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Thread: BradRobster's Aruba Story including restaurants

  1. #21
    Senior Member bradrobster's Avatar
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    Day 7 update. After coming to Aruba over the last 11 years, we had passed the Balashi Brewery many times and after 11 years, we had consumed a lot of Balashi too!
    Over the last 11 years, we have pretty much done most of what there is to do on Aruba…sailing, snorkeling, jeep tours, natural bridge, …etc. While I know there are many things still left to do, that is the beautiful thing about Aruba. You can do as much or …as little as you like. You can eat like a foodie and still never really reach all the culinary opportunities that are out there.

    So….imagine my surprise when Deb says a few days ago, “Hey, you know …we should really go tour the Balashi Brewery!” ….lol.. Ok..so …like most men, startled was I …
    My mind flashed back and forth between “ is this a trap..How do I respond?” “Is this just going to end up as yet another trip to Colombian Emeralds?”
    Calm and cool….I just said, “yeah..that’s a great idea, you know how much you like the Balashi Chill, maybe you can get that shirt you have been wanting”..
    Ok…gotta give my Deb some credit…she was sincere. Being a marketing teacher, she was truly interested in the manufacturing, packaging and distribution of one of our favorite vacation products!

    We set this up via the concierge at the Ocean Club yesterday. We had to check in at 10-10:15. We drove through town and turned at the brewery. We did have a bit of an issue finding it, it’s not really marked well, once turning off the main road to the right, and we went down and made another right. Once seeing the Balashi Beer Garden sign, we knew we were close. We pulled up at the brewery and were not sure where to go. There was a guy through the fence on a forklift with many cases of Balashi on it….I hollered out to him where is the tour and he told us to turn in at the Beer Garden and go up to the restaurant and the lady would check us in….and we did. She was cute and bubbly for 10am, had us sit down, verified that we had close toed shoes and shirts with sleeves and then brought out a waiver for us to sign…and we did…lol

    So…on a side note…as we pull up and got out of the car, the thing other than Balashi that dominated what we saw was the fantastic smell of grilling/barbequing that was going on over at the restaurant. Wow…the smell was awesome.
    Once we started, it was kind of uneventful; we saw all the aspects of how they create not only the wonderful Balashi but also the Balashi Chill. It’s not light as some folks may think; it’s made to be less bitter than their normal lager and has the same alcohol content.
    The plant was very clean and organized. The most amazing information that we got out of the tour is that they actually contract with and bottle for Coke. All the Coke and diet coke, tea’s and other coke products are blended, bottled, packaged and readied for shipping there at the Balashi plant. The Aruba plant actually produces all the Coke products for Aruba, St. Martin, Bonaire and Curacao…maybe others, it was noisy..lol
    Interesting facts too…the Aruba plant uses pure cane sugar vs. corn syrup that is used in the states. Overall …a great morning…beer sample included. Cost $6 per person for the tour and I tipped her $5.
    Nice Pic of us after the tour in our hair nets having the sample!

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/34kdvw7nga...6D_balashi.JPG

    After leaving the Balashi brewery, we drove down to the drop off for Depalm Island and looked around and also saw the Aruba Nautical Club where they have some nice sail boats.
    We decided to drive on into San Nicholas just for the heck of it. We saw the sign for Charlies’ Bar and decided to go check it out. I had already seen the menu and steep prices for the food but we went anyway. Again, after 11 years coming here, we had never been. We rolled up in there….and it really is an interesting place. We ate lunch there, had two Amstel Brights (he was out of Balashi Chill). I had the Creole Calamari ( $20). It was sautéed calamari with veggies and a really good thin sauce. It was served with fries and rice. Deb had the shrimp (peel and eat with heads on) ($23). She had salad and rice with her shrimp. All total..and they do charge the 15% service charge was about $58 bucks. (Pretty steep for the quality, quantity was good…and maybe you pay for that ambiance too…lol

    We headed back around 1pm'ish and stopped by the Balashi store just past the Valero station before you head down towards the low and high rises. A funny here, so…we bought two Balashi shirts there…and she looks at us as we are checking out and says: “Which beers do you want?” I looked over at the small cooler and saw the beer in there and said, “We will take two of the chills” (you get 1 beer with each shirt). As we were walking out she said “wait, let me open those beers for you”…lol I just told her we would open them when we got back. (I guess Aruba doesn’t have open container laws…lol)

    After getting back to the Ocean club, Deb took a nap and I headed out to the beach and pool. Nice and smooth after yesterday. No real news here other than again…this is a great time of year to come. Summer crowds have not picked up yet so was easy to grab a chair that someone else had vacated at the beach and later was able to move to the pool with no problem. Deb then joined me with a big ol drink in her Tervis cup ( great tip here…bring them…u need them to keep your drinks cold and ice intact).

