For this year's family Christmas trip, we're in Puerto Rico.
We arrived late on Thursday night, only to discover that the Verdanza Hotel had failed to group our rooms as requested or even reserved for us the types of rooms we'd pre-paid for months ago. The disinterested fellow at the front desk first blamed Expedia for reserving the room wrong types (I called them, and proved they hadn't), then told me: "Deal with it."
Long story short: the Verdanza is a pleasant enough property, with a good location. The rooms offer a good value for the money, especially compared to the beach resort hotels, but aren't anything special. And, apart from one or two stars on the evening shift, the staff is pretty much clueless.
But our dealings with the Verdanza have been a minor glitch in what is otherwise a trip that's off to a good start. We're working with Carlos, one of the highest-rated guides in San Juan, and he's done a fine job of whisking us from place to place. Yesterday, for example, we headed out to the home of a local artist where virtually everyone snagged a treasure or two:
Seeing his workshop first-hand and discovering more about his process and inspiration made for a pleasant and personal stop.
After that, our group of nine invaded a roadside eatery for some of the most savory BBQ chicken I've eaten in recent memory, served up with mofongo and rice:
Stuffed to the gills -- sixty bucks bought more chicken, sides, and drinks than even our group of nine could polish off entirely -- we headed back into Old San Juan for the day, where we strolled through San Cristobal, where at least a few notorious criminals still lurk in the dungeon:
Dinner at La Playita -- a beachside restaurant specializing in seafood and strong drinks -- was the perfect way to end the day. While we tucked into shrimp carbonara, seafood paella, and mofongo with mussels, the full moon entertained us, rising higher and higher and shining as bright as I've ever seen it.
Back home -- and a little tres leches ("three milk") cake later -- we were snug in our beds, dreaming of the next day's big adventures.