Since 1980, and throughout the many changes, we still love going downtown in Oranjestad.
More than a year after the fact; but here it is
Good morning Andrea, Cindy, Lisa et al,
About a year or so ago Andrea, you asked to me to send you a trip report on our trip in October 2013. I apologize for not having sent it sooner but, in any event, it appears below.
Iíve tried to tighten up the writing on this. Compared to previous TRís, Iíve tried to be a little more succinct this time. Hopefully itís a good read, with the right amount of information, humour and personal insight. That, however, is for you to judge. So, letís get to it.
Time for another one of Glennís riveting, insightful, and altogether captivating trip reports. Youíre all invited to sit around here in the palapa at Aruba Sunset Beach Studios, (ASBS after this) and let yourselves be regaled. A couple of things first; I bought a couple cases of Heineken and some Brights, but if you want anything else youíll have to bring your own. No bar here at ASBS; as for driving here, just keep going towards the California Lighthouse; youíll see the wreck off-shore and weíre about 100-200 yards beyond that, on the right hand side. Great to be back!
After a forced absence of two years, we finally returned to Aruba in mid-October. We got a pretty good airfare with Air Canada and although we had to overnight in Toronto, that broke up the travel so when we landed in Aruba at around 4:30 on Saturday, we werenít as tired as we often are when we try to do it all in one day.
After the uneventful 5 hour flight from Toronto we landed at Reina Beatrix, went through Aruba Immigration, got our bags and picked up the car at National. And we were on our way. It was just so wonderful to feel the warmth of the place, and to be driving down L.G.Smith once again. We made our way down the highway, past the new Super Foods (more on than later), past the Marriott, and then we were on the narrow two lane road heading toward the California Lighthouse. We had seen the wreck in photos on ASBSís website, so when we saw that come into view we kept a lookout for the place. A new place
We arrive at ASBS, and our studio, Ocean 1, is ready for us. We see a chalk board sign, with "Welcome Glenn and Donna" on it, hanging on the door handle. We turn the door handle, almost hesitantly at first, and enter a place that would be our home for the next week. It is very warm inside, the a/c having been shut off all day we imagine. We find the a/c remote, turn it on and, we can start to feel the cool air being blown into the unit. I go out to the car, bring the suitcases in while Donna checks out the unitís features; you know, bathroom, closet space, fridge, dresser drawers etc.
This is the first time weíve stayed here, and for a week to ten-day stay, weíd absolutely stay there again. The staff is friendly and helpful, the other guests were friendly, and the view of the beach and the ocean across the street from our porch was unbeatable. Every morning weíd enjoy watching Aruba wake up and come to life. The joggers, the cyclists, the walkers, the pelicans diving for their breakfast, and the warm Aruba sun starting its daily trek across the sky; all of this we watched as we had breakfast on the porch. The hand-delivered Aruba Daily News each morning was a nice touch. It was also very useful, as Iíll tell you a bit further on. Join the Club
Hereís something we found, at first odd but were very appreciative of. In the closet at ASBS there was a Club. You know, the anti-theft device you lock onto the steering wheel of your car. We used it everywhere. It might sound like paranoia, but Aruba has had a bit of a car theft problem for a while, and this device, provided by our hotel, just helps to deter opportunistic car thieves. We just had to remember to return it to the closet in our studio, and not leave it in the car when weíre ready to return it to National. We thought it was a nice touch. So, how do you put 66,000 miles on a car in Aruba?
The car we got from National was a Mitsubishi something or other. Yes, it did have 66,000 miles on it did when we got into it at Reina Beatrix. Yah, yah I know. It was probably shipped to Aruba after living the first part of its life somewhere else. Still, itís a bit of an eye-opener when you get in for the first time and have a look at the odometer. You canít really put a price on this stuff.
Along with a two year absence from Aruba in general, there were a few specific places we missed more than others. Jewels in Paradise was one of them. After our anniversary dinner at Sole Mare, we drove to Palm Beach Plaza. I dropped Donna off, and went to park the car. I was pretty sure where she was headed. After getting a parking spot, I walked to Jewels in Paradise and saw Donna in an animated conversation with the owner and his wife. When they saw me, the owner waved me in, and the security guard unlocked the door (a feature in other jewelry stores in Aruba now) and I went in . Warm handshakes, hugs and greetings all Ďround were the order of the evening. After a little bit of chit-chat, Donna and the owner went over to a display case and started looking at various things. I was talking to his wife briefly when Donna showed me a beautiful braided gold bangle with three diamond pods attached to the bangle. The owner already had the price calculated and displayed on his calculator. I looked at Donna, and she nodded. With that, and no other words about the transaction, I gave the owner my credit card. I love the on Donnaís face, the look a woman has for a thing of beauty. No, you canít put a price on this.
