Finally getting around for aSept. 6th through 15th trip report.
Leaving Newark was not bad, applied for Global Entry and the TSA Pre Check line went fairly quick except for me. Most times I set off the alarm because of my faux knee. Had to go through the x-ray machine. Something I have to get used to. Arrived at Queen Beatrix and as others posted the Happy Line was under renovation so had to go through the normal lines, again, not bad, picked up luggage and met Bully and away we went. Conversed with Bully on his family etc. Nice to catch up. On the beach by 1:30 p.m. drink in hand.
When we arrived at the Hilton and the room offered was definitely not what I was expecting. Even though through my broker I put in a request for a Garden View room looking at interior Gardens (additional fee from Guest room rate) I think I got the worst room, Curacao Tower, second floor, first room on left looking at RIU and construction storage containers. Hilton said they were booked and could not offer me a room change at this time, they may be able to do it in about 5 days and I said why bother. I expected the construction going on but not to be right on top of it. The WiFi signal strength in the room showed more signal from the RIU server than Hilton, LOL. I’ll try and work my disappointment with the broker. It all worked out since how much time do we really spend in the room. Couple of maintenance issues, the elevator only had one car working the whole time we were there (10 days) and the ice machines on the 1st and 2nd floors weren’t working, had to go to 3rdfor ice. Maybe it will all be completed by the time we get back in 2017.
We opted to reserve our palapa for most of the stay closer to Gilligan’s. You can now reserve on line and even before you arrive if you want. Since I tipped some of the beach staff up front we were never without service when we “needed it”. Worst day for umbrella rentals by the vendors was on our first Thursday when there were two ships in port. They were three deep from waters edge to first row of palapas. Some people were not happy. I noticed an increase in security on this day both from Hilton and I think from Aruba’s beach police. They were not in a police uniform but polos all the same color and shorts, I guess to keep peace with vendor renters and Hilton guests. It appeared to be the same on the RIU side but they have a wider beach there. Most days were on the beach and walks up and down Palm Beach from Holiday Inn to Divi Phoenix, then dinner afew times followed up by some casino deposits, overall we did come home a little bit lighter but not much being there 10 days. Late afternoon lunches were at Bugaloe and snacked those nights, Dinners were at Sunset Grill at the Hilton, Casa Tua on our first night tradition, MJ’s on anniversary day and Barefoot on last night,tried their special soup of the day, a warm carrot concoction that had a bisque consistency it was different and quite good. With some higher end entrees and a few drinks averaged about a buck thirty with additional tip for dinners. We also revisited Texas De Brazil, waiter talked us into a half pitcher of Sangria (had it before and it’s good) even though we didn’t think we could finish it.He said he would prepare the unfinished portion in a “to go” bottle and fruit in a container, so it worked out we had sangria on the beach the next day.
Did the Trike tour solo and went on a Red Sail sunset cruise maybe 25 people, nice time. Trikes Aruba now have 4 trikes with automatic transmissions so if you were put off by driving a standard shift with a clutch and tank shift 4 speed not to worry anymore. It’s a great trip around half the island for3 hours. Met up with Curt at the BB Happy Hour at Amsterdam Manor beach bar, put my two cents in during his podcast recording. Great bunch of people and very informative. Turns out Curt’slandlords on the island first met in the town I grew up in in Jersey—war stories abounded. Rented a car for a day and visited Baby Beach area and St. Nicolas. Baby Beach is quite impressive with the work they did there. Stopped downtown and did some shopping. I was aware of the parking requirements and saw some “boots” on the V plated cars. What I forgot about was the kiosk machine only accepted coins or the card issued by the parking authority. So used up all my American change and when we purchased a few things for the grand kids asked for change back in coin florin and added extra time. How many people now a days have cash on them never mind change. Some people had that deer in headlight look when trying to figure the machine out. If the vendors opposite those machines would advertise they give change back in coin, I bet they would have more people in their vendor area.
We left on a Thursday and arranged for Bully to pick us up. He was stuck in traffic and sent one of the other drivers in the A-1 group in his place. Never have to worry about Bully he always makes it happen. Picked up at 11:30 for a 2:40 flight turns out we had plentyof time. Checked bags went through Aruba customs and security (knee set off alarm) had to be patted down. Quick snack in the in-between area and picked up our bags. The line for US Customs was overflowing into the baggage room. Got to the door and asked a representative if the Global Entry kiosks were working and he said right over here please. He opened up the rope pylon did our thing and opened up the ropes again so we walked right up to Customs official booth on far right and breezed right through. I could feel the daggers of the stares from the other couple of hundred people in the serpentine line in my back as we went to the front of the line. US security must have their sensitivity a little low because I went through without setting off an alarm, go figure. Flight was delayed about 30 minutes or more but the pilot pushed the gas pedal down a little and we were only a few minutes behind landing schedule at Newark. All in all the Global Entry was worth it even for this one trip. Tan just starting to flake today.
I’ll post some pictures in a separate post in a bit.