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Thread: 12/2-12/10 First Timers

  1. #1
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    12/2-12/10 First Timers

    December 2nd- 1st day
    Wife and I arrived in Aruba at about 12:30 local time and made it through Aruban customs and onto a taxi in about ½ hour. Grabbed a taxi just outside the door to our hotel at Amsterdam Manor. First drive through town was with two cruise ships in port, so that area seemed extremely busy and not knowing where we were going I was hoping our area was less so. Took about 20 minutes to get to our hotel and our taxi driver didn’t seem to want to talk much. Was much more concerned with conversation going on over radio in car. Enjoyed looking at what was around though and hoping to remember how to get back to certain parts of town if need be.
    Dropped off at hotel and was told we couldn’t officially check-in until 4:00, but could use changing room to get into some more appropriate attire and leave luggage at concierge desk. Gladly did so as we were both in full winter attire and eager to get to beach. Crossed the street, which was even less of a deal than I was envisioning in my best dreams, and stepped onto the sand for the first time. It felt like finely ground up graham crackers. I thought the beach in Playa del Carmen was luxurious – this was slightly better even. The water was timid, could barely hear the waves curl over as they hit the beach, and it was perfectly warmed by the sun. Looked around and found a Palapa easily as most people probably had already left the beach for the day, although with two cruise ships in town we were expecting many more people there from what we had read. We enjoyed the sun for ½ hour or so and decided to walk down the beach a while and scope things out. Things did seem a little busier as we walked towards Divi from our beach. I was quite happy with where we were located. Experienced our first sticker shock as when we came back I hit Passions Beach Bar for a Mojito and a bottle of water. My bill was nearly $18.
    4:00 came so we went to check-in at the front desk. The clerk was very friendly and handled the process with a smile and very quickly. We enjoyed our welcome cocktail and were told that our room had been upgraded from a Premium Studio to the 2-Bedroom Suite. Very nice! We were shown our room and brrrrr that air conditioning was cold. The room appeared great with a Jacuzzi tub, great view of the beach and pool, and nice king sized bed. First thing we did was turn off the A/C. Got showered up and changed and decided it was time to eat as it was probably close to 5:30 at this time.
    Decided to head back to Cuba’s Cookin as I had seen that on the ride from the airport and that was a place I had hoped to try since I really enjoy Cuban food. Took the bus which was easy and got 50 cents in Florins change. I only mention this because we took the bus about 8 different times and received 8 different amounts of change. It was semi-comical. Anyways, I had the Ropa Vieja, my wife the El Cadillac Cubano. The beans and plantains were very good side dishes. I found the Ropa Vieja a little dry, but the Picadillo and Lechon Asado on my wife’s plate to be very good. No dessert our first night. Service was excellent. Walked around the Renaissance Mall there for a while and through the casino and then back to the hotel.
    Sorry if this is sort of long and I don't know if I'm a great writer. Future days will be much shorter as we spent a lot of time on the beach.

  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    thank you so much for posting.
    pretty good.......making it from the plane, thru immigration, luggage hall in 30 minutes!!! it has been a long time, if ever, that has happened to hubby and me.

    kudos to the nice folks at amsterdam manor for upgrading you!

    looking forward to reading section 2, even if it is much shorter.

    cuba's cookin' = YUM

    thanks!
    Quote Originally Posted by OrTraveler View Post
    December 2nd- 1st day
    Wife and I arrived in Aruba at about 12:30 local time and made it through Aruban customs and onto a taxi in about ½ hour. Grabbed a taxi just outside the door to our hotel at Amsterdam Manor. First drive through town was with two cruise ships in port, so that area seemed extremely busy and not knowing where we were going I was hoping our area was less so. Took about 20 minutes to get to our hotel and our taxi driver didn’t seem to want to talk much. Was much more concerned with conversation going on over radio in car. Enjoyed looking at what was around though and hoping to remember how to get back to certain parts of town if need be.
    Dropped off at hotel and was told we couldn’t officially check-in until 4:00, but could use changing room to get into some more appropriate attire and leave luggage at concierge desk. Gladly did so as we were both in full winter attire and eager to get to beach. Crossed the street, which was even less of a deal than I was envisioning in my best dreams, and stepped onto the sand for the first time. It felt like finely ground up graham crackers. I thought the beach in Playa del Carmen was luxurious – this was slightly better even. The water was timid, could barely hear the waves curl over as they hit the beach, and it was perfectly warmed by the sun. Looked around and found a Palapa easily as most people probably had already left the beach for the day, although with two cruise ships in town we were expecting many more people there from what we had read. We enjoyed the sun for ½ hour or so and decided to walk down the beach a while and scope things out. Things did seem a little busier as we walked towards Divi from our beach. I was quite happy with where we were located. Experienced our first sticker shock as when we came back I hit Passions Beach Bar for a Mojito and a bottle of water. My bill was nearly $18.
    4:00 came so we went to check-in at the front desk. The clerk was very friendly and handled the process with a smile and very quickly. We enjoyed our welcome cocktail and were told that our room had been upgraded from a Premium Studio to the 2-Bedroom Suite. Very nice! We were shown our room and brrrrr that air conditioning was cold. The room appeared great with a Jacuzzi tub, great view of the beach and pool, and nice king sized bed. First thing we did was turn off the A/C. Got showered up and changed and decided it was time to eat as it was probably close to 5:30 at this time.
    Decided to head back to Cuba’s Cookin as I had seen that on the ride from the airport and that was a place I had hoped to try since I really enjoy Cuban food. Took the bus which was easy and got 50 cents in Florins change. I only mention this because we took the bus about 8 different times and received 8 different amounts of change. It was semi-comical. Anyways, I had the Ropa Vieja, my wife the El Cadillac Cubano. The beans and plantains were very good side dishes. I found the Ropa Vieja a little dry, but the Picadillo and Lechon Asado on my wife’s plate to be very good. No dessert our first night. Service was excellent. Walked around the Renaissance Mall there for a while and through the casino and then back to the hotel.
    Sorry if this is sort of long and I don't know if I'm a great writer. Future days will be much shorter as we spent a lot of time on the beach.

