A Doctor’s Spouse’s Life: Residency Year Two

(Residency Year One post is here: A Doctor’s Spouse’s Life: Residency Year One)

I know my blog is called Relatable Roni and that’s because I enjoy finding common ground with others. At most times, I feel like the average person, but this topic is probably only relatable to a few. 

In most other medical and surgical residencies, intern year (first year) of residency is the most difficult. In neurosurgery, it’s year two and seven (yes, neurosurgery is a 7 year-long residency). During first year, my husband and I went to the movies with two of his co-residents. They said, “He will be the busiest person in the whole hospital next year.” I just smiled. Later, I said to him, “What did they mean?” I didn’t know it could get worse! And I didn’t believe it could get worse until it actually happened *gasp*.

Intern year (first year) I did at least see him because I was unemployed and he was consistently off on Tuesdays. Each of the neurosurgical residents have 4 days off per month compared to the 8 days off “normal” people have. Now that I’m actually employed and his schedule is inconsistent and even worse, I’ve counted the hours we’ve seen each other in a particular week: 14 hours. Spouses tend to see each other for 14 hours in a single day on the weekend. This was our total for a whole week including any days off. It doesn’t help that in my field, I work varying shifts including on the weekends. There are days when I am leaving the house at 7am and he is leaving work to come home at 7am. There are days when he comes home at 12:30 pm and I have to leave for work at 1:30pm. He showers and we eat lunch and that’s it. If he has an extended amount of free time, it is well spent catching up on some much-needed sleep (See examples below).

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Sleeping in an Uber in Washington, D.C.
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Sleeping in an Uber in Montreal, Quebec

If we don’t communicate effectively or even have the time to communicate, I’ve neglected to request weekends off so they may coincide with one another. Communication has been so difficult I’ve resorted to emailing my husband to finish conversations we’ve started. And of course, I’m always the one that has to work around his schedule since his is inflexible. But you know what feels great?! Seeing him understand what I’ve been dealing with.

What do I mean by “dealing with?” Well, I spend a lot of time at home by myself waiting for him to come home. I’m essentially waiting for no reason. Eventually and hopefully, I decide to stop waiting, get off the couch, and fill those hours with cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, workouts, gaining a social life and just being productive. So this past weekend, I ended up working and he was off. In other words, the roles were reversed, and he finally experienced being the one home alone for a whole weekend. What did he think about it? He was bummed, just as I can get at times. We want to spend our free time together, not apart. Residency life is hard and it’s no one’s fault. It’s the nature of the field.

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How we attend weddings together. “Raj on a stick” has been to 5 weddings this year. Real Raj has been to 1.

Because of our lack of time with one another, we are looking forward to a nice and quiet Christmas break at our home in Vermont. No packing. No traveling. No rushing around. Just going to take it all in (TWSS) and try to enjoy each other’s company. Let’s hope we still like each other by the end of it.

^ What I do when he’s asleep by 7pm. I can’t believe that dinosaur walking all over him didn’t wake him up!

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Travel Guide: Washington, D.C. & Baltimore, MD

A few months ago, hubs & I were trying to decide where we wanted to spend one of his rare vacations. We wanted somewhere not too far away, as to not waste valuable vacation time, and still warm in October. We decided on Washington, D.C. He had received his bachelors in Baltimore, MD and masters in D.C. so he had wanted to take me there for some time now.

By no means do I think I am a travel expert, but this is just we happened to do on our trip!

Washington D.C. Museums/Sites:

Our first stop was the National Gallery of Art. I said to my husband, “Why are we here? We don’t like art.” We left after 15 minutes. But outside this museum was the…

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

I loved this piece! It’s called House I by Roy Richtenstein. “The house uses optical illusion to play with perspective. To appreciate the full effect, walk at a steady rate along the arc of the sidewalk that runs in front of and nearly perpendicular to the sculpture, with your head turned to one side, facing the sculpture. The house will appear to be spinning in space, like the “Wizard of Oz” house.” – From Wikipedia because it’s the best source ever.

Pretty cool but you can’t touch anything in the sculpture garden…or so the signs say…

National Museum of Natural History

e8a8cdfc-21f9-479e-ae49-73204b8aad02DINOSAURS!!!! Ahhhh! Got the best T-rex slippers from here, but they’re not too comfortable and they kind of have me tripping over myself, but…worthhhhh it! No pain, no gain even if it means falling flat on my face.

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Reenacting the scene from “The Lion King” where all the animals bow down before Simba.
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Just hanging with an old relative

We spent a decent amount of time here. The gems and minerals exhibit was interesting with the millions of dollars in jewelry there. The minerals just remind me of Hank from “Breaking Bad” and his mineral collection, but most people like to refer to them as rocks.

