As promised (albeit a little delayed) here is my trip report! DH and I had a WONDERFUL time and are already planning a way to come back (although next time the kids will be in tow ). Aruba has been on my "bucket list" for I can't remember how long, so a year ago (Yes, I started planning THAT much in advance) when I knew this Nov would be mine and DH 20th Anniversary and my 40th birthday I figured it would be the perfect time to mark it off that list! I made reservations directly online with Bucuti & Tara resort last Dec and chose a Superior Garden view room with the Romance pkg upgrade and every bit of what I've read and saw about this beautiful little Gem is true!! The staff and service is impeccable and I felt like royalty from the moment we arrived.
Oh YEAH....the ARRIVAL I knew my best laid plans would not go smoothly...We were set to fly out of DFW on Delta @ 6am on 11/26 connecting in ATL. It was a Tues morning so leaving our home @ 3:30am should have easily had us in the terminal by 4:30am ..well ahead of Delta "required" time of 45 min prior to departure. That is... until DH missed the split in the highway for the airport entrance d/t them changing it up after construction of the area (we don't travel by air often). But we thought no problem we'll get off at the next exit and loop back...NOT! Still no way to enter the airport...after 45 min of going round and round all we could find was the remote parking outside of the entrance so we parked and hopped on the shuttle @ 4:55am. A few more small delays and end result was us seeing the plane through the window at the gate and having the man at the counter say too bad you're not getting on it! There is only 1 daily flight from DFW-AUA via ATL so we sadly got rebooked for the next day (Wed) and had to return home when we should have been starting our dream vacation! Lesson learned...we were waiting on THEM to check our bags the next morning in the terminal @ 4am!
Wed was also our anniversary so we spent most of it either in an airport or plane but we arrived @ Bucuti by 4pm via taxi ($22) and already had our beach candlelight dinner reservations set up well in advance for 6pm. Arriving a day late meant no dawdling but check in and go straight to the room to shower and change for dinner which was a little disappointing. Dinner was fabulous and was 6 courses (although most were "sampler" size..no complaints) I had the filet mignon main course and DH had the snapper. We were so stuffed we asked the waiter to pkg up the choc cake for dessert and took it back to the room.
Thurs (and every subsequent day after) started around 830 am with breakfast in the Tara lounge (you have your choice btwn it or the restaurant on the beach Elements) then a leisurely morning on the beach under a papala. We were not going to have a car until Fri @ noon so for lunch we walked across the parking lot to Pizza Bob's and had a very yummy pizza..nice crispy crust like we like . We had happy hour @ the Sand Bar where we tried the Aruba Arriba (very fruity and sweet) and DH was able to watch his beloved football since it was Thanksgiving. We chose Mathew's Beachside restaurant for dinner since it was within walking distance and I had the Ham and DH had the steak...a little pricey for what we got ($75) with no alcohol. Then walked the Alahambra mall and went in the casino and made a small deposit (about $20).
Fri (my birthday) started off the same as Thurs, then got the car @ lunch time so we were off to explore! Looking for Ling and Sons but turned right on LG Smith instead of going straight we found Kong Hing supermarket so we stopped there and got some cokes and I just had to try stroopwafels after reading so much about them on here! Then we ate a light lunch @ Deli France, shared a Cuban sandwich and french fries. Heading back to Bucuti, I spotted Ling and Sons so we stopped in there for DH to get his Copenhagen and take a quick look around. We had dinner reservations for 7:30 @ LG Smith Steakhouse for my birthday dinner so we got ready (too early as it turned out) and went to the Ren and walked the stores and got some gifts but were done with all that and it was only 6pm so we went upstairs to LG Smith's and asked if they could bump us up to 6:30 and they graciously did and got seated. We both had steak (ha ha! ) I the filet again and DH the strip. The meal was excellent and we were seated close to the band they had playing to drown out the casino noise so it was nice. My only disappointment was when I had made the reservation online I told them it was for my birthday and nothing was said or done for it by the staff. Gave another donation to Crystal Casino after dinner and headed back to the Bucuti and had the leftover choc cake from our beach dinner as my birthday cake for dessert.
