Since 1980, and throughout the many changes, we still love going downtown in Oranjestad.
Get comfortable. It's regaling time once again!
Good afternoon everyone,
Below is the report of our trip to Aruba a few weeks ago. For those friends who know me here and on the other bb, the format is the same as last year.
Just pretend we're sitting around the bar at The Mill at Happy Hour. You guys get a drink or two, and I'll tell you about our trip.
Here's a brief factum:
Who: Glenn & Donna (Winnipeg, Canada)
Where: The Mill
When: January 15-25, 2010
Just a word here first. At the bb party we met a fellow named Tom, among others. Unfortunately, Tom passed away while in Aruba three days after we met him. I knew him on the other bulletin board, but I'm not sure if he was ever on this one. That's why that section of my trip report reads the way it does. I tried to handle that part in a respectful and tasteful manner. Whether I did is for you to judge, not I.
Anyway, I hope it's a good read. I tried to inform and entertain. So, gather 'round.
Trip Report of
Glenn & Donna
Hey, you guys are kind of early. Yes, I probably did say 4:30, but I forgot about BINGO. They have that every afternoon here at The Mill. Me? Donít be ridiculous. Iíve always thought of it as a game for people my mumís age or Catholic parishes looking to make a few extra bucks. We donít want to disturb any of the BINGO players so how about we move over to those couple of tables by the bar. Watch your feet; donít step in the iguana poop!
Anyway; Amy, Carol, Tonya, Corrine, Gary, Lisa, Mindy, Laraine, Andrea, Cindy and everybody else; gather Ďround, get yourselves a drink, (Nelson at the bar knows itís on my tab) and get comfortable. Itís regaling time once again. Has it really been a whole year since the last time we did this?
The start of a very long day
Is it 2:00am already? I thought I had just put my head down on the pillow when the alarm went off. Anyway, we were up and ready for the limo which picked us up at 3:30. The airport is a 30 minute ride from our house.
Increased security measures meant that we had to be at the airport 3 hours before departure, and this is for any flight going from Canada into the United States. Itís been a bit of a nerve-racking trying to keep up with the constantly-changing rules as they apply to carry-on baggage. Basically, we were allowed 1 carry-on item, for example a womanís purse no larger than a football. I donít know how she did it but Donna packed all our travel documents plus her own personal stuff into her purse.
Hereís the silly thing about all this; even though they ask you to be at the airport 3 hours in advance, none of the places you need to go such as
Unitedís counter, or US Immigration and Customs open even 1 minute before they did before we had all this foo-for-awe.
Anyway we finally board our flight to Chicago, and after a quick stop at the de-icing bay, weíre on our way. This time we went United to Chicago, then American to Miami. We have to get our American boarding passes both for the flight to Miami, and the flight from Miami to Aruba at the American gate in Chicago. (Again, and as a tip to any non-US passengers transitting through the United States; carriers donít share passport information. Thatís why thereís this extra step for us.)
Chicagoís OíHare can be intimidating to say the least, but it is well marked with good signage. The only thing weíd wish for is moving walkways. Those polished floors can be hard on Donnaís knees and hips.
We headed towards terminal 3, found the departure gate for our flight to Miami, then found a Chiliís and got some breakfast. After breakfast we headed to the American departure gate and got our boarding passes for both the Miami and the Aruba flights.
The flights to both Miami and Aruba were uneventful. We got into Aruba around 11:50, and after a quick trip through Immigration, we got our bags, then waited in line to be scanned by Aruba Customs. Every in-coming bag is x-rayed just before your exit the customs area. I donít remember them doing that before.
Let me translate that for you
We arrived at The Mill by taxi just after 12:30. We were both pretty tired. The lady behind the front desk had a name tag, and under her name it says ďNight AuditorĒ. This is Papiamento for ďItís Friday night, and while all my friends are out partying, Iím stuck in here. Yes, Iím sure you do have a reservation and as soon as I wake my boss up at home to tell me how to work the computer, Iím sure Iíll find it.Ē
Eventually we get the room, and actually a better quality room than what we originally booked, so the anxiety we had at the front desk at first was laid to rest. Within minutes we unpacked and fell into bed.
Who designs these things anyway?
Our room at The Mill, was comfortable, had a full-sized fridge, two-burner stove (Yeah, like Donnaís gonna cook down here) and a full range of crockery and cutlery. Dishes, yes thatís right Tonya.