National Museum of African American History & Culture

This is a gorgeous museum recommended by a friend to us just the night before. You could probably spend the whole day here. The history portion of he museum dates back to the 1400s and you travel from the bottom floor up through to current history. Other areas of the museum include an exhibit dedicated to Oprah because she did donate $21 million so obviously she gets her own hall. “You get a car! You get a car! You get a carrrrr aHHHH!”

But looking at the online map, this is supposedly a changing exhibit. I love Oprah and definitely grew up watching her every weekday at 4pm after school with my mom. She’s a baller. There’s also other galleries containing exhibits on African American arts, music and more. You do need to book tickets even though it’s free entry. This is because it is the newest Smithsonian museum and has garnered a lot of interest.

Reflecting Pool

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The walk among the trees to the Lincoln Memorial is nice. The pool was dirty. No dipping my feet in the water today.
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Lincoln memorial

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Lincoln is my fav. I remember dressing up as him for some history presentation. I tied a ponytail under my chin to make a beard…

WWII Memorial

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Gorgeous, I know. Oh sorry, you were talking about the memorial. Oh ok.

National Air and Space Museum

Meh. I was impressed with all the models of rockets and airplanes when I came here as a kid but not anymore. We were done with this place pretty quickly. We were also just tired by this point. We had hit the 20,000 step mark.

Washington, D.C. Food & Drink

We basically travel places to eat and drink well. That’s what we tend to splurge on…although I think we need to plan more activities during trips that don’t involve consumption. We wish we could have eaten at more restaurants but our stomaches can only fit so much food, sadly.

Zaytinya

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A friend recommended this place. We loved it so much, we went two days in a row. This was probably the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life. The pita bread is amaze too.

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The cucumber yogurt cold soup is probably my favorite thing on the menu. It’s basically the best raita (Indian yogurt) ever.

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Don’t order anything with chicken- I am very particular about my chicken. It has to be all white meat. I don’t want any cartilage, fat or any junk in it. I had tried the chicken ____ and it was half junk. I basically didn’t eat it. The fries are great. Falafel on point.

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Adana (lamb) kebab was also yum (ordered by hubs but I tried it. I’m not a big lamb eater).

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There’s so much yummy in this picture
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Turkish Delight-
walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelée, orange-caramel sauce, caramelized pine nuts

Milkbar

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Oh-ho-ho *drool*. So hubs convinced me to go here for breakfast…great influence, I know. He had a smoothie plus a cookie. Thank goodness they did have a breakfast option of breads. I ordered the egg and cheese one. It was delicious. I also picked up the garbage can cookie. I wasn’t too impressed. Husband’s smoothie was on point though.

Milkbar is located in CityCenter if you’re looking for some high-end shopping.

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Rasika

We met a few friends at Rasika. The wife is an old college friend of mine. Her husband is an oncology fellow. We all had plenty to catch up on so that was a really nice time. The reviews on yelp were exceptional but I don’t think it was that amazing but maybe we needed to try more than two dishes plus naan. I definitely feel like Darbar in Montreal is much better than this joint to fulfill our Indian food cravings. I wish I could have some Darbar flown to me right now.

Rose’s Luxury

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Rose’s Luxury is a Michelin Star Restaurant. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. I didn’t know until I met my huge foodie husband. The interior of the restaurant is very cute!

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When ordering, we couldn’t decide on a second pasta dish so the waiter said he’d surprise us. I hesitantly agreed. I was not excited about a surprise dish because I like to know that what I am ordering will be something I will enjoy. But of course, I was overjoyed when he brought us cacio e pepe. We had been jonesing for the cacio e pepe as seen on Yelp but hadn’t see it on the menu. The Cacio e pepe is off the menu so you do have to ask for it, FYI!!!

The creme brûlée with popcorn on top was delicious and different. They were really playing off the different textures. Everything went melodiously together. I liked it so much I recommended it to the couple next to us. I don’t normally do this because I’m screwed if they don’t like it, but they loved it.

Columbia Room

Columbia room won “Best American Cocktail Bar” in 2017. The atmosphere is really nice. The two areas (not including the tasting room) we did see were lovely and full of character.

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We were first served a punch while we waited for our bartender to grab us for our tasting.

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The idea behind the latest Columbia Room Fall Tasting Menu (2018) was this whole versus thing. By chance, we were there on the first day this new menu was served. You select one or the other drink and battle it out. Husband and I just chose one of each so we could try everything. We ended up switching a few times.

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Anything with alginate is always fun. It takes me back to Tickets Bar in Barcelona <3. The drink and bite here went together very well.