  3. #3
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    Now that's a big day. How did you like Amsterdam Manor?

  4. #4
    Senior Member DiviDiviFan's Avatar
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    Loved your description of beach!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trip-planner View Post
    Now that's a big day. How did you like Amsterdam Manor?
    Liked it a lot. Our room was beautiful. There were a couple problems - no hot water for 3 mornings, and condensation on the floor was pretty bad several days. Aside from that though we were very satisfied. The beach was beautiful and not nearly as packed as others we saw.

  6. #6
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    Day 2

    Day 2
    Started off wanting to be on the island with a general sense of how to get around and where things were in relation to each other so had decided to book the Trikes Aruba tour. Went to get a taxi at the front desk of the hotel and clerk suggested we walk as it would take only about 15 minutes so we did. Turned out to be a fine suggestion for us as we like to do a little bit of walking anyway since it’s about the only exercise we get while on vacation. Trikes were at location when we got there and I have to admit I was a little intimidated at first. It had been several years since I had ridden a motorcycle and was nervous I’d be out of practice. However, they gave a 5 minute lesson and it really is more like driving a car than a motorcycle so felt like I was a natural at it. Offered my wife a chance to drive, but she didn’t want to so it was all me. Took the tour which basically took us all over the island except didn’t hit Baby Beach or anyplace a 4 wheel drive was needed. I felt like it was a great choice for a tour on the island, it was so much fun. Wind in the hair was cooling, sound of the mufflers was exhilarating, and the tour itself was very informational. I’d highly recommend to a new person to the island. It’s funny because everywhere we stopped we would go see what we were going to see and would come back to the Trikes and there were always about a dozen people standing around or sitting on the bikes taking pictures.


    It was lunch time after the tour so walked over to the restaurants across from the high rise area and had heard a lot about Salt and Pepper so decided to give it a try. Sat down outside and got service right away. Wife and I ordered Grouper sandwiches and some water. The grouper on the sandwich tasted good, but the amount of bread served on the sandwich seemed to be like a lot of bread compared to fish. I took the top half of the sandwich off and ate it separately. The fries were good, but less than a handful came with each sandwich. Service was good and friendly. Our impression was that restaurant was average, nothing special and wouldn’t necessarily go out of our way to go there again. The price at least for the item we ordered seemed in line with other Grouper sandwiches we would see throughout the week.


    It was about 1:00 by now so walked back to the hotel and spent the rest of afternoon on the beach in front of Passions Beach Bar. Was a little worried again about finding some shade or available chairs, but walked right up and several Palapas were open for us to choose from. Might have had a mojito or two



    Dinner plans were to go to Carambola, but walked down the way and they were closed. Didn’t see any signs or anything explaining, but all the lights were out. Kept walking and hit up Tulip as this restaurant had received good reviews on TripAdvisor. Didn’t have a reservation but were seated right away. Wife ordered Caesar salad and Chicken Cordon Bleu while I ordered the Grouper special. We started to see a trend – service was good. Wife’s Caesar salad was good and while she was a little disappointed in her Cordon Bleu, I think it was because she regretted not ordering the same thing I had. I tasted hers and it seemed to be a good version of the dish. My Grouper special was cooked well, but the coating on the outside I wish was crispier. Portions for both of us were large. We ordered Key Lime cheesecake to split for dessert and were disappointed in this. Tasted like it was a Sara Lee’s frozen dessert that had been thawed and served. This started a bad trend for us with desserts in Aruba. Overall a decent meal and we would find out as the week passed that the prices were very good comparatively.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ArubaAce's Avatar
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    Thanks I'm really enjoying reading your post about your trip. If its about Aruba, no post is too long...
    When you went to Cuba's Cooking did u take advantage of the free mojitos with dinner? The coupon in on the booklets they give out in the airport. I use it everytime I go to Aruba.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Enjoying your report... thanks for taking the time to write!

  9. #9
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    a thank you from me too
    enjoying reading your report

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