Tag Archives: San Juan

Stowaways and Strangers in San Juan

The infamous B and I had the same (4 consecutive) days off last month. We knew we had to go somewhere fun! We planned on heading to Amsterdam, but the flight got full…so, when my friend, Noel, invited us to join him in San Juan for his long layover, we knew we couldn’t turn it down.
I met Noel a couple weeks prior, while out with other flight attendants. We had an immediate connection. We became friends instantly.
Sometimes we (flight attendants) invite each other on our trips to ensure we have someone to spend our downtime with. Every time we fly, we’re assigned a whole new crew. Often times we don’t even know who we’re flying with until we’re actually on the aircraft, before boarding. So, it’s fun to have friends come along so that you can explore the city together.
Noel was nice enough to let us share his hotel room. As you all know, B and I have stayed there a few times… & we love it. We love the staff, we love the location & we love visiting frequently.
Our flight to San Juan was awesome! We got the royal treatment. Noel & his crew took great care of us. I actually knew another girl working the flight…so, bonus! We inevitably made friends with the entire crew…one of the ladies was also from San Diego & a huge music fan. We discussed our love for Jim Morrison & The Doors.

When arrive in San Juan, we ride to the hotel with the crew & make plans for the night. It’s Monday and as I recall (from my trip with Kalani), Mondays are great at La Respuesta .
We get dressed, grab some drinks at the hotel, and then, we head out. The club is just as fun as I remembered. The music is great & we don’t leave the dance floor until they kick us out…


In the morning, after breakfast in the penthouse, we agree to spend the day at the beach. We all want some color on our skin & some relaxation in the sand. We all pitch in & grab a bottle of rum & we sip in the sun.
We notice a young man passing…he was at the club with us last night. We call out to him & invite him to join our party. It turns out, he’s visiting from San Francisco and it’s the last day of his vacation. He’s happy to spend it with us.



We play on the beach (and in the water) for hours. Later, we walk with our new friend to pick up his rental car & we take a nice drive around San Juan & we stop for lunch at La Cueva Del Mar (a popular restaurant with crew members) for some of their delicious fish tacos.





After lunch, we head to Old San Juan. We’re in the mood to explore & play. Our SF friend needs to get ready for his flight, so, he drops us off & bids us adieu.


B, Noel and I notice a darling café, Finca Cialito, & decide to pop in for a little boost. The place is quaint & cozy and the owner is very welcoming. He grows & harvests the beans & he takes pride in his work. We sit near the window in our decorative & comfy chairs as we people watch & engage in story time. Noel has the floor. He’s sharing about his journey, from childhood to how he became a flight attendant. His positive energy is just radiating. It’s empowering to be around him.
After our chat, we walk the cobble stone streets of San Juan & stop occasionally for a drink, a photo op or simply to take in the view. Our great conversation continues.






A few hours in Old San Juan has led up dinner time. We’re ready to return to to the hotel to freshen up & grab a bite.
After dinner, Noel is ready for some downtime, since he has to work in the morning. B and I stay out a little while longer. We’re just enjoying each other’s company & discussing life. The more I get to know this girl, the more I love & respect her.
We go back to our hotel & meet up with the other crew members from our flight in (including the other flight attendant I know & the San Diego gal). They have a different flight itinerary than Noel, so, they get to stay out tonight. We have a blast getting to know each other better. The night is full of laughter…
In the morning, I have breakfast with Noel before he leaves. I’m so grateful for such a wonderful trip. B and I are staying one more night. After a morning nap, we walk to the beach for more fish tacos. The weather has taken a turn; it’s pouring out. We don’t have any rain gear…but that’s ok. It’s still warm out so, (as the saying goes) rather than waiting for the storm to pass, we just dance in the rain.
As we’re sitting at the beach-front bar, watching the downpour, we seem to get the same idea at the same time. We want to swim in the ocean, while it’s raining. Neither of us had ever done it before and we both love trying new things… We’re excited that we have the same thought so, we run to water like maniacs. Nothing but joy & laughter surrounds us as we jump with the waves.






