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Thread: My Trip Report - 3/29/14 - 4/12/14 (Very LONG)

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    Senior Member Lewny1's Avatar
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    My Trip Report - 3/29/14 - 4/12/14 (Very LONG)

    Saturday, March 29th
    Left for my 13th trip to Aruba along with my DH (his 12th trip), DM (Dear Mother - her 7th trip) and DD (her 6th trip) on a Saturday morning. JetBlue direct flight from JFK to AUA. Arrived about 15 minutes early. My BIL (brother-in-law", SIL and their 3 crazy kids (ages 6, 4 and 2) had arrived the day before and were staying at the Renaissance instead of their usual Marriott (more on that later). We picked up our rental car (first time we rented from Econo) and headed to our timeshare at the Divi Links. Our Kia was brand new with only 3,000 miles on it - a far cry from the crap (sorry but just being honest) we'd been renting from Amigo for several years prior. Only problem that for an "Intermediate" sized car, the back seat was pretty tiny. Once we picked my DC (Dear cousin) up the following Saturday, we could no longer use my DD's booster seat in the back and just had to secure her with the seatbelt because it was too tight to fit 3. Checked in to hotel and unpacked. It was already late (we didn't land until around 3:30ish) but I ran to Superfoods for some essentials. DH picked up food from Mulligans and we ate in our rooms (we have a one bedroom for us and we also have the studio next door for DM). We ordered a Margarhita pizza for DD (had lots of leftovers), a burger for DH, chicken satay and dutch pea soup for me and DM. One thing to note - in year's past, DM and I couldn't get enough of the dutch pea soup. It was heavenly. Then last year we noticed it was no longer on the menu. We were quite disappointed. This year, we were so pleased to see it back on, however, there must be a new chef because it was not as good as in the past years and gave me a wicked stomach ache the next morning :-( Everything else was good. It was pretty late at that point and we were all exhausted so off to bed we went. Excited for morning and our first full day in Aruba!!

    Sunday, March 30th
    My in-laws and the kids came over to hang out with us at our pool for the day. My DD (age 5) got sunburned very badly mostly under her eyes. I had purchased a new sunscreen for her prior to our trip which had gotten very good reviews. It was made especially for kids, contained zinc, etc (in the past I had used either California Baby or Neutrogena or Earth's best and not once has she ever burned). After seeing her condition and reading the entire label back and front, I realized it was not waterproof. Who makes a sunscreen especially for kids that isn't waterproof!!! Needless to say I was very upset as the skin under her eyes remained red for our entire 2 week trip. The good news is that she did not complain of any pain although I hope there is no permanant damage to her skin. Anyway, back to the report for the day lol. DD is an ony child so she had a ball splashing around with her cousins all day. 4 loud crazy NY kids all aged 6 and under. Got a few stares from an older woman who was seated beside us. I did not recognize her from past years so I'm not sure if she's an owner. Oh well. Luckily we didn't see her for the remainder of the trip. Some people really need to lighten up - they forget what it's like to have young kids :-) That night we took the entire brood to El Gaucho (9 in total) for dinner. It was good but not great. DM and I got the petite tenderloin as we have in year's past and it was not as tender as usual. Actually, it didn't have much taste at all. In-laws and DH all got rib-eyes which they liked. Sides and sauces are always good too. Got a pitcher of red sangria. Again, good but not great but can't complain too much. It's alcohol and I'm on vacation :-) Don't think we did much afterwards. I think we parted ways and DH probably went to casino for an hour.

    Monday, March 31st
    No sun for DD today as this was the day after she got burned and we wanted to keep her out of the sun for a bit to avoid any further damage. Headed over to Phillips Animal Garden with the in-laws and all the kiddies. DM stayed back and sunned herself and read a book. We love the animal garden and they keep expanding. They got a few new animals in and were waiting for a shipment of monkey from Curacao. Can't wait for next year! Kids had a great time feeding the animals and we took a bunch of pictures. On the way back we stopped at Senor Frogs for lunch. A/C was not on and it was really hot but once we found out "kids eat free" we didn't mind that we were dripping wet lol. Food was actually pretty decent for a "chain type place". Good drinks too. Parted with the in-laws for a bit (although we inherited one of their kids lol). My niece wanted to stay with DD so we brought them back to our place and the girls went in our private jacuzzi on the roof (DH always takes the cover off and keeps it off so the water is more like a bathtub and not too hot). Girls played around there for a bit and then we took them to Bavaria for dinner. Love that place. Reasonably priced food and great beer (and I'm not a beer drinker). Weiner Schnitzels for DM and I. Jagerschnitzel for DH and chicken fingers and fries for the girls. We also got the potato pancakes and the soft pretzel to start. The spatzle that comes on the side of the dinners is so yummy. After dinner, we met the in-laws back up at the Paseo de Herencia mall and watched the water show, kids went on pony rides, carousel and train ride. Then we parted ways as it had been a long day. Brought DM and DD back to timeshare and hubby and I decided to hit up the casino. Ugh. BIG loss for DH who then took my money and proceded to lose that too. Oh well, that's why it's called gambling.

