Aruba Trip Reports

Bucuti Beach Resort

March 10 - March 17 2007 by Misti & John

Aruba Forum Profile: Mistimoop

D ‘n D in Aruba (Decompressing & Drinking)

What we did on our vacation... (see title, please) This was our second trip to Aruba – our first being in October 2005 – and there were quite a few differences in the weather this time, all good, and now that we were "seasoned visitors" I think we relaxed (and decompressed) a lot more than we did last time. So here we go…..

Friday, 2/9

We (Misti (me) & John) don’t leave until tomorrow morning, but I have to start somewhere. I get out of work a little early to do last minute packing since the kitties get neurotic when they see a suitcase. John comes to pick me up and we’re off to our favorite Chinese buffet restaurant for the mandatory "night before vacation" dinner. Get to his house & decide to try and get some sleep...

"Are you sleeping?"
"No, are you?"
"Did you set the alarm?"
"Yes." "Double-check it please."
This continues for most of the night until...

Saturday, 2/10 – 3:30 a.m.

o’dark thirty, the alarm goes off, but we’ve both been awake most of the night, so setting the alarm was moot after all. We get ready then head downstairs (4:30) to wait for the car service to pick us up. The one we used to use was sold & really raised their fees, so John booked through a friend. 4:45, still not here, John calls his "friend," no answer. Eventually a car shows up, late and recently started as it is 9 degrees out and the car is not warm (and its old and making noises it should not be). Its not the friend either…driver asks if we mind if he stops to get gas. Hellllooo, do we really have a choice if we want to make it to the airport? Goes to gas up and cannot get the door to the tank open. I now have a pit in my stomach since this is not a good start to the trip. Somehow, after filling up, we make it to JFK in one hour and arrive at 6. Check-in for Jet Blue takes about 5 minutes. We go through security and wait to board the plane. Flight leaves on time, no issues. We have aisle seats across from each other – I was lucky enough to have the couple who were both deathly ill next to me. I think if I shot the "If I get sick for vacation look you’re going to die" look at John one more time, my eyes would’ve popped out of my head.

We change out of our winter clothes, plane lands a little early. We deplane, whisk through customs and head for luggage. Mine comes out immediately & John has to wait (he has suitcase issues every trip we take), so I head outside to warm up. Grab a taxi and head to the Bucuti. The driver was great, took us through downtown and gave us the background of Carnival and the process of how to get a trailer on Main Street for the parades. Pulling up to the hotel, it felt like we had never left!! (such a great feeling) We had discussed staying somewhere else this time since during the high season, the rates were a bit higher, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it and are so glad we stayed where we love it so much. We check-in, our room is ready (right next door to the room we had last time at our request) and the staff left a nice "Welcome Back" basket for us. We unpack; eating the package of cookies they’ve left, don our bathing suits and head to the beach for a quick swim before Happy Hour starts.

Ahhh, Slippery Monkeys, the pure pleasure frozen drink. We order four since during 2-for-1 times, the bartenders are very popular. Marinha at the Sand Bar remembered us and welcomed us back. After showering, we head across the circle to Pizza Bob’s for dinner. The pizza is better than we remembered. I order a large, frosted mug of Balashi since most beers come in mini bottles and the mug was HUGE – must’ve been 4-5 beers in it, but hey, its vacation! Over to the Alahambra Casino. I put my second $20 in the video poker machine & don’t remember what I hit, but it was enough to be ahead and pay for dinner the next night. Off to bed, we’re beat.

Sunday, 2/11

Woke up quite late but we’re able to get a palapa. Went for the included continental breakfast at the Pirate’s Nest, but it was so late not much was left. Had a slice of Canadian bacon and a piece of "delicious bread" as they so aptly named it. It wasn’t delicious at all….lol Lounged most of the day and did nothing. Lunch was goldfish & cracker packs that I bring from home for beach snacks. Oops, time for Happy Hour again. I decide I want a nice cold Heine. They give me a small one & its gone in 3 swigs. I ask if they have anything larger and out comes the ice bucket w/a magnum sized Heine in it. Sweet! No need for a glass.

Dinner is at Salt & Pepper. We have a half-hour wait but sangria seems to preoccupy us. Food is great as always – pitcher of sangria and we get 6 dishes of tapas to share. Parmesan mushrooms is our favorite! We walk around a bit then head back to the hotel – have to get up early in the a.m.

