Posted February 6, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Only a short flight from the East Coast, San Juan, Puerto Rico, can be an ideal getaway, especially since you don't need a passport to enter and you can use U.S. currency anywhere you go. On top of this, you can stay in a luxurious boutique hotel in historic Old San Juan, while enjoying homemade cheap eats. And since you're in Puerto Rico, you must have a piña colada at the bar that claims the drink as its own invention.
El Convento: Though it may be a bit of a splurge, El Convento is the place to stay in Old San Juan. More than 350 years old and set in a former Carmelite convent, this small boutique hotel provides old world elegance. Here, you can relax by the pool on a roof deck or enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on the garden terrace, which offers views of the Plaza de las Monjas. Rooms start at $170 per night, and packages are available.
Barrachina Restaurant: When it comes to the ingredients of a piña colada, few know what makes it so sweet better than the bartenders at Barrachina. The bar claims the rum-based cocktail was originally created by the restaurant's main bartender, Don Ramòne. Whether or not it's true, the piña colada is the official drink of Puerto Rico, and Barrachina does make a fine rendition. You can also watch Flamenco dancing on Friday and Saturday nights while you dine, but reservations are strongly recommended. Piña coladas cost $7.50.
La Bombonera: It's no wonder locals and tourists flock to La Bombonera, where you can snack on homemade mallorcas (flat pastries) for $1.75, and drink bottomless cups of coffee brewed on an 1898 coffeemaker from Havana. For more than 100 years, this small cafe has served traditional Puerto Rican specialties such as rice with squid to a hungry crowd. Lunch can be a particularly hectic time, so get there early.
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(Photo: Travel & Sports)
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