we are all getting old, but we are all still on the right side of the grass!
enjoy your bucket list and who knows......there might still be an aruba trip in the offing for you!
our bucket list includes ireland, tuscany and alaska cruise.
but aruba always seems to win out
Why might this be my last trip? The sad truth is: I'm getting old and I have a bucket list. Never thought that I'd end up vacationing in Aruba more than any other spot on the planet and, while it's a wonderful island with the warmest people and beautiful beaches and we always have so much fun when we come here, there are places that I long to see before I can't. Now that we have given up our time-share here, it seems more likely that we'll opt for different destinations in the near future.
Friday August 24
Left the Ren around 11am and took the loooong way around toward Noord to try to avoid the now almost constant back-up of traffic into and through Oranjestad. Saw parts of Aruba that we hadn't before. Got as close to Mt. Hooiberg as we probably ever will. The town of Santa Cruz seemed suburban and pretty. Arrived at the Hyatt and since we were using Diamond points, we were ushered up to the ninth floor to check in after a quick glass of champagne at the front desk. The staff was effusively helpful and friendly and couldn't seem to do enough for us. Although we were very early for the 4pm check in, our room was ready. It was beautifully decorated, clean, and had a wonderful high view (our first ever experience here) of the island, the lighthouse, the beach, and the gorgeous ocean from our step-out balcony. Loved the bathroom! We're sucking up all the luxury we can before our move to more modest accommodations tomorrow. After enjoying our free 'welcome amenity' of vodka and Aruban mezza brought to our room, we headed to the beach. After exchanging our towel cards for the real thing, we were whisked away by a beach attendant to lounge chairs under a palapa. Not that we needed much shade as the sun barely made an appearance all day; the breeze had picked up a little but these apparent effects of Issac lingered. Took a dip, read, people watched before heading back inside to get ready to go to dinner. Stopped at the Regency Club lounge to check out their evening “snacks” and were surprised by the quantity and quality of food that was available. There was ceviche, beef empanadas, cheese, crackers and bread, salads, olives, grilled vegetables, crudite, ham and cheese sandwiches, and bacon-wrapped plantains. And sodas/water. And desserts. Wine and beer were available for around $4. We were lucky to sit at the one table that had an oceanfront view. It was all so good that dinner became unnecessary. Got cleaned up in the beautiful bathroom (did I mention how we loved the bathroom?) and went for a walk along the beach-side promenade. It was very quiet along there and dark; seemed a little spooky without seeing others strolling along to keep us company. Might have been because it was still very, very warm with minimal breezes blowing. Stopped at the Radisson, checked out their lobby (I seem to remember that years ago the furniture there was bolder in color and more modern?), gambled a little, and then strolled back to our room. We don't have to check out until 4pm tomorrow, so our plan is to relax and enjoy the Hyatt's amenities, especially that really nice bathroom.
Saturday August 25
A very nice complementary breakfast buffet greeted us in the lounge. There were eggs (both hard-boiled and poached with vegetables in a cup), salami and cheese, lox, and lovely whole and sliced fresh fruit along with more common continental breakfast items like a variety of cereals, breads, yogurt, juice, and coffee/tea. Everything was yummy! Walked around the hotel grounds, played more video poker (finally left with more money than we came in with!), and were content to spend time in the room with a VIEW and in that really, really nice bathroom. We felt totally catered to during every minute of our too short stay. Staff members we encountered were extremely friendly and helpful and, although we really didn't make any demands, it just felt like they would do everything that they could to meet them. Because of Diamond membership (waves to hard-working husband), we were offered late (4pm) check-out, free in-room wifi, and surprise to me, no extra fees or taxes were added on at our departure. Would we choose to spend a week here? We didn't love the water at Palm Beach (sort of murky and seaweedy, which might have been due to Issac) and would hate to play (or pay to avoid) the up-at-dawn-to-get-a -palapa game. Lots and lots of children running around accessing the water slide at the pool or playing in the hot tubs. But we did appreciate the over-the-top service and the casino downstairs and the view and then there was that awesome bathroom....
We had a quick lunch with the friendly folks at Scott's Brats, packed up, and we are off to Paradise Beach Villas (PBV). This is our 5th time exchanging with II to stay here. We are hoping that it is as nice as we remember and that our garden view unit assignment can be morphed into something more spectacular. We did in fact win at room-roulette and were given (by the lovely Shereen) a Phase 2 fourth floor, renovated room with beautiful Eagle Beach <just there> off our balcony. Love! Into our suits and into that perfect water. Ahh, Aruba! To dinner at Carambola, the newish restaurant on PBV grounds. Not the best food we're had this trip but a lovely atmosphere and good service.