    Tuesday, April 1st
    We had our members meeting today which lasted until after noon so we got a late start on the day. DD eyes still looking very burned so we covereed her up with new sunscreen that I purchased the day before, a hat, sunglasses, rashguard - you name it lol. I went back to neutrogena stick for eyes and aruba aloe lotion for kids for her body. I guess I should just stick to what I know works. We then headed to the beach (but only for about 90 minutes because I was still paranoid about her burning even though I took every single measure to avoid it). She actually never burned again for the entire trip and she loved the ocean so much this year. In years past, DH would have to hold her and ease her in. Not this year. She went running and jumping right into the water. She was rolling around in the sand and pretending to body surf. Too cute. After about 90 minutes we headed back because we were babysitting that night. My in-laws needed a night out and so we volunteered to watch the kiddos so they could have a dinner in peace that they didn't have to choke down lol. So off to Madame Janette's they went (and a little casino afterwards) leaving their precious ones with us. Well, that was an experience. God bless everyone out there that has more than 2 children, I don't know how you do it. We had 4 kids (as I mentioned before all aged 6 and under) and my husband had this shell shocked look on his face almost the entire time. It was pretty comical actually as he looked at the clock every 10 minutes ha ha ha ha. They're all good kids but when you get them together, it's total chaos. Well, hubby needed some casino time after that one lol so he headed out to the Seaport casino with my BIL and made another $100 donation. Oh well, all in the name of sanity :-)

    Wednesday, April 2nd
    Got up and the first think I did was e-mail 2 Fools and a Bull to confirm my reservation for the following evening. DH was hungover from the night before so it was another late start for us. DM decided to cook breakfast for us that morning. Bacon, eggs and toast. Yummy. Thanks Mom. Once hubby had some coffee and food in his belly, we headed back to the beach for a few hours. I love the beach. I love sitting under the palapa and just looking out at the beautiful ocean. It's my serenity. That night was "Girls Night Out" so me, DM and SIL headed over to Chalet Suisse for dinner while BIL and my poor hubby got the kiddos again ha ha ha. We got to Chalet Suisse at about 6:35 but the maitre d (who always greets the patrons with "Welcome Home") accomodated us with the early bird special menu. DM got Cesar salad, sirloin steak and apple strudel with ice cream for dessert. SIL asked for an "upgrade" to the french onion soup for appetizer and also got the sirloin steak and apple strudel with ice cream for dessert. I got cesar salad, grouper with creole sauce and hot kisses for dessert. Everyone loved their food. I don't think I've ever had a bad experience there. We headed to Radisson after dinner for an hour to play some roulette. Small win for me and SIL. Got back to room and none of the kids were tied up. Good sign lol. Inlaws headed back to Renaissance and off to bed for everyone.

    Thursday, April 3rd
    Last full day with the inlaws before they head back to NY. Trip to the donkey sanctuary in the morning. I stopped at Lings and picked up apples and carrots. Kids enjoyed it and we got a whole bunch of souveniers. Two nice volunteers from England were there working this year. Split up for a bit after donkey sanctuary. Me, DH, DM and DD headed to The Kitchen to grab some lunch. I like the new concept since it changed to buffet style. Was finally able to get some food into DD other than chicken fingers!! Some of the foods we tried were: salad, fried grouper, chicken sate, rice and beans, plantains, steak. They had a very nice variety and the food was very tasty. A few years back we had tried it and had a bad experience with service. Glad we decided to give it another go. When we got back to the timeshare, we had several repair people in both units. DH had called to say the rail on our balcony was a bit loose so we had one guy out there who completely removed the railing and fixed it the right way. Another guy was painting and spackling where the people before us complained of some water damage and a third guy was re-caulking my Mom's tub. I'm very impressed that our maintenance is put to good use. Divi is great at following up to owner's complaints. It was still somewhat early so we headed over to the Renaissance to check out my inlaws set up. The pool and lagoon are really nice. We hung out there for about 90 minutes. Their complaint was that they usually get a 2 bedroom at the Marriott. Nothing was available when they tried to book so my SIL got nervous and jumped on the Renaissance (one bedroom). Well, the next day a two-bedroom at the Marriott became available but it would have cost them $1,000 to change the airfare so they stuck it out at the Renaissance. However, a one-bedroom at the Renaissance is nothing like a one-bedroom at the Marriott and with all those kids it was TIGHT (plus there isn't a full kitchen). Live and learn. They did enjoy the property and the private island though. Anyway, we left the Renaissance and headed back to get ready for our night at 2 Fools and a Bull. It was our 1st time there and I was really excited (this was the place I had chosen for our 10th anniversary). The menu for the evening was: Fish salad (salmon, tuna, halibut and herring with some sauces - yummy except for the herring), veal ravioli with truffle sauce (delish), lobster and shrimp over risotto with bok choy (delish), beef wellington in puff pastry with asparagus (to die for) and then a dessert assortment (very good). We did the wine pairings except I don't like to mix white with red so I did the first 2 pairings and did not partake in the 3rd. DH went for broke lol. The other couples for the evening were a couple from Montreal (hubby is a firefighter like my hubby so they had a lot to chat about), a very nice couple from Baltimore that were in Aruba for several months, a few local Arubans, another couple from NY (who were originally from California) and a 3rd couple from NY that were originally from Russia. All very very nice. Paul and Fred were awesome and we had a great time. Will be back next year!!! After dinner (we were probably the last ones to leave lol) we headed back to the Radisson. I won a bit, hubby lost (again). See a pattern here....

    Friday, April 4th
    My inlaws had a later flight so they came up to our place for a bit so the kids could have a last hurrah together in the pool. Ordered lunch at the pool but my nephew is picky so I went up to the room to make him pasta with butter because he says I make it the best. Love him!!! It was sad to say goodbye because the kids really enjoy one another and since my DD is an only child, she now has another 8 days of vacation with all adults. The next morning, my 25 year old cousin is flying in for the week. After the goodbyes, DH and DD played BINGO by the pool. They didn't win (again, see a pattern) but had alot of fun. That night DH, DM, DD and I had dinner at Driftwood. I called ahead to make sure there was fresh catch Wahoo (my favorite). They had it and so we were there. We all did the $25.95 3 course special (except for DD who was back on her chicken finger kick). DH got onion soup, fresh catch swordfish and chocolate cake. I got salad, Wahoo Aruban style and ice cream and DM got fish croquettes, Wahoo (panfried) and flan. All come with veggies and choice of baked potato or rice. We also got some sangria and coffee and tea. Everything delicious. Everyone tired again so early night for all.

