derryX in Puerto Rico 2014 – Day 1

Back in November, we were tossing around the idea of going on vacation in 2014. We were reluctant since we would begin looking for a house, but there were a couple of things that lured us in. We saw a couple on HGTV’s House Hunters look for apartments in San Juan, specifically in the Condado, where we like to stay when we go to Puerto Rico. As a matter of fact, I recognized one of the buildings they were looking at on Ashford Avenue while watching the show. In addition, our friend Marcie, who helped photograph our wedding, posted a rather vague picture of a table with an oceanside view that I recognized as being from one of our favorite restaurants in the Condado, Hacienda Don Jose. These two things made it obvious that we had to go back to our favorite vacation spot for a few days during the winter.

Welcome to Puerto Rico

We flew out of JFK bright and early on Sunday, March 2. We intended to get in, have a quick lunch at Hacienda Don Jose, then check into our room at The Condado Plaza Hilton and relax for the rest of the evening.

Airport Taxi

Transportation from the airport to pretty much anywhere on the island is easy if you have some cash. Actually, the taxi system at the airport has been standardized to maintain consistent prices between cab drivers to and from the various destinations on the island. That’s pretty cool!

When we arrived, it was too early to check in to our room, so we left our bags with the bellhop at the lobby and made the five minute walk down to Hacienda Don Jose, a little hole in the wall that has the best view and decent authentic Puerto Rican food (as well as some odd appearances by Mexican dishes). We were super hungry!

Hacienda Don Jose storefront

Like I said, the food is decent, and I’ll have a derryX Dines post dedicated to the two trips to eat there eventually. Really, the best part of the experience there is the view.

Stunning view from the back of Hacienda Don Jose
Stunning view from the back of Hacienda Don Jose

After lunch, we decided to walk down Ashford Avenue (the main strip in the Condado) to scope out the scene. We noticed a few new restaurants had popped up, but that the Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery were still around.

And we even came across the building we saw on House Hunters.

Building from House Hunters
Building from House Hunters

As we walked further, we noticed a big tent with lots of foot traffic. We had no idea, but there’s a farmers market that opens there on the first Sunday of every month. It was very much like the farmers markets around my area. We didn’t buy anything there, but it was a fun little thing to see.

Farmers Market in the Condado
Farmers Market in the Condado

I did stop at a little grocery store to pick up some snacks.

Cereal Isle at grocery store in puerto rico

It’s funny how all of the cereals have the same names except Frosted Flakes, which is called “Zucaritas”.

I picked up lots of little things. One was a bag of chips called “Mofongo Mix Munchies” made by Lays. This isn’t available in the states and is comprised of the fatty and salty combo of pork rinds and fried plantain and yucca chips.

Mofongo Mix Munchies

I also bought Malta, a fizzy malt beverage (basically carbonated unfermented beer), something I really only have the taste for when I’m on the island.


I had a couple of coconut and sweet potato candies, which were destroyed before I even remembered I had a camera.

When we finally checked into our room, we were positioned on the south end of the hotel, which doesn’t overlook the ocean but does overlook the Condado lagoon.

View from our hotel

It was a nice room, and the view was ok, but it’s always nice to have that ocean view. Better luck next time.

We relaxed in our room for a while. The WWE Network had just launched, so it was a nice little thing to relax with since I had wifi access at the hotel.

We ate dinner at the generic restaurant in the Hotel. On the menu was a burger with sweet plantains on it.

Burger with sweet plantains

It wasn’t the best burger in the world, but the plantains were a nice touch. The little crispy potato chips were another nice touch.

The rest of the evening was spent in our room. The travel up to that point had us exhausted, so we needed some rest so that we could enjoy the remainder of our stay.


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