    Tonight was the Owner cocktail thingy at the Ocean Club. We have only been to 1 or 2 of these over the years but this year we decided to go over and see if there was really any value. They had the wine flowing and rum punch so we were happy. We met several couples..All very nice..shared a few stories and actually had a good conversation with Corey Guest, the general manager here. Super nice guy, really attentive, took notes from all folks he talked to.. twas goodness.

    We snacked on some remaining Gouda and ham and a few of our other snacks while listening to music on the balcony…really nice watching the sunset. Note to folks….PANDORA DOES NOT WORK IN ARUBA….we found this out day 1 and were devastated. It has taken me 3 days to face it and be able to write it out loud. What is wrong with this world we live in…no Pandora in Aruba? …speechless…

    Dinner…well…hate to disappoint you guys but we had leftover filet and potatoes au gratin from Madame Janettes….FREE…well..after last night…it was a pretty good deal that we could eat the leftovers after supplementing them with some snacks.

    Mixed up a couple large drinks in our large Tervis cups and went down to the pool. I got in while Deb layed back on the chair beside the pool. Water felt great and we talked for a couple hours…I really love those times.

    I am trying to avoid the dreaded “vacation depression”. (The fear that your vacation is coming to an end) We have to embrace the last two full days. We head to Flying Fishbone tomorrow night…that should be nice.
    Last edited by bradrobster; 06-20-2012 at 01:44 AM. Reason: adding pic

  2. #22
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    Have really enjoyed reading your trip reports. Sounds like the perfect vacation!

  3. #23
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Thanks again..... great reports...appreciate you taking the time to write so much and so well.

  4. #24
    Senior Member bradrobster's Avatar
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    Hey Guys...had to post this as I know some folks are here and some will be coming soon. Just got back from Kong Fui which is just right there past Wacky Wahoo's ( first stoplight/left turn after leaving Marriott Ocean club ). I had seen these last year but didn't get a chance to try them, Chinese Roast Pork Buns! I got two roast pork buns and a ham and cheese bun. They had a pineapple one and a rice and beans one to I think. Very delicious for a quick breakfast and at $1.25 a piece afl...net cost to me was a little over $2 dollars US...Very tasty, heated for about 15 sec in the microwave and the bun melts in your mouth!

  5. #25
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    thanks for your day 7 report.
    i particularly love the hair nets.
    you 2 are making a fashion statement.

  6. #26
    Senior Member jeffnev's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting these detailed updates. We'll be there in 2 weeks and you have really helped to put me in the mood. Supposed to be 97 degrees in NJ today and tomorrow, so I guess we'll go to Aruba to cool off.

  7. #27
    Senior Member bradrobster's Avatar
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    FYI...been working on getting some pics into the Gallery..check them out!

  8. #28
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    you got quite a few posted in the gallery! nice!
    Quote Originally Posted by bradrobster View Post
    FYI...been working on getting some pics into the Gallery..check them out!

  9. #29
    Senior Member bradrobster's Avatar
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    Day 8 Update! Winding down…Rough day….had to take some allergy med’s yesterday and for some reason I woke up around 2:45am..Could not get back to sleep. Tossed/turned, luckily I moved to the couch in the condo and let Deb sleep. I finally got a couple hours before getting up around 8ish to go get the palupa. Ho hum….again..I love this time…no wait, no worries… However, for those of you that are still a “Row 1 or Row 2” type of person, you better get up and go get your request in by 7am or pay in advance. I guess we are just lucky because we are happy with our row 3 ..lol.

    I was so excited about my breakfast fine this morning I threw a post out there that some of you may have already seen. I had to get gas in the rental so after I filled up at the Valero there near Wacky Wahoo’s, I went over to the Kung Fui supermarket. I had seen there last year that in the back at the Deli/Bakery area, they had Chinese stuff buns freshly made. This morning I found Roast Pork, Pineapple, Ham and Cheese, Rice and beans…and maybe some others. They also had hot dog’s in a pretzel looking bun. They are priced at $1.25 afl each. I got a couple Roast pork buns and a ham and cheese bun and brought them back to Deb and I for a quick breakfast. Total cost was about $3 US dollars. The roast port was the best. We heated them in the microwave for about 20 seconds or so and they were perfect, melted in your mouth.

    Got out to the palupa around 10, beautiful day …low winds…low 90’s, beach was not overly crowded nor was the pool…perfect day. We took a walk down the beach past the new Ritz Carlton. I was able to get some pics loaded into the gallery so that folks could see the progress. I am sure there are many opinions on this new monster. I am sure the majority wishes it never got put here; it’s not my place to judge here so I won’t. I will give you my opinion…well..in the next paragraph..lol.

