I've never done a trip review before but I really enjoy reading everything all you guys post so I figured it was my time to pay it forward. I wish I had taken notes along the way but being a newbie at this I neglected to do so. I am doing it by memory and will post each day as a separate post. I may get a little long winded here but I hope you all enjoy.
On this trip it was just me and my "Boo" Maggie making the trip down. We made our first trip to Aruba in 2005 onboard a cruise ship but have been vacationing to the island since 2010. This was our 7th visit total but only our 4th week long actual vacation. This one trip was 9 days, shooting for even longer next time.
Let me start by saying, we over-packed yet again. We always rent a house when we are there and do laundry but for some reason I thought it was necessary to bring 6 bathing suits, twice as many socks as anyone would ever need and just way too many clothes in general. I'm thinking she is rubbing off on me.
Saturday - We always do the park sleep fly thing because we like to take early flights to maximize our first day on the island. For this trip we were scheduled to leave BWI at 6:30 Sunday morning. Being that BWI is about a 1.5 hour drive from our home we booked a room at the Sheraton. We checked into the Sheraton at 9:30pm talked for a while and attempted to get some sleep. Morning was going to come calling pretty early. Not a problem for me since I can go to sleep at that drop of a hat and sleep through just about anything. She on the other hand was in for a long night as apparently my snoring was cranked up to 11. Had to hear about that night all trip.
Sunday - We woke up at 3:30 in the morning so that we could get to the airport a couple of hours before our flight. Its only a 5 minute shuttle ride to the airport from the Sheraton so we had plenty of time. Check-in and security were a breeze and before long we found our gate. We were both pretty hungry and decided that we’d have breakfast at O’Brycki’s which is the airport version of the semi-famous Baltimore Crab house. Too early for crabs we decided to get a light breakfast. Maggie had a fritatta that she said was pretty blah and I had a sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwich which was also nothing special. Probably would have done better just stopping at the dunkin donuts across the way but prices were reasonable especially for airport food and it served the purpose of keeping us satisfied until later in the day.
Boarding would start soon after the trip. This was my first time flying Southwest and I absolutely loved their boarding procedure. The number system kept everything super organized. We had boarding numbers 31 and 32. Being so tall she always complains about needing leg room so we try to get emergency exit row seating when possible, if not she gets the aisle and I get stuck in the middle seat. This plane had an exit row with only 2 seats side by side so Maggie was able to have her aisle and I was able to have my window… best of both worlds.
We had a connecting flight through MCO. We arrived in Orlando at 9:30am and had an hour to catch our connection which was plenty of time since our check-in was only a few gates down. They announced that everyone would need to present passports again so we lined up for that. I’ll never understand why people feel the need to complain about such things but there was plenty of it going on. In my opinion presenting your passports again isn’t that big of a big deal and in the end you aren’t getting on the plane unless you do it so just grin and bear it.
After checking in we still had about 30 minutes to board so I figured it would be a good time to get some vitamin D and charge my phone so we took a seats by the big windows and plugged my phone in the outlet. About 5 minutes into charging some guy would approach me to grunt and point. I figured he had to get past so I moved my phone to allow him to pass. All he did was grunt and point again. I had no idea what he wanted so after staring at eachother for a while he moved on.
20 minutes later they announced that boarding would commence so I started to gather my things when the caveman approached again and said are you leaving? What the heck? He speaks? I told him I was boarding and he said okay because he wanted to charge his phone. Not sure why he didn’t say that in the first place. There were two outlets and I would have happily shared.
Once again for us boarding was a breeze and we got our 2 person emergency exit seats again. Boarding took longer this time around as the plane was full and we took off a bit late. On this leg we slept more than we were awake. But the one thing that sticks out in my mind was the guy across the aisle and the way that he ate. It brought to mind one of those television programs they play during shark week. He would look at his sandwich seemingly stalking his prey and then fiercely attack as if he were a Great White taking down a sea lion separated from its school. Then pause for about 30 seconds and repeat... fascinating.
Finally we would begin our approach for Aruba. We sat on the left side of the plane and had a great view of the island coming in. Landing was smooth and and before long we would be making our way to the baggage claim area. I checked all of my luggage while she held onto her carry-on like a drowning man clinging to his last breath. However it was my job to carry it around the entire time so I guess I was that drowning man.
We arrived at baggage claim first but ended up staying there longer than anyone else as my last piece of luggage was literally the last piece to hit the carousel. Upon exiting the airport I look to my left and see what looks like her name on a sign only it was her maiden name and not the one the car was booked under. Sleep deprivation must have been victimizing me because I remarked how funny it was that someone else arriving had the same name. Obviously it was her name on the sign, just couldn’t put two and two together at that time. We figure they used the name of her email address instead of the name that we actually reserved the car under or the name on the credit card used in that reservation.
