7/6, Delta great flight, arrived on time. Had arranged for Bully to pick us up, he sent his cousin Ivan instead who was a very nice man, but I did want to meet Bully after all the raves he gets on from the message boards.
7/7, 9:00 am,Smart-A-Car picked us up & took us to their office for the car rental. The very next day, we returned the Toyota Yaris 04' with high mileage because the AC was faulty. The car was promptly exchanged for a 09' Hyundai Accent, low mileage & were told there wouldn't be a charge for the 3 hr difference since we were returning the car Sat at 12pm.
- Stayed at Amsterdam Manor Resort, greeted by non-smiling front desk attendant. The studio room seemed smaller than shown on internet. However it was very clean, the only drawbacks were a musty smell & a very, very, hard bed. DH & I discussed changing hotels after a sleepless night which killed my DH's back. Hotel manager offered to put a top pillow cushion which did ease the problem somewhat. As to the smell, we got used to it or it went away, not sure.
- First night had dinner at Passions. Very romatic, lovely sunset, & good food.
The beaches in Aruba are crystal clear w/white sand, I didn't expect the cool water temperture & it took time to get used to it. I highly suggest staying in the low rise hotels after seeing the congested beaches on the Hi rise hotel sections where people were packed like sardines.
- Visited California Lighthouse, very windy.( After a few days the wind really gets annoying). Then traveled to the other tip of the island. Baby Beach. I don't recommend parents w/young children making the trip there. It's not worth the rough roads, potholes, & unattrative scenery. Plus the second the light turns green, there's a honking horn behind you.
- Cashier at Ling & Sons should have training in Customer Service, no hello, no thank you, just surly faces bored with their work. In fact, we found Arubans to be rude, inpatient, & pushy. However immigrants from Columbia, Haiti, Santo Domingo, & Holland were pleasant, talkative, & very hard working.
- 2nd night had tasty burger & fries at Cactus Jack across from the Raddison. Good food at a reasonable price.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience Aruba, but won't be a repeat customer. Aruba should change their slogan from a "One Happy Island" to "One Surly Island".
- 3rd day visited Natural Bridge, fort ruin & Alto Vista Church. I wished the Aruban government took better care of these wonderful sights. Also they need to do something about the stray dogs everywhere, even at the airport there was a thin female dog walking through the people in the hope for crumbs of food.
- We ate that night at Madam Janette. DH might be the only person who completely hated the food. He returned his steak, said it tasted like lard & couldn't believe the fries at McD were better than at MJ. He was given a different cut of meat, but he was still not impressed. The grouper I had was good but overwhelmed by the almond crust topping. The ambience was wonderful w/ the live music, it certainly accounts for drawing the people in, no empty tables & stream of cars in the parking lot.
- 4th day, we explored downtown. Found the children's clothing store DH's mother would shop at more than 50 yrs ago, Linda's. Also located his grandmother's grocery store, long ago sold by distant relatives.
- That night we were leery of where to dine after our bad experience at MJ. We reviewed menus along the restaurant walkway at Arawak Gardens & decided on Tango Argentine Grill. Great choice, their $49 dinner special for 2 was well worth the price w/ 2 glasses of wine, hot rolls, assortment of grilled meats, choice of potato or rice, corn & broccoli & flan for dessert. The manager Mark is doing a great job & as I promised Mark, I wrote a good review on Arubarestaurant.com. I also recommend Iguana Joe's, try the Keshi J, native dish..excellent.
- 5th day, enjoyed the beach all day. That night I sipped on Brown Lady while watching turtles nest on Eagle Beach. Dinner at Mango's was enjoyable.
- The airport chaos was another story, very long lines & disorganized. Fyi, don't depart from Aruba on Saturdays.