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The Hotel

January 14, 2012

I spent most of the day traveling so here’s a review of the hotel I stayed in while in Puerto Rico…

I’ve been staying at the Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa which is a Wyndham Grand Resort. I didn’t pick the hotel, it’s where the conference I attended was held, but I thought it was lovely.

I should say that I’ve never been to another Caribbean resort, so I can’t really compare it, but I’ve stayed in many hotels and the staff at the Rio Mar Resort have been some of the most accommodating I’ve encountered and the location is great.

The resort itself is about 40 minutes east of the San Juan airport. It’s surrounded by the ocean on one side and the rain forest on the other. The lobby and other common areas are very nice and classy looking. My room itself is huge and quite nice, although dated. I bought an ocean view room and when I checked it I was told I had a partial ocean view. I thought of complaining but I figured I would check it out first.

What I ended up with was a corner room, I’m the only room at the end of a long hallway, that’s enormous and on the top floor (seventh). And it fully faces the ocean, I just can’t look out all the way to my right. But the view is wonderful.

This is the room, excuse all my crap.

When you come on there’s a foyer with a console and the bathroom and closet are to the left, you have to walk around a corner to get to the main part of the room. This really breaks it up and feels less like a traditional hotel and more luxurious.

And the balcony, which is very large since I have a corner room.

I would absolutely come back here and stay again.

Pros:
– Off the beaten path, you feel completely secluded
– Not crowded (easy to get elevators, plenty of chairs at the beach and pool), it’s also early January though
– Very friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive staff
– Good price (I paid about $160/night on Expedia)
– Bath and Body Works shower products

Cons
– Off the beaten path, a long trip from the airport and there’s no much around except the hotel
– Spotty Internet access, there’s free wi-fi in the lobby, but I could only get it to work in one-half of the lobby my first day here and since then I’ve had no luck connecting. And I’ve been paying $9.99/day for wired internet in my room. If you’re here for vacation probably not a big deal, but when you’re here for business like I am it’s tough.
– Odd water pressure in the shower, it’s strong pressure to start off, but then it gets less strong and colder and alternates between the two
– No screen doors on the balcony. I’d love to leave my door open at night for the breeze and to hear the water, but I don’t want any unwelcome creatures visiting

Right Where I Belong

January 13, 2012

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re exactly where you should be? I don’t have this feeling often (which maybe says something about my life), but I’ve had it a lot while I’ve been in Puerto Rico. I don’t think Puerto Rico is necessarily where I belong, but sitting on the beach, or listening to the water crash on the beach from my room, has just been so relaxing and just absolutely perfect.

I was in meetings this morning, but it feels like an eternity ago. I spent most of my day here.

Staring up here.

There were a few storms that rolled through.

Mostly they were just sun showers and I stayed outside for them, but there was one really terrible downpour which left me running inside. But they all passed quickly and I was able to spend most of my day reading on the beach.

The waves have been really rough and when I was walking along the beach today I had my feet in the water and you could really feel the undertow.

I went for a long walk at the end of the day which was amazing.

I was the only person as far as I could see. I can’t even describe how peaceful it was.

And then when I was almost back to the hotel I saw a rainbow. Which was pretty much the icing on the cake. It vanished in a minute or two, but it totally solidified what I was feeling at the moment.

I am going to be extremely sad to leave tomorrow. My original plan was to head to Old San Juan for the day before my flight at 6:40pm, but I’m having such a relaxing, nice time here that I’m going to ask the hotel for a late check out and (hopefully!) continue relaxing. It’s just been perfect.

Shape January 2012

January 12, 2012

Today in Puerto Rico was busy. Really busy. I woke up at 6am, we started at 7am, and I got back to my room at 10:15pm. But it was productive and enjoyable and I’m now exhausted and giddy and hyper.

So I bring you this post I wrote a week or so ago which I had saved for just this occasion…

While I was at my parents’ house over Christmas I was reading my mother’s copy of Shape.

This blurb about joining a sports team to relieve stress at work reminded me that I joined a volleyball team that starts in January. I should probably remember that.

I am all about healthy swaps, but popcorn for heirloom tomatoes? Does that seem strange to anyone else? Why couldn’t you just swap popcorn for…popcorn? Freshly popped, no butter or whatever. Or at least a crunchy fruit or vegetable.

It’s always good to get a new stretching routine.

30% of women ages 20-40 don’t get enough protein? Sounds kind of bogus, no?

I like this idea of setting up incentives for accomplishing goals. I’m definitely going to check on the sites they recommend: habitforge and stickk.

Greetings from Puerto Rico

January 11, 2012

Oh Puerto Rico. So many thoughts. I landed here last night around midnight, took a cab to the hotel (with a nice cab driver who was from NYC and whose sister is the main news anchor one of the NYC Spanish-language TV stations and, even better, he didn’t kill me) and got here a little after 1am. Even at 1am I could tell the view from my room was pretty sweet.


