Feb 29 (Friday) to March 7 (Friday) except it was Saturday before we made it home!
This is a first trip to Aruba for me, my sister (will call her “A”) and my best friend (will call her “J”). Also, my first girl’s trip. (A has done a couple, and once went all by herself to Jamaica!) anyhoo, let me first say that I am sooooo thankful to my hubby for suggesting Aruba for our girl trip, because it was just the best trip EVER!! (except, of course, for any trip I have taken with hubby!).
We departed Charleston WV at 6:00am (with A making it in the nick of time – she is always running late) and we had a 3-hour layover in ATL. Everything went smoothly, good flight to AUA. After arriving in Aruba, we looked for Bully (taxi driver – more on him later) who was waiting patiently for us with a sign with my name on it. We had to wait several minutes (20 maybe?)to get waited on at Fastphones, but just considered this to be “island time.” After securing the phone (Bully had A and J already loaded up!) we headed to the Tam. Immediately, we noticed that Aruba looked like an island which had more money than other islands we’ve visited. (neither a plus or minus, just an observation). The roads were nice. No broken-down cars etc. Anyhow, Bully advised us on where to get a bus and what to avoid etc if we wanted to come downtown. I told him I wanted to get a bottle of Ponch Crème (?) to bring home. We had 2 larger checked bags, then a carryon apiece. He charged us $17, I paid him $34 I think. (I actually thought he’d charge extra for the bags and then the tip…so that’s what I had in my hand.) anyhow, he was just the nicest man and I went ahead and made arrangements for him to pick up my sister on Wed and my friend and I on Friday.
Well, there is nothing more I can say about the Tam that Arubalisa didn’t cover in her trip report, except to say “WOW!!!” No its not the fanciest, but the service and the view and the beach and, well, I definitely will stay at the Tam if I get to return to Aruba! For those who say you don’t go to the Tam for the food – whaaaaaa?? We thought the food was terrific!! But first, back to checking in. It was fast and painless. The bellhop (wish I could remember his name – he was so nice!) took us to our rooms in the golf cart, stopping at the Bunker Bar on the way for a pina colada!! We had requested connecting rooms which they couldn’t accommodate in the 1900 block, but the gods were smiling upon us that day. A got a lower-level room, J and I got upperlevel..This worked out great, because we could use the lower level when beaching it to run to the restroom, and the upper level at night. (Turned out that A stayed in the lower level at night also – guess sis didn’t want to be like the old days when we had to share a bed!heehee). The rooms were very clean. Just regular hotel rooms, but clean. Plenty of towels in the bathroom. Fresh flowers in a brandy snifter was a nice touch. We had brought bottled water with us to refill and keep in the fridge – very good idea. (J made us drink a couple every morning before the bars opened so we wouldn’t get dehydrated!) There is just nothing like being able to walk 20 yards to the water! And to listen to the waves crash outside your door all night. It would’ve been very romantic if I’d taken my husband instead.
The rest of the week mostly consisted of doing 2 things – lollygagging and doing jack sh*t. We’d lollygag for awhile, then go and do jack sh*t for awhile heehee. I will say this – I was NOT prepared for the WIND! When you were on the beach, the sand actually stung! I had read that Aruba was a windy island, but geesh! Forget what your hair looks like all week. (actually, I forgot what ANYthing looked like and didn’t wear make-up all week either!) anyhoo, back to doing jack sh*t. Each day we’d head to breakfast, lollygag at the beach while waiting for the bars to open (we had bar radar – we just KNEW when they were opened!), eat lunch at either the buffet or the pizza bar, then go back to the beach or the pool area and do jack sh*t. What a tough life! About 5:00 we’d shower and get ready for dinner.