One thing we found, and it may seem like nit-picking here until you have to actually use it, is the location of electrical outlets in the kitchen. The coffee maker, like most small appliances, has a fairly short cord. Ok, picture this; there is no outlet located on the back of the counter so I move the coffee make to the far end of the counter and plug it into the same socket that the microwave is plugged into, but only after setting it on top of a telephone book and the Bible. God bless the Gideons; they are good people. So, like I said, who designs these things anyway?
Other than that one annoying bit I just mentioned, the room was great. Donna and I were very comfortable, and with it being a ground floor room, there was minimum hurt to Donnaís wonky knees and hips.
Doing better at the green thing
Last year I mentioned some stuff about The Millís efforts to be more environmentally responsible. I donít think I was too kind. I still donít get the connection between saving the ozone layer and wiping your, well, you know, with cardboard.
Well that was last year. Things have improved. This year both the toilet tissue and the facial tissue are kinder, gentler versions of what was there a year ago. Kudos to The Mill. Someone must have said something.
Overall we enjoyed The Mill, and weíll likely be back again next January.
You really notice people when theyíre not there
The Millís guests included the usual array of Dutch, American, and Canadian visitors. In addition there was a planeload of people from Sweden and visitors from Brazil.
One thing I noticed was the Venezuelan visitors. In previous years there had been lots of Venezolanos at The Mill and elsewhere. Remember me telling you guys how Donna and I were just about stampeded by 3 or 4 Venezuelan 20somethings coming out of the Gucci store last year? How times have changed.
This January there were no Venezuelan guests at The Mill. No, not just fewer than last year; I mean none, zero, nadie! I used my best Spanish with Juan, the pool guy at The Mill to ask him about it. Basically there are now such limits on money that can be taken out of the country and on credit card expenditures made outside the country that most Venezolanos are unable to travel.
No editorializing guys; Iím just telling you what Juan told me. Donna was told the same thing by shopkeepers.
Listen, Iím getting kind of thirsty doing all this talking. Iím getting another Heineken. okay? Yes, the restaurant part is coming up and for those of you who know me fairly well, youíd better get yourselves another drink too. Youíll be better prepared for whatís cominí.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Aruba, we still do as the Romans do.
Donít ask me what it is about Aruba and Italian food, but the two just seem to go together. I know people from New York and New Jersey can enjoy good Italian food at home anytime. Well, so can we. Still, when weíre in Aruba it often seems to be a quest for Italian, especially in the early days of our stay.
Something new, plus something tried and true
That was basically the culinary theme for our holiday. We enjoyed all of the places we went to; never really had a bad meal anywhere. Anyway, hereís a list of the restaurants we went to. When we say new, we mean new to us even though the place might have been there for 20 years, but I think you know that.
Something New Tried and True Pizza Bobís BINGO (2x) Papillon Il Faro Blanco Rembrandtís Lindaís Pannekoeken & Pizza (3x) ChinoLatino Eliotiís Cactus Jackís Mulliganís at the Links at Divi Hard Rock Cafť (2x) Old Cunucu House Salt & Pepper
The star performer in the ďnewĒ list is Papillon, a delightful French restaurant. $29.00US got us soup, an entrťe and a decadent dessert; Rembrandtís where Donna fell in love with one of there Indonesian lunch items, Pizza Bobís and Eliotiís were also wonderful. Honourable mention goes to Salt and Pepper and The Old Cunucu House. If I had to pick a favourite, itís Papillon.
Thereís one name not on the list that you probably expected to see. Like Scrooge, I can change too. Amy, Tonya, Corrine; arenít you even just a little proud of me? We just ran out of time, but you can pretty well be assured that next January Iíll be fuelling up on 16oz of the best tasting protein in the solar system. (Just in case some guy on Uranus thinks heís got better steaks than El Gaucho.)
As for the three ďtried and trueĒ place, theyíve become ďmust go toísĒ. Each one was great as usual. That view from Il Faro Blanco at the California Lighthouse is just so gorgeous and the food is pretty wonderful too.
I didnít see him, but trust me, I was looking. Well, you knew I would.
Hereís the last bit on restaurants. On the Thursday, we went to Mulliganís at the Links at Divi. The food and the view were great.