    Saturday, April 5th
    One week down and one to go. Had to pick my DC (Dear cousin) up from the airport at 11:30am. Went back to Senor Frogs for lunch. Once again it was hot as hell and this time since there was only one kid, the novelty of "kids eat free" was wearing off lol. Food good again though and so were the drinks. Took some silly pictures. DC was staying with us for 3 nights and then moving over to the Dutch Village (more on that later). Went back to rooms, got on our suits and headed back to the beach. After we showered, I ran back to show her the new Superfoods since we had to pick up a few more things (last time DC was in Aruba was 7 years prior). Long travel day for DC so we sent hubby into town and picked up Hung Paradise takeout for dinner. I got mixed veggies and chicken. DM got chicken with snowpeas, DC got egg foo young with shrimp, DD got chicken noodle soup and DH only ordered dumplings becasue he was eating leftovers earlier and was still pretty full. We also ordered one Loempia (big eggroll) and the 3 of us split it. We always enjoy Hung Paradise and it didn't disappoint again.

    Sunday, April 6th
    Pool day. Spent about 5 hours down at the pool. Dinner that night was at Gianni's. I've always defended Gianni's as it had always been one of our favorite places. Service was always hit or miss but the food had always been really good in our book (and this is coming from Italians from NY - well hubby is only part Italian but the rest of us are 100%). DM wasn't feeling well so she stayed back at the timeshare and asked us to bring her back chicken parmigiana. Well, we get there and there is no chicken parmigiana on the menu. I thought I was seeing things so we called the waiter over. He explained that in order to make service more efficient, they cut the menu down. I will also add that they also jacked the prices up and that the entrees no longer come with a side of pasta. It's a shame because we really do enjoy the food. We got a horrid bottle of chianti which was $41.00 and probably cost $8.99. The markeup was insane and the quality was poor. The Ruffino chianti I buy in the liquor store for $20.00 was over $90.00. Insane. For apps we got a pot of mussels in garlic and white wine sauce and fried calamari. Both very very good. For dinner DC got spaghetti with octopus (it was $27.00 for spaghetti and 4 pieces of octopus). DH got Veal Parmigiana with no side for $39.00!!! I got free range chicken over risotto. The chicken was delicous but the risotto was hard. Hubby had to get an a la carte side of escarole. They made DD a 1/2 portion of orrechiette and meatballs and charged her $12.50 which actually wans't too bad but the rest was just way ove the top. Unfortunately, Gianni's, you are now officially off our list. After dinner we brought DD back to room so we could show my DC a night on the town. Started at Radisson casino. The pattern continues.... and so we decided to change things up and head down to the Seaport casino. FINALLY....I hit 3 of a kind at 3 card poker. Took my winnings and was now even for the night.

    Monday, April 7th
    Butterfly farm in the morning. Got some great pictures. DC wanted to go back later in the week but we never made it back. Went back to The Kitchen for lunch. Got more of the same. Still very good. DC enjoyed it too. Decided to then do a little exploring of the island since DC hadn't been there in awhile. Drove up to California lighthouse, took pics of the rugged terrain at the top of the island, took road to Alto Visto chapel. Got some great shots. Dinner that night was at Yemanja wood-fired grill. First time we ate outside. Very nice. Sat in front of a tree with a hummingbird next and saw the hummingbird once. First time I ever saw a hummingbird. DD actaully got grilled chicken this time lol. DM and I both got beef tips and she got a goat cheese salad in phyllo to start. DH got potato soup to start and a sea bass wrapped in bacon or proscuitto. DC got Picanha (another type of steak). Table sides are always rice, beans, veggies and mashed potatoes. Everything very tasty. After dinner we went back up to Pasea de Herencia mall so DD could go back on pony rides and carousel. Saw a different fountain show. Did some shopping. Got Haagen Daas (sp?)

    Tuesday, April 8th
    Pool day. DC also moves to Dutch village later on. We also went up to the rooftop and hung out in jacuzzi for a bit. Had some leftovers for lunch. DD was excited to play BINGO again but the lady called in sick :-( As we were moving my DC into Dutch village, I got stung by something under my foot. Luckily, nothing came of it as we were headed to Barefoot for dinner. DM babysat this evening and so DH, DC and I headed over to Barefoot. View, service and food as spectacular as always. Drinks: Mohitos and planters punch. Apps: lobster capuccino (soup), goat cheese medallions and greek salad. DH got blackened mahi mahi, DC got shrimp stir-fry and I got pepper tuna. Mashed potatoes and veggie sides. Sampler dessert and some capuccinos and espressos. Back to Seaport casiono. We just like the relaxed atmosphere there. DC hit 3 of a kind!!!

    Wednesday, April 9th
    Things started to go downhill. We received a call from my other DC that our Grandma was rushed to the hospital. Put a damper on our day but we tried to enjoy as best we could. We ate breakfast in town at the Dutch Pancakehouse (we usually go to Linda's and were headed there but hubby turned the wroing way and so we just went with it). Crepes were still delicious. No cruiseships were in so we stayed downtown and did some shopping. DH bought me a sapphire and diamond bracelet at Kay's for our 10 year anniversary and we did some souvenier shopping as well. DC bought herself a Gucci wallet :-)
    We got back around 3:00ish and hit the beach for a couple of hours. That's actually my favorite time at the beach when the sun just starts setting. Dinner was at Barneys for Grouper night, however, I was the only one that actually got one of the grouper specials. I got the spanish grouper, DC got the let's go nuts grouper which was on regular menu, DM got parmesan grouper which was also on regular menu, dh got coconut shrimp and you guessed it, DD got chicken nuggets. We got rice and dutch potatoes as sides. Apps were calamari rings, chicken wings with chili sauce and cesar salad which we all shared. ice creams sundaes, capuccinios and espresssos for dessert. Everything was delicous!! One of our favorites for casual dining, great prices and excellent food. DC had a bad experience the night before at Dutch village. Said her patio door was open and sounded like someone was trying to open her front door. She said it must have been the maid to left the door open and perhaps someone had the wrong room but it spooked her pretty bad (plus she was upset about my grandma) so she actually spent the rest of the trip back at our place only going back to Dutch village to shower and change. She told the front desk (at Divi Village) about her expreience but they didn't really do much. She got a guest pass from a friend who owns at Dutch Village so maybe that person can file a complaint.