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This was a sunflower seed risotto. It was good but then it gets to be a bit too much. I wanted some actual risotto.

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I have a serious catsup phobia so the above item was unappealing.

We had about 5 drinks with the tasting menu (for the final one, they give you both). We were also given champagne as a belated celebration of my birthday. So yes about 7 drinks in about 2-3 hours. I didn’t finish everything I was given. Some were just too strong. The tasting wasn’t my favorite but you definitely get a lot of drinks out of it. We did meet a couple from Michigan that also grew up in MA so we ended up having a really nice conversation with them as well.

Shake Shack

I know it’s a chain but when we first arrived in D.C., we wanted a quick lunch and this was close to our AirBnB. I’ve had the crispy chicken sandwich before and it’s great. I was dabbling with the idea of trying their new hot (spicy) chicken sandwich but decided I should just stick to what I know I already like. I ordered it and the cashier suggested the hot version….I asked him which he liked better…the hot he said….I decided to trust him…so much regret ensued…

It was delicious and actually spicy…like too spicy for me. My nose was drippy and my tongue was burning. Meanwhile, a bee that happened to wander into the restaurant decided to join us. Great. I ate the sandwich because it was good and I was hungry but I was also dying. This also comes in an extra hot version. Beware.

Georgetown

We ventured over to Georgetown one sunny day.

Georgetown Cupcakes

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OH. MY. GAWD.

These cupcakes are so MOIST. I had the chocolate ganache then and there and it was amazing. The carrot I saved for later and it went into the fridge. Because of this, the carrot pieces were crunchy and extra cold to eat. I think this one is better eaten at room temperature and soon after buying.

Georgetown University

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We took a stroll around Georgetown University so hubs could show me around his old stomping grounds. We had started dating when he was at school here in 2011 and I was in Massachusetts. We started off long-distance and I still consider us long-distance due to his work hours haha.

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Shopping

Every store you could possibly want to shop is here. I really wanted to spend some more time here but we were tired after all the walking we did.

Baltimore, MD & Johns Hopkins University

We also ventured around Hopkins, husband’s alma mater. Ya I married a smarty pants, but so did he.

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The Elk Room

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You know you’re getting old when you walk into a bar and feel like you’re going to trip and fall because it’s so ridiculously dark. We first sat down at the dark bar and then moved over to the brighter area once a few friends arrived.

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Thuy Lyfe

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I liked the drinks here better than Columbia Room. They were much more bearable and not so overpowering with the taste of alcohol. The best drinks are the ones that don’t taste like they have alcohol in them…but then again, that’s kind of dangerous.823c8a73-ed71-422a-a78d-aabb7df27fbe

Ajumma

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Hubs is obsessed with this spot on his old Johns Hopkins campus. He’s raved about the chicken bulgogi since we met. Back when he was an undergrad, they were under a different name and half the size. The chicken bulgogi isn’t the traditional version. This is a dryer version, I believe. I’ve never had any other version. It was pretty good nonetheless especially if you’re a college kid looking for some Asian takeout.

Well, thanks for reading my blog! Until next time, ta-ta!

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P.S. We ended our D.C. trip with a wonderful message from our pilot:

“We are having some slight mechanical issues and working on resolving them. Will keep you posted.”

Ten minutes later…

“Ok our landing gear wouldn’t pop out, but it’s ok now. Don’t be alarmed by the emergency crew on the ground or any sparks you may see.”

So my husband says “It’ll be fine, it’s not exactly brain surgery” as he giggled and grinned hugely. We landed just fine but the pilot said he couldn’t steer the wheels on the ground so the plane had to be towed to the gate. I think we’re due for a nice little stay-cation next.

Vermont: Things to do

People like to visit this area for a quiet getaway and will probably be asking me for some recommendations so I’ve put together a list. Below are a few places I’ve been and places I hope to check out. I’m still exploring the area so I’ll be adding more in the future.

Food:

  • Revolution Kitchen – Great restaurant for vegan and vegetarian food! See my blog post here for more details.
  • American Flatbread – It’s well known for its pizza. Our favorite is the “Power to the People” pizza which is basically a buffalo chicken pizza!
  • Monarch & the Milkweed – They serve breakfast/brunch all day. My favorite item is the fried chicken sandwich.
  • Honey Road – I went here with family and it was delicious. It’s got a great variety of small plates. It has many vegetarian dishes to choose from. I am not a huge kale lover but the kale salad was my favorite.
  • Hong’s Chinese Dumplings – We drove by this take-out place after attending a parade. My husband was astonished to see it. I didn’t understand why but it was once a well-known cart prior to my moving here. When I told someone she has a storefront now, his mind was blown. She would only operate the cart during the warmer months in Vermont…obviously. Anyway, husband likes the pork/chicken dumplings. I myself don’t eat pork so I tried the vegetarian and the chicken/cheese dumplings. The chicken/cheese combo was definitely a lot better than the veg option. Definitely hit this up as it seems to be a local secret.

