In this episode, Nick and Kelly leave Satori and go to Old San Juan for a “staycation.” Their friends Jon and Tory asked them to dog and housesit for ten days. During their stay, they get work done, explore the historic city, and enjoy time on land. This includes listening to beautiful live classical music, eating delicious food, and possibly drinking too much rum and wine!
Watch this video to see:
- Leaving Satori in Salinas
- Driving to Old San Juan
- Enjoying our friends home
- Exploring Old San Juan
The Full Story
While Nick and I were on our way to Puerto Rico, we had been in contact with fellow cruisers Jon and Tory. They cruised from the Northern US to Puerto Rico where they decided to stop for a while. Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria did some damage to their sailboat. Luckily the boat wasn’t a total loss. However, they had a lot of work to do to get their boat back in the water safely. In the meantime, as luck would have it, they fell in love with Old San Juan and decided to invest in a property there.
We made plans to meet them for the first time and hang out in Old San Juan at their beautiful home. Making plans while cruising is always a daunting task and almost always never happens the way you think. The weather was particularly bad during these few weeks, and although we tried, we could not get the boat to Salinas in time to visit them before their trip to St. Thomas. However, they had a fantastic idea! Jon asked us if we minded taking care of their dog “Honey” and house sitting while they were away. Their home is not just any house in Old San Juan. It’s a 200-year-old mansion that is epic. The history alone with their home is enough to amaze just about anyone.
Nick and I drive to Old San Juan
Nick and I were happy to take a “break” from boat life. It had been at least six months since we had a stay off the boat, so we were due! We left Satori safe and sound in Salinas. In the meantime, we grabbed our rental car and made the hour drive to Old San Juan. Luckily we got to hang out with Jon and Tory the night before they left for their 10-day trip. We met them at a business get together at the local Marriot hotel. To our surprise, there are a ton of “Americans” investing in property in Old San Juan. The tax incentives are quite attractive. The meeting certainly got our brains thinking.
After the Marriot meeting, we went out to dinner with Jon, Tory, and a group of their friends. They picked an Italian restaurant and boy was it a treat! The food and wine were flowing “family style,” and it was exquisite. A far cry from all the Caribbean fried food we had been eating for months. It was a joyous night out with new friends!
The party continues!
Following dinner, the party was far from over! We did, however, go to the house to drop some things off and have Honey and Arthur meet. To Jon’s surprise, Honey took to Arthur exceptionally well. She’s not always down with fellow dogs, but she did like Arthur instantly. Who wouldn’t! Arthur usually loves the ladies, so he was cool with Honey as well. We felt comfortable leaving the two pups together while we continued to go out on the town.
I fell in love with Old San Juan that night. It reminded me of living in Manhattan, a time of my life I love to look back on. There’s something so refreshing about being able to walk everywhere and having these fantastic options for food and nightlife around the corner. Not to mention the architecture and culture that comes with an old city, while immersing yourself in history and taking it all in. I could see myself living there one day.
The Joys of Land Life
Jon and Tory had an early flight the next morning. Even though it was a short time spent with them, it was fabulous! This next day consisted of doing laundry and binge-watching “The Walking Dead.” I can’t tell you how long it had been since we could chill in a huge house with all the water and TV you could dream of! We didn’t leave the house that day, just grabbed some groceries and chilled. The next few days did require us to work. Our YouTube videos needed to be finished and why not take advantage of spreading out and working comfortably. Our morning routine quickly became getting a cafe con leche and walking the dogs. Then it was back to the house to work. We would only take a break during these first few days to walk the dogs. The definition of “homebodies” was us during that time.
After our “work” was in a good place, we decided it was time to explore the city of Old San Juan. Our first stop was the fort “Castillo San Felipe del Morro,” commonly referred to as “El Morro.” The fort dates back to the 16th century when Puerto Rico was under Spanish rule. It is now one of Puerto Rico’s most iconic sites. It faces the Atlantic Ocean and is located in Old San Juan.
When Puerto Rico was given up by Spain to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American war, El Morro continued to play an essential role in protecting the area. It was used as a military base by the United States during World War I and II. Once El Morro was no longer used as a military base, it was officially named a Historic Site. Today you can find families having picnics and flying kites as well as attending outdoor concerts. There is also a walking trail that starts at the fort and ends in the city.
Time to explore the nightlife!
We also went to several restaurants during our stay. Our biggest splurge was “Marmalade.” This restaurant is an eclectic mix of cuisine and works in course offerings. We both chose the 3-course option which gave us each an appetizer, main course, and dessert. I can’t imagine how people can make it through 6 courses because we were rolling out of there! Our bill was around $325 which is a HUGE splurge! That is not in our regular budget. This is probably the most expensive meal we’ve eaten together. As they say, you have to “treat yo self” every once in a while.
Even though Marmalade was epic, our favorite “joint” quickly became “Birra & Empanadas.” This is a locals bar that serves drinks and empanadas. The Sangria was my go-to; it was delicious! Not quite “Kareena” worthy but close. The empanadas were freshly made every day and were yummy and cheap! Our kind of combo. The owners also hung out there and were super friendly. We learned a bit about the politics of Puerto Rico. Interesting chats and a cool hang out!
The Coolest Piano Bar ever
I can’t forget to mention my favorite place by far. The Piano Bar is also known as “The Cannon Club.” Jon told us about this place, so I was already excited. Ballet has always been in my soul which means I’m a sucker for any music played on the piano. To my delight, the pianist played many of my favorites including Chopin. I felt like we took a step back in time sitting quietly in this beautiful space listening to the pianist while sipping red wine. Elegance and class radiated from this experience. If I could, I would go to the Cannon Club every day; it brought tears to my eyes. This experience moved me and touched the deepest part of my heart.
Staycation is over
Just like that, our 10-day “staycation” came to an end. The saddest part of leaving besides listening to beautiful piano music was to see Honey and Arthur have to part. Those two became a little pack during our time there. It was the sweetest thing to see and heartbreaking to have to leave her. I could tell Arthur was sad for a few days after we left. He’s a kind and sensitive little King!
When we arrived back to Salinas, all was well with Satori. To our delight, Kareena and Alex made it to the anchorage as well. Valtori unites! As we enjoyed hanging out in the town of Salinas, we were all eager to move on. All we could do is wait for the next weather window.
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Intro Song – Carribean Cuisine 4 – Magnus Ringblom
King Arthur Intro – Rule Britannia Classic – Traditional
Ending Song – Figure It Out – Daniel Gunnarsson
Download these songs for free at Epidemic Sound
Full Audio Transcript of the included video.
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