Food – I can’t say enough about the restaurants at the Tamarijn. Whoever said that you don’t go there for the food – I don’t know what you’re used to eating, but I can’t imagine anything better that what we had at the Red Parrot and the Paparizzi (sp). First evening we ate at the buffet which was wonderful. Can’t remember what we ate, but remember thinking it was good. We didn’t eat at the Palm Grill, and Ginger was just OK (food was good – it was the service that wasn’t terrific - as compared to the other restaurants). Edgar at the Red Parrot was the Best!! The dutch onion soup and the coconut shrimp was excellent. For desert we had the Aruba coffee (had Bailey’s, Kahlua, etc whipped cream – yummy) everything, food and service was terrific. The Paparrizi was great also, the cheese ravioli and baked lasagna was awesome. We’re just regular folk, not used to eating gourmet, and of course anything that somebody else cooks is great by us, but we thought all the food at the Tam was terrific, even the breakfasts. Actually, after the first couple days of eating the breakfast bar, we decided to just grab a bagel with cream cheese and some juice/coffee, because it was just too much food! A’s hubby had sent a bottle of champagne to her room, and we had it for breakfast one morning with bagels on the balcony – I had to pinch myself, I couldn’t believe how great it was. You can’t beat a champagne buzz at 9:00am on a balcony just a few feet from the water’s edge.
Service – well, I give it an A on this issue also. Other than at the Ginger, which wasn’t terrible service, (just not as good as everywhere else), we had fabulous service everywhere. Let me just say that The Cutest Bartender In The World (Jean-Pierre), was just the delight of my day! I don’t know why they rotate them from bar to bar (not like I went SEARCHING for him or anything haha! ) but I’d been nice if he could’ve just stayed at the Bunker Bar all day, every day. Oh well. And then when he had a day off on Thursday, well, let’s just say my day went from a 10 to a 9.9 that day. Anyhow, we did tip some extra, not that it seemed to make a difference. The service was great with or without tipping. All the barboys were attentive and personable, never had to wait more than a couple minute for anything. They all made good Brown Ladies, but my drink of choice is diet coke/coconut rum with lime. Yummy.
We did not see one fly or get one mosquito bite the entire week. How they keep all the flies away, I can’t figure. Also – all those birds but no bird poop! I swear, maybe a little on the railing of our balcony, but that was all! No poop anywhere around the buffets. And there were people cleaning all the time – everything. Cleaning things I didn’t think about needing cleaned. Like up UNDERNEATH the umbrellas. Sweeping the boardwalk every morning. Just generally a nice clean place.
We never had to worry about shade. I personally, am like a lizard and would just lie on a hot rock somewhere if I had to, but my friend, J, needs shade the ENTIRE time! She sat under the grass hut thingy with factor 50 on and still got burnt. We put our towels on lounge chairs by the chickee thing before we went to breakfast (the one right out from A’s room), and that’s where we did our lollygagging. Heaven forbid we have to walk ten yards down the beach to another one! I told them horror stories of people in high rise hotels havin to actually sign up for one of those things! Appalling.
The sunsets were just breathtaking! I have never seen such beauty. I do have some good pics of sunsets from other islands, but Aruba’s was the best. Why is that?
One night we watched a synchronized swimming show over at the Divi. We made over one really cute little girl and she acted tickled to death. She was a doll, and talked with us about the hours of training etc.
On Monday we did the Kukoo bus thing. What a riot. I will never hear the song “living next door to Alice” again without thinking of Aruba. I’m 48, and I swear, 75% of the people on this “tour” (for lack of a better word) were older than I. It cracked me up to see 65-year old women dancing and screaming –“Alice, who the F**k is Alice?!” Dinner totally sucked, but that’s not why you do the Kukoo bus. The bars were local ones, the kind that I hadn’t been to since college days. Mama didn’t show her boobs, but she did show the crack of her a$$. Fun to do once, wouldn’t do it a second time.
Sadly, A had to leave on Wed (she has 5 kids at home and is in the process of moving from WV to Colorado). Bully was on time, dropped J and I off in town to shop and took A on to the airport. Shopping downtown – not for us. No deals to be had at the designer stores. We bought a few things at the “flea market” area. When we got back to the Tam, we walked to the Hing Kong (?) supermarket and bought cheese and chocolate to bring back home. Also some Balashi for our boys. (Whaaaaa?? Mom brought us BEER from Aruba??)