    Thursday, April 10th
    Pool day again. DM made another breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. Thanks again Mom. I vowed I was not cooking one meal on this trip (a vow I upheld lol) but DM broke down and cooked a couple of breakfasts. Went down to the pool and stayed until around 3:00ish. DH rented some snorkel equipment and went up toward the lighthouse with DC and did some snorkeling. They said it was amazing. I took DD in hot tub again and we had some mommy and me bonding time. That night we went back to Bavaria again for dinner. DC loves a good German beer and they never disappoint. DD loves sitting near the cukoo clocks and playing with all the trinkets. The owner is such a nice guy. DM decided to stay in again. Ordered some Koelsches and a couple pilsners. DC got the weiner schnitzel, I got the sauerbraten, DH go the chicken schnitzel with a mushroom sauce he said wes delicous. He also got the potato soup to start and DC and I got cesar salads. I was pretty much done with the gambling but hubby wanted a last hurrah so we went to the Alhambra. DC and I walked around the shops and bought a few items at the Lazy Lizard. Fusion was kicking but we didn't go in. DH stayed at casino (and didn't win - what a surprise) and DC and I went back to the timeshare and watched Frozen :-)

    Friday, April 11th
    Last full day and Grandma isn't doing well at all so we got another late start after some Facetime calls with the family back in NY. Got down to the pool in the early afternoon as stayed until about 3:00pm. DH wanted to cheer up DC so he took her snorkeling again (which she said was her favorite part of the trip). Me, DD and DM played BINGO at the pool (and no, we didn't win). Our final dinner was at West Deck. We saved the best for last. Sooooo good. We ordered an array of small plates and then had to go back and order more because we devoured them. Chicken sate, tenderloin and pineapple, spicy calamari, grouper fingers, garlic shrimp, house salad, tostadas, carribena rice, sweet potato fries. And the desserts were to die for: tres leches, flan, white and chocolate mousse cake, cheesecake, coffee, espresso, capuccino. All out of this world and very reasonably priced.

    Saturday, April 12th
    Comedy act trying to load us all plus luggage into the little Kia - but we did it!!! Airport was the usual deal. Flight home a little bumpy. New plane with no inflight entertainment so I downloaded August Osage County to watch. Weird, but Meryl Streep is the bomb. Normally, I'm very sad to leave Aruba but knowing the state my Grandma was in, I wanted to get back to see her. Got home around 6:30pm. Unpacked like a lunatic.

    Phone rang a little before midnight. We were all sleeping. My Grandma passed away. I don't think I've ever been that sad. It was like she waited for us to land and to enjoy our trip before we left us. She was 92 years old and sharp as a tack til the day she died. I know she's watching over us now. She died happy and loved and that's all we could have asked for.

    With all the sadness aside, I just wanted to note a few other things we noticed:
    1. Town is insanely crazy with the cruise ships and trolley. Traffic is ridiculous.
    2. This trip it was so much less crowded because of the late Easter holiday this year. Never had to make reservations more than a day in advance.
    3. Divil Links now has free wi-fi and the service wasn't that bad. They also added a food area to the pool area
    4. Sadly, we did not make it to some of our favorite places: Madame Janettes (inlaws made it though), Scott's Brats, Palm beach refreshements. Next year for sure.
    5. Taxi drivers were driving very recklessly
    6. Palmera rum shop moved to orange plaza. The owners are awesome.
    7. We like Superfoods better than Lings although they do not sell Twinings tea - so had to go to Lings for that
    8. Saw some weird looking birds around our pool that we hadn't seen before

    Overall, we had a nice trip. It truly was a family affair this year. Sadly, we had to deal with the wake and funeral of someone we truly loved once we returned and my only regret is that I could not say goodbye. I speak to her each day though and she knows she was loved. Until next year....

  2. #2
    Senior Member Liz - Aruba Lover's Avatar
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    WOW - What a great report. Thanks for posting. So sorry Grandma passed. I do believe that she waited 'till you got home.

  3. #3
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    thank you so much for such a detailed report.

    my condolences on the loss of your grandmother God rest her soul.
    really…the taxi's were reckless?

    gianni's seems to get lots of negative reviews. enough is enough right!? re: the wine pricing…….seems to me most everywhere that wine is marked up 500% at least

    re: sunburn………..i assumed that any sunblock with zinc oxide was waterproof. glad that your dd did well and had no pain.

