf. Chapin told me he was actually very glad, because he hated those sunglasses. It was nice to know that after I'd been wearing them for years! I got some new sunglasses in Old San Juan: the Christian Dior Lady Dior Sunglasses. I cringe to see how discounted they are, because I had to pay full price in Puerto Rico. Argh!

That night, we decided to try a restaurant in town that we had read about online: Jose Enrique. This time, we made sure it was a real restaurant... and it was. There was a long wait, so we decided to get a drink, and ended up across the street in an area of town called "Taberna Los Vazquez-la Placita." We got some strange looks, and after speaking to a "local" who spoke English, realized that it wasn't a place very many tourists frequented. That made it all the more authentic for us - a real Puerto Rican experience. And the wait was worth it... the food at Jose Enrique was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had the pleasure of eating. (And I like to eat!)

The next day, we decided to visit Old San Juan.

We walked around for several hours and treated ourselves to some chocolate ice cream. The views were amazing. Here I am in my new Dior sunglasses and a Juicy Couture strapless polka dot terry cloth sundress. It's the most comfortable little dress for outings on a hot day!

We ate at an Italian restaurant called Vittorino that night, which was in the same area of town as Jose Enrique. We actually weren't sure the restaurant was even open, but then we saw what we thought was a patron walk in. It turned out to be the owner of the restaurant, and even though it was only 8:30 p.m., the restaurant was, in fact, closed. An upscale place, and very small, Vittorino has to limit the number of people who can get a table. We were fortunate enough to get one, because it was our second best meal in Puerto Rico. Our waiter also looked like Johnny Depp, which helped make the overall experience even better.

I wore this magenta Shoshanna Faille Seamed Bodice Tank Dress to dinner. I think the pink hue helped highlight my burgeoning tan. This dress was also spotted on E! News anchor Ashlan Gorse.

On one of our final days in Puerto Rico, we decided to tour the El Yunque Tropical Rainforest. It was a long drive, but we saw some amazing feats of nature, including the world's smallest orchid. Chapin managed to get some great shots of the little orchid, like this one. The little red bud is the orchid!

There are so many favorite photos from the rainforest tour -- the waterfall, the view, the huge spider web! -- but I think this one is my favorite:

Our last night in Puerto Rico, we decided to go back to Jose Enrique, because the food was just that good. I wore this gorgeous Nanette Lepore Silver Blaze Cami Dress.

The food was just as good as we remembered!

Our last morning in Puerto Rico, we got up early and spent the morning swimming and lounging at the pool. All too soon, it was time to pack up for our return trip to Atlanta. I was excited to see my family and George, but going back home after a vacation is always bittersweet.