Tuesday, May 1, 2012

San Francisco, San Diego, San Juan

One Journalist, Three San's, Three Weeks

Photos by Cynthia Dial
As a travel journalist, my #1 on-the-road rule is flexibility.  Sure I travel a lot and not every destination is one to which I hope to return, with even some visits to my favorite destinations falling short of expectations.  But when my travel stars align and I’m treated to three weeks of memorable moments, I can only rejoice.  Rejoice and recount (briefly).

Here goes:

1st week, San Francisco.  I walked the city.  Cable cars were frequently full and a taxi cab seemed too common, so I hiked the hills like a billy goat . . . down Nob Hill, up Russian Hill, down
Lombard Street
, up Coit Tower.  Most stops translated to food/drink treats and included Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee, a Ghiradelli Sea Salt Chocolate bar, cup of North Beach cappuccino with Italian cookies and a Chinatown lunch.  I long ago lived in the city, I love the city and I left my heart there.

2nd week, San Diego.  Every time I fly home to San Diego, bypassing downtown’s skyscrapers, paralleling the picturesque harbor and landing in almost-always-perfect weather, I applaud my husband’s and my decision to move here over 20 years ago.  So I take advantage of the So Cal lifestyle.  Here’s what I always enjoy, including April’s 2nd week:  morning hikes at Torrey Pines State Reserve from the beach up to the golf course (it’s my daily exercise); an evening at the beach for sunset with our beach chairs, friends and food; and Little Italy’s Annual Festival which meant a fun-filled Sunday.

3rd week, San Juan.  Confession: I’ve been to San Juan twice, both as a passenger from a cruise ship and both times I liked San Juan, but I didn’t love it.  So when the opportunity arose for a more comprehensive peek at the Puerto Rican haunt, it was with mild enthusiasm that I returned to the island.  However, not being one who refuses to admit that I was wrong, I admit it.  I was wrong.  This is the Puerto Rico I found.  An island proud of its creation of the Piña Colada—there are several claims to its birthplace; so we set out to taste them all (please note, it’s research).  A culinary capital of pork, roasted-on-a-spit whole suckling pig—for real pork lovers, it’s worth the 30-45 minute drive from San Juan to “La Ruta del Lechón,’’ also known as “Pork Highway” to sample the product at eatery after eatery (all informal).  Tip: ask for the crackling (the crisp, cooked-to-perfection skin).  The list goes on and on: the quaintness of Old San Juan, shopping in Olé (store specializing in authentic Panama hats), sampling java in Ciales (Puerto Rico’s coffee region), breakfast at La Bombonera (known for powder-sugar-dusted ham and cheese sandwiches called Mallorcas) and if timed right, attending Saborea, San Juan’s annual beach-fronted, mouth-watering food festival.

So, three cheers for the three San’s of my recent life—San Francisco, San Diego and San Juan.  Question: Santa’s not officially a “San,” is he?  

1 comment:

  1. How to make Puerto Rican coffee

    1 / 2 cup water
    2 tablespoons coffee
    2 ounces boiled milk
    1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)


    1. Mix the coffee with water and boil 2 minutes.
    2. Strain the coffee in coffee sock.
    3. In a cup, combine brewed coffee with milk.
    4. Add sugar to taste.

    Choose from our selection of true and delicious coffee from Puerto Rico