    again, thanks so much for your time and efforts with your report!!
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewny1 View Post
    Saturday, March 29th
    Left for my 13th trip to Aruba along with my DH (his 12th trip), DM (Dear Mother - her 7th trip) and DD (her 6th trip) on a Saturday morning. JetBlue direct flight from JFK to AUA. Arrived about 15 minutes early. My BIL (brother-in-law", SIL and their 3 crazy kids (ages 6, 4 and 2) had arrived the day before and were staying at the Renaissance instead of their usual Marriott (more on that later). We picked up our rental car (first time we rented from Econo) and headed to our timeshare at the Divi Links. Our Kia was brand new with only 3,000 miles on it - a far cry from the crap (sorry but just being honest) we'd been renting from Amigo for several years prior. Only problem that for an "Intermediate" sized car, the back seat was pretty tiny. Once we picked my DC (Dear cousin) up the following Saturday, we could no longer use my DD's booster seat in the back and just had to secure her with the seatbelt because it was too tight to fit 3. Checked in to hotel and unpacked. It was already late (we didn't land until around 3:30ish) but I ran to Superfoods for some essentials. DH picked up food from Mulligans and we ate in our rooms (we have a one bedroom for us and we also have the studio next door for DM). We ordered a Margarhita pizza for DD (had lots of leftovers), a burger for DH, chicken satay and dutch pea soup for me and DM. One thing to note - in year's past, DM and I couldn't get enough of the dutch pea soup. It was heavenly. Then last year we noticed it was no longer on the menu. We were quite disappointed. This year, we were so pleased to see it back on, however, there must be a new chef because it was not as good as in the past years and gave me a wicked stomach ache the next morning :-( Everything else was good. It was pretty late at that point and we were all exhausted so off to bed we went. Excited for morning and our first full day in Aruba!!

    Sunday, March 30th
    My in-laws and the kids came over to hang out with us at our pool for the day. My DD (age 5) got sunburned very badly mostly under her eyes. I had purchased a new sunscreen for her prior to our trip which had gotten very good reviews. It was made especially for kids, contained zinc, etc (in the past I had used either California Baby or Neutrogena or Earth's best and not once has she ever burned). After seeing her condition and reading the entire label back and front, I realized it was not waterproof. Who makes a sunscreen especially for kids that isn't waterproof!!! Needless to say I was very upset as the skin under her eyes remained red for our entire 2 week trip. The good news is that she did not complain of any pain although I hope there is no permanant damage to her skin. Anyway, back to the report for the day lol. DD is an ony child so she had a ball splashing around with her cousins all day. 4 loud crazy NY kids all aged 6 and under. Got a few stares from an older woman who was seated beside us. I did not recognize her from past years so I'm not sure if she's an owner. Oh well. Luckily we didn't see her for the remainder of the trip. Some people really need to lighten up - they forget what it's like to have young kids :-) That night we took the entire brood to El Gaucho (9 in total) for dinner. It was good but not great. DM and I got the petite tenderloin as we have in year's past and it was not as tender as usual. Actually, it didn't have much taste at all. In-laws and DH all got rib-eyes which they liked. Sides and sauces are always good too. Got a pitcher of red sangria. Again, good but not great but can't complain too much. It's alcohol and I'm on vacation :-) Don't think we did much afterwards. I think we parted ways and DH probably went to casino for an hour.

    Monday, March 31st
    No sun for DD today as this was the day after she got burned and we wanted to keep her out of the sun for a bit to avoid any further damage. Headed over to Phillips Animal Garden with the in-laws and all the kiddies. DM stayed back and sunned herself and read a book. We love the animal garden and they keep expanding. They got a few new animals in and were waiting for a shipment of monkey from Curacao. Can't wait for next year! Kids had a great time feeding the animals and we took a bunch of pictures. On the way back we stopped at Senor Frogs for lunch. A/C was not on and it was really hot but once we found out "kids eat free" we didn't mind that we were dripping wet lol. Food was actually pretty decent for a "chain type place". Good drinks too. Parted with the in-laws for a bit (although we inherited one of their kids lol). My niece wanted to stay with DD so we brought them back to our place and the girls went in our private jacuzzi on the roof (DH always takes the cover off and keeps it off so the water is more like a bathtub and not too hot). Girls played around there for a bit and then we took them to Bavaria for dinner. Love that place. Reasonably priced food and great beer (and I'm not a beer drinker). Weiner Schnitzels for DM and I. Jagerschnitzel for DH and chicken fingers and fries for the girls. We also got the potato pancakes and the soft pretzel to start. The spatzle that comes on the side of the dinners is so yummy. After dinner, we met the in-laws back up at the Paseo de Herencia mall and watched the water show, kids went on pony rides, carousel and train ride. Then we parted ways as it had been a long day. Brought DM and DD back to timeshare and hubby and I decided to hit up the casino. Ugh. BIG loss for DH who then took my money and proceded to lose that too. Oh well, that's why it's called gambling.

    Tuesday, April 1st
    We had our members meeting today which lasted until after noon so we got a late start on the day. DD eyes still looking very burned so we covereed her up with new sunscreen that I purchased the day before, a hat, sunglasses, rashguard - you name it lol. I went back to neutrogena stick for eyes and aruba aloe lotion for kids for her body. I guess I should just stick to what I know works. We then headed to the beach (but only for about 90 minutes because I was still paranoid about her burning even though I took every single measure to avoid it). She actually never burned again for the entire trip and she loved the ocean so much this year. In years past, DH would have to hold her and ease her in. Not this year. She went running and jumping right into the water. She was rolling around in the sand and pretending to body surf. Too cute. After about 90 minutes we headed back because we were babysitting that night. My in-laws needed a night out and so we volunteered to watch the kiddos so they could have a dinner in peace that they didn't have to choke down lol. So off to Madame Janette's they went (and a little casino afterwards) leaving their precious ones with us. Well, that was an experience. God bless everyone out there that has more than 2 children, I don't know how you do it. We had 4 kids (as I mentioned before all aged 6 and under) and my husband had this shell shocked look on his face almost the entire time. It was pretty comical actually as he looked at the clock every 10 minutes ha ha ha ha. They're all good kids but when you get them together, it's total chaos. Well, hubby needed some casino time after that one lol so he headed out to the Seaport casino with my BIL and made another $100 donation. Oh well, all in the name of sanity :-)