Our last day there, J and I stayed in our swimsuits as long as possible, and then were sorry because Bully had to wait on us (he was early, tho). He is just the greatest! He remembered I wanted some Ponche Crème so he brought some that his aunt makes. She evidently makes it to sell – it was sealed and labeled. (called Ponch Rita ??) And, he also remembered my sister’s first name and asked if she made it back home OK. That was so nice. He got another big tip that day. I highly recommend making arrangements ahead of time with Bully.
When we got to the airport, OMG! What a line! Note to self – do not travel on Fridays as well as Saturdays. I’ll stick with mid-week, my sister said it only took her less than an hour. It took us almost 2 hours to run the gauntlet. And when we checked in we found out our flight to ATL was a 2-hour delay. (Note – at the One Happy Bar in AUA, they were playing “Living next door to Alice” OMG! That’s awesome!!) OK, that meant we were spending the night in Atlanta since we’d miss our connection to CRW, because we only had a 1-hour layover. J had put her BP med in her checked luggage (OK, she knows that was stupid) so after you check your luggage for the first time and then retrieve it – she went digging for it. There is a sign that says “Do not open luggage” but oh well. Security guard comes over and says (very politely) “you’re not suppose to open your luggage”. We’re like “What? Oh, we didn’t see that sign. We’re so sorry!” Fortunately, her med was in the first bag she checked, very easily found. Well, it turned out our flight was more like 3-hours delayed. Soooo, I called hubby and little brother (who got us a room at a Hampton), but we spent quite a while in the Atlanta airport waiting in line so I could get a voucher. After like an hour (or so) they announce no more vouchers for hotels – you are on your own (this is Delta, btw). Well, since we already had a room we weren’t sweating it, but I wanted to see what they were going to do about the flight. We only got a $100 voucher on our next flight with Delta. Well, they hadn’t heard the last from me. We were scheduled for a 9:38 flight the next morning. After paying $70 RT for a cab to Hampton that was like 9 miles away, we’re at the airport next morning before 8:00am. Took nearly 45 minutes to get thru security (we were already checked in and only had carry-ons with us). At 9:30, when they weren’t boarding us I knew something was up. They said the pilot was looking for a “alternate route” around the bad weather. What? You guessed it, that flight gets cancelled, and we’re on the 8:45pm flight.. Crap! I tried to no avail to get to Huntington WV or somewhere close but no luck. Evidently, the snowstorm on Saturday had closed several airports blah blah blah, so we had to sit in the airport for 12 hours. My neck is still sore from sitting and reading all day (need to see chiropractor). We did have a great meal at TGI Fridays at the airport, drank several beers (because technically, we were still on vacation!) My husband drove 60 miles in the snow to pick us up for nothing. Had to go back home. Baby brother ended up picking us up that night at 10:15 pm. I have called Delta and got an additional $200 voucher (PP) so for a total of $300 off our next trip, that’s almost a free ticket. (I had also taken out trip insurance, so I’ll get the hotel expense back) But, all that hassle was worth it! I’m just glad it didn’t happen on the way down!
I’ve got the best tan of my life and some wonderful memories of time spent with my sister and my best friend. Aruba is truly one happy island!! A very windy, but happy island! We met some very nice people from Detroit, Boston, Ohio, so many places I can’t remember. I don’t know if this trip report helps anyone on future visits, but it is from a first-timers perspective. Sorry if I didn’t give enough details about the hotel, but I thought since that has been covered, I’d share my experience.
PS - even tho I took almost 300 pics, its too time consuming to upload them to a website. These are the only pics I've uploaded so far. If in the future I get time to do more, I'll post them. Thanks for reading my report and thanks to all who helped me plan this trip!