Back from Aruba, still with the lingering effects of ten glorious days on that sunny, relaxed, friendly island. Thought I'd share a few highlights with you since many of you have been helpful to my husband and I as we planned our trips.

This was my sixth trip to Aruba, and also to the Phoenix. My parents own three weeks at the Phoenix, two of which are a suite with two full baths. We stay with them and it's a great family time. Hubby and I got married on the Phoenix beach at sunset three years ago, and this year we arrived on our anniversary. Had a lovely dinner at the Sunset Beach Bistro, seated at one of five ro six tables for two in the sand right near the water. Ultra romantic, and I do like the food there. The Sunset Beach Seafood Treasure is magnificent and Key Lime pie is luscious!

Construction on the new section is in full swing at the Phoenix. They started jackhammering for the new pool during our week there and it's supposed to last for two weeks. Noise didn't really bother us much, though. You can hear it, but it's not enough to distract you from your sunbathing, reading, napping, chatting, or whatever else you care to fill your days on Palm Beach with! One interesting side effect of the construction: tiny pieces of white styrofoam floating here and there in the air, pool, and hot tub. Staff tried to keep up with skimming the pool, but to no avail. We know how windy it gets there! Once again, though, not a big deal. It's the closest you'd get to seeing snow in Aruba!

This year, we rented a Jeep, and our first order of business was trekking to the Natural Pool. Whew! Y'all weren't kidding when you said it was a rough ride!! Luckily, we came in behind a tour, so we could follow them down the correct "path." I thought the ride was a blast - my hubby, who was driving, was quite white-knuckled on the steering wheel by the end. The pool was awesome! Wish we would have brought our snorkeling gear to the pool, but even without it, we could see tons of fish though the water perfectly clear. I also wish I would have taken a jump off one of the cliffs. I read later on that you could do that. I'll have to try that next time! Oh, and there are TONS of little black crabs crawling around on the rocks! Not enough that you can't see them, and no one got pinched or antyhing, but it's kind of cool!

A couple of days later we took the Jeep to Arikok National Park and started the day hiking up Cero Jamanota (highest point in Aruba). GREAT views of the island from the top! We did this around 8:00 am, and that was a good time - not too early, and not too hot yet, either. On our way down, we saw a bunch of those gorgeous orange-breasted songbirds (can't recall the name right now), and a big herd of wild goats with horns and funny beards! Took the Jeep around the park some more, hiked near the sand dunes and visited two caves, all of which was very neat. The caves had tour guides stationed there who provided flash lights and guided us in the caves for free.

We explored the "wild side" of Aruba a bit more, then eventually ended up at Rogers Beach for a refreshing swim. What a neat little beach! OK, so you have a view of the oil refinery, but hey, it's lovely water, charming fishing boats, and a too-cool little restaurant right there. Don't all go there at once though - we don't want it to lose it's quiet charm, now do we?

Later in the week, we also took another hike with one of our native Aruba friends up "the haystack," or Hooiberg (that big hill in the middle of the island). TONS of steps to the top, but once again, you're rewarded with an awesome view! People took the liberty to spray paint Bible verses and other stuff at the top, but thankfully we didn't see anything offensive (did find an empty pack of condoms there, and were informed by our native friend that at night it's a popular place to...well, y'know )

We tried a new restaurant this year - Papiamento. The atmosphere was one of the most romatic I've been to, with lots of candles and tiki torches in an outdoor courtyard. Food was fantastic, too, if on the pricey side. My husband and I would both highly recommend it to anyone, though. It's in Noord, and pretty convenient to the high rises.

We also went to the new mall that was built near the Holiday Inn for their dance and water show. Free show, every night at 7:30 (and I think at 8:30, too?). Really nice, a fun evening, and a good place to walk around.

Enjoyed the prime rib buffet at the Radisson on Saturday night. 20 bucks, all you can eat ...very yummy!

Went snorkeling at Malmok on Saturday and had pretty good conditions, saw a decent amount of fish. Unfortunately, Baby Beach on Monday had unusually rough waters, and it was poor visibility and tough to snorkel in. Oh well, there's always next year!

Most of the trip consisted of nice long walks on the beach(es), reading and relaxing in the hammock, and floating in the lovely, warm Caribbean water. What more could a gal ask for?

Sorry this ended up being pretty haphazard at the end (it's getting near my bedtime, and I've got to hurry it up!), but hopefully some of this was enlightening to you! Take care, and Bob Nochi!