In any case we were on our way to Aruba Royal to pick up the jeep. The trip over took longer than it should have due to us getting stuck behind a car that our shuttle driver jokingly referred to as “Miss Daisy”. We checked in at Royal, picked up our maroon jeep and hit the road. Our destination was Ling’s but it too would take a bit longer because once we hit 1A we got stuck behind, you guessed it, Miss Daisy. With the way the two vehicle occupants interacted we kind of figured out it was actually a father teaching his daughter how to drive. Frustrating at first but kind of cute once we figured out what was going on.
We hit Ling’s brought way too much food and made our way to Wendy’s which is kind of a tradition for us but that’s another story. After that we would go to the house we rented in the Palm Beach Area.
Sat down, ate, unpacked, showered and hit the West Deck for dinner. Not knowing where it was or how much we would end up drinking we took a taxi in (normally 11 dollars but 14 on Sunday). I liked the West Deck but it was hot hot. Since there was tropical storm activity in the Caribbean there was little to no breeze that night. We ordered a few tapas and some drinks. My favs were the tenderloin skewers and Keshi Yena and we also had drinks. I also had cheese cake which was good but it was too hot to really enjoy. I could see making the West Deck a staple but this was our only visit this time. The relaxing atmosphere is perfect for a first night. Due to the long day of traveling we ended up calling it an early night and headed home for a good nights rest.
You start your vacation the same way we always do. We fly out of Logan and always stay at the airport Hilton then shuttle over in the morning. It really reduces the stress of getting to the airport and we're at the resort before 1:00. We're also looking forward to giving West Deck a try. I am so anxious for vacation but it's still a few months away so I definitely enjoy the trip reports. Have fun, and keep those reports coming!!
Thanks guys for the comments and encouragement. I still can't believe that despite being a notebook-a-holic I didn't take any notes. I had two of them with me. Maggie and I are writing this together. This is our first day off together since our vacation and felt like this would be a great way to relive things.
Monday - On vacation we typically wake up at 8:30am. Today we had a light breakfast at home and then made our way to Palm Beach for the first of many beach days. We are beach bums and typically spend long (and I mean long) hours on the beach each day. Although Palm isn’t necessarily my favorite we do spend a lot of time there as its great for people watching and its also were Scott’s Brat’s and the Bugaloe are located. Our favorite Palm Beach spot is in front of the Radisson. We bring our own chairs and a cooler with bottled water and snacks. The chair rental guys at Itito’s probably don’t like us but beaches in Aruba are public so whatever.
While playing in the water we met a guy from California who was on a cruise he had moved to Costa Rica after becoming a victim of outsourcing. He told us the story of how being forced out of his dream job had caused him to rearrange his priorities. Now he owns a beach restaurant in Costa Rica and as he puts it “hasn’t had a haircut in two years”. I’m normally an introvert but as I’m trying to come out of my shell talking to complete strangers would be a running theme this trip. We talked for hours and actually ended up recommending he visit Scott’s Brats for lunch.
Speaking of Scott’s Brats, once it was lunchtime we made over. Both of us love the Italian beef sandwiches so we ordered two of those. They were just as delicious as I remember. We order them with a mix of hot and mild giardiniera and she likes the bun a little wetter than I do for me it was perfect but she would have preferred the sandwich take another dip in the aus ju.
On this trip we had brought down a new beach toy from home. We purchased a couple of papasan floaty things from Amazon for the trip but had no idea just how much we would enjoy using them. They only take a few seconds to inflate, are easy to pack and seem pretty durable. You just have to be careful when using them as I could have easily fallen asleep and woken up in Venezuela if I wasn’t careful.
A little later we ran into the guy from California and he did indeed stop at Scott’s. He was so thrilled to have a brat as he hadn’t had one since he left the states. In my mind I was thinking this interacting with others thing is actually pretty cool. We got the name of his restaurant/rental home in Costa Rica and told him not to be surprised if we turn up there someday.
Around 4:30 or so we decided it was time to pack up our things and head back to the house to shower and change.
That night we would have dinner at Fermin’s upon recommendation from SanNic from this board. It was very easy to find as the combination of Dan’s video and google earth makes it pretty hard to miss. We headed right out Palm Beach Road to Caya Frans Figueroa make a right and it was just down the road on the left. When we got there the place was empty. Just us and a couple of locals. We were skeptical since it was so empty but wanted to try more local places so decided to stay.
There was actually only one waitress working that night so I guess Mondays are always slow. Maggie is a nacho-aholic and since they were on the menu we figured it was a good way to gauge their abilities being that nachos are so easy to pull off. The problem is the waitress told us they didn’t have Nachos but they have wings. lol. Not at all the same thing. We decided to just order the ribs and probably the cheapest and coldest bucket of Balashi (great combination) we’d find that trip.