Sunday August 26
Headed to Ling and Sons for supplies. Couldn't find all the items we were looking for there, so went to Certified and Hong King stores as well. Too much time and too much money spent. The stores were very busy! To the beach; it really was the most perfect day we've had so far. Nice breezes, few clouds, and brilliant sun. Had dinner at Amadeus (again really empty; only a couple of tables filled up until we left at around 8pm) and really enjoyed how the interior design was in keeping with the Mozart theme and era. The food we chose was just yummy (goulash soup, weiner schnitzel, a pasta dish, and a taste of Last Symphony liquor on the house). Stopped to gamble a little at the Tropicana Casino which is a couple of “blocks” behind PBV. With the bright lights and no attempt at evoking any sort of romance or glamor, the interior seemed more like a drug store than any place that James Bond ever might have frequented. Friendly folks in there but it seemed more of a place for locals than tourists.
Monday August 27
This was a day filled with weather. We had a lot of it. Very, very windy in the AM, then dark clouds, and a brief shower. This is the first rain we've seen beyond puddle-evidence one morning. We sat it out under our palapa and soon the sun was out again. The wind continued to be intense all afternoon and just after 7, the skies opened up again and there was a serious downpour. Nothing prevented our day at the beach. Came back to our 4th floor room for lunch (had all those expensive groceries to consume) to find out that the power was out throughout the resort. The refrigerators must all be on generators because ours was busy keeping things cold. The elevator, however, was out of service. Does being so close to the equator increase gravity and therefore require more strength to lift one's limbs or is that a function of bobbing in salty water and/or luxuriating on lounges for hours and hours? Or could multiple rum drinks and sun-saturation have something to do with it? Those stairs could have been Mt. Everest. Back to the beach until it was time to get ready for dinner. This is not to disparage the concierge here, but if I hadn't checked on-line I would accepted it when she told me that Wacky Wahoo's was closed for vacation and that they didn't open at 5:30, when we called her to make a reservation. We were the first to arrive and by the time we left about an hour and a half later, all but two tables were filled. The ceviche and the black bean soup were wonderful, but the wahoo, which I had been longing for since I had it for the first time there three years ago, seemed a little dry and over-cooked. Not sure if there are other changes on the menu, but there is a dollar increase in the price for the fish-of-the-day preparations from what is posted on their website (from $21.95 to 22.95); still a very low price for the presentation and the quality/quantity of the food. Drove over to the Paseo Herencia Mall to see the “waltzing water” show while nature put on a water show of her own with that substantial rainstorm. Stopped raining in time for the very nicely done but short (two Disney songs: Circle of Life and Be Our Guest) and fun presentation. Saw a three car accident on the way back to PBV; sobering.
"Does being so close to the equator increase gravity and therefore require more strength to lift one's limbs or is that a function of bobbing in salty water and/or luxuriating on lounges for hours and hours? Or could multiple rum drinks and sun-saturation have something to do with it?"
I've found the same thing. Lotsa people don't believe me when I tell them that hanging at the beach is tough work! Thanks for continuing the trip report!
I am really surprised that the Hyatt charges for alcohol in the Regency club. You would think with the extra $$$ for the Regency Club they would just include it in the price. Anyway, just my observation
Yes the lobby furniture at the Radisson was at one time bold, but now new since their renovation.
The water along Palm beach is usually calm and seaweed free. If there was seaweed it was due to the storm. Those dark patches closer to shore that you see in the water are beds of sea grass.
The water here can be crystal clear if you are out really early in the morning before the watersports boats start churning up the sand. I am sure in this case the storm did not help the water from being murky.
Pelican Pier at sunset with a bucket of Brights!
Sunsets at Bunker Bar
LG Smith Steakhouse, Windows on Aruba,
Enjoying your daily posts which are full of fun, interesting and amusing (bathroom & Stairs) topics. Very interesting weather going on, hopefully the breezes will stay cannot imagine a day with no breeze. Enjoy!
Tuesday August 28
To the beach, to happy hour, to Bingo by the pool. Very gusty winds through most of the day. Around 4pm the cloudless sky turned the most amazing shade of blue. It almost hurt to look at it. Had reservations at White Modern Cuisine at 8pm and were impressed by the sophisticated vibe in this glossy restaurant on the second floor of the Palm Beach Mall. Were able to sit at the table closest to the “presentation window”, so we had the opportunity to watch the chefs use their tools for precise placement of each dish's components. We had a very attentive server until a couple was seated next to us and ordered one of the chef's multi-course dinners and then we turned into chopped liver. Had to repeatedly ask for water refills and were never asked if we wanted additional cocktails. Not a big deal because the food was good and we enjoyed our dinners. Innovative preparations and presentations make this a fun dining experience. Stopped at the Alhambra complex to check out the new shops. Most were closed when we got there and the restaurants/bars looked quiet. Sorta felt nostalgic for the old village-like shops/atmosphere that was there before. There was a certain charm about the place. The casino seemed unchanged. It was hopping and extraordinarily smoky that night making it really was hard to breathe; we left after about 15 minutes.
