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Thread: Aruba_Ken and Aruba_Michlelle Trip Reoprt - 2/1/2019-2/10/2019

  1. #1
    Member Aruba_Ken's Avatar
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    Aruba_Ken and Aruba_Michlelle Trip Reoprt - 2/1/2019-2/10/2019

    Aruba – General Comments

    The Divi properties have been doing quite a bit of remodeling since last year. On the boardwalks both to Tamarijn AI on the left and Divi AI on the right, they’ve replaced the very old and warped wooden slats with new Trex-like boards, which are both significantly wider than the old boardwalks as well as much flatter (less stubbed toes!). In front of Tam along JE Irasquin Blvd they’ve built a small brick sidewalk, which makes the walk back from Lings much better. While we were there, there was some tile and concrete work being done at Sandpiper bar on the Divi side, and some roof work being done close to the Tam lobby. The new Tam Beach Bar has been completed, pretty and brand new, but… I hate to say this but the new building kind of ruins the skyline in my opinion, since it is the only structure on the beach which is square and blocky in shape, and has floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the second floor. That being said, now that it’s been built I hope it does well. The new Divi Winds gym on the second floor is very nice, also brand new and a big improvement over the old gym. Treadmills, ellipticals, machines, stretching area, and a long rack of dumbells (no bench press or squat rack however). You can be on the treadmill and watch the pelicans on Pelican Pier at the same time! On the Divi side they’ve added a 3rd row of palapas (I personally do not consider this to be an improvement, but whatever). The Wifi in the room was -much- improved over last year, which was a nice surprise.

    Lots of construction going on, the island is continuing to change for sure. There is a large new Embassy Suites being built in the high rise area close to Divi Phoenix. And, we saw condo construction going on in both the high rise and low rise areas.

    As others have noted, there is road construction taking place around Ling and Sons. As we walked from Divi to Lings it didn’t really affect us, but if you’re driving to Lings, I can see how it might be a bit of a nuisance. It took us about a week of chatting with the locals to figure this out, but the road construction doesn’t actually have anything to do with Lings specifically. Instead, it is part of the Watty Vos Blvd project, which is a multi-year construction project that started in 2016. It essentially builds a 4 lane arterial highway from the airport, through inland neighborhoods (and thus skirting downtown), through to essentially where Lings is. It includes improvements to LG Smith Blvd and JE Irasquin Blvd north to the Westin. The website states the purpose is to improve traffic flows and shorten travel times, enable and facilitate the port of Aruba to Barcadera, and to improve the appearance and traffic safety of the low rise district. The locals tell us that only a small portion of Watty Vos Blvd is actually complete, and that work continues. Paired with the Watty Vos Blvd project is the Green Corridor project, which is construction of a 4 lane highway from downtown to San Nicolas. Back to Lings – they are doing some remodeling of the interior, so some of the items are not in the usual place, but all in all it’s really not that big of a deal.

    The weather was awesome as usual, a few degrees cooler than we’re used to, highs most days of 83-84. Waves were more calm than usual. Druif Beach is in great shape, nice and wide with little to no beach erosion. Druif Beach has always been pristine, but now that Aruba has banned straws and single-use plastic, it’s even better. Bunker Bar is using plastic cups that are marked “commercially compostable”.

    Wildlife viewing was mixed. There were tons of pelicans everyday on the beach. We saw royal terns every day, and most days magnificent frigatebirds as well. We did see whimbrel tracks on the beach several times, but not the whimbrel itself (we’ve only actually seen the whimbrel once in Aruba, but the tracks are so unusual we know that’s what it is). On the Divi property, there were less than usual chibichibi (bananaquit), mostly on the beachside bars trying to sneak sips of Grand Marnier, Kahlua, and Myers from the bottles. A handful of troupial, less than usual Aruban whiptail, a handful of mockingbirds, and only 5 or so iguanas. Also more common wildlife like sparrows, pigeons, grackels.

    Other tidbits… some of the locals spoke of the government change that occurred last year. From what we could tell, immigration was a major issue, with the former government more pro-immigration and the new government more anti-immigration. Everyone was super nice this trip, from resort staff to locals to fellow tourists. We ate at quite a few new restaurants this trip, and they were, for the most part, very good. We did see a Dutch frigate patrolling off Druif Beach on Thursday midday.

    Friday 2/1

    Our flight was scheduled to leave from Columbus OH at 7:00 am, so we had an Uber pick us up at 4:30. There was 3 inches of snow on the ground which clearly caught the city by surprise because the roads were awful - our Uber driver drove 30 mph the whole way there. At the airport, it turned out one of the deicing machines was broken so we waited on the tarmac 2 very nervous hours trying to get the plane deiced! Luckily for us, our layover in Atlanta was 2 hours, so they hustled usto Atlanta and we barely made the connection. We were very lucky!