    Wednesday, April 2nd
    Got up and the first think I did was e-mail 2 Fools and a Bull to confirm my reservation for the following evening. DH was hungover from the night before so it was another late start for us. DM decided to cook breakfast for us that morning. Bacon, eggs and toast. Yummy. Thanks Mom. Once hubby had some coffee and food in his belly, we headed back to the beach for a few hours. I love the beach. I love sitting under the palapa and just looking out at the beautiful ocean. It's my serenity. That night was "Girls Night Out" so me, DM and SIL headed over to Chalet Suisse for dinner while BIL and my poor hubby got the kiddos again ha ha ha. We got to Chalet Suisse at about 6:35 but the maitre d (who always greets the patrons with "Welcome Home") accomodated us with the early bird special menu. DM got Cesar salad, sirloin steak and apple strudel with ice cream for dessert. SIL asked for an "upgrade" to the french onion soup for appetizer and also got the sirloin steak and apple strudel with ice cream for dessert. I got cesar salad, grouper with creole sauce and hot kisses for dessert. Everyone loved their food. I don't think I've ever had a bad experience there. We headed to Radisson after dinner for an hour to play some roulette. Small win for me and SIL. Got back to room and none of the kids were tied up. Good sign lol. Inlaws headed back to Renaissance and off to bed for everyone.

    Thursday, April 3rd
    Last full day with the inlaws before they head back to NY. Trip to the donkey sanctuary in the morning. I stopped at Lings and picked up apples and carrots. Kids enjoyed it and we got a whole bunch of souveniers. Two nice volunteers from England were there working this year. Split up for a bit after donkey sanctuary. Me, DH, DM and DD headed to The Kitchen to grab some lunch. I like the new concept since it changed to buffet style. Was finally able to get some food into DD other than chicken fingers!! Some of the foods we tried were: salad, fried grouper, chicken sate, rice and beans, plantains, steak. They had a very nice variety and the food was very tasty. A few years back we had tried it and had a bad experience with service. Glad we decided to give it another go. When we got back to the timeshare, we had several repair people in both units. DH had called to say the rail on our balcony was a bit loose so we had one guy out there who completely removed the railing and fixed it the right way. Another guy was painting and spackling where the people before us complained of some water damage and a third guy was re-caulking my Mom's tub. I'm very impressed that our maintenance is put to good use. Divi is great at following up to owner's complaints. It was still somewhat early so we headed over to the Renaissance to check out my inlaws set up. The pool and lagoon are really nice. We hung out there for about 90 minutes. Their complaint was that they usually get a 2 bedroom at the Marriott. Nothing was available when they tried to book so my SIL got nervous and jumped on the Renaissance (one bedroom). Well, the next day a two-bedroom at the Marriott became available but it would have cost them $1,000 to change the airfare so they stuck it out at the Renaissance. However, a one-bedroom at the Renaissance is nothing like a one-bedroom at the Marriott and with all those kids it was TIGHT (plus there isn't a full kitchen). Live and learn. They did enjoy the property and the private island though. Anyway, we left the Renaissance and headed back to get ready for our night at 2 Fools and a Bull. It was our 1st time there and I was really excited (this was the place I had chosen for our 10th anniversary). The menu for the evening was: Fish salad (salmon, tuna, halibut and herring with some sauces - yummy except for the herring), veal ravioli with truffle sauce (delish), lobster and shrimp over risotto with bok choy (delish), beef wellington in puff pastry with asparagus (to die for) and then a dessert assortment (very good). We did the wine pairings except I don't like to mix white with red so I did the first 2 pairings and did not partake in the 3rd. DH went for broke lol. The other couples for the evening were a couple from Montreal (hubby is a firefighter like my hubby so they had a lot to chat about), a very nice couple from Baltimore that were in Aruba for several months, a few local Arubans, another couple from NY (who were originally from California) and a 3rd couple from NY that were originally from Russia. All very very nice. Paul and Fred were awesome and we had a great time. Will be back next year!!! After dinner (we were probably the last ones to leave lol) we headed back to the Radisson. I won a bit, hubby lost (again). See a pattern here....

    Friday, April 4th
    My inlaws had a later flight so they came up to our place for a bit so the kids could have a last hurrah together in the pool. Ordered lunch at the pool but my nephew is picky so I went up to the room to make him pasta with butter because he says I make it the best. Love him!!! It was sad to say goodbye because the kids really enjoy one another and since my DD is an only child, she now has another 8 days of vacation with all adults. The next morning, my 25 year old cousin is flying in for the week. After the goodbyes, DH and DD played BINGO by the pool. They didn't win (again, see a pattern) but had alot of fun. That night DH, DM, DD and I had dinner at Driftwood. I called ahead to make sure there was fresh catch Wahoo (my favorite). They had it and so we were there. We all did the $25.95 3 course special (except for DD who was back on her chicken finger kick). DH got onion soup, fresh catch swordfish and chocolate cake. I got salad, Wahoo Aruban style and ice cream and DM got fish croquettes, Wahoo (panfried) and flan. All come with veggies and choice of baked potato or rice. We also got some sangria and coffee and tea. Everything delicious. Everyone tired again so early night for all.

    Saturday, April 5th
    One week down and one to go. Had to pick my DC (Dear cousin) up from the airport at 11:30am. Went back to Senor Frogs for lunch. Once again it was hot as hell and this time since there was only one kid, the novelty of "kids eat free" was wearing off lol. Food good again though and so were the drinks. Took some silly pictures. DC was staying with us for 3 nights and then moving over to the Dutch Village (more on that later). Went back to rooms, got on our suits and headed back to the beach. After we showered, I ran back to show her the new Superfoods since we had to pick up a few more things (last time DC was in Aruba was 7 years prior). Long travel day for DC so we sent hubby into town and picked up Hung Paradise takeout for dinner. I got mixed veggies and chicken. DM got chicken with snowpeas, DC got egg foo young with shrimp, DD got chicken noodle soup and DH only ordered dumplings becasue he was eating leftovers earlier and was still pretty full. We also ordered one Loempia (big eggroll) and the 3 of us split it. We always enjoy Hung Paradise and it didn't disappoint again.