After the transaction was completed and the merchandise properly packaged, we talked a little more, departing handshakes all around and we left. Weíll see them again sometime soon. I Love Aruba too, but where are they going to put the Christmas decorations
I guess it had to come our favourite island sometime. You know, that tourism advertising shtick where they use the slogan I Love... (insert place name here) with the word love replaced with a heart. I think it started in New York City, but it has spread to various places including Aruba. There are some "I Love Aruba" stores but thatís not the main thing here.
Iím talking about the large I LOVE ARUBA sign outside the Parliament Building in Oranjestad. That area where the sign is now sitting has, in the past, been the site for a beautiful Christmas Nativity scene. Donna and I saw it many years ago.
A question. If they donít or havenít moved it, where will the Nativity Scene go? I donít dislike the sign, I just think itís in the wrong place. How about moving it to the centre of the round-about as you leave/enter the airport? Where youíll always find me
When we tell you weíre heading downtown, youíll always find me on the stone bench outside Little Switzerland; the one opposite to the Swatch kiosk. I love watching the cruise passengers, other tourists and Arubans alike coming and going while Donna buzzes around the various stores. Great way to spend some time people-watching on a warm Aruba morning. A super selection at Super Foods
We both really loved the selection, the layout and the amenities at Super Foods. I think we were there about 5 or 6 times in the week . It became part of our routine. We didnít try it but some people we talked to at ASBS really enjoyed the breakfast selections in the restaurant at Super Foods. We all have to eat!
I used to go into some detail about the meals we had at restaurants, but I thought Iíd just tell you what places we went to; old trusted favourites, new discoveries and maybe a comment or two.
The old trusted favourites were El Gaucho, Bingo, Lindaís (2x), The Old Cunucu House, Texas de Brasil and Rembrandtís. We enjoyed them all. Rembrandtís now has a new owner, a young Dutch fellow who used to work at the Holland House hotel in Sint Maarten. He has tightened up the menu, but has improved the quality.
Our new discoveries were Casa Tua in Renaissance Marketplace, A Taste of Belgium in Palm Beach Plaza and West Deck. Casa Tua has been a favourite of many of our bb friends for years but it was new for us. Excellent pizza! A Taste of Belgium was a wonderful spot for lunch; great food and good service. West Deck was a good spot for Sunday lunch. An unmatchable view of Governorís Bay and a good selection of tapas style offerings. There is a difference though, between good service and someone trying a bit too hard, and asking you three times to please put in a favourable comment on Trip Advisor. Just sayiní
The new star of the restaurant show for us was Blue Lobster. Itís on the road to Lindaís, Bingo etc, just past the sign to The Old Cunucu House. Check out the Aruba Daily News for their advít. You wonít find them in any of the glossy publications you find at the airport or tourist spots, at least not yet.. Wonderful food, excellent service and the dťcor features large black and white photos of old Aruba (Anybody remember Bali, the old Indonesian restaurant in the harbour?). Try the lobster bruschetta, decadent! A Sign of the Times? Who knows what this can lead to.
Normally I would put this little bit in the restaurant section but I found it so, so...well let me explain. On Monday, October 14, 2013 Donna and I went to El Gaucho for lunch. The 16 oz Gaucho steak and Donnaís 8 oz filet were wonderful. The meal at El Gaucho was every bit as delicious as we knew it would be but thatís not whatís germane to this part of the conversation. Just a sec, I think I need another Heineken. You guys might want to get another drink too.
Ok, let me just go ahead and tell you what I saw. We parked the car on Wilhemenastraat, crossed the street and were walking the 50 or so yards to El Gauchoís door. Midway along the outside wall of the restaurant was one of those signs on the sidewalk with El Gauchoís logo at the top. It showed what the specials are. One of the specials that day was, and Iím not making this up, fish. Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!Yes, I can see the look on some of your faces, that unmistakable look of disbelief.
Iím hoping this was a one-time thing. Whatís next? A vegetarian special? Itís not right, itís just not right! Party on!
We went to the bb party on Monday, October 14. After a few minutes of walking around with that distinctive "I think Iím lost" look, I met Terry. Shortly after that, Donna and I met some great people. We sat at their table and had a great time. Great people and a good time.
How come a week at work just crawls by, but a week in Aruba seems to here and gone in no time?
We had a wonderful week. No guarantees, but we hope to back in Aruba in another year or so.
For all the changes that weíve seen in the years since weíve been going Aruba, all the things which make it a wonderful place are still there. The people (Arubans and visitors alike), the warm, sunny weather, the ocean, the restaurants, shopping, and all the other things which make Aruba Aruba are there in abundance.
Listen, itís getting late. Thanks for coming and for listening. Take care driving back to your place; itís awfully dark on the road out here at night until you get to the Marriott. One last toast; to Aruba, and to all of you!!