Drinks:

  • Dedalus – Dedalus has a really nice wine bar. They also have Wine 101 classes that I highly recommend if you can catch any. I wrote a whole post about them here: Dedalus Wine Shop, Market, & Wine Bar
  • Shelburne Vineyard – They offer $8 tastings and during the summer they can be done outside which is really nice. They also offer tours (check the website for exact details). My favorite wine is their Harvest Widow’s Revenge which is a red blend. My second favorite is their white wine called Lake View White.
  • Drink – Drink holds open mic comedy nights on Tuesdays. The performers are actually pretty funny. The drinks are also a little more affordable here than some other places in the immediate area.
  • Alchemist’s Brewery – This brewery in Stowe, Vermont is well-known to beer drinkers. I don’t like beer. Husband is a fan of their heady topper so he tends to stock up on it from other local liquor stores closer to us. But check it out if you’re a beer lover.
  • Lincoln’s – This is a speakeasy in VT. The address isn’t listed anywhere I could find online but here it is:
  • Monarch & the Milkweed

Trivia:

  • Waterworks – Waterworks holds trivia every Tuesday night. Often they have a theme. One time they were having an “Office” trivia night. I missed it and was pretty devastated. I definitely would’ve won. The answers are open-ended and not multiple choice. Waterworks also has a really nice view of the Winooski River if you choose to visit during the day.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings – Wednesdays are trivia night. They utilize their touch screens for trivia. The answers are all multiple choice.

Activities:

  • Burlington Farmer’s Market – I haven’t been but I’m interested in checking it out. I have been to the Winooski Farmer’s Market. It didn’t have many stalls but we did leave with some maple syrup flavored cotton candy and maple syrup flavored popcorn. Maple syrup is a big deal here…
  • Get Air Vermont– Jumping park but I haven’t been yet. I’ll probably break my foot or something knowing me.
  • Esc4pe– This is the local escape room place. I haven’t been here yet but if you’ve got a group of people, I imagine it would be fun.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Factory – I’ve done the tour twice. It’s like a 10 minutes  and half of it is a video you watch. The best part is the end with the ice cream tasting. Yum! They do sell their ice cream there but the line is insane. The whole place is packed. It’s pretty awful. Try to not go on a weekend.
  • Cabot Cheese Store – I haven’t been but it’s cheese…and lots of it so…GO!
  • Church Street Marketplace – Church Street is just really pretty with all the lights at night and the cobblestone. I like to pop in to Lake Champlain Chocolates here. The mall is under major renovations currently. There’s some nice boutiques but I imagine they may be overpriced. In Vermont, you often find chains are closing because locals like to support locally owned stores. There’s a lot of thrift stores in the area too.
  • Lake Champlain – Just beautiful. Walk around it, get on it, whatever you need to do to see it.
  • Hiking – I have yet to go hiking here but Mt Philo is the closest and seems to be a quick hike.

Holidays/Seasonal Events:

  • Mardi Gras Parade – This is the shortest parade I’ve ever seen in my life. I think they had like 10 floats. But itt was nice to get out and clearly fun for the children there. After the parade was over, all the adults rushed into all the nearby pubs. Hubs was sleepy so we just picked up food and went home. We’ll try to go out for the best part next year.
  • St Patrick’s Day Parade
  • Maple Syrup Festival – Like I said, maple syrup is a big deal here.
  • Burlington Farmers Market
  • July 4th – This seems to primarily be celebrated July 3rd with fireworks in several places.
  • Artsriot Truck Stop – Every Friday during the late spring and through the summer several trucks/vendors sell their food/drinks outside Artsriot.

Shopping:

  • University Mall – I come from Massachusetts. In my standards, THIS IS NOT A MALL. Half the stores have gone out of business or soon will be. One was a seasonal store. Also, the South Burlington library is in the mall. Weird, but convenient if you’re running errands. But also, it’s a really awful library. All their books are from the 1980’s and before. They’re building a new library for the town so hopefully the library will be moved out of the mall and into the new space soon. Anyway, H&M and Target will be opening in the fall which will be pretty sweet.
  • Church Street Marketplace
  • Quarter DIX30 – This is located in Broussard, Quebec right outside of Montreal. It’s an easy 1 hour 45 min from Burlington, VT. Zara is probably my favorite store here.

Hopefully this was helpful!