Yes, I kept my eyes peeled for Tiger and his ever-expanding conga-line of self-serving tramps and trollops, but I didnít see him. Well, it is a golf course, and I just thought that he mightÖIíll close it here.
Anybody need a refill before we carry on? I do. Amy, you look like you could use another Bright.
Diamond Dogs and Golden Years
Yes, itís time to listen to Glenn talk about shopping; or more accurately, about Donna shopping and me sitting on a bench beside the Seaport Casino.
Donnaís first stop on the Monday, as it always is, was JavAruba in the Renaissance Marketplace. I went in long enough to say ďhiĒ to Reissa, then I went outside and sat on my usual concrete bench by the Seaport Casino. I watched the boats in the harbour, and like Iíve said many times before, I could sit there all day.
Half an hour later (Didnít the boat with the new stock come in?) Donna emerges from JavAruba with a bag. She got some pants and tops.
Yeah, I know you know where we headed next, Jewels in Paradise. Desh showed Donna several items and she settled on a custom piece he had made. A bracelet where the band was polished gold. On the top of the wrist are 3
small balls of brushed gold, each with 9 diamonds inserted into it. It really is striking.
Well yes, as a matter of he did offer to craft her matching earrings in the same style and that they would be ready later in the week.
Yes, I bought her the matching earrings. As Iíve said before, itís never about getting a deal on something you can get at home; jewellery in Aruba for us is always about getting something youíll never or rarely see on anyone else. Yes, she was very happy.
Monday of course is bulletin board party day. We hadnít attended any up till now, and I think some of you guys were wondering if I even actually existed or if we were anti-social.
We arrived at AMís beach bar right on time at 5:00, and man what a difference from years ago. That beautiful little boardwalk to the bar makes it so much easier to walk.
Anyway, we got our drinks and moved over to where Eagle Beach Boy was. We introduced ourselves, and it was handshakes and hugs. Very quickly, Laraine and her husband, Tom and Karen, and Mindy all arrived as well. The next hour was filled with stories and laughter.
Laraine took my picture just so there would finally be proof that we were actually there. As it turned out, I think she posted it later that evening.
Anyway, while my attention was with Laraine and her husband (Iím sorry. I canít remember his name), and Gary, Donna talked with Tom, Karen and Mindy. I heard only snippets of their conversation, but Tom had mentioned his health issues, but that he was feeling pretty good. This part is really hard, so bear with me.
After an hour we got up, thanked everyone with hugs and handshakes and promises to see each other again in a year. Thatís what made the news of Tomís passing so hard and shocking for us.
If there is anything left to say, it would be this. We were happy to meet Tom, and even though we knew him only for an all-too brief hour, our lives were enriched for it.
Like everybody here around the table at The Mill, our prayers and sympathies are with Karen and her family. A letís raise a glass to Tom.
On the road again, just canít wait to get off the road again!
Much has been mentioned lately on our bulletin board about driving in and around Aruba. We noticed that it has become a little nerve-racking to say the least. I donít know whether itís increased traffic volumes, a general disregard for the basic ďrules of the roadĒ or what, but we drive very little at night.
Welcome to Moto-Cross in Aruba
This is a variation on the traffic theme I was just talking about. On the road outside The Mill and The Westin is a very wide speed table. Iím sure everybody is aware of it, and Iíll bet some of you, just like me have, every once in a while, forgotten about it until we were right on top of it.
Well, our room faced the street and every night; no not just once or twice, I mean every night, Donna was awakened around 3:00am by the sound of a large motorcycle slowing down to a stop at the speed table; then revving the engine and launching himself (We presume it was a guy; women are rarely this stupid!) into the air on the speed table, then continuing to zoom down the boulevard. Me? Heard it once, but then I can sleep through almost anything. Iíll take her word for it!
A few last thoughts
Listen, itís almost time to go. Letís have one last round while itís still Happy Hour. Then Donna and I will head off to dinner.
It was a wonderful, relaxing 10 days with warm, sunny weather everyday, good food, old friendships renewed, and some new ones made. Great seeing you guys again, especially now that you know I really do exist.
Okay; hugs, kisses and handshakes all round now. To everyone who has trips coming up, I look forward to hearing all about them. To everybody on the board, have a great year.
Glen, God bless ya...I couldn't have written that novel. By the sounds of things you had a great time. Thank you for sharing with us. How nice that you had the opportunity to meet Tom, I have only heard really nice things about him. CIndyo