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Thread: Trip Number five: 8th September to 15th September 2016

  1. #11
    Senior Member purpleangel's Avatar
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    Looking forward to reading about your trip - safe travels!

  2. #12
    Senior Member WaltVB's Avatar
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    Are you there yet??

  3. #13
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    Hello Everyone!! Sorry for the delay in posting up my trip report. Prior to my trip my laptop decided that it was ready to act up by shutting down unexpectedly and a whole bunch of other things. So I was left with writing things down in a notebook to transcribe upon my return home. Thankfully I still have a few extra days before I am slated to return to work, and now without any further delay My Aruba Story, Trip #5, Thursday 8th September 2016 to Thursday 15th September 2016.

    Thursday 8th September 2016: It’s A Longer Way Than Usual To Aruba
    Arrived at the Piarco International Airport in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at 2:15pm with five minutes to spare before check in for Insel Air International Flight 7I 706 was due to commence. I located the check-in counter for Insel which also happened to be the same counter for Suriname Airways, the airline that I would normally take to get to Curacao before switching over to Insel for the connecting flight to Aruba. As they were still in the process of checking in passengers for the flight to Paramaribo Suriname, Insel was shifted down a few counters; lucky for me I was the 7th person in line for check-in.
    At the counter I handed over my passport, placed my one piece of luggage onto the scale, answered a few questions then received not one but both boarding passes for my two flights for that evening. I was then informed that the flight to Curacao was going to be delayed by an hour from 5:20pm to 6:20pm, with boarding now scheduled to begin at 5:45pm at Gate #4. So doing some quick math with the flight now departing at 6:20pm and with flight time being 1 hour and 30 minutes. It meant an arrival time on Curacao at around 7:50pm. Still leaving me a good amount of time to make my connecting flight to Aruba that was scheduled to depart at 9:00pm. I could live with it, would still arrive on Aruba with enough time to enjoy the remainder of Thursday evening before turning in at the Aruba Marriott Surf Club.
    My next stop was at the First Citizen’s Bank in the airport to purchase some additional US currency, followed by a another quick stop of the KFC to purchase a Cruncher Combo as I had skipped lunch and my stomach was complaining. The line was surprisingly long, but moving. By the time I got to the counter they ran out of Crunchers so I had to settle for a Zinger. All the seats in the food court were taken, judging by the travel bags and other assorted items piled next to the tables and chairs, seems like a lot of travelers were grabbing a meal before heading inside to the departure gates. I gulped down my drink and stashed my sandwich and fries into my backpack and made my way inside to passport control and then to the security check point. Good thing to, because with departing flights for London, Barbados, Suriname, Curacao, JFK, and Panama, there was going to be a long line at security; so I made a quick b-line to avoid getting stuck at the end of a long line. Good thing too, when I arrived at the Security check there was hardly anyone there and I was able to take my time placing my things into the bin and through the scanner before collecting them on the other side.
    On my way to Gate #4 I sent a quick message to my friend Darlene who lives on Aruba to keep her informed as to the progress of my trip. She was going to be out with friends that night for Karaoke and the venue was not too far away from the airport. She advised me to message her as soon as my connecting flight from Curacao arrived on Aruba and that she would drive over to meet me. She also asked me to pick up a Souvenir Coffee Mug from Trinidad and Tobago, apparently Darlene began collecting Coffee mugs from various places she has travelled to, and while she has not made the trip to T&T she knew someone who could bring her one.
    As a bit of a funny coincidence she sent me the request as I was passing by the Souvenir Shop in the departure area. I messaged her back telling her that I had already passed the shop that sold coffee mugs on the outside and could not go back. Meanwhile I had already selected a mug for her, paid for it and had it stashed inside my backpack. Being none the wiser Darlene said that she would try to remind me the next time I flew over to visit to pick up one for her. Couldn’t wait to see the surprised look on her face when I gave it to her later that evening.
