Aruba. One Happy Island. Well, mostly….

We flew with Jet Blue airlines out of New Yorks JFK.  Think Easyjet, but more leg room, free soft drinks, WIFI & as many Doritos as you can eat.  Yum.  Service with a smile, not with a receipt. As we were on our holibobs I ordered a rum and pineapple. Its the law when heading to the Caribbean. White rum this time, and after the first drink my mind and body were on CCT – Caribbean Chill Time.  Much to the disgust of the Deep South couple sitting next to me, I had another two rums. Maybe they thought I would be drunk and rowdy? How little they know……

 We arrived at our base camp, the Amsterdam Manor Resort around 5pm, to be given the good news of a free upgrade to their Master Suite with an Ocean view. I was extremely excited at this as I never get upgraded! What a beautiful room it was, two bedrooms both ensuite, huge lounge, full kitchen – it’s bigger than my house!  We soon settled in, unpacked and decided to hit the town – well a cheeky meal at least.

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We took a walk along the gorgeous beach, with its soft white sand, and the sun just going down.  Its a good job we did walk along the beach, as you can’t really walk along the road to easily.  Aruba is not built for people walking – this was the first warning sign of how American this island is, and it was not the last.

We stumbled across a bar called the Screaming Eagle.  We had read some reviews on this place, saying it was one of the best restaurants on the island, with a happening bar.  So why was it empty except for a few people eating dinner?  Its Saturday night, where is everyone??  They are all in their resorts. where most of the restaurants are for the people who do not wish to venture out.  Warning sign no 2…….

We ordered a couple of cocktails.  Well, 1 cocktail.  My choice was meant to be a Rum based drink.  What I got was a glass of rum with a little grenadine in it.  From probably the most useless and miserable bar person I have ever encountered, and lets face it I have met a few. Even when I asked for the drink to be topped up with soda, she gave me a separate glass of water, with her face like a smacked backside.  So, we left hungry and I was thirsty, so we went on for dinner to a restaurant in a resort…….

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After a gorgeous meal and an early night, I slept like a baby.  Literally.  My bed was so huge, I could sleep in any god damn direction I liked! Across, normal, upside down, it was perfect.  We decided to have breakfast in the resort restaurant called Mangoes.  This is where the man with the best laugh ever works.  Always smiling, always chatting, taking care of my every need for tea & ketchup – not together of course.  This again was a common theme, all the staff at the Amsterdam Manor went out of their way to make us feel welcome and looked after.  Especially Vincent the beach bar dude.  He made us spicy tomato juice to revive our hungover moments on most days!!  Thank you to all of the staff, you were fab.

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We spent our days mainly on the beach, at the beach bar, in the pool or indoors.  It rained quite a bit, so this was the perfect time to catch up on Modern Family & drink the local beer which was called Chill.  Got to love a Caribbean local beer!!!!!!

Monday we decided to hire a car for the day, as we like to see the real side of the place we visit, not just the pretty resorts, we needed the real Aruba!  For $60 a day, we got a little run around that was perfect for what we needed.  So, off we went bright and early to explore the Island.

First stop was the California Lighthouse, one of the major attractions on the Island, a mere twenty minutes away.  Literally it was just a lighthouse.  You can’t go inside, and there was no information on it, nothing.  Just two guys selling coconut water and ice.  Seemed such a wasted opportunity to engage with tourists, but that became the common theme everywhere we went.  We tried to find the natural lagoon, or the caves (which we found 1) there seemed to be no real effort.  No road signs leading you to beautiful beaches or tourist attractions.  No real heart or soul left, like its all just ebbed away.  We drove the length of the island, unable to visit some parts as they were off road.  Its a pretty island, but it seems to have sold its soul to the resorts.  Maybe we missed some things, but it was back to the beach for us, which was no real hardship!

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Eating out was very American.  We looked everywhere and dug deep to try and find the local food and culture, unfortunately there was only one restaurant we managed to find some, and we were the only people in there.  Shame as the food was good!

However, we had some great nights out, mainly at a bar called Gusto which knew how to party.  We danced on the bar, had a great laugh with the locals and visitors several times.  Its a bar run by a Dutch guy with a DJ who knew his crowd – a unique thing sometimes.  Drinks were half price most of the night, and the bar staff were warm and friendly and remembered my drink, always a bonus.  Highly recommended!

After 4 days it was time to go to New York for 46 hours, and that was made less painful by clearing US Immigration in Aruba – thank goodness as my hangover was hurting!!  Our flight back was easy, nice and roomy, friendly staff although the US staff were very confused with our accents!!! Always god fun.  As we landed the Manhattan Sky Line never fails to impress, and it felt like things were about to get fun!

We definitely picked the best resort to stay at, it is chilled, next to the best beach and not over crowded.  We had a great 4 days and nights, and its very easy to get to and from New York.  If you have some spare days when travelling anywhere on the East Coast of America I would recommend it for some R&R, its pretty, friendly and warm.  But for more than a few days and for the true Caribbean, save your pennies or dollars for somewhere that remembers who it is.

Now onto NYC…….

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