I am happily writing to you all from my nook in our living room just back from a sunny seven days in Puerto Rico, well-rested, well-fed and kissed by the sun. (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t walking past the mirror more often than usual to admire my tan.)
First of all, we survived our first flights with Daisy. I’m going to make an admission here that might make me unpopular with some of my mom friends but I’m all about honesty and this blog is no exception. We gave our sweet girl a few mL’s of Benadryl as soon as we settled into our seats and it was the best thing we could possibly have done. Daisy is going through a phase right now where she absolutely does not tolerate sitting still for more than a few minutes without screaming – unless she is sound asleep. So yes, we gave our child a little fast pass to dreamland and it worked like a charm for a good three hours. (Her doctor approved this, by the way.) The remaining 45 minutes of each flight we managed with moderate success using a combination of food bribing, toys and barf bag creations.
Once we arrived in Puerto Rico, it was smooth sailing. This trip was a gift from my mom to my brother and our family for Christmas and we shared a fabulous multi-bedroom condo directly on the beach in Isla Verde. This was our view - could this be more perfect?!
Having my mom’s help on vacation was an irreplaceable luxury. I got to nap on the beach, go swimming, take long showers (I shaved my legs! Twice!) and get dolled up for dinner. Nick and I even got to do some things alone. My mom woke up early to watch Daisy so we could sleep in and fed her while we had breakfast at a juice bar just the two of us. We went on two “dates” – one at the casino (which lasted an hour - neither of us likes gambling & we started to miss Daisy) and one on a Jetski. It felt glorious to hit the choppy sea just the two of us - a little dangerous and completely un-baby-friendly for just a tiny moment in time.
This was my third visit to Puerto Rico and it was just as I remembered it – the perfect getaway outside of the States where you can skip customs, use the US dollar, forget your passport at home, speak English and enjoy year-round sunshine and temps in the mid-80’s. PR has the best of everything – exciting nightlife, luxury hotels and resorts, gorgeous public and private beaches, surfing, rainforests, waterfalls, rich history and great shopping in San Juan – and it’s all family friendly.
One of the things I love most about Puerto Rico is that you can eat well on any budget – there are loads of gourmet restaurants with celebrity chefs (more on those in a minute) but the local street food is also amazing. I am a foodie through and through and I really can’t enjoy vacation if I’m someplace where the food is lackluster. PR doesn’t disappoint. We ate a lot of ceviche, tartare, Puerto Rican nachos (sensational – shredded chicken, melted cheese, salsa verde) mofongo (a mash of plantains, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper served with seafood, meat or chicken) and empanadas of all varieties. I loved starting the day with a cold acai bowl filled with tropical fruit and coconut granola and a tall glass of mango juice.
A Few Favorite Restaurants
Budatai – You may recognize the name Robert Trevino from the Food Network – he has appeared on Chopped and other hit shows – and that is what originally drew me to this restaurant years ago but the outstanding food and service keep me coming back. The pad thai, short ribs, dumplings, sushi tacos… Heaven in every bite.
BLT Steak – If you need a break from the local fare, BLT in the Ritz serves gorgeous cuts of meat, beautiful heirloom salads (and an over-the-top wedge salad if you’re throwing diets to the wind), the most incredible cheese popovers you’ve ever tasted, and, loaded baked potato skins with truffle oil – because that’s a thing and it’s a beautiful thing. The very best kind of chain restaurant.
Oceano – This spot exudes sexy. Perched right above the beach in Condado, you enjoy your meal under swaying palm trees to the sounds of lounge music and the ocean waves crashing just twenty feet from your table. Delicious seafood dishes. Beautiful people-watching.
Santaella – Tucked in the vibrant La Placita neighborhood, you could easily miss the entrance as you navigate overserved partygoers dancing in the street. Don’t let that happen, though, the next time you are in PR. The salmon and sole tartare with avocado and quail egg and Spanish octopus and fingerling potatoes in salsa verde have me still daydreaming. The whole fried red snapper was elegantly served and gorgeously flavored with herb chimichurri and tostones made from plantains. Lively atmosphere, beautiful design and food that makes you happy to be alive!
Mares – Best brunch in Puerto Rico is served at the Ritz. Bottomless mimosas, cured meats, cheeses, pastries, smoked salmon bar, granola station, omelet bar, crepes, juices from every fruit you can think of – all overlooking the gorgeous pool and the ocean beyond.
Aside from the food, we enjoyed every possible second of sunshine at the beach. We had absolutely perfect weather every day and discovered that Daisy adores the ocean! We spent hours sitting at the edge of the ocean letting the water creep up to her toes and over her legs and even more time standing waist-deep in the water jumping and dancing with every wave. As each one broke, Daisy would squeal and kick her legs and wave her arms with delight.
This was just the vacation we needed. Lots of time outside, with family, away from work and the stresses of everyday life. Feeling so grateful to have had this wonderful respite by the sea ❤
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea. - e.e. Cummings