Day Two In Aruba, Almost Everything Open!

For my first full day in a fully open Oranjestad, I decided to get my chore (it’s not really a chore) out-of-the-way first and go to the post office. I like to send postcards to family and friends back home. I had yet to find any postcards, but I was sure I would so getting the stamps first thing would have me prepared.

It wasn’t too far a walk from the main bus station to the main post office. You get to walk through the non-tourist part of Oranjestad. I saw this great street art and I really dig the message.Bar7lU+mQgOtvVNgNoEskgOn the way I also found the Archeological Museum of Aruba, which is just my type of joint. It was closed. I’m not sure if it was just closed on Mondays, or closed for forever. I got my stamps and then decided to head towards Fort Zoutman Historical Museum.

It was open and I paid my $5 US admission and checked it out. As a museum of Aruba it was kind of sad. Very nicely kept up, but not much inside aside from a section on weaving in Aruba told much of a story. It was mostly an accumulation of unrelated old things. I say this with the utmost respect. They may not have had much to work with. Colonization is known for taking things instead of leaving things.

The best part of the tour is that you get to climb to the top of the tower.

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Which has a working clock and a bell which you can get up close to.

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It also gives you some great views of the city and surrounding areas.

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Also, if it were still a fort, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be hard for you and a few pals to take it. If you see it you will understand what I mean. I’d say don’t try, jail in Aruba is probably nice enough, but it is still jail.

I spent the afternoon walking around the downtown and looking for a few souvenirs to take back. I also did a bit of Xmas shopping. Gift shopping while abroad is a great, it will always be unique to the person that gets the gift, especially if they have not been there.

 

 

Day Een (Un) in Aruba

My first full day in Aruba was on a Sunday. I grabbed breakfast at the hotel and sought out the concierge to see if she had any tips for getting the local bus into the capital Oranjestad. She told me two things:

  1. “It’s Sunday downtown is closed”
  2. The bus only runs once an hour on Sundays

Despite her dour opinions of my prospects for the day, I figured I could at least get the buses sorted out and have a quiet downtown to myself to get some good photos taken. If it was shut down as she said, I’m sure the passengers of the one cruise ship in port would be off somewhere that wasn’t closed.

The concierge was only half right. The buses come by my stop near Eagle Beach much more frequently than once an hour, but upon arrival downtown about 20 minutes later I saw she was correct that it was shut down. Well, there was some activity around this old church:

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But the quiet allowed me to take lots of cool photos without too much of a fear of getting hit by cars or other pedestrians.

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So I wanted about and took my photos and made note of what I might like to see the next day when everything was open. As I walked near the main drag along by the cruise terminal I spotted a bar that was open that catered to the cruise passengers. It was not what I had cone to Aruba for, but it was open, and for most of the day I had it all to myself. The service was very friendly and I was able to try most of the local beers. They key one being Balashi.

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Since there was nothing else going on, I ate lunch and drank somewhere between 2 and 137 of these. They are small, and being mostly alone at the bar, I got a lot of attention by the staff. I read online you can tour the brewery which is south of Oranjestad but before San Nicolas, but this was a quick trip so I decided to file that info for the next trip to Aruba. If you’ve seen one fermentation tank, you’ve kind of seen them all, right?

So I “walked” from the bar to the main bus station and caught the bus back to my hotel. I arrived right as the sun was going down, so I took a left and headed to the beach to check out that scene.

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It was exactly as you would expect a tropical island sunset to be which was beautiful. I went back to the hotel to plot my first day in Aruba where things would actually be open.

Of course they were showing Star Wars again.

Aruba The Arrival And No Stamp!

My first flight of the day was at 6am from Philadelphia to Atlanta. When I booked it I figured I would just get up super early and drive the hour from my house to the airport. After some thought, I remembered that I don’t see very well while driving at night anymore and it would make more sense to go to Philadelphia the day before and stay at a hotel by the airport. I booked into the hotel and got to bed really early to make the flight.