We spend our afternoon outside, even though the weather isn’t ideal. When we return to our hotel, we stop for a drink in the lobby bar. There’s a gentleman near by who initiates conversation. He’s in town with his buddies & one of his buddy’s soon-to-be fiancé. Yes, one of his friends is going to propose on the trip! They’re napping & he just wanted to get out. Even in the rain.
Our casual conversation turns into plans for a fun night out with their group. We meet the other guys & the bride-to-be. We start with dinner at our famous taco spot & they love it. Dinner leads to drinks at a near-by lounge. The lounge leads to a club that’s close by. We get to know the group & exchange travel stories and we stay out all night…
Meeting such genuine, interesting people is what I love most in life. Making friends out of strangers is practically a hobby of mine. This was my perfect kind of night. It was the perfect kind of trip.


Next time you’re out somewhere, I invite you to initiate a conversation with a stranger…see what opens up. You don’t have to wait until you’re on vacation or in a new city. Get out and meet people in your local community… I bet you’ll discover something great!

Thanks for reading along, friends. I hope you enjoyed this post. Now break out of your comfort zone & go dance in the rain! 😉

Back to San Juan

When I landed in Philadelphia from London, I turned my phone on to find a text message from my roommate, Kalani, asking me if I was still at the airport… He says “I’m going to Puerto Rico, come!” Kalani had just gotten back from Minneapolis & he’s “too cold to sit around in the snow.” I totally agree…& since I packed my bag for airport duty when I was assigned London, I was prepared for warm weather too.
Some of our classmates from training worked an earlier flight to San Juan for what we call a “re-crew,” when the entire crew must be re-staffed for a trip. A couple of them said that we could share their rooms. Sweet. I’m in!
I literally walk off the plane from London, go through customs, and go right back through security to meet Kalini. I see him coming up the walkway & we head to our gate to board. I’m looking forward to defrosting on the beach.
The crew on the flight over is so much fun…(especially a woman named Wendy). They take good care of us after we ask if they need any help. Kalani & I are both in uniform, so, it only makes sense to offer assistance. They tell us to just sit back & relax.
We share their shuttle from the airport, since we’re going to the same hotel. We all freshen up & meet in the lobby for drinks. Because it’s still early, and they have a late departure, a couple of them come out with us. One of them even has a relative in San Juan & our party grows as he & his girlfriend join us.
We head to industry night at La Respuesta. It’s supposed to be a lot of fun…we quickly discover that it is. The music is phenomenal! They’re playing Latin hip hop and reggae. Everyone in this club has great moves. We seriously spend all night on the dance floor & making new friends…

20140312-133605.jpgKalani and I with the captain of the crew…he shared some great stories with us all night.

20140312-133707.jpgI love street art!

20140312-133827.jpgUs with Wendy, a fellow flight attendant. She’s an Aquarius, like my big sister. No wonder we hit it off. I’m so glad ad she came out and let loose with us!

20140312-134029.jpgI saw this guy when we first entered the bar…I was looking for him all night. I wanted a picture with his hat on. I never found him. Kalani & Wendy took this for me when they caught him outside.

20140312-133855.jpgThis is Willie, also a flight attendant. He has family in San Juan, who you’ll meet below. They were a fun group. They took care of me…they took me swimming in the ocean after the club, fed me & got me back to the hotel safe and sound.

20140312-133920.jpgI loved the bright colors in the ladies room…perfect photo op!

20140312-133929.jpgI was so excited to find Jim Morrison in the ladies room! 😉

20140312-133943.jpgMaking new friends…

20140312-133953.jpgMore new friends, more street art

20140312-134002.jpgThis is Addie. She’s Kevin’s girlfriend (pictured below). This girl is a beautiful soul & a free spirit. She had me on the dance floor all night. I even danced in the middle of a circle when I heard, “Let’s see what you can do, California!” Addie is an amazing dancer…I can’t believe the things she can do with her body…! After the club, and our late-night/early-morning swim, we were in the car, picking up food, when Addie turned up a song that she clearly loved. I was watching her from the back seat as she sang the lyrics to Kevin. She was so happy and so full of life…her curls were being tossed around as she danced and performed in the passenger seat. It was probably my favorite moment of the night. I love being with people and watching them in their element. It’s beautiful.

20140312-154133.jpgThis is Kevin, Willie’s brother, Addie’s boyfriend & my new friend. He’s a great guy.