My Mom is Going to Kill Me…

I’ve had a lot of interesting banter with my mom over the years. I decided to finally compile as much as I could for now in one place just to show you all what I have on my hands. This mom of mine has many sides to her.

Side A: She knows how to throw shade.

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She meant “which” but she didn’t mind sending this message as is either.
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I thought you loved me, mom….My husband still brings up this conversation to this day.
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Back in 2010, I believe I created a motivation board. My mom took it upon herself to add her own 2 cents.

Side B: She is caring and likes to check in on me.

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Good thing I was where and with who I said I was.

As the night continued, my mom checked in again. And as with most parents a few years ago, my mom was trying to figure out Siri:

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The “Stop drinking, drinker” comment is my favorite.

The “style” comment is a reference to this Indian song:

Side C: Moms can’t always be strong. They have weaknesses and fears just like everyone else.

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Kohl’s does this to you I guess.

Side D: She is curious about what’s going on in the world in both entertainment and weather.

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Then there was the Pokemon Go craze:

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She had questions about the snow storms coming through Boston:

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“Nimooda” is a well-known Indian song.

She didn’t quite understand the names of popular musical artists:

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Side E: But sadly her age is beginning to show…

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I died at this one when it happened.

Side F: Her favorite movie is the Hangover, but I’m almost certain that she’s only seen the TV version.

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Side G: I do enjoy her sound effects and imagination thoroughly.

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Side H: Then there is the tea addiction.

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I definitely inherited my mom’s humor as my dad stands steadfast with his “dad jokes.” Thanks for reading! Please do share this post with others if you enjoyed it!

What’s the funniest thing your mom has ever said? Leave a comment!

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Things to Do

For the most part, hubs and I did a lot of R&R by the pool and on the beach. We didn’t plan a lot of activities but these were a few of the things we did.

And yes, much of Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Many of the hotels/resorts remain closed and some may not reopen at all. I had to do a lot of research to make sure places were still open before putting them in our itinerary. On our way from the airport to Condado, you could see many building roofs missing and fallen trees were all over the sides of the roads. I was told Old San Juan did not suffer too much damage as it was built to be sturdy unlike the hotels and homes in different areas.

I think San Juan and its people are definitely ready for tourists. I have never encountered nicer Uber drivers and I feel that is partially because they appreciate the business brought to the island. (FYI PR Uber drivers just got approved for pickup at hotels on May 5th 2018 according to one driver. This was the day we arrived so we didn’t even know it wasn’t allowed before. Now Uber is working towards allowing airport pickup in San Juan. There is a taxi stand at the airport and prices are listed on the paper they give you). Overall, I don’t think I had a single negative experience with any person there (except my husband :p just kidding).

Also, I wanted to note, because you are by the water, it is incredibly windy. The wind and dresses don’t mix. I constantly had to hold down my dress when walking around to make sure there were no incidences. I HIGHLY suggest wearing shorts, rompers or a maxi dress, at least, instead.

If you’re interested in where to eat and drink, take a look at this post: Our Puerto Rican Honeymoon: The Food & Drink Guide.

Old San Juan Walking Tour

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Please note the beautiful traffic cones in the background

A self-guided walking tour of San Juan is completely possible in a day. Old San Juan is quite small and very walkable. I used this article to find a few points of interest. Husband then opened it up on his phone and led the way. Looking at the article now, he kind of skipped some things because he doesn’t like looking at historical buildings…but neither do I for the most part.

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We went inside El Morro after paying an entry fee. It was interesting but the man wouldn’t let me even read any signs. He wanted to leave as soon as we got in there.

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I wasn’t happy about being in the kitchen at El Morro. (It was really windy so my hair looks jank).

Also La Casa Blanca was closed that day (my fault for poor planning) but the gate was open so I wandered in anyway while husband told me not to. I definitely wished we saw more of this when open.

Do I recommend it? Definitely walk around Old San Juan as its very vibrant.

Underwater Sea Trek

We did an underwater sea trek. I cannot swim, BUT I can sink. If you don’t know what this is, here’s a description:

Like in SNUBA, Sea Trek participants have the opportunity to explore the underwater universe but by different means. In Sea trek, participants have the chance to become underwater astronauts thru the use of a helmet that allows underwater walking. The Sea Trek helmet safely delivers air to our participants allowing them to walk freely underneath the waves. It’s the closest sensation to walking on the moon. Any one above 8 years old and weighing more than 80 lbs can participate in Sea Trek, regardless of swimming ability in the water.

Although they have age and weight minimums, I still struggled to take steps forward unless I was holding my husband’s hand. And I was under the impression that we would walk into the water with the helmets on but nope. We walked FAR (or so I felt as a non-swimmer and short person) into the water and the helmets were then placed on us.

