puerto rico... don't visit if you don't love salsa dancing, sunshine, and good food

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One of my favorite things to do is travel with my favorite people. Especially when the favorite person is one of your faaaavorite people, like Rachel of www.rachelsstudio.com. And especially when you're traveling to a tropical paradise, Puerto Rico, in the middle of January when you're always cold and you accidentally plan to go during one of the most fun festivals of the year! Puerto Rico - the view from the Castillo San Felipe del Morro Puerto Rico - the view from the Castillo San Felipe del Morro

THE FLIGHT: The trip from Charlotte to San Juan is really easy. Three or so hours is all it took! We flew US Airways (American Airlines) and had no trouble with the flight - no delays, no turbulence!

THE HOTEL: Whatever bumps we avoided on the flight, though, we made up for upon check in. What was supposed to be a 3:00 check in turned into a 5:30 check in at the Intercontinental San Juan. Turns out that's not the first worst thing in the world when you can grab a suit, leave your luggage with concierge, and hit the beaches and their massive pool while you wait! The grounds were really well landscaped with waterfalls and all of these gorgeous air plants and orchids. Some day I'm going to turn these photos of flowers into paintings!

THE BEACHES: No two beaches were the same! Some had pristine white sand and blue water, others had seaweed-y sand with green water... there were really interesting rock formations in some places, and others were flat and smooth.

THE WEATHER: Perfection in January. Clear skies and highs in the 80s.

OLD SAN JUAN: We had no idea, but we ended up there during one of the most amazing times! It was smack in the middle on the San Sebastian Festival.  Parades, drinks, puppets, dancing, art, music, and tons of people streaming through Old San Juan makes for a pretty great day. These people seriously know how to celebrate Christmas!! This festival is always in January and lasts four days! Even on a non festival day, this place is so interesting. Every little cobblestone street holds something different. There is so much art and culture - dancing and singing everywhere, there are old Spanish forts like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro to explore, there are interesting people to watch, and Salsa music EVERYWHERE! Also: food.

THE DANCING: The first thing I asked my taxi driver about when we got off the plane was where to salsa dance. He answered (caps added for emphasis, not volume) "YOU HAVE GOT TO GO THE THE INTERCONTINENTAL IF YOU WANT TO DANCE TONIGHT!!" **heck yes** That is our hotel!!! And it did not disappoint. This was BY FAR HANDS DOWN the BEST salsa dancing I have ever experienced before or since. The leaders were gentle, yet clear, very musical and FUN! The ladies were so much fun that I had to sit out a few just to watch them. They grew up completely immersed in this dance and this music and it is obvious. The live band was so impressive!

live salsa music in Puerto Rico? YES.  live salsa music in Puerto Rico? YES.

THE FOOD: Yes, please. All of it. Everything I had was fresh and light. Especially the fish tacos that I ate. Twice. I would have loved to have shared a picture of them with you, but I started eating the first one so fast I never got a chance to photograph it. So the next day I ordered another one so I could take a picture. Then I forgot/ate it too fast (again).  So here is a picture of my salad with grilled chicken instead :)

I really want to go back again- there is no way you can fit all of what Puerto Rico has to offer into one little weekend. There are rainforests, there are wild horses, there is the annual Salsa Congress, there are more tacos!