san juan

“Last Tuition Payment” – San Juan, Puerto Rico


Flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico and headed to the Condado beach area, to meet up with lifelong friends, three couples in total thus codenames C, N & P.  With the youngest child from each couple, heading into the second semester of their respective senior years, college tuition payments are over, hence the trip inspiration and name.  With a collective total of 9 undergraduate degrees paid for over the past six years, it was time to celebrate in style, Escati San Juan Style.

img_0619Couple C arrived a day early, with Couples N and P arrived on Thursday.  In a beach rendezvous scene reminiscent from the movie “10” we met on the sand, ocean side in front ot the La Concha hotel in Condado section of San Juan.  Beachside cocktails and beers started to flow until the rain arrived.  After heading back to our respective hotels and we met up for appetizers and more beverages to decide where to watch the Game (Cowboys v Vikings)

Before I go too much further I must let you know I am not a food connoisseur. I love to eat and like all types of different dishes, I am not that good at telling the difference between good and great. I am usually OK identifying if food is bad. Just laying the ground work for my reviews.

Ended up at Prime Time in Condado.  Very good happy hour beer specials.  Prime Time is really just a bar/pub, this is not fine dining. That being said the food (Appies) was good, we had chicken nachos, wings, onion rings. It was a perfect place for six hungry people to get something quick to eat. The staff at the bar were both friendly and on top of things.

Leaving here we gambled a bit in the Marriott Casino, Couple C and P came away winners not so much for Couple N.  The Marriott had a nice band in the lobby that we all enjoyed listening and dancing to.

Headed out to ‘the place’ to watch the game, the food was extremely good for bar type food.  Burgers, empanadas and of course onion rings.  Everyone tired from traveling turned nearly at 11PM local time. Once again this is not fine dining, you sit at picnic tables, very relaxed. They have a wide variety of choices and should be able to meet anyone’s pub food craving. The Place also offered beer specials by the bucket.


Nice sunny morning, everyone did their own thing in the AM, we all met at the Marriott beach around noon.  The Marriott has a very nice beach, complimentary chairs, tables and umbrellas are set up for you each day. Enjoyed the sun for a while until the rain came around 1:30, headed to Couple P room to wait it out.  Went back to the beach around 2:30PM had something to eat, some drinks and many laughs and smiles.  Can’t emphasize enough how fortunate are we to all have each other.fullsizerender

Couple C has a party celebrating a birthday; we are now in early plans to for a nice dinner.

Had a very nice dinner at Ropa Vieja in Condado, food and atmosphere was very good and I would recommend this to anyone looking for some authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. This was a little more upscale dining than our first day bar/pub grub.

We then worked off our calories like everyone does, by hitting the casino in the La Concha casino.  La Concha is a very nice hotel, with a funky upbeat décor. I can honestly say you cannot go wrong staying at either the Marriott or La Concha. Couple C and P had a nice little run on the craps table, Couple N hit the slots and like the Donald, did not report their earnings that night.


Up bright and early and headed out for our walk.  Game plan is to head to Old San Juan today.

After our walk we headed to the La Concha, were couple C are staying, and went to the infinity pool for some great relaxation. As with the Marriott, the La Concha will also set up complimentary chairs, tables and umbrellas. I failed to mention that both hotels offer chair side service on the beach.

Rains came in and we had lunch at Cafe Del Angel, very good meal and for once had a normal lunch.  What I mean by normal is we did not skip it. The food offered is very authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. I recommend this place for an afternoon meal. Do not be fooled by ‘café’ it is not a coffee shop. We then decided to head back to our rooms, shower and head to old San Juan.img_0691

Did some casual walking around and enjoyed a late afternoon cocktail.  We then decided to take a 40 minute cruise for $10/PP hosted by San Juan Water tours.  Highly recommend this to get a great perspective of the fort built around the city over 400 years ago.  Another little treasure was a quick stop for a drink at Tijuana’s bar and grill, does not look like much from the street but the view was great and the staff were super nice.


Dinner in old San Juan was at Carli’s fine bistro  I recommend a reservation for 8PM or later as then is when the music starts.  On the Saturday we went it was hits from the 60’s and 70’s, two guitarist playing great songs but not loud enough to interfere with your dinner conversation.  The food was very good, steaks, seafood, chicken, etc…  If you are looking for a little higher end atmosphere then I would recommend this place.  Cool item about the restaurant, it is owned by Carli Munoz who toured with the Beach Boy’s (1970 -81) playing keyboards.


Sunday Funday and our last day in San Juan.  We met on the beach around 10:00 AM and had a very relaxing morning, Sun was blazing and the water temperature was splendid.  We headed to Couple P’s place to have lunch from Bun’s, a must by the way, and some drinks while watching the Patriots play the Rams.img_0771

Couple P had rented a condo via VRBO. It does not come with all the hotel amenities, however it is substantially less expensive. There are individual on the beach that will set up chairs and umbrella for you for $20/day (same price as a hotel resort fee)

That evening we all gathered for dinner at Oceano’s in Condado. This is beach front dining at its best. Food was excellent, with the majority of the group having either swordfish or scallops. We did have one individual order a pork dish that was delicious. All the appetizers were equally enjoyable. All mixed with a couple of bottles of wine and it was a great way to celebrate our last dinner in PR.

As always we worked off our calories with some gambling at the Marriott casino..I believe we all my have donated money this evening.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a quick getaway to a Caribbean island from the east coast of the United States – Puerto Rico is a great option. There is no customs and no money exchange as it is a U.S. territory.  Uber proved most efficient to navigate around town, although pickups needed to be a short walk away from the resort hotels.  The people are very friendly and beach portions of the island are very safe to walk around.

Already looking forward to our next trip…


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