    Sunday, April 6th
    Pool day. Spent about 5 hours down at the pool. Dinner that night was at Gianni's. I've always defended Gianni's as it had always been one of our favorite places. Service was always hit or miss but the food had always been really good in our book (and this is coming from Italians from NY - well hubby is only part Italian but the rest of us are 100%). DM wasn't feeling well so she stayed back at the timeshare and asked us to bring her back chicken parmigiana. Well, we get there and there is no chicken parmigiana on the menu. I thought I was seeing things so we called the waiter over. He explained that in order to make service more efficient, they cut the menu down. I will also add that they also jacked the prices up and that the entrees no longer come with a side of pasta. It's a shame because we really do enjoy the food. We got a horrid bottle of chianti which was $41.00 and probably cost $8.99. The markeup was insane and the quality was poor. The Ruffino chianti I buy in the liquor store for $20.00 was over $90.00. Insane. For apps we got a pot of mussels in garlic and white wine sauce and fried calamari. Both very very good. For dinner DC got spaghetti with octopus (it was $27.00 for spaghetti and 4 pieces of octopus). DH got Veal Parmigiana with no side for $39.00!!! I got free range chicken over risotto. The chicken was delicous but the risotto was hard. Hubby had to get an a la carte side of escarole. They made DD a 1/2 portion of orrechiette and meatballs and charged her $12.50 which actually wans't too bad but the rest was just way ove the top. Unfortunately, Gianni's, you are now officially off our list. After dinner we brought DD back to room so we could show my DC a night on the town. Started at Radisson casino. The pattern continues.... and so we decided to change things up and head down to the Seaport casino. FINALLY....I hit 3 of a kind at 3 card poker. Took my winnings and was now even for the night.

    Monday, April 7th
    Butterfly farm in the morning. Got some great pictures. DC wanted to go back later in the week but we never made it back. Went back to The Kitchen for lunch. Got more of the same. Still very good. DC enjoyed it too. Decided to then do a little exploring of the island since DC hadn't been there in awhile. Drove up to California lighthouse, took pics of the rugged terrain at the top of the island, took road to Alto Visto chapel. Got some great shots. Dinner that night was at Yemanja wood-fired grill. First time we ate outside. Very nice. Sat in front of a tree with a hummingbird next and saw the hummingbird once. First time I ever saw a hummingbird. DD actaully got grilled chicken this time lol. DM and I both got beef tips and she got a goat cheese salad in phyllo to start. DH got potato soup to start and a sea bass wrapped in bacon or proscuitto. DC got Picanha (another type of steak). Table sides are always rice, beans, veggies and mashed potatoes. Everything very tasty. After dinner we went back up to Pasea de Herencia mall so DD could go back on pony rides and carousel. Saw a different fountain show. Did some shopping. Got Haagen Daas (sp?)

    Tuesday, April 8th
    Pool day. DC also moves to Dutch village later on. We also went up to the rooftop and hung out in jacuzzi for a bit. Had some leftovers for lunch. DD was excited to play BINGO again but the lady called in sick :-( As we were moving my DC into Dutch village, I got stung by something under my foot. Luckily, nothing came of it as we were headed to Barefoot for dinner. DM babysat this evening and so DH, DC and I headed over to Barefoot. View, service and food as spectacular as always. Drinks: Mohitos and planters punch. Apps: lobster capuccino (soup), goat cheese medallions and greek salad. DH got blackened mahi mahi, DC got shrimp stir-fry and I got pepper tuna. Mashed potatoes and veggie sides. Sampler dessert and some capuccinos and espressos. Back to Seaport casiono. We just like the relaxed atmosphere there. DC hit 3 of a kind!!!

    Wednesday, April 9th
    Things started to go downhill. We received a call from my other DC that our Grandma was rushed to the hospital. Put a damper on our day but we tried to enjoy as best we could. We ate breakfast in town at the Dutch Pancakehouse (we usually go to Linda's and were headed there but hubby turned the wroing way and so we just went with it). Crepes were still delicious. No cruiseships were in so we stayed downtown and did some shopping. DH bought me a sapphire and diamond bracelet at Kay's for our 10 year anniversary and we did some souvenier shopping as well. DC bought herself a Gucci wallet :-)
    We got back around 3:00ish and hit the beach for a couple of hours. That's actually my favorite time at the beach when the sun just starts setting. Dinner was at Barneys for Grouper night, however, I was the only one that actually got one of the grouper specials. I got the spanish grouper, DC got the let's go nuts grouper which was on regular menu, DM got parmesan grouper which was also on regular menu, dh got coconut shrimp and you guessed it, DD got chicken nuggets. We got rice and dutch potatoes as sides. Apps were calamari rings, chicken wings with chili sauce and cesar salad which we all shared. ice creams sundaes, capuccinios and espresssos for dessert. Everything was delicous!! One of our favorites for casual dining, great prices and excellent food. DC had a bad experience the night before at Dutch village. Said her patio door was open and sounded like someone was trying to open her front door. She said it must have been the maid to left the door open and perhaps someone had the wrong room but it spooked her pretty bad (plus she was upset about my grandma) so she actually spent the rest of the trip back at our place only going back to Dutch village to shower and change. She told the front desk (at Divi Village) about her expreience but they didn't really do much. She got a guest pass from a friend who owns at Dutch Village so maybe that person can file a complaint.