Wednesday August 29
A day of misses and near misses. Poked around the Villas until about 11am and then headed back to Savaneta and Zeerovers. Today the only fish choice was mahi-mahi. Although we were disappointed that the delicious red snapper, one of the reasons we came back, was not available, we enjoyed what we ordered very much. Asked what those little buildings are that are perched upon the very narrow barrier islands along the coast here. Our wait person told us that they are private cabins and accessed by boat only. Now there's an interesting way to get away from it all. Drove over to Mangel Halto again but decided not to stay, swim, and snorkel since, unlike our visit last week, there were many more people doing the same. Stopped at Ling and Sons to pick up more bars of Fa soap and Dutch chocolate, our favorite gifts to bring back for family and friends. (Note: they were selling the very same Verkade candy that we bought at the grocery store for 2.29fl for $4.50 at the airport!) What I wish that I could pack up and bring home with me is that delicious feeling of walking into the just right temperature crystal clear turquoise-colored ocean that seems to wash all cares and worries away. Those are my very favorite “Ah, Aruba!” moments that I will miss and cherish.
We had decided to not go out to eat and just relax at the beach and villa. Watched a very respectable sunset from the huge, empty-but-for-us, oceanfront common space on the roof while drinking martinis (with extra olives) and feeling very “on top of the world, Ma!” Unfortunately, I had mistakenly thought that Thursday was the evening we had booked a dinner reservation on-line from home, instead of tonight, so missed a long-anticipated dining experience. Sincerely sorry about that.
Thursday August 30
We promised ourselves an all-day day at the beach today and to try to make an effort to get it started a little earlier than our usual late morning time. Ended up under a very nice front-row-in-the-corner palapa and settled in for our last opportunity to relax to the max. Whenever we strolled across the street from the resort, the PBV beach attendant was quick to carry lounges/set them up under them for us; we always had a place to sit in the shade. During our week, we observed many non-PBV guests taking advantage of the following factors that seem to make this public beach a popular destination. The beach area in front of PBV is lovely. It has cakeflour-like sand, no rocks or significant seaweed, clear, calm water, and maybe 15 palapas. The bus stops right here and there are also quite a few paved parking spots under the trees. There are beach chairs available for rent from a water sports vendor about 50 feet up the beach (I heard a $5/day fee mentioned) and, since the beach is public, everyone has the option of sitting under a palapa. Not sure how this all works during the busier seasons, but it seemed to go smoothly while we were there. Except for this day. I had watched an enormous cruise ship coming into Oranjestad from our balcony earlier that morning; very cool! Now we watched an enormous group of cruisers (at least 20 adults and children) coming onto the beach. They were very loud, including lots of yelling (and cursing) at each other and their children, very feisty, including arguing with another family who were claiming a spot under a palapa that they thought they had arrived at first, and very and obviously from the US. <sigh> Once they had settled, things quieted down a bit, but it was not pleasant to witness their entitled and disruptive behavior or to have them as representatives of fellow Americans. <double sigh> But like rain on an Aruban afternoon, this temporary storm blew by and more perfect skies and serenity returned. We had made no dinner plans except to try not burden our housekeeping person, Deyfedia, with too many left-behind random groceries. It should be mentioned here how well Deyfedia took care of us and made our stay even more comfortable and fun. She always went the extra steps of creating towel creatures, accordian-folding our linens, and making sure our unit looked spotless. We truly appreciated her efforts and care.
Friday August 31
We left a few salty tears in the beautiful Eagle Beach water at PBV in the morning as we took one last dip after calling Hans at Tropic Car rental to confirm our drop-off time at the airport (as recommended here; thanks again!). Traffic was heavy but moving through town and we arrived a little early at the Departures curb as arranged, but happily, so did Hans. We had printed out our boarding passes at the resort the day before, so were able to skip the long check-in line and move right to the designated spot at the counter to drop off our bags. The food and drinks at the airport are just crazy expensive [/obviousstatement]. Our return flight was pleasant and uneventful; exactly what one hopes. Kudos to JetBlue and staff for making it happen.
We've been back home for a couple of days and, as we describe how things went on our trip to our friends and families, we both have been saying without hesitation that our expectations for this trip were easily met and frequently exceeded. We felt welcome and safe. We had fun, we relaxed, we indulged, we explored, we enjoyed revisiting familiar places and experiences and loved finding and having new adventures. We would wish for everyone and ourselves, no matter where the destination, to have as wonderful a vacation as we did in Aruba.
Thanks again for all the helpful information provided here by those who love Aruba and are so generous with sharing their expertise. Our trip was enriched by you!