(Taken during the day, obviously)

Waking up at 6:45am was rough, especially considering I was/am still on Texas time so it felt like 4:45am. By a stroke of good luck I had most of the day off from work. There was a breakfast and panel discussion this morning and then I had 2 8-minute one-on-one sessions (the majority of the conference I’m attending are one-on-one sessions), an hour and a half off, lunch, two hours off, 2 more one-on-one sessions, and then 3 hours off.

So I spent a lot of time at the beach.

It was pretty great.

Oh and I got to wear my new beach coverup, I think it’s pretty cute.


(I don’t know why my head looks so large)

Around 5pm I left the beach because it got chilly. I went and sat on my balcony and watched the sunset.

It sounds cheesy, but I was sitting out there, reading my book and I was just so thankful for everything in my life. Even though I’m exhausted, I don’t really know anyone at the conference, and technology in Puerto Rico is pretty spotty, it didn’t matter. It was just so peaceful and gorgeous.

It made me realize why these people on House Hunters International buy these generic places in the Caribbean.

A Surprise Trip to San Antonio

January 9, 2012

I expected to spend today in Austin with my co-worker who came in this morning. I expected to pick her up at the airport and then show her around Austin. As we were driving to lunch we passed a highway sign for San Antonio and I said that I always wanted to go there. And she suggested we just go. So we did! Gotta love adventurous co-workers.

We drove down to San Antonio, about an hour and fifteen minute drive, and stopped off at the Country Line for lunch. I loved, loved, loved the garlic mashed potatoes (can you say buter and sour cream??), but didn’t really care for the brisket, peppered turkey, or ribs. But the mashed potatoes were phenomenal.

The Alamo totally made up for it though. My brother and I were big fans of the Davy Crockett movie when we were kids and, although I always turned it off before he went and died, I have still always wanted to see the Alamo.

Things I learned: they lost the battle of the Alamo; the distinctive top arch of the building was added in the 1850s, 15 or so years after the famous Battle of the Alamo; and that the famous building was the mission, the whole grounds were really what they were fighting for.

You could go in the mission and look around, which was really interesting, but it was very small. The monk’s quarters had more of a museum-quality to them and we spent a while in there.

There was this really cool Texas Christmas tree right outside the Alamo.

After looking around the Alamo (didn’t take long) we walked over to the Riverwalk.

I know I’m going to sound like a snobby New Yorker but I wasn’t really impressed. I’m sure with warm weather, sun, and a bunch of people it would have a great atmosphere, but I thought the whole thing just seemed a bit forced. My co-worker and I both agreed that there was a lack of authenticity in San Antonio.

That said, I was happy we went and I loved seeing the Alamo.

We drove back to Austin and stopped in at BookPeople where I bought this great book. I highly recommend going to BookPeople if you go to Austin. It’s everything a bookstore should be and their staff recommendations are really great and it’s such a nice thing to see.

I was pretty exhausted at this point so we went for a quick dinner at Max’s Wine Dive (great name). I had the grilled cheese and tomato soup (delicious) and we split the toffee coffee brownie for dessert (amazing).

Tomorrow it’s the business I’m actually here for and then I’m off to Puerto Rico!

2 Plaques

January 8, 2012

Austin is still good. I don’t have the energy to post about it. But today was a good day.

The plaque on the table at the Mexican restaurant where we ate lunch. Sweet.

And that was the plaque on the car parked next to us at the same Mexican restaurant. Everything is bigger in Texas. And classier. Definitely classier.

Austin, TX

January 8, 2012

I am a big fan of Texas. I always meet nice people, I love how different it is from NYC, and it’s cheap!

I left NYC around 9:30 and was very proud of myself for packing breakfast to save money and be healthy!

When I took my bag off the baggage carousel the wheel broke off which sucks. My friend Alexis picked me up at the airport and we went to Kerby Lane Cafe for lunch.

Then we checked into the hotel and decided to walk down South Congress to do some shopping.

I got a 20 degrees milkshake from Amy’s. It was Mexican vanilla ice cream, home made hot cocoa mix, and vanilla whip cream. It was delicious!

I also bought this amazing tee shirt from Storyville

.

We got changed to go out and then headed to Iron Works for dinner.

This chili and beer cost me $8. Crazy! I love how Lone Star is the “national” beer of Texas.

We headed up to 6th St. to check out the music and bars and I have to say I was disappointed. It was still pretty early (9:30 or so), but the bars weren’t very full and the scene was very young and fratty.

We decided to walk back along South Congress and get cupcakes. The nice cupcake girl recommended a bar that had people mostly above 25 or 30 years old so we headed there. It was nice, we had a drink, and then headed back the hotel through the throngs of people.

I still love Texas, but I have to say I’m disappointed. I thought the scene would be a lot more about live music and less about $2 shots (EVERY bar had $2 shots). But it was still fun! And I have 2 more days to have fun in Austin.