    Thursday, April 10th
    Pool day again. DM made another breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. Thanks again Mom. I vowed I was not cooking one meal on this trip (a vow I upheld lol) but DM broke down and cooked a couple of breakfasts. Went down to the pool and stayed until around 3:00ish. DH rented some snorkel equipment and went up toward the lighthouse with DC and did some snorkeling. They said it was amazing. I took DD in hot tub again and we had some mommy and me bonding time. That night we went back to Bavaria again for dinner. DC loves a good German beer and they never disappoint. DD loves sitting near the cukoo clocks and playing with all the trinkets. The owner is such a nice guy. DM decided to stay in again. Ordered some Koelsches and a couple pilsners. DC got the weiner schnitzel, I got the sauerbraten, DH go the chicken schnitzel with a mushroom sauce he said wes delicous. He also got the potato soup to start and DC and I got cesar salads. I was pretty much done with the gambling but hubby wanted a last hurrah so we went to the Alhambra. DC and I walked around the shops and bought a few items at the Lazy Lizard. Fusion was kicking but we didn't go in. DH stayed at casino (and didn't win - what a surprise) and DC and I went back to the timeshare and watched Frozen :-)

    Friday, April 11th
    Last full day and Grandma isn't doing well at all so we got another late start after some Facetime calls with the family back in NY. Got down to the pool in the early afternoon as stayed until about 3:00pm. DH wanted to cheer up DC so he took her snorkeling again (which she said was her favorite part of the trip). Me, DD and DM played BINGO at the pool (and no, we didn't win). Our final dinner was at West Deck. We saved the best for last. Sooooo good. We ordered an array of small plates and then had to go back and order more because we devoured them. Chicken sate, tenderloin and pineapple, spicy calamari, grouper fingers, garlic shrimp, house salad, tostadas, carribena rice, sweet potato fries. And the desserts were to die for: tres leches, flan, white and chocolate mousse cake, cheesecake, coffee, espresso, capuccino. All out of this world and very reasonably priced.

    Saturday, April 12th
    Comedy act trying to load us all plus luggage into the little Kia - but we did it!!! Airport was the usual deal. Flight home a little bumpy. New plane with no inflight entertainment so I downloaded August Osage County to watch. Weird, but Meryl Streep is the bomb. Normally, I'm very sad to leave Aruba but knowing the state my Grandma was in, I wanted to get back to see her. Got home around 6:30pm. Unpacked like a lunatic.

    Phone rang a little before midnight. We were all sleeping. My Grandma passed away. I don't think I've ever been that sad. It was like she waited for us to land and to enjoy our trip before we left us. She was 92 years old and sharp as a tack til the day she died. I know she's watching over us now. She died happy and loved and that's all we could have asked for.

    With all the sadness aside, I just wanted to note a few other things we noticed:
    1. Town is insanely crazy with the cruise ships and trolley. Traffic is ridiculous.
    2. This trip it was so much less crowded because of the late Easter holiday this year. Never had to make reservations more than a day in advance.
    3. Divil Links now has free wi-fi and the service wasn't that bad. They also added a food area to the pool area
    4. Sadly, we did not make it to some of our favorite places: Madame Janettes (inlaws made it though), Scott's Brats, Palm beach refreshements. Next year for sure.
    5. Taxi drivers were driving very recklessly
    6. Palmera rum shop moved to orange plaza. The owners are awesome.
    7. We like Superfoods better than Lings although they do not sell Twinings tea - so had to go to Lings for that
    8. Saw some weird looking birds around our pool that we hadn't seen before

    Overall, we had a nice trip. It truly was a family affair this year. Sadly, we had to deal with the wake and funeral of someone we truly loved once we returned and my only regret is that I could not say goodbye. I speak to her each day though and she knows she was loved. Until next year....

  4. #4
    Senior Member Pegmeister's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother. It's so hard to lose a loved one.
    Enjoyed your trip report, especially about all the restaurants thank you for sharing.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Well,we loved your trip report. Its been quite awhile that someone took the time to write such a in deph review. Sorry about your loss. But thanks so much for taking the time to share about your fantastic trip. Trip reports our our favorite thing about this forum.
    Sean and Susan

  6. #6
    Senior Member cindyo's Avatar
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    Hats off to you for a such a great detailed report. You must have kept a journal to remember all that you ate😄 like to read honest opinions.
    its always fun traveling with relatives glad your daughter had fun
    sorry to hear about your grandmother. A fun vacation turned into a sad time for you and I was sorry to read that at the end of your post. God Bless

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lewny1's Avatar
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    Thank you for your condolences. And yes, we noticed that especially the "SUV" taxis were driving very fast, crossing lanes without signaling, etc. Very different than we remember.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post

    thank you so much for such a detailed report.

    my condolences on the loss of your grandmother God rest her soul.
    really…the taxi's were reckless?

    gianni's seems to get lots of negative reviews. enough is enough right!? re: the wine pricing…….seems to me most everywhere that wine is marked up 500% at least

    re: sunburn………..i assumed that any sunblock with zinc oxide was waterproof. glad that your dd did well and had no pain.

    again, thanks so much for your time and efforts with your report!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lewny1's Avatar
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    Thank you very much Cindyo.
    Yes, I did bring a small notebook to jot down restaurants, what we ate and what we did each day so that I could add it to the report. The mind sometimes becomes a blank otherwise :-)
    Quote Originally Posted by cindyo View Post
    Hats off to you for a such a great detailed report. You must have kept a journal to remember all that you ate like to read honest opinions.
    its always fun traveling with relatives glad your daughter had fun
    sorry to hear about your grandmother. A fun vacation turned into a sad time for you and I was sorry to read that at the end of your post. God Bless

  9. #9
    Senior Member hatteras's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed your trip report. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    I too am sorry about your grandmother. Thanks for taking the time to write the trip review.

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