My passion for travel is well documented, and certainly part of the reason I launched Dabble. Following our successful launch, the folks at American Express Canada approached me to test drive their new travel rewards card, The American Express Gold Rewards Card. Since it offers double points on purchases I make regularly, the grocer, drug store, gas station, and on all travel spending I was keen to see what it could do. Even more enticing for a frequent traveller like me, the points transfer 1:1 with Aeroplan, don’t expire and have no restrictions or blackout dates.
To get me started, American Express offered me 50,000 Membership Rewards points, in addition to the 15,000 bonus points I received (enough for a roundtrip flight to Paris, London or Rome) when I signed up for the card. Let’s just say, I had some fun earning points over 3 days in Puerto Rico.
MORNING Wake to the gentle sound of rolling waves and remember, ‘Yes, I really am on vacation.’ Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it’s even better when someone sings to you. So, visit Mares at the Ritz-Carlton when Jeremy Baptiste is working the omelette station. Jeremy moved from Boston two years ago and says he hasn’t stopped singing since. On Sundays, there’s also an unlimited Mimosa bar.
AFTERNOON Fortified with a proper breakfast, find a spot pool, or beach-side. Pack a juicy paperback and a big bottle of sunscreen.
LATE AFTERNOON Seriously, do you really want to move now? If you must, a walk on the beach and a swim in the ocean are restorative.
EVENING Dinner at Jose Enrique is guaranteed to be memorable, once you find it. Your cab driver can help.
MORNING If you’re enjoying the food (and I bet you are) an early morning yoga class at It’s Yoga may be in order. Following class (let’s face it, you worked hard) cross the road to Kasalta and order a cordatito, espresso with a sheen of steamed milk. Then, good luck choosing just one of the tempting pastries on display.
Include a visit to El Morro (seen here) with its 18-foot-thick walls rising some 140 feet above the sea. Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
San Juan’s sister protector, Castillo de San Cristobal covers 27 acres. As a strategic defense it’s something of a masterpiece, built around five self-sufficient, independent units connected by moat and tunnel. Open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
EVENING Having enjoyed the shopping, history and setting of Old San Juan for the day, you’ll want to stay for dinner. In the mood for romance? Try 311 Trois Cent Onze.
MORNING Whether you are renting a car or participating in an organized tour, you’ll want to set out early to explore El Yunque National Rainforest. Hike the trails and take a dip in the crystal clear waterfalls. Perhaps these are the fabled Fuente de Juventud (Fountain of Youth)?
AFTERNOON It’s a short drive to rest and relaxation at Luquillo Beach. Parking is tricky, but be patient and you’ll find a spot. If you’re hungry, there are 50 roadside kiosks at the ready with deep fried (and fried again in some cases) snacks. For lighter fare try Ceviche Hut #38 or Martes #26 for puertorriquenos meat tacos. It’s worth saying the kiosks at Pinones are more picturesque, so if you’re staying in San Juan it may be worthwhile to head in that direction.
EVENING For a casual beachside dining experience, you can’t beat the setting or the food at Uvva Restaurant. For an urban, NYC bistro vibe, try BLT Steak. They serve fresh pop- overs at the start of the meal and provide patrons with a copy of the recipe. The house red, Gnarly Head cabernet, at $8.00 per glass is great value.