I’m kind of a rib snob and these didn’t disappoint. They tasted like the real thing that my grandfather would cook on his backyard bbq. Based on this we decided to give some of their other food a try. We both had the tenderloin skewers she had garlic mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables and I had fries and bbq rice. The tenderloin skewers were good, not great. She said the garlic mashed potatoes were “to die for” but what more can you expect from a good irish girl. The veggies seemed like they were frozen bagged veggies and the rice and fries were just average. All in all I did enjoy the meal as I’m a carnivore and view sides as something we eat because people look at you funny when you order steak with a side of sausage and ribs and as long as you give her nachos, potatoes cooked any way and a bucket of cold beer shes happy. The ribs were the star of the show and the beer best supporting actor. So we had an appetizer of ribs, two tenderloin entrees with 2 sides each and a bucket of beer for less than 50 dollars definitely a great value… I’d recommend but probably only for the ribs, beer and atmosphere. We made friends with the waitress who invited us back on Sunday for the all day bbq which she assured us would be a lot more busy and fun. We did end up making it back but not on Sunday.
After Fermin’s we would drop the vehicle off and then head out to Moomba’s in search of nachos and maybe some more drinks. The woman we rent from swears by Moomba’s but this was our first time really giving it a chance. Great people watching going on there. The bartender’s were mostly Dutch and mostly hilarious. On that particular night there were a couple of cougars out on the prowl.
The one ended up picking up a guy with stripes on his shoulders, short shorts and hair pulled back in a ponytail. Not sure if he was the Captain of a ship (or maybe a dinghy) but as much as he was boozing it up I hope not. They disappeared together off into the night but her friend stayed as she had set her sights on the bartender half her age and didn’t appear to be taking no as an answer. We had a great time joking about it with the female bartender on staff that night. She was a young woman from Holland who came to Aruba with her boyfriend on an internship. She told us that Aruba was so welcoming that she had no intentions of returning to Holland her reason being that Holland wasn’t accepting others individuality enough for her.
In case you were wondering, the Nachos at Moomba were much better. We aren’t sure how things turned out for the woman and the bartender that night. We left at maybe 12:30 and she was still perched on that stool. I thought about sending her over a sex on the beach from a “secret admire” but figured her fire was already stoked and I didn’t want to make the bartender guy anymore uncomfortable. So instead we made the the long walk home.
We got an answer to the "re-showing" of the passport at a connecting airport.
We were told they do it is so that they are certain everyone on that particular flight has their passport and didn't leave it in the bathroom when they left their departure city, or at the restaurant, shopping kiosk or in one of the stores in the terminal.
They said they are trying to prevent people from arriving in Aruba not knowing they left their passport when they laid it down someplace along the way. Too which I said, "I'm headed to the bathroom now. Hopefully, I won't lay my passport down."
Sounds like a great time at Moomba. People watching at a bar is one of my favorite past times!!
AUA that does make sense. I didn't put much thought into it because I figured I didn't have much choice in the matter anyway. Moomba is my new "spot" they get some characters in there on their busy nights.
Tuesday - Woke up and had breakfast at the rental. Today we would be heading over to Manchebo beach which is probably my favorite place to relax. The profile picture I have is actually our two seats on Manchebo from a previous trip. Today I packed a picnic lunch of fried chicken salad sandwiches and fruit. The beach was empty which was a great contrast to the day before at Palm.
The water was more calm at Manchebo than it usually is. We floated on our papasans all day long once again. On this day we met a young couple from Australia. They were taking a 3 month honeymoon around the world… must be nice. They had just come from New Orleans and said before the trip was over they would touch 6 different continents. I was doing pretty well at this meeting people thing.
Once again as 4:30 approached it was time to leave. We packed up and that’s when I remembered just how long the walk is from Manchebo Beach back to the car when you are leaving the beach, especially when you are carrying two chairs, my camera bag, her backpack and a cooler. Maybe that’s why not many people come there, but still worth it to me.
Back at the rental we snacked on Loempia’s we picked up at Ling’s. Then we showered and changed so we could go have dinner at Tango’s Argentine Grill. Last trip we visited Tango’s. I felt the service was horrible but blamed it mostly on our waiter and didn’t think it was indicative of the establishment itself. Also the food was so good we figured we would give it another try. I’m glad we did.
I ordered a 16 ounce skirt steak and she got the 8 ounce filet. Both came with sides of veggies and potatoes. Both of our steaks were cooked to perfection and tasted delicious. I already stated how I feel about side dishes but she seemed to really enjoy them.
That night Maggie wasn’t feeling all that great (nothing to do with the food) so instead of forcing the issue and staying out late we went back to the rental to watch television and then play paper football (yeah the grade school game) which is another vacation ritual we have. That night we watched one of those fashion critique shows on the E channel, something we normally would never do. It was a replay of a show from the previous night which as it turns out was Joan River’s last television appearance. Pretty crazy that I had remarked how good she looked only to have her pass away a few days later.
Somehow despite me being the Brookline Elementary School paper football champion of the 1980’s Maggie routinely kicks my butt. I think she cheats!