    At Gate #4 I grabbed a seat, pulled out a novel and dove right into reading, glancing up every now and then for any sign of the Insel Air staff arriving at the gate to prep for boarding and stuff. Eventually 5:30pm rolls around and not only is there no sign of the Insel Staff, there is no sign of the aircraft. In the meanwhile other flights have boarded and departed till it was just the 40 plus passengers waiting by Gate #4 for 7I 706 to Curacao. It soon became obvious that our flight was delayed, yet again. With that a few passengers who had to make connecting flights to Aruba, Bon Aire and such began to get rather anxious. At 6:15pm the staff had arrived and made the announcement that due to the late arrival of the aircraft from St. Martin that our flight was now scheduled to depart at 7:25pm. Doing the math that would put or arrival on Curacao at 8:55pm, leaving a five minute window to go through the transit line and bolt down the departure area of Hato International to Gate #1 in order to make the 9:00pm flight to Aruba.
    A lot of passengers, mostly those with connecting flights rushed the desk in a panic to inquire about their connecting flights. I overheard one of the staff members mentioning that all flights into and out of Curacao for the remainder of that evening were all delayed, the flight to Aruba that was to depart at 9:00pm had been delayed till 9:45pm. Pulled out my phone and sent messages to my family and to Darlene about the delay out of T&T and Curacao. She messaged back telling me that it sounded like typical Insel with their delays, which they had been having a lot of lately. Funny that she should mention that, I had read a few articles on the Curacao Chronicle about Insel and their recent spat of delays which they attributed to a shortage of pilots and that they had recently agreed to recruit pilots from outside of Curacao and Aruba to handled the demand of their expanded routes.
    A guy who was sitting not too far away who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago but lives and works on Bon Aire mentioned that it used to be Suriname Airways had problems with being on time while Insel was always on time. Since they expanded their routes, Insel is now late while Suriname Airways is on time. We talked for a bit about him living on Bon Aire, what it is like in comparison to Curacao and Aruba, and seeing as I loved going to Aruba if I ever considered moving there to live and work…..”HECK YES!!!” Who wouldn’t??
    Anyhow as we talked we noticed the Insel staff conducting some additional preparations with them saying the words, “The flight is here, it just pulled up.” Sure enough on the outside was the aircraft from Insel Air, finally arrived at 7:05pm. We finally began boarding at 7:20pm, I was among the first batch to board and take my seat….in the exit row….by the time I stowed my back pack into the overhead bin, took my seat and buckled up everyone had already hurried aboard, we were already behind scheduled and several of us had connecting flights to catch. Including a young woman who was on her way to Ecuador and had to meet her flight on Aruba. When asked why she choose to go by way of Curacao and Aruba, she said that it was more affordable than flying with Copa Airlines to Panama and from Panama to Ecuador.
    The flight over was calm, smooth, we received a pack of pretzels and honey roasted peanuts as a snack and one in flight drink. As I was flying transit and already had my boarding pass I was not required to fill out an immigration form for Curacao. We finally landed at 8:35pm and deplaned at 8:45pm. In the transit line we were informed that the flight for Aruba was now set to depart at………10:00pm. Sigh!! Going through Transit in Curacao was quick, simple and relatively painless. All they did was scan out boarding passes, make us undergo another security check before allowing us to proceed into the departure area. This would be my second time flying out of Curacao at a late hour, and on exit from the Transit area I was greeted by a most depressing sight. The Five Star Sports Bar was closed for the evening and the staff was cleaning up, the two Souvenir Shops were also closed, the three places that I had been planning to stop by during my layover were all closed. Here is something that I found interesting, while the Sports bar and the Souvenir shops were all closed, the shops that sold alcohol, perfume, jewelry and electronics were still open, along with a small kiosk that sold drinks and snacks. Luckily I still had a piece of my Zinger left in my backpack, but I was planning to save that for later.