I got to sleep so early that I woke up fully rested at 2:15am. Earlier than I had planned, but better than later, no? I got a good view of Philadelphia’s downtown as we banked over the city. Too bad the photo is a bit blurry.

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My flight to Atlanta was a bit bumpy, but offered a nice view of the sunrise.

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A quick two-hour layover in Atlanta in the lounge and I was ready for the four-hour direct flight to Aruba.

Upon arrival I got through passport control pretty quickly which is good, but part of the reason I got through so quickly is that some of us were directed to an electronic station that scanned our passport, took our photo, and then sent us on our way, NO PASSPORT STAMP!!!!! Sigh. 

I grabbed a taxi to the hotel and had a friendly driver. We discussed the local language Papiamento, and he tried to help me pronounce it correctly thought the twenty-minute ride to the hotel. I never did get it right. 

After checking in, I walked to the giant supermarket to get some supplies. It was an amazing mixture of Dutch, American, and European products. I got what I needed and settled into my room.

I planned on turning in early since I had been up so long. I decided to cruise through the TV channels just before bed. It was all US channels with one or two from Venezuela mixed in. A US channel was doing a Star Wars marathon and I got suckered into watching too much of a film I had already seen way too many times. I drifted off to the sounds of Jabba the Hutt getting an easier death than he probably deserved.



Hey, I’m Still Here. I’ve Just Been VERY Busy.

It has been too long since I have posted. Since this is a travel blog, the absence of posts means I haven’t been traveling. My last post was about an upcoming trip that was to be the first I’d ever done that was planned by a company. That trip was finished and my mission was accomplished, the family members got back alive. I hope they had fun.

I learned I did like not having to worry about all of the details, but not enough to do away with the planning and spontaneity of my usual trips. The guide was excellent and had a very difficult job in keeping us all in line. The company we went through was terrible. I won’t get into the details, but they know what they did.

The past few months have been spent moving my mother first, and then myself a bit after that to New Jersey. The reasons for that are long and complicated and quite boring. The main takeaway is I am very glad to be in a much more populated part of America. Many airports within a few hours drive through which I can book cheap flights as they become available. Which brings me to my current trip to Aruba.

This trip has several firsts for me. It is firstly my first trip to Aruba. It will be a quick one, just three full days. The reason for the brevity is the second first of this trip. My first mileage run.

For the past year I have had Platinum Medallion status with Delta and I find myself just under the threshold for that again next year. I had a little money, and a little bit of time to try to book a short trip to just barely scoot across the finish line before the end of the year. The sweet spot, just enough in one trip and at not too much of a cost turned out to be Aruba. There are many perks to having status with an airline. They change from time to time, but it is always better to have it than not. For the travel that I do at this stage in my life, Platinum is about that best I can hope for. I’ll take it when I can get it, so I’m going to try and get it.

This brings me to the third first of this trip. My first trip to South America. When I was looking at a map of Aruba, it occurred to me that it was really close to Venezuela and it go the thinking, is Aruba part of South America. I talked to the most learned friend I have (a “nerd” like me in the jive talk of today’s youth) and we figured if the island of Aruba was on the continental shelf of South America, geographically it must be a part of South America. It turns out it is. So this will be my first visit to South America.

Now, if that seems to you that I am kind of “lawyering” my way into a trip to South America after only booking a trip to the Caribbean, I would not argue with you. I do plan to go to South America proper in the future, just not on this trip. If I should expire on or after Aruba, I will die knowing in my heart that I did visit my fourth continent. For real. Should I not die on Aruba, there are three other continents that can expect a visit by me for the first time. Not in the near future, but one day. Right now there are three trips booked after Aruba and they are once more to the Caribbean and twice to Europe.

This trip may also be a last one for my dear, sweet passport. It expires in 2019 and I need to get it renewed in plenty of time for those trips. It may make it to St. Lucia in January, but if not, Aruba will be its last stamp. We had a lot of good times together and I will always hold it dear to my cheese clogged heart.