It seems like the 11 days have flown by as I sit here looking through the window at smiling arriving passengers while I sit in the midst of the sweaty sunburned mob that completed the customs gauntlets. I may start a novel with that sentence someday. Nancy is too sad to write, so your host today is Tom. The complete airport process took a little over an hour, the worst of it standing outside for about 20 minutes waiting for Aruban customs, the rest was nicely air conditioned at least. I could have done without the lady behind me saying “It's hot out here” about 20 times. So I stuck a cuban cigar in her bag and later turned her in to US customs...just kidding. One good thing on going home day was going to the casino and cashing in $660 in chips. Not sure exactly, but I must be up about $500 from playing $0.50 roulette.
First some of the old standbys we did again this time. Madame Janette's was the best restaurant as usual, but we never had a bad meal anywhere, We did the couples massage at Tierra del Sol and everything was great. The staff is wonderful up there. In the past we bought the couplews package with private dinner on the beautiful first tee of the golf course and that's pretty pricey (about $330 I think). This time we just did the massage and it was $150, which cheaper than I expected, and we tipped $40. We ate at Taj Mahal two nights. It is excellent and reasonably priced. Tulips for lunch is also one of our must do places, and we went today before checking out of the Renaissance (no line at all at 11:30).
We had some firsts this trip also. Renting the car from Amigo was good, but the cars just don't give me the sense of reliability that I expect renting in the US from the big names, I took the car in to Amigo's off site location after 7 days to try to upgrade to a 4-wheel drive, but one was not available. I told them about some issues with the car and they gave me a different one that did seem much better. The staff was very good and the process of picking up and returning was very fast, while others looked to have some waiting lines. One thing we may do next time is rent a phone which we have never done. I would have felt better driving with a way to call if the car breaks down, but I'm probably just being paranoid. We also had some new restaurants this time. I'm not sure why, but we had never been to Casa Tua behind the Ren before. A couple we were talking with at Blue happy hour recommended it, and we loved it. We had a seared tuna appetizer and 3 tapas, and they had a live band that was good. Before they started, the guitarist put white medical tape on all of one girl's fingers, which seemed strange. It turned out that she played by sitting on a wooden box that must have had a mic inside, and drummed on it. Hearing an upbeat “Hotel California” in Spanish was pretty cool and the crowd was into it. I'm not sure what the schedule is, but they only played about 40 minutes and then I think it was all over. I guess we just happened to be there at the right time. We drove down to Marina Pirata one night, as I reported earlier for a nice sunset dinner on the water, and that will be a must do every trip.
Another first was Daniel Putkowski's recommendation of Cafe Vieja for a true Aruban experience. No English appeared to be spoken, but we communicated one way or another. As I reported, it was fun, good, and inexpensive. Don't go and expect a gourmet restaurant experience, and don't go unless you have pants with an expandable waistline, as you will get more food than you can eat. Also read Mr. Putkowski's book “An Island Away” for a great story about the seedier side of San Nicolas. We loved it and Nancy finished reading his second book “Bonk's Bar” while we were here. Buy them both if you are coming down and read them here. Maybe you will run into him!
Now what will probably happen is that we will log into this site less often, until we get closer to the next trip here. We were discussing what to do for next trip. We skipped Aruba last year and went to Ireland, where we had a great trip, but really missed Aruba. We might look at other Carribean Islands where we can use Marriott points, but I bet we'll decide to come back here. Our flight is now here, and we'll be off soon...Bon Bini!
Thanks for all the help from everyone on this site!