Friday, June 10, 2011

Aruba Day 5 and 6

Aruba Day 5

Today was the water sport day! It was a clear beautiful blue sky day, wind was very calm! I have been wanting to try parasailing but was afraid to do so.  So my husband went up to a water sport booth and asked about parasailing. The lady said best to do in the early morning when the wind is calm so my husband decided to do it at 10 am!!! It was just few minutes and I couldn't believe we are going to do parasailing! The price was around $90 for a double (2 of us going up). My heart was beating and soon the ship arrived! We met Carol and her friend who was going to watch her friend parasail. The ship was comfortable and the two crew members were very helpful. He gave an into to para-sailing and instructed us. We were the first to go (I was so worried since I am acrophobic!). But no time to be scared, the crew quickly set up:

My heart was still pounding and off we go AHHHHHH!  I was screaming on the way up LOL but made me feel better!  It was really fast and then we go up pretty high in the air!!

Thanks to Carol who took the picture and sent to us!

Once up in the air, I was concentrated on looking the beautiful turquoise water so I calmed down. The view of Aruba from up here was stunning, gave us a different look of Aruba.

When I looked down, it felt like the whole ocean was under my feet! The crew said if we get lucky, sometimes we were able to see sea turtles from up here!  The water was so clear that we could see the ocean floor!  We also saw boats underneath us.  Everything looked so small but clear up here! I was holding the ropes tight and screamed whenever it was windy; we shake a bit up here from the wind!

My husband was taking videos of me screaming LOL! Even though I keep screaming haha, it wasn't as scary as I thought! Actually, I felt quite safe since the crew buckled us up tight and I felt very stable! Picture of me smiling up in the air!

The parasailing was around 15 minutes but it felt like more than 15 minutes! It was incredible, a must try for once-in-a-lifetime! After we got down, we watched Carol's friend going up. She was extremely nervous! I told her it was alright and not as bad once got up there :)

After overcoming parasailing, we walked along the beach to enjoy the beautiful Palm Beach again (we will never get tired of it!). 

We had lunch in the hotel's Terrance Bar Restaurant.  Here, we ordered the Aruban Seafood Chowder (absolutely delicious, spicy and creamy, I never have any chowder like this!), fried fish, and huge yummy burger:

Our lunch was excellent, very nice view of the beach and great food.  We sat here enjoyed our pina-colada and the beautiful beach! Life is good! After lunch, we spent more time at the beach :)

Dinner-we had a reservation with Passion in Eagle Beach at 6:30pm to have a romantic sunset dinner!!  We went back to our hotel room and change for our dinner :)

We took the local bus down and stopped at Eagle Beach. We walked out toward the beach and found the restaurant Passion. The waitress walked us to our table in the front row (wohoo)!  The tables were nicely setup on the beach, it was our first time having dinner right on the beach!

The atmosphere was very romantic with white cloth and torch!

We ordered pina-colada, Aruban Seafood Soup (it was ok not as good as the Aruban Seafood Chowder I had during lunch), Perfect Match (grilled Mahi Mahi with baby scallops) and Grilled Filet Mignon. Our pina-colada came! Picture of my pina-colada with the sunset :)

Very nice view of the Caribbean Sea:

While we were waiting for the food to come, the sun started to set. The atmosphere turned very romantic! The place was quickly filled so reservation is recommended!

The waitress helped us took a picture of us!

Our food came:

The food was okay, not as delicious as I thought for the price we paid but I guess we paid for the romantic setting! Having dinner right on the beach was very special. While I am enjoying the wonderful view and waiting for the sun to set, my feet were touching the powdery sand!

The moment we all waiting came...sunset!

It was so beautiful and romantic!

Aruba Day 6

This is our last full day in Aruba. We don't have anything planned so we decided to do more shopping. We took the local bus to downtown. We walked back to the souvenir street and took a second look at those stores and some last minute shopping. I came across this pink is that!

We bought some last minute souvenir for friends and family. 

Dinner....our decided to have our last dinner in Aruba in Pago Pago again since we enjoyed it during our first night in the island. This time, we ordered the lobster bisque (because it was very good and I missed it) and the cocktail shrimp! I ordered the 22 oz. rib eye haha! The rib eye steak was excellent, cooked perfectly- medium rare!!!

Good-bye Aruba!