In the morning, we meet with the crew for complimentary breakfast in the Penthouse. A woman at the pool recognizes one of the flight attendants & she greets him with a hug. We over-hear her saying she decided to have a spur-of-the-moment trip & that she just got in. Since the crew is on their way out, Kalani and I invite her to the beach with us. She’s excited & joins our party.
We spend all afternoon sun-bathing, drinking cocktails, playing in the ocean, and of course, getting to know our new friend, Sandy. Sandy also works for the airline, as a gate agent. She’s such a free spirit & she absolutely loves her two sons. We learned a lot about them, too.
20140312-164143.jpg Our view from the Penthouse

20140312-164200.jpg Condado

20140312-165042.jpgAsk…and you shall receive


20140313-033634.jpgThis is (us with) Sandy. She’s a widow, a single mother of two, and she has a wonderful outlook on life. I was truly inspired by her views on love, family, work, travel & just living, all together… Life really is all about the context you put it in & Sandy has mastered keeping a positive one. She constantly refers to herself as being “lucky…” she has a lot of evidence, too. I feel lucky to have met her!

When the sun starts to hide behind the buildings & shade covers the sand, we head back to hotel to enjoy appetizers (again, at the Penthouse). We continue our wonderful conversation & share stories with each other. We are laughing a lot. It’s great. We have a few drinks by the pool & it’s starts to rain a bit, so, we head to our rooms to get ready for the night.


Sandy decides to stay in tonight, so Kalani and I make plans to meet her for breakfast tomorrow. Kalani wants to go to a gay club tonight, and I’m game. It’s Fat Tuesday & Circo Bar is celebrating. We get beads at the door & we’re ready to hit the dance floor.
It’s another night of meeting great people. We’re making new friends all night…people from all over world. Kalani & I even find dance partners that are teaching us some new moves. We salsa & merengue the night away…

20140313-050337.jpgMardi Grad, Circo Bar style

20140312-180915.jpgKalani is great at making new friends…these guys were from Germany & Brazil. They were so much fun & made for great dance partners.

20140312-182246.jpgTyson, a flight attendant for another airline. Great guy, great spirit…we’ll plan a trip together soon!

20140312-182253.jpgI introduced myself to Henry because of his awesome shirt…and I quickly discovered how awesome he was! He lives in San Juan & I’ll be back to visit him soon…

20140312-180840.jpgKalani…my roommate, crew member, dance partner, drinking buddy, part-time taxi driver, fellow foodie, friend and so much more. Love him so much!

20140312-182336.jpgOn the dance floor…

The morning is rough…we sleep in & miss breakfast with Sandy. We meet her for lunch, instead. We have traditional Puerto Rican food to satisfy any future craving we might have. We share details of our fun night with Sandy, and have some more laughs. After we eat, we have to run. It’s time to head back to airport, back to Philly, back to work. Until our next adventure…

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Day 4

We leave today…our flight is at 3:35pm. We had a bit of a rough morning…small price to pay for the night we had. It’s one of those mornings where you wake up & go to sleep…wake up…go back to sleep.
We have a light breakfast & B & I have to pack & get ready to return to Philly. Anabel is staying an extra day. Good for her!
B says she wants to hit the ocean again. I throw on my bikini & she follows suit. We head to the beach & have the most peaceful afternoon there. B teaches me how to jump with the waves before they break – something you’d think this California girl would already have mastered, I know. We venture deep (for me) into the ocean. The water is so warm (Warmer than the temp in Philadelphia).
The water is beautiful & when I take my first big jump, facing the beach, my top comes off…this is the first time I’ve ever “flashed” in public….& it makes me laugh! I feel free…& I almost don’t want to put it back on…this is when I realize that I’m adding something to my life-goals list, going to a nude beach (I will blog about it).
We are just devouring the waves & reveling in the warm water. We’re basking in the sun & watching planes as they come in for landing. We know that we’re about to go from the ocean to the sky, from the beach to the snow.
It’s a beautiful thing, being with B in the water, salvaging the separates of our bikinis as the water attempts to rob them from our bodies. The time is filled with laughter & joy.
Then, we walk back to our hotel, slowly, taking in every bit of the sun. We head to the airport & say our goodbyes see you laters to Anabel.
It really was a great trip. Not only will we back soon, we know we’re going to make so many more trips to other beautiful destinations with Anabel. This is only the beginning…