Sat- same morning routine, ate leftover pizza from Pizza Bob's in the room for lunch with our own alcoholic drinks we had packed as we were set to go snorkeling Antilla @ 1:30. The shuttle to pick us up was about 30 min late but we chatted with a couple from Cali to pass the time and the driver explained they only had the 1 van running that day. Had a blast on the catamaran, tried a new drink (Green Iguana) and wished I had an underwater camera for the snorkeling! We got back to the Bucuti a little after 6 I think and went up to shower and get ready for dinner...we had not made any other reservations prior to arriving so I had to hope we would be able to get in somewhere, we just weren't sure where we wanted to eat. Headed down to Maddie at the concierge desk around 7:45 and apologized for being late in deciding but could she get us into Driftwood...she was so sweet and said they don't judge and phoned them up and got us 8pm! So off we went, took a wrong turn by the Ren and drove their crazy side streets for about 10 min before DH spotted it nestled in the middle of the block on one of them. Inside @ 8:10 they still seated us promptly. I had the blackened shrimp and DH had the catch of the day- barracuda blackened...DELICIOUS! Our first time trying it and the waiter was right we would not be disappointed.
Sun- last full day on the island so after breakfast we headed off to go see the California Lighthouse and Alto Vista Chapel. Had our picture moments and headed back into Noord hoping to do more shopping for souvenirs and gifts. We went to the Super Foods and walked around checking out prices (by now we were convinced to move there...LOL) and got some fried pastries they were frying/selling under a tent out front. That place was a mad house! We left there to go down the street to shop at the mall but found it to be closed since it was Sun. Did find the Starbucks open and I was ready for a frapp so popped in there. Happened to see Dushi Bagels/Burgers & Burgers as we were driving past and I was hoping to snag some Salt bagels to try but they were gone already so we had lunch (both got cheeseburgers/fries) and I decided it was time to try my 1st Balashi Chill! I was hooked after that! I am not a beer drinker by any stretch but I'll just say 2 6-pks made in my suitcase for the ride home . Went back to the Bucuti, skyped our kiddos and headed down to the Sand Bar for HH. Decided on an easy dinner of Pizza Bobs again as I was a bit lit by this time and DH was not on the rental agreement for the car..hee hee.
Mon- Going home day...had our last breakfast with Marguerite in the Tara Lounge and up to the room to pack. Our flight was for 4:10pm and the car was due back by 1pm to Royal across the street from the airport and I sure didn't want any problems going home like we had coming down so we said our goodbyes and checked out by 11:15am. Stopped for gas to bring the tank back to the amount that was in it when we got it and after a bit of a maze following the blue arrow signs for the airport we got to Royal by 11:45. We were dropped off out front of the airport by noon and found a long line for Jet Blue (note for you east coasters) but only 3 ppl ahead of us in the Delta line (woo hoo!) Stopped in the duty free store at the eatery area once I filled out the customs form for a couple of last minute things then onward to the customs area. 3 lines open and we breezed through there in about 20 min. All in all we were from front door to the gate in 1 hr. That meant 3 hrs to kill. We had a Balashi Chill in the Old Dutch Bar next to our gate and a pizza from Sbarro although it wasn't really what either of us wanted choices were somewhat limited. DH worked on schoolwork to keep him occupied and I wandered around til the plane arrived at the gate. We had a pleasant flight back and an AWFUL overnight layover in Atlanta...but I won't bore you with it. Suffice to say, you get what you pay for in Atlanta when it comes to hotels.
Hope I didn't get too carried away in my report if anyone has any ? about any place or thing I mentioned in particular feel free to ask! and Thanks for all the help that previous trip report posters gave me by posting about their trips.