Our last day in Aruba, we woke up early and pack since our flight is at 3pm, we have plenty of time. We had lunch in the hotel Terrance Restaurant again to have burgers and my favorite Aruban Seafood Chowder. Afterwards, we went across the street to order something to eat in the airport and flight back home, I heard that the food inside Aruba airport are very expensive! We checked out around 12pm and took the taxi to the airport. It was recommended by others that to be in the airport 3 hours prior during weekends and we followed since we were leaving on a Saturday! The line at the airport was long and it was outdoor! There was renovation going on so part of the line was "outdoor". The line moved very slowly!  Took us an hour and a half to get through and actually be inside the terminal! And people were correct, the food inside was higher than average airport prices! As we were waiting for our flight, we entertained ourselves by looking through our pictures :) Aruba is really a great island to be, everyone are friendly, and feel very safe to be here! Not even once we were approached by locals like other Caribbean Islands to sell us things or bother us! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Aruba Day 3 and 4

Aruba Day 3

The 3rd day in the One Happy Island was our souvenir shopping day! We like to bring back something special from each trip to add in our display cabinet at home. We took the local bus from the bus stop right in front of our hotel to downtown Oranjestad around $1.20. USD are widely accepted in Aruba and sometimes we got some Aruban florin change back. Some of the Aruban florin coins were square shaped instead of round which I thought was cute. The ride to downtown was around 15 minutes and we stopped at the "main" bus station which was right next to the Royal Plaza Mall. This little mall was all pastel colored buildings with 3 levels of shops.

We got there pretty early so some shops were not even open yet! On the back of the Royal Plaza, there was a street filled with souvenir shops as well. We walked along the street and saw a tiny place where the locals selling breakfast like sandwiches.  It was cheap and not bad at all. 

After breakfast, stores started to open so we begin our shopping day in this shopping street. Once again, the street was filled with pastel colored buildings. The architectures in Aruba are very cute.

I really like souvenir shopping in Aruba more than other Caribbean islands because they are fairly priced (unlike Cancun which made you feel like you are getting rip off!). Also, if you buy more quantities, you can bargain a little, the store owners are very nice. I went in a souvenir store (sorry I forgot to write down the name), I saw bathroom items that were made with acrylic and liquid filled with very nice shells inside. I spend quite sometime in this store because I couldn't make up my mind on what to buy, there were a few color choices! I ended up buying two sets (soap holder, liquid soap dispenser, toothbrush holder) since they are very inexpensive around $3-$4 each in white and blue color. Here's a picture of one of the white color themed liquid soap dispenser:

I think those made very good souvenirs to give to your relatives and coworkers.  We continued our shopping going in one store to another. We also bought two shell-picture frames which were around $7 each. Time goes fast when shopping (don't we all agree?), it was lunch time already!  We had lunch at Casa Tua Barcelona - Spanish food in downtown.  Here we had some tapas and paella. The food was okay but in the salty side I think and it was expensive for a lunch.

After lunch and rest, we continued our shopping. We went in the Royal Plaza and shop around its shops there. In Aruba, there were a lot of Aruba Aloe products (which it was known for) and butterfly taxidermy displays/souvenirs.  I really like the butterfly souvenirs, they are very colorful, great for my white walls at home. We went in a lot of shops and found an arrangement that we like, we bargain a bit and got down from $30 to $25:

We really enjoyed souvenir shopping in Aruba, many choices, many stores,and nice people!

After a day of shopping, we went back to our hotel and relax at the beach of course! Looking at the calm turquoise sea relaxed us :) 

We had our dinner at the Italian restaurant (less expensive than Pago Pago) in the hotel. We ordered fried calamari, seafood linguini, and red snapper:

Our meal was delicious! 

Aruba Day 4

Today was our snorkeling day! Ever since I snorkeled in Bahamas few years ago, I love snorkeling! I booked an excursion with Jolly Pirates. We walked to MooMba Beach which is just between the Holiday Inn and the Marriott Resorts to the Jolly Pirates "office" inside the Jolly Pirates Skull and Crossbones Souvenir Shop. We signed the form and paid our trip - $100 for two of us. Since we were early, we walked to the departure port.  Here we met this guy who was fishing and he was very nice to let me try haha!

There were many small fishes; we could see them clearly! 

Our pirate ship arrived and we boarded the ship.  There were a lot of people but was comfortable! We sailed away and our first stop was the 400ft WWII shipwreck, Antilla. It was pretty deep and we weren't strong swimmers so we didn't snorkel there. We watched others jumped into the water :)

Soon, another pirate ship arrive as well:

I heard from people said that the water wasn't as clear today so they could barely see the shipwreck. Next stop, we went to Boca Catalina, shallow water so it was great for us. 

Hubby snorkeling and our ship on the back! We didn't get to see much fishes but as expected because Aruba is not a well known snorkeling island. The last stop was Malmok which was very close to the beach.  We snorkeled more here and saw more fishes this time. After snorkeling, we got back in our ship and watched others in the water. The view here was very relaxing:

We had lunch in the ship (included), the BBQ food was decent :) After lunch, the ropeswing begin!  I didn't try it but was fun watching others doing it.  At first, people weren't that good at it and then after a few tries, some guys became real pro at it! The pirates (crew) were great, they do flips and we were amazed. There was one part that the crew carry a girl and did the double flip, amazing! We recorded video so sorry no great picture to show!

The snorkeling trip lasted from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. We had a great time!

We got back at 1:30 pm and we walked along the beach to get back to our hotel. When we got back to our hotel room, we showered and changed.  Then, we walked back down to the lobby just in time for the parrots. The staff took the parrots out and we were free to touch them. This parrot was heavy!