    Ok…so I am an original Marriott Ocean Club owner. When we bought, we had no idea that the Marriott Surf Club was in plan. Once we found out the plan, we…as others were not happy. I still don’t like the size of the place but you know, to me, the surf club is just like an in-law that you may or may not be fond of…but you know you need to get along with. We all share the same beach, its there...it’s not going away…so we learn to live and love.
    After watching the part of the Holiday Inn go completely empty and they not do anything with it for years, there are worse things than getting a high end property like the Ritz Carlton. I love Aruba, I love the people, and I love the fact that yet another property will give the Aruban people many, many job opportunities and help bring more prosperity to many families here that need it. The money that this property will bring to Aruba can do nothing but help improve it. I think it will also enhance the value of the property that I have a vested interest in as well. There…I am done…don’t hate me, it’s my opinion, we all are entitled to one and my opinion directly effects my feelings and thus my overall trip report…(there…ya like the way I tied all that back into the original topic?...lol).

    OK….so..Lunch!! Remember…we are winding down. When you wind down, you tend to retreat to your comfort zones. Those things..those meals…those places where you know…you absolutely know that you will get what you expect and you will get it at the price you expect… And therefore….. We did.

    Around about 11:30ish, we knew we needed to eat. We had a 6pm reservation at Flying Fishbone ( waaaaay on the other side of the island ). We went back to the Pavilion at the Ocean Club. Rum punch was the special and we each had 2 @ $5 each. I had the grouper sandwich ($15) (yeah ...yeah... I know…it’s good…matter of fact...its one of the best…so don’t be hating on a repeater! lol ) Deb got the salad with the Grouper ($17)…she loved it. Funny note from today….the iguana were really crazy today. They didn’t bother us at all but we had man folks trying to dine around us that seemed to “over-react” to them walking around them. They are harmless..they just want crumbs or droppings…but some people act like they are some prehistoric creatures that are out to eat them up…lol…and to be honest, the way some folks act, I wish they would eat them up! Total for lunch with the rum punches and tips was about $60 bucks.

    Went back to palupa, pulled chair into shade, lowered back…layed on stomach and took nap. No real creative way to spin that…it’s just what we did…and remember, I was working on only about 3 hours total sleep..so it was quick for me.

    At 3pm, woke up..felt like crap…told Deb I was going up to finish nap, she joined me. Got showers done and finished nap. We knew we needed to get up by 4:30 so we could leave by 5pm and head to Flying Fishbone.

    We were able to leave by about 5:10pm. OK…important note here folks. Traffic heading back to San Nicholas area during the 5pm rush hour is increasing year to year as I see it. Many folks work in the hotel areas and city areas and after 5pm, they head back out of the city towards Savaneta and San Nicholas.

    Got into a bunch of traffic which slowly cleared up as we hit the airport. Once past the airport, it moved a bit more smoothly. We followed the signs to Old Man and the Sea which is right beside Flying Fishbone and made it by 6pm for our reservation.

    They seated us water front, slightly out of the water. It was beautiful! We each had a cocktail while deciding the appetizer. We decided on the Chilled Seafood platter. We have had this before and we both agreed..this was what we wanted. It had shrimp, crab, Seared Tuna, smoked salmon, crab claw and small salad and two sauces. …AWESOME…fresh….perfect!...quantity and quality ….excellent ! at $19 dollars.

    Deb had been wanting Lobster. The Rock lobster was $42 but promised to be great….and it was…Deb got it and a HUGE amount of lobster had been pulled from the tail and mixed with sauce and was unbelievable! She gave me several large bites ..with butter…..was like…butter…..nuff said…worth it…DONE (that’s D O N E )

    I had the grouper special which was pan seared grouper over mashed potatoes with butter and a small number of veggies. There were three huge marinated shrimp on top. This grouper dish was BY FAR the best meal I have had during this trip. Tender, flavorful..and the shrimp and potatoes were perfect ( $38).

    We were too stuffed for desert…Deb got a coffee which came with cookies, loved it…got great pics …we also posted on their facebook wall. We love MJ’s but for the 3rd year in a row…this top’s our picks as best meal and best service…LOVE FLYING FISHBONE!

    Drove back and decided to go to Jacuzzi …then went to pool…had drink and relaxed in pool and talked…as I said last night….LOVE these times..They are what make these trips to Aruba personal. And loved.

    Sleeping now….need to get up early to hit Salt and Pepper for last day breakfast. Want to go to Arashi beach and do a few more things…turning in car before 3pm tomorrow so will be walking to Palm Beach area for supper. …..Perhaps Rembrandt café?.. who knows…?

    Love you guys…I need to apologize for a pic that I posted in my gallery that may have offended someone. Yes….I was “reported”. That was not my intention. I am not a great writer..nor am I grammatically correct. My style is to write as if I was lying on the lounge chair next to you under the palupa and we were talking…that’s it.

    If I say or do something that you feel is offensive, send me a note. or send the moderator a note..it is not my intention and I am happy to discuss.

    Almost done with this vacation…hope that what I have provided you was equally as informative as all the information that I have benefitted from in the forum. My desire to participate is a direct correlation to the happiness I have from all the information that I have benefitted from.

  10. #30
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    I've enjoyed another day in Paradise with your report.

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