A Week in Aruba!

Greetings everyone!  I just got back from a week in Aruba.  There are a million reasons to visit this island paradise, but anyone that is familiar with me knows that the main reason I went is because Aruba is fun to say.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and say it!

Aruba!

Oh, come on!  You can do better than that!  Say it loud!  Say it proud!

ARUBA!

Now go apologize to all the people you just frightened by shouting “Aruba”, you jerk!

For those of you that are not familiar with Aruba, this small island nation is actually part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  This means that Aruba falls under the dominion of the royal House of Orange, as opposed to my country which, as of this writing, is currently under the dominion of the House of the Annoying Orange.  Sorry, sorry, I know that’s a mean spirited joke at the current Commander-in-Chief, but sometimes you just have to go for the low hanging fruit.

Apart from a minor delay, the flight to Aruba was pretty uneventful, so I won’t go into a lot of details about it here.  It was the first time I’ve been on a plane since I was a kid, and I highly recommend that anyone that has never been on a plane take at least one trip on one.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that, if you can get a window seat, then you will get a breath-taking view that can’t be beat.  The second is that when you’re on a plane, you’re figuratively giving the middle finger to gravity.  I thought about literally giving gravity the middle finger, but I didn’t want the people next to me to think that I’m a nut.  Granted, I am a nut, but that’s not the kind of thing you want to advertise.

My parents and I arrived in Aruba on a Saturday afternoon, and we immediately went to our hotel, the Caribbean Palm Village.  It was, without a doubt, the nicest room that I’ve ever stayed in.  At this time, I would like to point out that I have NOT been paid by the owners of the Caribbean Palm Village to write a glowing review of their resort.

After settling into the room and unpacking our things, we went down to eat in the hotel’s restaurant, where we got to sample the local beer (a brand called Balashi), and a local dish called Keshi Yena.  If you ever get the chance, I recommend trying them.  And then I shall laugh maniacally, for you will have suffered as I have suffered!  MWA HA HA HA HA!  All joking aside, Keshi Yena is an interesting dish that you should try.

Our first full day in Aruba was Sunday.  It was also my parents Wedding Anniversary, so we spent the entire day on Moomba Beach.  I tend to sunburn really easily, so I knew that I would spend the rest of the week burned to a crisp, but it was totally worth it.  The cool water and warm sands were the perfect way to relax after the long trip, and the bar at the beach made the best Pina Coladas.  I’m not sure if you’re supposed to put a cherry in a Pina Colada, but it didn’t detract from the drink any.

On Monday, we took a bus tour of the island, where we got to see all of the sights.  We got to see the California Lighthouse, the oldest church on the island (the name of which escapes me), a natural land-bridge, a quick stop for lunch at De Palm Island, and snorkeling at Baby Beach.  It was a pretty nice day with no bad surprises, except for when my dad almost got swept out to sea (don’t worry everyone, he’s fine).

After the bus tour, we went to one of the local supermarkets, so that we wouldn’t be eating out at expensive restaurants the entire time.  For those of you that make the trip, I should warn you that the prices in the supermarkets are listed in Aruban Florins, not American Dollars.  I know that sounds obvious, but pretty much every other place we went to had prices listed in dollars, so it didn’t occur to me at the time.  Incidentally, the exchange rate between Dollars and Florins is pretty good right now; I paid for the groceries with two twenty dollar bills, which equated to seventy florins.  Needless to say, I got quite a bit of change for my foreign currency collection.

On Tuesday, we went on the Seaworld Explorer mini-sub tour, where we got to see the wreckage of the Antilla.  The Antilla was a ship that sank during World War II (something the ship’s captain apparently did deliberately to keep the ship out of enemy hands).  We got a lot of pictures for the wreckage, and a lot of pictures of the local sea life.  I won’t be sharing those pictures here because I’m a stingy bastard.  Also, I can’t find the right cable to connect my digital camera to my computer, but mostly it’s the stingy bastard thing.

After our excursion, we had lunch at the pier, which was my first exposure to a Dutch treat called Bitterballen.  I enjoyed them, but I’m pretty sure that they’re not allowed on my current diet (I’m on the Keto diet, in case you were wondering).  Then again, who sticks to a diet when they’re on vacation?  We spent the rest of the day wandering through the local mall.  We didn’t see anything worth picking up at that time, but we figured we had plenty of time to pick up souvenirs before heading back to the states.

We started Wednesday with lunch at the Nos Clubhuis restaurant.  Most of that day was dedicated to drinking: we had Aruba Aribas (which is another thing that’s fun to say) at Nos Clubhuis, screwdrivers at the ‘high seas’ during one of the Jolly Pirates cruises, some beers with schnitzel at Moomba Beach, and a couple of beers back at the hotel to finish the night off.  No, we’re not alcoholics!  Whatever gave you that idea? I should also point out that the schnitzel was not the best I’ve ever had, but when you consider that Aruba is a Caribbean island run by the Dutch government and they’re trying to make a German dish, something was bound to get lost in translation.

Thursday was pretty much our shopping day.  After having a quick lunch at the Sea Breeze restaurant, we walked through the various stores on the island, looking for souvenirs for ourselves and our loved ones.  We finished the day off with a sunset catamaran cruise.  If you ever go to Aruba, you should definitely try to take a catamaran tour at some point, and I’m not just saying that because of all the Aruba Aribas we had during the cruise.

Friday was our last full day on the island, which we pretty much had scheduled as a recovery day.  After buying some more grocery items at Fung’s Supermarket (which was really more of a convenience store), we spent the rest of the day at our hotel, relaxing by the pool and enjoying our last drinks in Aruba.  Incidentally, as much as I like the Caribbean Palm Village, the hotel restaurants and bars left a lot to be desired.  Seriously, what kind of bar closes at 8 PM?

We flew back to the states on Saturday afternoon, and after spending the night in one of the Holiday Inn hotels in Houston, we flew back home to Missouri.  There is only one thing I would have to say about our trip back: never try to travel on Memorial Day weekend.

All in all, I had a remarkably good time in Aruba, and I can’t wait until the next time I can visit.  If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend the trip.  There is plenty of good food, good drinks, and tons of tourist attractions, not to mention plenty of places to just relax or spend time in the water.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work so that I can earn back all the money I spent while on the island.  Aruba may be a great place to spend a week, but man is it expensive!

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