I believe the tour company had created a little Atlantis underwater, but I accidentally knocked over one of the small pillars. Oh well. The undertow had me stumbling a bit.

Do I recommend it? Yes, but I suggest going in the morning as the undertow isn’t as strong so the dirt is more settled and the water is clearer. We had gone at 4:30pm. Also, I don’t suggest it for kids as they may freak out.

Bacardi Mixology Class

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The tour was kind of short but interesting. At the end of the tour we were led into a room for the mixology class.

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Somebody was eager to get started! Just kidding but 1 hour later we were friends 🙂

We were to learn to make 3 cocktails: the Cuba Libre (rum & coke), a mojito and a daiquiri.

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The mojito was my favorite

We were told to drink them while mixing the other drinks. I couldn’t keep up so I passed them off to my husband who happily accepted my thoughtful offer.

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After the tour, we were led into the gift shop. Hubs bought this special edition rum that isn’t sold anywhere else but this gift shop. He had the option to fill his own bottle or buy it pre-filled. He chose to fill it for the experience.  He then dipped it twice in wax. They then let you label the bottle with your name so that was a nice added touch.

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During the mixology class, we made some new friends from Montreal and Arkansas. We all met up several times throughout the rest of our trip as we all wanted to explore similar places and restaurants. Plus, the more the merrier!

Do I recommend it? Yes, it was a fun and different activity. BUT! If you can find another mixology class that doesn’t rush you to make 3 drinks and chug them at the same time, that would be better.

Salsa Class

We went to a salsa class with our new friends from Montreal. It was fun and our instructor was great. The instructor’s husband was late picking up their baby so we got to look at this cute little baby girl on her mom’s hip while she taught us some steps. We had a good time. The only thing that was odd was that the class was in a public park although it was nice being outdoors. (Side note: the site does say the class is in a restaurant but to meet in the park. I don’t know what that’s about.)

Do I recommend it? Yes! I love dancing and this was one way to immerse ourselves into Puerto Rican culture.

La Placita

La Placita is poppin’ Thursday through Saturday (don’t quote me on those days of the week). It’s basically a big block party. This is where open container laws are amazing. We grabbed a mojito and enjoyed some people watching and dancing on the street.

Do I recommend it? Yes, I highly recommend this! Everyone dances so well! Watching people was mesmerizing.

La Fortaleza Street & the Surrounding Area

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We ended up on La Fortaleza street even when we weren’t even trying.

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Several great restaurants are located on it along with many gift shops. We came back here about 3-4 times just to walk around and take a few pics.

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Do I recommend it? Yes, you can’t really not end up here somehow.

Zen Spa

I would say I enjoyed our couples massage in Barcelona (around the same price) more but this was still good. We got a package deal for $200 that included manicures. It was affordable, had good reviews and was right across the street from our hotel.

Do I recommend it? Not this spa specifically, but massages as a vacation activity is baller.

Condado Beach

We spent our beach time on Condado beach. The beach area we were on was shared by our hotel, Condado Vanderbilt and La Concha. I didn’t expect any service on the beach but the hotel employees set up lounge chairs for us and supplied us with towels and water!

Do I recommend it? Go to whichever beach area your hotel owns so you can get the special treatment.

I hope you enjoyed reading more about our trip to Puerto Rico! It is definitely a place I’d like to go back to one day once the rainforest recovers further.

Our Puerto Rican Honeymoon: The Food & Drink Guide

I’ve linked out restaurants, bars and places to TripAdvisor here but if you plan on going to other places in PR besides ones below, check out Yelp as many restaurants/bars/clubs remain closed after Hurricane Maria.

Hubs and I ate to our hearts’ content in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The food and drinks were delicious. Vermont in comparison, does not utilize their spices enough while PR was just everything and more. With our Indian backgrounds, we always crave more flavor and spices in our dishes.

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On Day 1, we arrived at our hotel several hours prior to check-in. We stayed at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel which happens to be #1 in the San Juan area on TripAdvisor. We soon learned why. Our concierge named Efrain took care of our bags. He then offered us a glass of champagne or water. We obviously chose the champagne to start our honeymoon on the right foot. After Efrain gave us a tour, we decided to have lunch at Tacos & Tequila located inside our hotel. We ordered the nachos with chicken and several tacos. The nachos were like no other nachos I’ve ever had before. They were so flavorful.

