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Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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A Quick Trip to Puerto Rico w/Spirit Airlines

Travel

This spring, we had an opportunity to partner with Spirit Airlines to take a quick trip somewhere in the US.  We didn’t think we’d have time to pull it off because we have been super busy with client work these days, but we managed to find a few days to escape over a weekend and are SO HAPPY we did.

We chose PR for a few reasons.  We’ve been visiting the island since 2010 when our Puerto Rican friend convinced us that it would be a good place to vacation.  We drove around to different parts of the island, fell in love with it, and decided it would be a great place for us to get married.  My family is from NJ, and Bryan’s family is from OH — we figured that if people were going to have to travel anyway, we might as well bring them somewhere beautiful & more affordable.  You can read all about our wedding here!

A few of our favorite things about PR:

  1. You don’t need a passport!  It’s a US territory, so it’s just like flying to anywhere else in the US.
  2. The currency is the US Dollar.
  3. Almost everyone speaks Spanish, but most people do also speak some English, especially in San Juan (biggest city) & Rincon (on the west coast)
  4. Cell service works the same as in in the states & doesn’t cost extra (we can vouch for Verizon)
  5. It’s beautiful.  The beaches, mountains, caves — there’s so much to explore on the island.  It’s great for people who don’t want the all-inclusive resort experience and like to venture out on vacation.
  6. The food is amazing.  There’s everything from authentic Puerto Rican food to Italian, Mexican, lots of coffee shops, juice bars — you name it.
  7. Vieques & Culebra are two little islands off the coast of PR that are SO PRETTY.  Think bath tub water, beaches without hotels, wild horses, kind people and good food.  You can get to them via ferry or a quick plane ride, and they are so worth the visit.

We can go on and on, but we’ll stop and get onto the trip!

Flights

Spirit recently started non-stop service out of Columbus to 7 new non-stop destinations in the US, one of which is a 2-ish hour flight to Fort Lauderdale.  From FLL, we caught another 2-ish hour flight to San Juan.  We had never flown to PR out of FLL before (it had always been out of NY or a layover somewhere else in the country) and got to fly over the Bahamas!  We were literally staring out the window for a good 20 minutes.

It was our first time flying Spirit, and we had a really great experience.  I know everyone has different things to say about different airlines, but all of our flights were on time, flight attendants were fun, and the planes seemed to be newer.  No TV screens or frills, but they were comfortable & got us from A to B on time.  We’re really happy to have them in Cbus!

Where we stayed

We discovered The Dreamcatcher on Airbnb a few years ago, and have been staying there ever since.  It’s a vegetarian B&B that’s located a few blocks from the beach in a non-touristy part of San Juan, about a mile from Condado.

Within the neighborhood, there’s really beautiful Spanish style old houses mixed with modern new-builds.  Morning and evening walks are our favorite.

Oh, and, the beach is at the end of every block!

Right outside the gated community of Ocean Park, there’s an up-and-coming main street with lots of shops and restaurants — many of which are owned by young entrepreneurs.  All of them are within a short walk or Uber ride of The Dreamcatcher, so we never rent a car.

An Afternoon in Old San Juan

We decided to try our first Airbnb Experience & booked a walking tour of Old San Juan’s best kept secrets.  It was really informative and interesting, and we met some great people from around the world who were also visiting PR.  The host, Andy, taught us about how cement tiles started to be used in many buildings as a less expensive alternative to marble.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years.  He was so excited about the endless possibilities of colors and patterns you could design, and we were right there with him! 

The tour lasted about 2 hours, and after that, we strolled.

So many beautiful buildings!

This is what almost every street looks like.

Then, we ate.  We stumbled on a local Puerto Rican spot that a local recommended called Deaverdura.  It didn’t have menus, so we went with what was recommended: the sampler.  It was SO GOOD.

After dinner, we did more walking…

And snapping…

And then Uber’d back to the Dreamcatcher!

WHAT IT WAS LIKE VISITING AFTER THE HURRICANE

There were a lot of people on the plane with us who were going to visit family and going on vacation.  It was a full flight, which was promising to see.  We spoke to lots of people who said that their family’s property was okay, and others that said that they had been using a generator for power up until a week or two ago.

When we were flying in, we saw lots of blue tarps that were still up in some of the neighborhoods.

We also saw a few buildings in the Ocean Park neighborhood that were being completely rebuilt, even the exterior walls.

And a few buildings in OSJ that were clearly not doing so well, but others that seemed to be doing great.

We can’t speak for the rest of the island, but in the San Juan areas we were in, we were super impressed with the amount of recovery that’s been made since the hurricane.  Yes, there was the building here and there that needed love, but for every 1 distressed building we saw there seemed to be 50 more that looked great.  Mostly all of the small businesses we remembered from last time were open again, and there were lots more “coming soon” signs up which was exciting to see.  We weren’t sure what it would be like post-hurricane, but it was wonderful and will just keep getting better.  We can’t wait to go back.

Thanks again, Spirit, for flying us to PR and forcing us to take a break from our busy schedules.  We’re feeling inspired & ready to tackle everything coming our way this summer!

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  1. Stephen says:

    You guys take such beautiful photos! Sincere Compliment!

    May I please ask what type of Camera you have?

    Thanks!

    Steve

  2. Kelly says:

    A friend of mine was there recently helping out the recovery efforts and the areas she was in are still completely devastated (no running water, no a/c, mold and rotting houses). There is still so, so much work to do but I’m glad to see there are some areas that have received attention.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks for commenting, Kelly! We’ve heard similar stories, too. We’re hoping the recovery continues in those areas, though we know there’s a long way to go.

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About BEGINNING IN THE MIDDLE

Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.

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I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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