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Thread: My First Trip to Aruba

  1. #1
    Member damnyankeeuk's Avatar
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    My First Trip to Aruba

    Firstly, sorry this is such a long one. I was planning on updating as we went along, but the internet access at our hotel was poor at the best of times, and at peak times was nonexistent. Having said tat, I didn't have a lot of time to spend in front of a keyboard anyway.

    I had done a lot or research on Aruba before booking (First choice at the Tamerijn all inclusive) so I thought I knew pretty much what I was getting into).

    I remember reading that Aruba was a desert island with less than 16 inches of rain annually, and I thought " okay, desert island, it'll be hot but it'll be a dry heat". WRONG!!!! It was hot, and there was a nice breeze nearly every day, but it was also humid....at times uncomfortably so.

    The weather was brilliant though, and we only had a few times where it rained, and then only for a few minutes at a time.

    The hotel we stayed at was the Tamerijn ("J" is silent). We stayed in a one bedroom suite with a "kitchenette". Now here in Europe, that would mean a 2 ring stove unit, and a mini fridge. Our suite had a full 4 ring stove, a proper American Fridge and freezer, and a huge microwave/convection oven. It also has a toaster, a kettle, a coffeemaker, and all the pots and pans, and plates, glasses, and silverware you could have possibly needed.

    Didn't use any of it though. The buffet restaurant was great! We all ate like pigs. The ala carte restaurants, with one exception were also very good. The exception was the Italian restaurant, and it was a huge disappointment. I had the seafood spaghetti, and the spaghetti was undercooked, tasted like eating a plate of rubber bands, and the seafood was so undercooked that 2 of the mussels weren't even opened. I suggest if you like Italian, give the Paparazzi at the Tam a miss.

    The red Parrott at the Divi was good, and the setting right on the beach with sunset views was brilliant. The Ginger (Asian) was fabulous as well. We ate there twice and enjoyed it both times. The mussels in green curry souse was especially nice as was the sushi.

    Was a bit of a hassle getting a bookng for there, but I got up early every day anyway, so managed to get the ones we wanted.

    The staff at the hotel were also great...They were all very friendly (as were nearly everyone we had contact with there) and went out of there way to make your holiday special. A big thank you to our waiter at the buffet restaurant , Karel, he was an absolute gem, and always managed to bring a smile to our daughter's face.

    Excursions....We did several and all were good value for the money. The jeep tour of the island that ended with a stop at baby beach was good fun. Baby beach was nice, but very crowded, which was a bit of a letdown...we were hoping to get to spend longer there too, but an hour and a half was a good end to the day. When we return, we intend to book a private guide to explore the national park more fully. The cactus looked really interesting, and I'd have loved to seen a bit more of the wildlife. My OH managed (after a lot of trying) to get some decent pictures of the "sugarbirds" but I know there are a lot of other interesting wildlife we didn't get to see. Watch out for the Iguanas though, they are everywhere!

    We also did a half day to palm island. I didn't much care for it myself, it seemed to " manmade" to be interesting to me, but the OH and DD both loved the snorkeling. And it was a nice break from the resort area.

    My OH is a keen diver, and did 3 separate 2 tank dives on three days with Unique divers. She enjoyed them all, and had a great time. She did say the diving wasn't as good as she had hoped, there was a pretty good current running and the Visibility wasn't as good as she's hoped for...but still, it was her first dives in a year, and I'm sure if we were still there she'd have been back for more.

    We talked to several of the other guests about their excursions, and they all said the ones they did were good value. The helo trips seemed to be especially popular.

    Having said all of this, we did spend most of our time at the beach.....GREAT !

    Shopping....We did a trip into the high rise area and into the downtown area for shopping. Being a tightwad Yankee, I took along as many of the "free gift" coupons as I could find, and picked up a whole raft of freebees. Watch out for the de Sol coupons. They do items that change color in the sun. My 13 year old really loved them.

    The hotel had a bit of a "market" several times a week in the lobby, but we just went to the local market for ours souvenirs, at about half the price.

    We never even tried the local bus, relying instead on the Taxi service. I like the fixed price set up....saves having to worry too much about your costs. One driver told me it was 9 dollars, but he would take 10 if I insisted. I thought it was so cheeky, that I gave it to him! Not like me at all.

    Tipping...We did tip when we felt it was deserved, which was fairly often, but then, the people make you feel so happy and special, that you just don't mind. I never felt like we were being pressured, either in the shops, or anywhere else....so even shopping was relaxing.

    Visited a supermarket....WOW...how on earth do they afford to eat there? I can tell you that if we were to move there, meat would be a rare item on the menu...No problem for me, I could eat seafood forever.