    In Aruba the airport lines were fast. We booked 2 days at Divi Dutch Village before our regular week, but they ended up putting us at Divi Village which was fine with us, 3rd floor of Building A.

    We checked in, dropped luggage in the room, and went to one of our hangouts, Pelican Bar in front of Divi AI for Mai Tais. Dinner at Pizza Bob’s behind Alhambra (our first time). Casual open air Italian, family run, drinks not great but food homemade and very good. Michelle had lasagna with Bolognese sauce, Ken had the small ribs and chicken platter, which was humongous, I had plenty of leftovers. Recommend this place.

    Saturday 2/2

    I got up at 6:40 to score the super good palapa on the Tamside (if you’re familiar with Tam, you know which palapa I’m talking about), before back to the room for coffee. After coffee, to the palapa for beach time. Late morning I make a small Lings run, just to tide us over until Sunday when we move into our regular week – yogurt, bread, cheese, cold cuts, wine. After lunch in the room it’s Mai Tais at the Bunker Bar (our other reliable hangout).

    Dinner was at another new place for us, Que Pasa downtown. Highly recommend! Our server was a charming Dutch young lady. Specials listed on the chalkboard. Charming quirky atmosphere. Homemade bread, and homemade dipping sauces. And, from 4-6 pm they have a dollar-for-florin happy hour special, meaning something that normallyc osts $17.50 costs $10.00 – super deal!! Michelle and I shared the tapas platter, taco, and chicken schnitzel. Back to the room to drink wine and watch a movie.

    Sunday 2/3

    Super sunny today. Woke up early and scored the super good Tam palapa again, sweet!! We both hit the new gym for a short workout before coffee in the room. We decided to have a very early lunch in the room, pack, and checkout. 2 hours at the palapa, then we checked in to our regular week, 2nd floor of building C. Off to Bunker Bar for cocktails, bartender liked us I guess, very strong cocktails, got sloshed.

    After drinks, off to Lings for a more extended supply run.

    Dinner was at an old standby, Ricardo’s. Food was excellent but service was surprisingly inattentive due to being understaffed for the Super Bowl. We’ve always loved Ricardo’s but honestly at this price point, bad service is pretty inexcusable. However, we’ve had enough good experiences att his joint to give them one more chance. Michelle had an excellently cooked filet au poivre, and Ken had a delicious grouper with mango sauce (Ken is not knowledgeable enough to know whether it was real grouper or not, but it was cooked nicely and the sauce was good). The food was excellent and Ricardo’s is always an awesome place to watch the sunset (even on Super Bowl Sunday), but the meal as a whole was disappointing. Back to the room to drink wine and watch the rest of the game (boring)!!

    Monday 2/4

    More cloudy today. Michelle and I got up at 6:30 to grab a front-row palapa on the Divi side, before continuing to walk the beach. Past ABC and Casa Del Mar, up to Bucuti. Between ABC and Casa Del Mar they have constructed a wall of -huge- rocks, the largest seriously 4-5 feet in diameter weighing I would guess more than 1 ton each easy. Clearly this is meant to address beach erosion and it looks like it will work, but it also means no beach access along this stretch. We saw probably 25 pelicans along our walk this morning, some in groups as big as 6, flying north along the beach, apparently allon their way to a City Council meeting, or something. Back to the room for coffee, then beach time, then lunch back in the room. Afternoon cocktails were Mai Tais at Pelican Bar.

    Dinner was at We’R Cuba at the Alhambra shops. Great Cuban food, awesome black beans and fried plantains. We had the chicken skewers and tenderloin skewers. Back to the room to drink wine and watch movies.

    Tuesday 2/5

    Sunny today. Woke up 6:40 but still not early enough to get the best Tam palapa, dammit! Michelle went to they gym for a short workout while Ken did P90X in the room. After coffee in the room, down to the beach. Got real close in the water (like 10-15 feet) to the pelicans at Pelican Pier, very cool. After lunch in the room, afternoon drinks was Billecart Salmon on the beach, also very cool.

    Dinner was at West Deck, another new place for us. I feel embarrassed that we’ve been coming toAruba for so long and have never been here before, this place is charming. On the ocean, great place to watch the sunset, food – awesome!, service – awesome! We had bread basket, friend grouper fingers with tarragon sauce, tenderloin skewers with salsa verde, chicken keshi yena. We will be back, like, every time we come to Aruba.

    Wednesday 2/6

    Michelle and I got up at 6:30 to grab a front-row palapa on the Divi side, before continuing to walk the beach. I built an Imperial Star Destroyer sand castle on Druif Beach, in front of Divi.

