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).
. 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 San Francisco
, up . Most stops translated to food/drink treats and included Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee, a Ghiradelli Sea Salt Chocolate bar, cup of Coit Tower 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.
. 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. San Diego
. Confession: I’ve been to San Juan San Juan twice, both as a passenger from a cruise ship and both times I liked , 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 San Juan 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 . Question: Santa’s not officially a “San,” is he? San Juan