Saturday, January 5, 2008

Dateline: San Juan, Puerto Rico

We arrived in San Juan last night and our room at the El Convento, a one-time convent now a hotel in Old San Juan. The El Convento has five stories overlooking a courtyard; each room opens onto a breezeway. Brunch this morning included watermelon gazpacho and rum-soaked chicken wrap with spinach, mashed plantain, and manchego. Bread was served with a delicious guava butter.

After lunch, we strolled and shopped in old town. It's reminiscent of New Orleans' French Quarter with Spanish architecture and boutiques opening onto narrow sidewalks. I found a nice music and book store; the proprietor helped me select a number of Puerto Rican jazz and salsa CDs. We wandered outside of the old city wall and strolled along the sea wall back to the hotel. T. dozes while I watch the Seahawks-Redskins game.

I must say that this place and town have more than a little class. After the Seahawks' 35-14 victory, we had a late dinner at the El Convento's tapas bar. Tapas represent a most civilized means of dining. We shared small portions of manchego, olives, grilled peppers and garlic, filet mignon cooked in sherry, and chorizo cooked in brandy. The portions are sized so that one is satisfied without feeling the least bloated, and in fact I enjoyed the pleasant buzz brought on by good food and sangria champagne. Toward the end of dinner, a wedding party on the floor below undertook a drunken serenade of "Piano Man." We made our way back to a room that had been made up especially for honeymooners: Rose petals and chocolates strewn on the floor and the bed. And the honeymoon has just begun!

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