    12:30 we attend a Divi timeshare presentation, in order to get free dinner at Mulligan’s. Afterwards, afternoon Mai Tais at Pelican Bar. I bum my one cigarette of the year from a very nice lady from Canada.

    Dinner is at Mulligan’s, very average. It’s sad, we used to love Mulligan’s so much, but then they enclosed it with glass, and the food became average. Oh well, at least dinner was free.

    Thursday 2/7

    Sunny today. Woke up 6:40 to get a Tam palapa. Cocktails at Bunker Bar.

    Dinner at an old standby, Chalet Suisse. Michelle had beef stroganoff (she says it’s been better in the past), Ken had Rack of Lamb with Mint Jelly. Slightly disappointing for one of ourstandbys, but it’s built enough credibility that we’ll be back for sure. Wine and movies in the room.

    Friday 2/8

    Windy today! I got up at 6:40 to get a front-row palapa on the Divi side. In the a.m. I build a Millennium Falcon sandcastle, happy with the results.

    For lunch we go for Old Dirty Bird tacos. It’s past the Alhambra, walking distance, slightly inland sort of behind the hospital, in the same courtyard that houses Aqua Windies Dive Shop. Great fresh food, tortillas made from scratch and to order. 2 margaritas, 2 mai tais, 3 pairs tacos, and an order of Mexican streetcorn set us back $45 before tip. We hope this place does well. The only caveat I would offer is that that while they normally do not bother me at the resort, I got bit pretty badly by noseeums, so if you are sensitive, please put some Off on your legs and arms before coming here.

    In the afternoon we went to the butterfly farm which we love. Dinner was a very average, very expensive, dinner at Lazy Turtle. Despite personally liking the bartender, we cannot recommend (in fact, ina ll the years we’ve been coming here, Paseo Herencia has never been a great spot for restaurants). Michelle had a burger and Ken had a Pad Thai.

    Saturday 2/9

    Woke up 6:40 to get a palapa at Tam. We had intentions of going to Phillip’s Animal Garden in the a.m., but Michelle strained/broke something in her foot walking the beach earlier in the week, so we cancelled that idea. Next trip for sure. Coffee in the room, then beach time. Cocktails at Bunker Bar.

    Dinner was at another new place, Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar downtown. Food quality and service were average at best, but when you come here you’re really looking for great views of the sunset. Marina in the front, LG Smith in the back, feels like you’re downtown but still on the beach, techno on the stereo (loud though), good energy from the diners. A good group of magnificent frigatebirds hovering over the marina. I wouldn’t come here expecting a great meal,but would recommend once for the views and the atmosphere. Back to the room for movies, wine, and packing.

    Sunday 2/10

    Woke up 6:40 to get a palapa at Tam. Coffee in the room, then beach time. Taxi to the airport, and some beverages atthe airport bar.

    Last edited by Aruba_Ken; 02-13-2019 at 07:31 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Whew....! Great trip and lotsa good information. Thanks for sharing.... Musta been tough getting back home to the winter cold!
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  3. #3
    Member Aruba_Ken's Avatar
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    Apologies for the formatting, not sure what happened there. The formatting was good in Word before I pasted it into the browser!!
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  4. #4
    Aruba since 1979
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    formatting was FINE!!

    thanks for a terrific "aruba story"
    I loved every word.

    is your timeshare at divi village or dutch?

    I am glad to read that you look out for the birds of aruba.
    they are fascinating........and every time we go to aruba, there are less and less of them.

    again, thank you for sharing.
    Last edited by Andrea J.; 02-11-2019 at 10:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Member Aruba_Ken's Avatar
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    Thanks Andrea! Our timehare is week 5 at Divi Village.
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    Member Aruba_Ken's Avatar
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    Yes, we also notice there seem to be less of the native birds. (exception seems to be the pelicans, lots of those which we love).
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    Senior Member Sue M.'s Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your great trip report. Restaurant reviews are always helpful. I think you enjoyed the majority of them . Beach time is always some of the best time in Aruba.
    just getting away from the cold weather is awesome. The time always goes by so quickly. Hope you had a safe trip home.
    Last edited by Sue M.; 02-11-2019 at 11:58 PM.
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    Senior Member Pegmeister's Avatar
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    Wonderful trip report! You hit up some of our favorite restaurants, Ricardo’s and West Deck are places we always try to make it to. Funny thing about We R Cuba was while we liked the food, they had a singer that started going around to the tables, and that’s something I prefer to avoid!
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    Senior Member robin's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great report! I'm glad your had fun. How is her foot?




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  10. #10
    Member Aruba_Ken's Avatar
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    She thinks she broke a small bone, it just needs rest and time to heal. Thanks for asking!!
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