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After lunch, our room was still not available so we sat at the pool bar area of Ola Oceanfront, also located in our hotel, and had a few more drinks. I had the El Yunque Cocktail and husband had the Original Pinã Colada….Oh My GOODNESS! I had a sip of his drink and I had never had a real pinã colada before. Oy, I ordered his drink as soon as I finished my first drink. Yum! Soon after this, I needed two Advils, passed out for an hour, rehydrated, and was ready to go again. #OldLadyStatus

Later, we had dinner at Santaella. We had made reservations and good thing we did as it was a busy Saturday night. Husband ordered the Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Trifongo and I had the Roast Chicken French Style with Mashed Potatoes.  As usual, I tried whatever husband was eating. He ain’t no Joey from “Friends.” He can share his food. Anyway, his shrimp was *drool*. My chicken was also delicious and not dry at all.

For dessert, we had the almond and coconut custard with ice cream. It tasted like the inside of an almond joy essentially. I wasn’t too impressed as it was overly heavy and sort of gritty in your mouth because of too much coconut. Overall, we were happy with our meal and looking forward to more good eats on the island.

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After dinner, we headed to La Placita for the usual weekend block parties with people literally dancing on the street. It was a fun scene. We got mojitos from a stand called El Coco de Luis, recommended to us by a friend. The mojitos were refreshing and the best we had the entire trip.

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On Day 2, we had lunch at Kabanas, which was walking distance from our hotel. The empanadillas (I believe they’re just a smaller empanada) were the best here out of all the places we tried…which is why we came back two more times. Husband had a pinã colada, I had a sip and liked it here as well. I also tried the chicken and fish tacos during different visits but the empanadillas definitely won my heart (and stomach).

We had dinner at Pirilo Pizza Rustica with some newfound friends. We weren’t all too impressed with the pizza. It was overly cheesy. Maybe our bar was set too high as we make great pizza at home and have American Flatbread in Vermont.

On Day 3, after a self-guided walking tour of Old San Juan, we stopped at Casa Cortes Chocobar for lunch.

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I was clearly tired after the walking tour

We weren’t daring enough to try one of their chocolate based butters or spreads on a sandwich so I settled on the Ciabetta de Pollo a la Parilla and hubs had the Un Cubano en San Juan.

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He also had the Don Pedro cocktail. I thought to hold off on a drink as I didn’t want to get dehydrated from all the heat and walking around, but I had a sip of his drink and ordered it ASAP. This clearly is a trend. Hubs is my guinea pig/taste tester. The drink first hit you with a lime flavor and then an aftertaste of chocolate. It was a treat!

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We had the churros with chocolate because obviously we wouldn’t leave here without having some chocolate. The churros were too crispy for our liking and the chocolate was fine.

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As mentioned on their menu, if you write a review for Casa Cortes Chocobar on Yelp, you get a free chocolate bar. We left with a chocolate bar that later melted in my purse because I had forgotten about it. I recalled it once husband exclaimed “BABE!” and reached into my purse and pulled out the melted bar. I said “Oops, but throw it in the fridge and it’ll reform.” He sighed, but still ate it with me later.

We had tapas for dinner with our group of new friends at La Factoria. They had run out of 3 tapas by the time we had arrived so choices were limited. I had the fish tacos and some cheese balls with honey. They were both good. At 10pm, the speakeasy portion of La Factoria opened up. The drinks were good but nothing too memorable.

On Day 4, we had an early dinner at a cocktail lounge called The Mezzanine. This was a really relaxing atmosphere during the day. We had drinks on the little balconies overlooking the blue cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. Every drink was delicious but our favorite was the St. Germain de Pres which was also our signature drink for our wedding.

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The tapas, especially the Escabeches de Gandules (essentially pickled pigeon peas), were deliciously satisfying.

On Day 5, we had lunch at Pannes and were greatly disappointed with the food despite the high ratings. I’m usually one to always clean my plate but the eggs tacos were very bland.

We ended up back at the Mezzanine for more drinks before dinner. And we had a lot of drinks.

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We continued to drink at Marmalade Restaurant and Wine Bar, the number two restaurant in San Juan. We had made reservations online and in the special request box I mentioned it was our honeymoon. Because of this, they sat us at a table with a million pillows. It was comfy. I suggest all seating have a million pillows. I now want a million pillows for my own home. Our server was great and told us how to order (everything is set up as a tasting menu). We opted for the four course tasting menu and it was plenty. Husband also went with the wine pairing with dinner. I wanted to as well but I would’ve been on the restaurant floor by the end. I definitely tried all of my husband’s drinks as usual and they were all perfect. I definitely recommend not drinking beforehand so you can get the wine pairing. This was by far our favorite meal on this trip (shockingly, despite having Popeye’s & Subway en route home).

I ordered the “popcorn” shrimp for my first course. And husband had the white bean soup. We enjoyed both tremendously.

The truffle pasta was my second course. Impeccable!

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My third course was yucca. It had something crispy on top which was a nice play on the textures.