    I logged onto the Wi-fi for the airport and messaged my family and Darlene before locating gate #1, which was crammed with people who were still waiting for their flight to Suriname which was boarding at Gate #2. Due to all the delays the departure area was crawling with people, which made it difficult to find a place to sit. The most coveted seats were the ones close to the electrical outlets, as everyone was trying to get their phones, tablets and laptops charged. Dudes took a seat on the floor next to outlets in order to charge their devices, mine still had a decent charge left, enough to last me till I got to the Surf Club.
    A s the digital clock got closer and closer to 10:00pm we heard the sound of an aircraft pulling up to the terminal and soon saw people deplaning and making their way towards the Immigration Hall downstairs. Some of my fellow travellers from Trinidad had already leapt out of their seats in anticipation that the flight for Aruba was about to begin boarding. Nope!! That was the flight for Suriname. Our aircraft was still yet to arrive. Thirty minutes later another aircraft pulled up to the terminal, passengers got off and headed for Immigration, and it was announced that flight 7I 415 for Aruba would begin boarding to depart at 11:00pm.
    Boarding was quick and this flight seemed more crammed than the flight from Trinidad. We were off and booking across the sky, the flight attendant soon came around with Immigration Forms, I took one even though I had already filled out the online form the previous evening. This was my 4th night time landing on Aruba, which took us over San Nicholas, up to the California Light House before turning back to begin out approach to Queen Beatrix.
    After landing and pulling up to the terminal building it was a quick walk to the Immigration Hall, there were a few passengers waiting for a flight in the Crying Room, an airport official was waiting to collect those passengers flying onto Quito Ecuador and take them over to their flight. The Immigration Hall was under some renovations, but that did not stop the quick flow of arrivals. I was past the immigration officer in under a minute. So far things were flying, that was till we got to baggage claim. I got out of the Immigration hall at 11:25pm, did not get my luggage till 11:50pm. I guess there must have been just one guy unloading the aircraft before sending it through to baggage claim. By this time I had accessed the airport Wi-fi and sent a message to Darlene that I had arrived, had just collected my luggage and was on my way outside.
    For some reason the customs officers made everyone scan their bags, everyone. Normally they allow visitors to proceed though with hardly glance. Not this time. By the time I stepped outside it was 12:00am. Darlene pulled up about three minutes later, we went back to the restaurant/bar to pick up her friends before she drove me over to the Aruba Marriott Surf Club. Just before that I handed her the coffee mug that I picked up for her, she was surprised and actually believed that I had been unable to purchase the item for her. At the Surf Club she offered to park and come inside with me while I checked in, it was already late and I did not want to keep her as she had to drop her friends home and make the drive back to San Nicholas. We made plans to message as soon as I got my phone connected to the resort’s wi-fi and we would make plans from there.
    I could have sworn that I left the comedy of errors at the airport. Nope it followed me to the hotel. First the receptionist on duty could not find my reservation, because he thought that my first name (Vallon) was my last name. It was not till his supervisor came out and pointed out his mistake that he found my reservation. After receiving directions on how to find my room situated in Spy Glass I had difficulty getting into the building, for some reason the sensor at the door was not reading my card. Luckily a passing security guard helped me out and I was able to get it. By this time I am exhausted and ready to collapse, but I still had to find my room. Found it, went in and did a quick check after locating the light switch for the kitchen.
    Found the bedroom, put down my things and figured that I would explore in the morning. All I wanted to do at that time was change, get into bed and sleep. Which was what I wanted to do, but for some reason I could not. So I turned on the tv, searched for something interesting, got comfortable them finally dropped off to sleep.
    Not how I envisioned starting my latest visit to Aruba, with delayed flights and losing an entire day, but the important thing was that I made it, and did not loose my mind in the process.