Special Thanks to Brittany Ward for assistance with photos & edits

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Day 3

Today we decided that we needed to have an adventure day. At breakfast, Anabel told us that she was going to hang around the hotel & nurse her sunburn, but that idea was short-lived. When we called the number on a flyer she had for Yatumba Tours (a $50 all inclusive tour) they told us they’d pick us up in 10 minutes, because the tour was already about to start. We stopped at the room, grabbed some necessities (B’s camera & a water bottle filled with rum) and as B & I were heading out, Anabel decided she would join us. Here’s what unfolded throughout our day:





Eating in Piñones





La Cueva de Maria de la Cruz





I snapped this shot of my beautiful, amazing photographer, Brittany Ward


El Yunque Rainforest – where we explored, rode the waterfall & played in the water…










Luquillo Beach – where we had a delicious lunch at Ceviche Hut, got roses made of palm tree leaves, and had the most beautiful conversation. We really got connected to each other. It was very moving… That’s what life is about!


Mofongo, Ceviche, and Arroz y Habichuelas



Casa Bacardi – The Bacardi Distillery, where we bonded with fellow airline employees from our tour, got complimentary drinks (included in the tour) & had fun dancing & singing.




Yao, our amazing tour guide


After the tour, we headed back to Old San Juan, for some light bites & drinks. We met up with Anabel’s friend, who was in town on the cruise ship he works on. So random, so much fun. Then, B & I made it a late night of drinks & dancing…with our new friends, Luis, who’s a driver in San Juan & Braulio, who we met at a restaurant we had eaten at earlier. These Puerto Rican men are such graceful dancers….they taught us well. There’s something about a man who knows his way around the dance floor. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had that. I loved it. Perfect way to end the night!





Huge special thanks to Brittany Ward for tremendous assistance with photos & edits. Special thanks to Anabel Durham for assistance with photos.

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Day 2

Something I didn’t mention in my Day 1 post is that our new friend, Anabel, actually knew another flight attendant who was working a flight to San Juan with a long layover. I met Liseth late-night, upon our return from the Jazz festival & we stayed up chatting & getting to know each other. She’s a great gal & she loves flying. She wears her wings with pride.
The four of us made plans to have breakfast together. *Special thanks to the Radisson San Juan, for providing daily breakfast & evening appetizers for airline crew members. At breakfast, we discovered that Brittany & Liseth already knew each other from a flight they worked together previously, so, the happiness just grew as our group did.
We all wanted some quality beach time, so, we spent our morning and afternoon working on our tans on Condado beach. We stocked up on drinks, filled our coolers, lathered up in tanning oil & just relaxed. It was the perfect place to be. There’s something so soothing about the sound of waves crashing & the smell of the salt in the air; makes this California girl feel right at home.


After hours of laying out & playing in the water, we had a late lunch right on the beach (I want to kick myself for not remembering the name of the restaurant. I’ll add it later or in another post. Stay tuned). We ordered the fish tacos, as Brittany recommended. They were delicious!

After lunch, we headed down the main street to our hotel to do a little shopping. We stopped at Nativa, where each of us found some article of clothing for $10 (my red top to come in pics from day 3). The owner there was so sweet & helpful. She loves flight attendants & other visitors. I’d highly recommend this boutique if you’re in town.
After shopping, we went to our rooms to change & get ready for dinner. We met in the Penthouse for complimentary appetizers & set a plan for the evening. We decided to head to Old San Juan for some drinks & to take in the sights of the cobble stone streets & stunning architecture.
Old San Juan is so vibrant, from the colors of the buildings, to the graffiti street art on the walls, to the plants & trees all around. I really wish we had spent the day there…it would have made for some wonderful pictures (especially with the fun dress I wore out). But that’s ok…We had a wonderful night with good food and great conversation. Imagine all the things four women who travel the world could talk about after some drinks on a warm night in Puerto Rico…haha…yeah, we talked about that too…! 😉

