Below is a trip report I put together for our Aruba vacation earlier this month. I had to consult my notes and make sure the writing was just right before I posted it here. I tried to make it both informative and a little entertaining. Whether I did or not is for you to judge.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________
I never get tired of this place
It's been two years since we were in Aruba. This vacation was a special one for us. Monday, October 12 was our 30th wedding anniversary, as well as Canadian Thanksgiving. More about that later.
Quite often on previous trips, we’ve travelled to AUA through the US; Winnipeg-Chicago-Miami-Aruba. For the past two trips we got a good airfare on Air Canada going to AUA through Toronto. We had to o/night in Toronto, but that’s no big deal. Anyway, we left Toronto at 9:45am on Saturday, Oct.10.
“Roberto, no more, stop, no more”
Shortly after we began our descent into Aruba we levelled off. We were scheduled to arrive in AUA at 1:50 but the captain told us that as we were number 5 for landing, our arrival time into Reina Beatrix was pushed back about half an hour. He told us it was the typical early Saturday afternoon arrival scene into Aruba; to sit back, relax and we’d be on the ground soon. It was also a hint of what was to come.
Once we got into the terminal building, we went upstairs, then to the escalator which takes us down into the Immigration Hall. There was an Aruban official at the top of the escalator, and as we approached we could here a female voice crackling over his radio, “Roberto, no more, stop, no more”. The official dutifully pulled the barrier across the top of the escalator to stop further people temporarily from going downstairs. A quick glance over the half wall showed a scene of organized chaos below; every immigration wicket was open and there was a huge crowd of new arrivals waiting to be processed. Fairly quickly we were part of the downstairs crowd, got through Immigration and then went into the baggage claim area.
There was one of those really neat electronic signs telling us that baggage from Air Canada 1294 from Toronto would arrive on carousel 1. Well of course it was going ‘round and ‘round on carousel 3. We just looked at each other and laughed.
A reasonably quick processing at Hertz and we were on our way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I never get tired of this place. It feels great to be back.
A new scene off-shore
We stay at Sunset Beach Studios (SBS), and the easiest way to find it is to keep an eye out for the rusting wreck off shore as you head towards the California Lighthouse. SBS is about 100 yard beyond the wreck and on the other side of the street. The wreck is no longer the only thing we can see from our porch, at least for now. On Saturday we saw a large drilling ship, off-shore but certainly in Aruban waters and by Monday morning, another had arrived. I hoped they have found something valuable. What should be done with the new found wealth, if it indeed turns out to be that, is a conversation for another time and another place.
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’; keep that bed from rollin’ (Sung to the theme from Rawhide, if anyone can remember that far back)
SBS is a lovely place to stay for a week. Great location, very friendly staff, small in size (13 units), clean, and over the the course of the week, even my Dutch improved (a bonus for future trips) and it is affordable. Guests are usually pretty friendly too. We hope to back in another two years, and yes we’ll likely booking here at SBS again.
All of the above is not to say though that SBS is not without its quarks. First, in our studio, the king-sized bed was a hybrid sleeping platform and carnival ride. Each time either of us got into or on the bed, it would roll and wouldn’t stop! I think it might have had to do with my being 5’6” and Donna being 5’2”. We finally figured out a way to do it. Sounds comical, I know, but it was a bit annoying. Hopefully they will find castors with brakes.
Something we find awkward and reminded us of the days when we used to stay at The Mill was the whole matter of electricity. The electrical layout of our studio was baffling. Electrical outlets where you don’t need them and wouldn’t expect to find them, and no outlets at all where you really do need them. Not quite as confounding as The Mill where we used to put the coffeemaker on top of the Bible (bless the Gideons) so the cord would reach the outlet.
We greatly enjoyed every morning, having breakfast on our porch, reading the paper and watching Aruba wake up. Can you think of anything better? Me neither!
You get out here and I'll go and park the car.
There was a bit of chatter leading up to the establishment of paid parking in downtown Oranjestad. We were a bit nervous about using it because we love going downtown, but once we used it, it was easy. We purchased an Aruba parking SmartCard for 15 Afl (5 for the card + 10 Afls worth of parking time). The card is re-fillable. Or, use the 2 Afl coins they give you in change at SuperFoods.
The machines are easy to use with instructions in four languages.
If you’re even thinking of flaunting the parking rules they will literally put the boots to you. They utilize the Denver boot, that large yellow immobilizing device, and while Donna and I were having lunch at Cuba’s Cooking on Friday, we had a front row seat to watch the Parking Authority guys in action. They immobilized two vehicles, and carried out their duties with an eagerness seldom seen in other lines of work.
Reliable favourites and new discoveries
Well, the intention was not to visit the same restaurant twice, but it didn’t turn out that way. We were at both BINGO and Linda’s twice. As with previous Aruba vacations, we enjoyed old favourites and experienced some wonderful new discoveries. Here’s a quick summary of our most recent restaurant experiences in Aruba.
Old favourites: BINGO (x2) Seldom disappoints except that they were not open for lunch.
Linda’s (x2) A person should never have to decide between cane syrup and chocolate chips. I had both.
The Old Cunucu House An old favourite of ours. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary there. Need I say more?
El Gaucho A 16 oz Gaucho steak, medium. Do I really have to explain this?
Cuba’s Cooking New location (at least since the last time we ate there, but the same great food)
West Deck A great place for lunch with friends. Well? That’s what we did.
Some new places for us: Amore Mio Great pizza, friendly service, ravenous mosquitos
Hollywood Smokehouse Donna had the brisket, I had the pulled pork. We both loved our lunches. Part of Alhambra’s beautiful makeover.
Barney’s We were there Tuesday evening, that being schnitzel night. Donna enjoyed her schnitzel while I tucked into Barracuda.
Red Fish In Orange Plaza. Great shrimp and pan-fried snapper.
Hostaria da Vittorio An old-style, traditional Italian restaurant. At 6 pm most of the clientele was like Donna and I. Ok, older.
Cafe Juan Valdez Another part of the gorgeous makeover of Alhambra.
A few general thoughts
Yes I did get Donna something for her on our anniversary. I’m not sure what a floating diamond is, but she saw a bracelet with one in the Choppard store. She really loves it.
I’d like to think they repainted the stone bench outside LS just for me, but that’s just me being me.
The whole paid parking thing turned out to be much ado about nothing. Few, if any of us, can park for free downtown in our own cities. It’s no different in Oranjestad. Buy an Aruba Parking SmartCard, park, follow the directions on the machine and enjoy downtown!
Absolutely love Alhambra’s new look. The Market has become Donna’s favourite store for “all things Aruba”.
We hope to be back in another two years.
Air Canada? We just got here!
It happens on every Aruba vacation. We get there, start getting used to our Aruba routine and the next thing we know, we’re standing in line at the airport, waiting to check in at the Air Canada counter for the flight to Toronto, then on to Winnipeg.
Great talking to all of you again. Let’s make it a date for two years from now.
Take care and thanks for listening!