    The only part about the holiday I hated were the flights. Thomson air is a lousy way to get there...I have never been on a long haul flight before where anything except tea or coffee with your meal costs extra. And they ran out of ice within an couple of hours of takeoff. We did plan a bit better on the way back and packed lots of snacks in the carry on, but for drinks you had to go and see if they'd even bother to sell you one. Not a nice experience and one I will not repeat. If (and when) we return to Aruba it will not be with them.

    Arrived back here in the UK to discover it had been cold and rainy nearly the entire time we were gone (HA) temps at the airport when we landed were about 15c (50 or so in old money) A real shocker.

    We will be returning, just not sure when. It wasn't a cheap holiday, but it was a great one. My daughter (who's 13 so would know) said it was the best one she'd ever been on!

    Thanks to all on here for your advise over the long planning process, sorry I didn't get to meet you guys, but as you predicted, it was tough to pry myself away from the beach. See you on the next trip!

    Greg
    I may have to grow older, but I DON'T have to grow up!


    [IMG]http://FIRST Aruba trip in Next Aruba trip in [/IMG]

  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    thank you greg!
    loved reading your report.

    re: the supermarket pricing after you get beyond the stun factor, the prices are in aruban florens so something that would normally sell for $1, actually is 1.75 fl.
    yesterday morning in lings, dh was complaining about something costing $12 ......something in the bakery dept. i reminded him it was 12 fl, and he then did the math realized it was about $7 and tossed it in the cart.

    again, thank you for your great report

  3. #3
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    I am sorry you have such a long flight. I can only imagine how miserable it is, especially with a child no matter what the age. My 14 yo agrees with your 13 yo. In her mind, better than Disney World!

    The diving conditions your other half experienced are normal. BUT if you are going to be somewhere hot and sunny it is worth getting wet!

  4. #4
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    re: the humidity.

    although some refer to aruba as DRY, ARID and DESERT-like......most of the time is is far from it.
    it is usually hot and quite often humid.
    it is the warm frequent tradewinds that keep us comfortable most of the time.
    that being said, from aug 7 til yesterday i was as hot and uncomfortable in the sun in aruba as i have been at home in west florida. hot and humid with inconsistent breezes here...............til today!!! omgosh it was a delight to sit out on the balcony this morning.

    my guide for humidity.......if my glasses fog when going from the condo unit to the outside it is very humid. and that has happened lots over the past 9 days.

  5. #5
    Member damnyankeeuk's Avatar
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    I agree with the glasses fogging...Mine did it every day the last week of my stay.....really felt weird!
    .
    Still, I'd rather be there now than here in the UK trying to sort out selling our house, buying a new one and moving. For those who haven;t experianced the frustration ofthe British real estate market, let me just say it can take up to 6 months to sell and buy a house, and that is AFTER you have accepted an offer! Stupidest system in the world here IMHO
    I may have to grow older, but I DON'T have to grow up!


    [IMG]http://FIRST Aruba trip in Next Aruba trip in [/IMG]

  6. #6
    Senior Member amarg's Avatar
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    Thanks for your trip report. Since my sister has booked with Thomson, I guess she will have to endure a horrible flight to get to Paradise. Hope she doesn't have too bad of a time as you did.
    The weather sounds ick! We have hot and humid here in Toronto and I can't stand it. I wish it would be hot and dry but oh well, I'm sure it will be fun regardless.
    It's nice to hear the people were nice and that the taxi service was also good.
    The prices at the supermarket don't seem so bad to me. However, I only got a hint of the prices online on the Ling and Sons website. I was pleasantly surprised after hearing all the complaining about the prices on the forum. In fact, some of the prices are even cheaper than what we pay here at home. For example (this doesn't apply to you Damnyankeeuk) but Huggies Little Swimmers are $10 here and at Ling and Sons, they are $6.99. Everything else seems comparable. I even find Toronto cheaper than Vancouver, which if anyone have been there, is very expensive. You just get used to it and it is how it is. I didn't know any different until I went places that were cheaper.
    However, I always find that the US has much cheaper prices on most things than Canada and that's why Canadians do so much cross border shopping. Especially when our dollar is so good. I am going to Buffalo on Sunday in fact.
    Overall, it sounds like you had a good time and the beaches were fab, which is the main point.
    Thanks for your report.

  7. #7
    Senior Member sunnysmiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    re: the humidity.
    my guide for humidity.......if my glasses fog when going from the condo unit to the outside it is very humid. and that has happened lots over the past 9 days.
    LOL That's my husband's guide too - he just got glasses before we went to Aruba - he hated the fogging up thing. I can tell how humid it is because my hair curls up into ringlets.
    It is a different hot and humid in Aruba than Michigan - IMO. Maybe it's just because I'm in Aruba that I don't mind it.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!! Sorry the flights are so bad but happy you enjoyed your visit and hope to go back.

  8. #8
    Senior Member lindon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the trip report! I found it humid too, but still love it.

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