Stay tuned for what unfolded on Day 3…








Special Thanks to Brittany Ward and Liseth Mazariego for assistance with photos

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Day 1

My girlfriend, Brittany & I had a similar schedule for the month of February, so, we agreed to take a trip
together. B is this amazing free spirit. We got hired around the same time at the airline & we were in training together, where we bonded. Our original plan was to join some friends in Costa Rica & feed monkeys…but with this crazy #flightattendantlife, we often go places on a whim. One of the greatest benefits of flying is that we can essentially go anywhere we want in the world for free, or close to free.
Flights to Costa Rica were filling up fast & our vision of feeding monkeys was fading quickly. We knew that we still wanted to go somewhere warm…so, B was on the hunt for open flights. She checked flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico & it was a done deal…wide open!
As B and I are scurrying to the airport in the morning after a night of what we call “rallying,” we’re certain that we’ve already missed our bus. We won’t be stopped, though, we’re running – luggage in hand – when a hotel shuttle stops roadside. The driver is taking a van full hotel guests to the airport & says he noticed our bags, so, he stopped to give us a lift. This is the kind of “good luck ” that B & I usually encounter when we’re together. We’re certain that this is going to be an amazing getaway!
We get to the airport & pass security & as we’re chatting with a colleague on our way to our gate, I notice another flight attendant buying breakfast. She’s wearing killer shoes. I’m a sucker for shoes. Shortly into our convo, the shoe gal makes her way over to our group to introduce herself & to see what we we’re up to. We tell her we’re on our way to Puerto Rico & she mentions that she has a few days off, so, we invite her. She hesitates & explains to us that she “never does things on a whim.” Brittany & I laugh, because that’s our specialty. We mention our gate number to our new friend, as we start heading over for boarding & we encourage her to follow.
During our walk, B & I are discussing how exciting it would be to have Anabel (our new friend) join us on this trip, where we could watch her break out of her comfort zone. We’re certain that we’re going to see her on the plane, we can feel it! Moments before the closing of the aircraft door, guess who walks in…! Yup, it’s Anabel. She came!
It’s a short flight from Philadelphia to San Juan & Brit and I can hardly contain ourselves. Anabel is seated up front & we’re wondering what the heck is going through her mind. We’re so excited to find out.
When we land, we finally get to chat with her & get the scoop. Anabel lost her father recently & has been dealing with “living her life in a little bubble that she created for herself,” her words, not mine. She’s just been dealing with so much in her personal life (including relocating to a new base with the airline & moving across the country – both, B & I know a little bit about that). We’re absolutely ecstatic that she’s come along. She’s the “A” to our “B” & “C” – Anabel, Brittany & Cecilia. 🙂
We head to the hotel (we’ve all stayed here previously, as crew) to book a room…remember, this was a spur-of-the-moment trip…so, we didn’t even have a room booked. We’re greeted & welcomed by Joan. He is a shining example of superior customer service. He provides some suggestions for fun things to do during our visit. There’s a jazz festival going on tonight & it’s only blocks away from our hotel.
We go up to the room to freshen up & we’re ready to catch some live music & local food. It’s a beautiful evening in San Juan. The weather is perfect for the walk to the festival. We can hear the music & smell the delicious aroma of Puerto Rican cuisine in the air… As we approach the festivities, we encounter a man selling drinks from an ice chest along the sidewalk…it’s the oh so famous Gasolina. We each purchase a pouch (yes, they’re sold in a pouch, with a straw, like an adult version of Capri Sun) & roam the festival. The band is great and people all around us are either dancing, drinking, or eating. We decide to try the paella – it’s delicious, and when the chef sees how much we enjoy it, he hands us another (free) bowl! More good luck… After our delicious meal, and another round of Gasolina, we make our last stop at the Mr. Piña’s Paradise stand, where we order a Piña Colada in a fresh pineapple. The guys are all so sweet that we snag a few pics with them. As the festival is wrapping up, it’s starts to rain…that warm, tropical rain. We enjoy the downpour as we say goodnight & walk back to our hotel.
It’s a beautiful ending to a beautiful day…we’re looking forward to what day 2 in San Juan will bring…


Piña Colada, courtesy of Mr. Piña’s Paradise