    More to come tomorrow so stay tuned….

  4. #14
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    That's a hell of a day.... glad you got there and I suspect the rest of the trip was good.... looking forward to it!

  5. #15
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    oh brother !!
    it just seems to me that the distance between Trinidad/Tobago and Curacao and Aruba is pretty short.
    I wish tranporting oneself from island to island to island was less complicated and way more quicker for you.
    Seriously, the folks from the Boston and NYC area have a much easier time...as well as quicker.

    i look forward to reading more.

    I did follow your trip on FB!

    Hope that our paths cross someday

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    oh brother !!
    it just seems to me that the distance between Trinidad/Tobago and Curacao and Aruba is pretty short.
    I wish tranporting oneself from island to island to island was less complicated and way more quicker for you.
    Seriously, the folks from the Boston and NYC area have a much easier time...as well as quicker.

    i look forward to reading more.

    I did follow your trip on FB!

    Hope that our paths cross someday
    Hi Andrea,
    Yeah, you would think that with Trinidad and Tobago and the ABC islands being located relatively close to each other within the Southern Caribbean that it should take us not too long to get there. It is a bit ironic that visitors from Boston, NYC, and even Oklahoma can get into Aruba before me, even if I were to take the 7:30 am flight to Curacao and arrive there 8:50 am, while those travelling out of NY, NJ, Baltimore, Miami etc departing at the same time I arrive on Curacao would still get into Aruba before me because my connecting flight to Aruba would not depart till 4:00 pm. Hopefully someday one of the airlines that operates into and out of T&T (Suriname Airways, Insel Air International and Caribbean Air Lines) will offer one flight during the week with direct service to and from Aruba. And hopefully someday our passes will cross on Aruba, one of these days, you never know.


    Friday 9th September 2016
    To say that i slept like a log was an understatement, I managed to sleep till my old blackberry phone which acts as my alarm clock decided to go off....at 4:00 am. After fumbling around on an unfamiliar, yet comfortable bed I located the little noise maker and shut off. Then rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, slept through till 6:45 am when I was politely reminded that I was no longer in T&T but on Aruba. Which meant there was no need for me to get up and do anything really. I slept in till 7:30 am before finally getting up to start my day. On my way to the bathroom I noticed something that I did not notice from the night before, due in part to my being so tired and exhausted. Right next to my bedroom and in between the bedroom and bathroom was a face sink and a bath tub. My thought on this was, "Well this is something different!!" It was not till I was in the shower that a thought finally came to me, "Dude!! You could soak in the tub and watch TV from it!!"

    With my usual morning prep and morning prayers completed (had to give thanks for making it to my favorite place in one piece) I headed down to the reception desk to get some assistance with getting my smartphone connected to the Resort's Wi-fi. One of the receptionists hooked up rather quickly and even provided me with directions to find the Captain's Galley where breakfast was available. Seeing the Aruba Marriott Surf Club in daylight. Compared to the previous places that I have stayed during my earlier visits to Aruba (CPV, Coconut Inn, and LCBRC) this place was huge. Just trying to find my room was a task in itself, almost got lost trying to locate the room. A lot of maintenance was in progress, mostly by the Lazy River portion of the swimming pool.

    Breakfast was an all you could eat buffet for $19.00 or thereabouts. It turned out to be an interesting experience as I found myself having to fend off a lot of birds that were hanging around. While eating I sent a few quick messages to family and to my friend Darlene, she had some errands to run that day in San Nicholas and she also had to get some repair work done on the AC for her vehicle, so it was 50/50 if we would be seeing each other that day or later in the day. After breakfast I wandered over to the beach and took a walk towards Moomba and the other hotels along that stretch. Even for September there were a good amount of people on the beach, made it down to the pier before turning around and heading back. Definitely prefer Eagle Beach to Palm, not as cluttered and not as many water activities going on.

    On arrival back at the Surf Club I went up to my room to grab a towel, wristband and seat tag, two paper back novels and kindle before heading back down to the pool to find a vacant chair and read. The main aim of this trip was to kick back and relax, use it to catch up on my reading and make some notes/outlines for my fiction. Finished one of the novels around 1:30 pm before passing by the small grocery store to pick up some soda, water, snacks and a sandwich before heading back to my room to enjoy some AC. I then went out onto the balcony to do some more reading and somehow I fell asleep out there. Woke up a little after 3:30 pm by which time a friend from college had messaged me to find out who the trip was going so far.

    In between I received messages from Darlene that the car repair was going to take longer than expected and that we would not be able to meet up till Saturday. Which worked out fine, as I was feeling the early signs of a sore throat and flu coming on. I took two Panadol Multi-Symptom tablets, which also makes me very sleepy. So from 5:45 pm till 10:00 pm I was sleeping and waking up periodically to use the bathroom, get something to eat and drink. On both flights from the previous evening there was someone on my flight who was sneezing off and and for the duration of the flight, that must have been where I picked it up. Before finally turning in, the early signs of the sore throat was gone while the flu/sinus was slowly easing up.

    Saturday was not too far away and with a lot to look forward to, as not only was my friend Darlene coming up to visit and hang out on Saturday; she was bringing her two daughters with her. I had already met the oldest back in January 2014, but was yet to meet her youngest. Apart from the coffee mug that I brought for Darlene I also brought some additional items for both her and her daughters. Stuff which I managed to purchase well in advance of my trip, more to come tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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