Trip Report 2-26-09 to 3-5-09 (Probably long winded) First trip report, but our 9th trip to Aruba over the last 20 years, as always it didnít disappoint. Started and ended with flawless direct flights from Boston that were actually early each way. Rental car at National for $170 for the week. Not the finest vehicle but a decent mid size. Our near 17 year old was there for half the trip but had to return on his own. Luckily he beat the storms in Boston by an hour. (Such guilt that day) but school called Where : Divi Golf villa studio. Room was excellent, it could not have been open more than a few weeks as they were still bringing furniture into the neighboring units. Divi went the extra mile when building these units. Granite counters, stainless steel appliances, 42 inch flat screen with DVD and Surround sound. Only knock on the room was the faulty high tech micro oven that decided to flip out occasionally at 3:00 AM and beep and flash. Only knock on the Divi, WIFI wasnít available inside the room, but if I went outside and sat on the stairs, I could get a weak signal that would just get my email downloaded. It is a bit of a hike to the beach, but I wouldnít hesitate to transfer from our Dutch Village time share to the villas in the future. Our typical day was Dushi bagels to go, Dunkins for coffee, beach between Tam and Divi with a cooler of Balashis, waters and cocktails, leftovers and Gouda/crackers for lunch in the room, back to the beach, a drive to another beach, or maybe the pool and then dinner time. (OK, there were a number of Happy Hours mixed in) I wonít bore you with any daily beach details, except to say that for the week, the amount of pure blue sky sunshine was very limited. One perfect day, the rest were a mix of heavy overcast, or some light, but constant cloud cover. Not what we are used to, but not a problem by any stretch. Food: Had reservations for four nights and managed to keep one of them. One missed for parking downtown, I gave up, but will go for a taxi to El Gaucho next time. One that lost our reservation, despite my confirmation, and couldnít fit us in. Lastly there was one that we skipped shockingly because of our experience a couple nightís earlier. Weíve been to Madame Janettes either once, or twice during our trips the last few years, food has always been excellent, it was again this year, love the almond crusted grouper. Despite the awesome food, we could not possibly have had a more disinterested wait staff. I asked about getting a Belgian beer and what type they had, as Iíve gotten it there in the past. The response: I donít think we have any, she walked away, I got to enjoy some water as the opportunity never arose to get a drink as her next visit was with the check. Iíve been to the island enough times to know the difference between island time and Iím not interested in servicing your table. It was clearly the latter. Iíll gladly pay top dollar for a great experience, unfortunately this just wasnít it. Smokey Joes: (two trips.) Outstanding ribs, especially the four way combo, which allows you to try each of their flavors, good sides, good mixed drinks and all for a reasonable price. No problem getting a table. After much self debate I got Mahi Mahi with Jamaican jerk seasoning the second night, I didnít have high expectations, but I wanted fish. I believe it is probably true that almost anyone cooking a piece of fish can succeed if the fish itself is fresh. It ended up being great. The wifeís chicken in her rib/chicken combo was a bit dry, but both experiences were well worth it. Pizza Bobís: Respectable pizza and very large mugs of Balashi on draft. The only downer was that I ordered ďto goĒ while I had a Balashi. Arrived back at the room with pizzaÖ..order was wrong. Back I go, but they were kind enough to offer a compíd beer while I waited. Chino Latino. A very satisfying experience at a very reasonable price. The wife had the Argentinian Filet, which she said was her best meal of the week, I went with the stir fry WOK of shrimp, chicken, rice noodles, veggies and a chili sauce. If youíre looking for an inexpensive option some night, Iíd highly recommend their WOK stir fry dishes, they have a number of combinations to pick from. I did leave still searching for a decent Mai Tai as the concept is lost to any place Iíve been to on the island. Hard Rock Aruba (had lunch one day here). Acceptable food, but Iíd consider it over priced for what you get. I guess that means it is like the other Hard Rocks Iíve been to. Matthews restaurant at Casa Del Mar, this has become our favorite daily spot as their bar staff is outstanding. Jorge and Angela in particular who remembered our names from a year ago really stand out, Ricardo, the manager is also great. If youíre looking for a low rise area happy hour(s) thatís not too far of a walk from most of those hotels, Iíd highly recommend it. Happy hours from 12:00 to 1:00, 4:00 to 6:00, and 9:00 to 10:00 each day. The noon happy hour offers an excellent opportunity to get out of the high sun, or at least that is what we kept telling ourselves. After two years of hanging at their bar, we decided to have dinner here on our last night as they were having a party worthy of going to. (Every Wednesday) Started with the 4:00 to 6:00 happy hour, then 6:00 to 7:00 was a $1 cash bar, followed by Martini specials from 7:00 to 9:00 and capped with another happy hour, karaoke, people dancing on the bar, and some other surprises. We did manage dinner in between, which consisted of Pina colada shrimp for me, and a chicken kabob for the wife. Both were very solid dishes as was the tuna tataky salad app. Our table bordered the beach, and offered a great view of the storm out to sea. We definitely wonít overlook dining here in the future.
The Summary: Favorite activity: Sitting on the beach with IPOD and a beer, or sitting in the Ocean without the IPOD and maybe a beer. We learned last year that IPODs and ocean water donít mix. TwiceÖ. Best side trip: Watching wind surfers and kite surfers above the high rises. The kite surfers just a few feet from us launching in the air, it was a great show. Almost made me want to get back on a windsurfer. Worst side trip that ended up OK. Heading to Seroe Colorado areaÖ.The main road heading in the Baby beach direction was closed off. Trying to follow an Aruban detour can be a challenge, but after a lovely tour of a cement quarry and the dump, we found the right roads finally, but given that it was considerably cloudy, it ended up OK. Best dining etcÖ. experience. Matthews Beach Restaurant. Just a great staff here.