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For my fourth and final course, I had the Caramel Corn Creme Brulee with Peanut brittle ice cream. With dessert and all those pillows, I was in heaven. *Drool*.

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For our 6th and final full day in PR, I really wanted to have some good mofongo. We found Orozcos online and settled on lunch there after lounging on the beach. Husband had the empanadillas but thought Kabanas was much better. My chicken mofongo was amazing and very filling.

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Husband tried the mofongo and liked it so we finished it off together. I think food shouldn’t be off limits when it comes to sharing. Sharing is caring. Food is just so much more enjoyable when sharing because you’re experiencing something together.

And because the empanadillas didn’t hit the spot at Orozcos for hubs, we went to Kabanas for empanadillas and our last meal in San Juan! After that we were supposed to go back to La Placita for our last night out but instead we ordered room service…

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We definitely ended our honeymoon on a sweet note.

(And somehow after all that, I didn’t gain any weight. Phew!)

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My Travel Essentials Packing List

This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting Relatable Roni! I’ve literally made 7 cents so far though.

Summer is arriving and everyone has begun their travels. I just came back from Puerto Rico and I’m definitely ready to see more of the world. But until then, here are a few essential items that I think everyone will need at one point or another while traveling! They were all helpful or could’ve been helpful during my last two major trips.

Backpack

These backpacks are carry-on size. They come in multiple prints/solids. I have the one above because I was amused by paper airplanes on my backpack while traveling on an airplane. They’re ideal if you’re walking around busy cities and need both your hands free. Carry-on bags with wheels just get in the way. They were perfect for our 17 day Euro-trip. These are also more portable than wheelie bags when it comes to stairs (think London train stations with limited elevators/escalators). A few flights restricted us to one carry-on bag and sometimes that one carry-on bag had to be 10 lbs or less. How do you fit 17 days worth of clothes in one carry-on bag? Continue reading!

Compression bags

Everyone needs these in his/her life. These compression bags are a lifesaver. You can pack a lot more outfits so you can still look cute while traveling. And if you’re traveling during winter, you can pack more layers and sweaters compactly. These bags don’t require a vacuum. You just zip it and then compress the bags to remove the excess air.

Travel steamer

If you’re using compression bags, your clothes may become wrinkled. I just purchased this portable handheld fabric steamer for our recent trip to Puerto Rico. It’s compact, easy to use, and works well. There is a new version but the original is smaller. I plan to use this plenty for the upcoming wedding season instead of traveling with my full size steamer in my car. Indian clothes are such a pain to iron so a steamer is much more ideal.

Snacks

I’m always hangry so snacks are needed to fend off the beast in me. Breakfast wasn’t included at our hotel in Puerto Rico and was $30/person. We preferred to wait and splurge on lunch instead. We brought granola bars & cereal. We made a stop at CVS once we reached our destination. We picked up some milk and asked our hotel kitchen for bowls and spoons. Voila! Breakfast is set for the next few days. By the way, milk at CVS was $3 while the convenience store across from our hotel was charging $7! So check out a chain store instead as they’re more likely to regulate prices more fairly.

Water bottle

This Contigo water bottle from Walmart was $20. It’s a little cheaper on Amazon right now. It keeps water cool for 18 hours. I kept forgetting to utilize it on our trip but when I did, it kept our water cool on the hot sunny beach. It’s helpful carrying reusable water bottles at airports because you can refill them after going through security. Then you don’t have to pay for overpriced water.

Comfy Shoes

Leave the heels at home. If you’re doing lots of walking, be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes. And if you must pack heels, pack block heels!

Perfume Samplers

We all get those really small sample size perfumes from Sephora or wherever that just sit in our drawer forever. A great time to utilize them is when you’re traveling. This way, you don’t have to worry about packing your large bottle of perfume and it possibly breaking.

Travel bottle sets

These are only $1 at Dollar Tree or $1.50 at Primark. I prefer the Primark set as it has a variety of containers. When I needed them last minute, they were $8 at CVS which is pretty ridiculous.

Portable Charger

I use my phone lots out of boredom at the airport or on my flight. This is a necessary backup.

Extra baggage

It’s smart to carry a smaller suitcase/backpack/bag inside your main luggage. If you plan on doing some serious shopping on your trip, you don’t need to go buying more luggage too. Just throw your new goodies into your extra bag!

Scissors

I had bought a few new clothes and didn’t rip the tags off yet. One was impossible to get off so I had to call guest services to use their scissors and use them on the spot. It’d be better if we had carried our own instead. From the TSA website, they state “if packed in carry-on, they must be less than 4 inches from the pivot point.”

 

Happy travels, everyone!

Please like, share and comment if you found this helpful! Thanks for reading!