For dinner, we took the local bus again to downtown area to Aquarius, a seafood buffet. Aquarius is located inside in the Renaissance Mall. We walked around the mall since we were here before heading for dinner. The buffet was smaller than I thought but have decent food. They have a sushi bar and a grill bar where you can take your favorite seafood (fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster tails) and hand over to the staff for him to grill. You can pick the sauce too. I ended up having 2 grilled plates, ate 4 lobster tails!

The buffet was $39 each, we thought it was okay at least we tried :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aruba Day 2

June 6th, 2011 - Day 2

We woke up nice and early today since we booked the tour "Baby Beach Safari" with ABC Tours at 10 am and the pick up time was at 9:20 am.  The first thing I did in the morning was went straight to the balcony and checked out the weather. The weather wasn't great today; it was cloudy instead of the blue sky I wished for. Anyways, we still have to enjoy our vacation! We went across the street and have breakfast. Then, we still have sometime so we walked out to the beach again to have a view of the beautiful Palm Beach. Even though it was early around 8:45 am, I saw people already reserved the beach cabanas. The Westin is also the home for few colorful parrots and tropical birds. We enjoyed walking by and tried to make the parrot to speak to us LOL!

His name is Sunny :)

We were picked up on-time at 9:20 am at our hotel by a colorful safari jeep.  Here I am in the back of the jeep with the seat beat on :)

The tour guide drove us to the ABC office and we signed an agreement form for the excursion. There were 4 other people who were in our tour. We all took off exactly at 10:00 am and off we go! The first stop was the light house (California Light House) up on the hill.

It was a cloudy day so the pictures didn't come out quite as good. Here's a picture of me and the colorful safari jeep we were on:

Next stop, we went to the Our Lady of Alto Visto Chapel which is in the middle of no where but cute:

Right outside of the chapel, one of the locals was selling fresh coconut so we bought one and tried, refreshing!

Our tour guide then drove us through the rocky side of Aruba. It was a totally different view of Aruba filled with cactus. It was an adventure on the jeep to drove through rocky roads! We arrived at the Bushiribban Gold Mill. We went in the gold mill and "climbed" the ruins, it was a great place to take some special photos!

At the back of the mill, our tour guide told us a myth that if you stack 7 stones together and make a wish, the wish will come true. No wonder on our way here, we saw piles of stones stacked together. Since we were here, we did the same too just for fun:

Aruba has both the paradise side and the natural landscape side to offer and that was one of the reason I chose Aruba.

Afterwards, we stopped by the rocky coastline and "beach" and had a great opportunity for photos.  Our tour guide was very nice to be our photographer!

We went further along the coastline and arrived at Natural Bridge. Our tour guide drove us up the rocky hill (only the 4X4 jeep can do that!) and he showed us the coastline. It was amazing to see the natural landscape. The largest natural bridge was collapsed in 2005 so we were not able to get on the bridge and there was a warning danger sign HAHA:

We spent some time in the Natural Bridge area and then went back on to the jeep, our tour guide took us to lunch which is a colorful local restaurant where we had BBQ ribs. The food was pretty good!

After the lunch break, we spent like at least 15 mins on the road to get to the southern tip of Aruba - Baby Beach!  Here, we had time to spend in water and snorkel. It was a very nice calm beach and shallow turquoise water just like in postcards. 

I guess the only thing I don't like about Baby Beach is that it doesn't have any changing/shower facilities so after we got out of the water, we need to towel dry. After spending quite some time at Baby Beach, we were dropped off at our hotel around 3:30 pm. That concluded our excursion of the day. Overall, the safari trip was great, the tour guide was very friendly and helpful, and we get to see the "other side" of Aruba! I think it's worth our $137.00 for 2 of us (10% off if booked 7 days in advanced through the website).

Once we got back to our hotel, we took shower and rest a bit before we head out to dinner. We walked across the street and had dinner at Soenchi's. I have read review about it and checked out their website, their dessert - Aruba Reef Crystal Tear Drop caught my eyes! I told my husband I had to go and see it! Since we had our dinner early, before 7 pm, many restaurants offered early-bird special menu like $25 for a 3 course meal. Soenchi's has this offer too! From the special early-bird menu, I didn't see the Aruba Reef Crystal Tear Drop but I asked and the waiter said I could add $3 extra for it :)

Appetizers we ordered the coconut chicken satay (love the coconut chunks to go with it) and Agrumi Wayaca (like a seafood veggy salad very refreshing for the hot day). Noticed that their forks were so cute!

Main course we ordered the grilled seaweed tuna and Keshi Yena..a traditional Aruban chicken dish (both were delicious as well):

Lastly, dessert time that I had been waiting for! We ordered the banana creme brulee and the one I wanted to see Aruba Reef Crystal Tear Drop (with grapes, banana, and orange sherbet):

The tear drop was made out of ice, very creative and unique. I was very excited to finally see it in person!

We had a great dinner at Soenchi's, I definitely recommended it!

This was the first full day in Aruba and really get to see the other side of it. Aruba gave me the impression of very relax and friendly no wonder it's "One Happy Island". The food here was great so far, not overly expensive as people told!