Monday, 2/12

Up early to head to Moomba Beach to catch the Jolly Pirate’s Sail, Snorkel, Swim & Swing tour. We get there early enough to have the breakfast buffet at Moomba’s so we can sail on a full stomach. Catch the dingy that takes us to the boat & we’re on our way! A great day…open bar, BBQ lunch, party music, entertaining staff & 3 snorkel stops. The stop at the Antilla wreck was a bit nerve-wracking – the water was very choppy and the current sucked us away from the boat pretty quickly, so I didn’t stay out long for that one. I could read the next day’s headlines "CT Chick a Wreck at the Wreck." The other two stops were nice and calm and we just floated around looking at the huge schools of fish. So beautiful! The rope swing was fun (and interesting) – tried it once but I wasn’t as agile on it as the crew or kids on our boat were. In fact, passengers from one of the other snorkel tours swam over to our boat to use the swing, too! I will mention there was no shade on the boat so by the time we got off we looked like Rock Lobsters!!

Had a few drinks to "cool off" then headed to Bingo for dinner – a new place for us to try. All I can say is YUMMMY. We each had some frozen alcohol, split the shrimp escargot style & both got the beef satay skewers. The meat was so tender & everything was delicious - $38 for the bill. It was an early night – it hurt just to lie still on the sheets.

Tuesday, 2/13

Up early to do the Bucuti’s webcam. Knowing they were expecting snow at home, I made up a "Got Snow" sign just to needle all of our friends a bit. Headed to Dushi Bagels down the street for breakfast, grabbed Subway for lunch later on & did nothing but lounge for most of the day. A quick note – we’re both BIG milk drinkers and that is the only thing we truly miss about home when we’re in Aruba (trust me, this will be important later). Even the "American" milk from the box doesn’t taste quite the same, so coffee is affected a bit, too, but its nice & strong which makes up for it!

The water is absolutely calm this trip, so clear & blue yet a bit cooler than in October, but we swim daily just the same since if we were home we’d be bundled up from the cold.

5:30 p.m., here comes our ride – the Kuku Kunukoo Party Bus! We had a blast and ended up hanging out with 2 other couples from CT who sat in back with us for most of the night. They called their kids during dinner only to hear that they were expecting 18" of snow – we toasted them. Our bus wasn’t quite full, but of the 4 buses going around to the bars, I think we were the loudest crowd. By the 2nd bar "U Wanna Beer" I was up dancing on the bar & John was walking around in a Captain & Tenille Captain’s Hat. The guys were next on the bar – shirts came off (of the guys) and the pants dropped a (little) bit… At the last bar, there was a floor to ceiling pole and I just couldn’t let the young, cute little girls be the only one dancing on it! Back to the hotels – each stop was melancholy as we said good-bye to all of our friends. I think if I move to Aruba, I want to be the job as the bus party leader. Its after 1 a.m. now & the re-heated leftover Pizza Bob’s pizza was extra tasty!

Wednesday, 2/14 (V-Day)

For some reason, we slept in late. Finally dragged ourselves out of bed and as I’m getting the beach bag ready, I see a gift certificate for a massage at the Bucuti Spa. Excellent! I’ve never had a massage before, so we head to the beach & John drops me at the Tara Suites. He was told the massage was on the beach but it was not – didn’t matter, it was one of the best and shortest hours of my life. Good job, Jawnee! Found him on the beach afterwards & we were starving so we headed to Pega Pega next door at the Manchebo. Had some HUGE cheeseburgers oozing w/loads of Gouda cheese & a few Mai-Tais to wash them down.

Chilled on the beach until we had to shower for Happy Hour. Back at the room, we arrived to find a beautiful bouquet of yellow flowers sent by my sweetie. The yellow part surprised me but it was thoughtful nonetheless. Knock at the door, they delivered the wrong flowers & made it right without us even having to call – someone else must have complained. Bucuti staff also left a small box of Belgian chocolates. When John bit into his, I asked what the filling was and he said "I think its Gouda cheese."

Two hours of Slippery Monkeys to warm us up for our Romantic Sunset Dinner on the Beach at the Pirate’s Nest. There were also smaller tables set up for the Valentine’s Dinner the restaurant was having (as were all the other restaurants on the beach that day). We got to pick which menu we wanted but stuck with the one created for the "palapa dinners." Everything was delicious, the shrimp, the soup, the duck salad…and then came my Grouper. I had it last time also and nothing is more delicious in this world. Chef’s Surprise Dessert was an extremely large ice cream sundae with too many scoops to count & fruit. We were so bloated after eating we had to walk around for quite awhile before the swelling in my ankles went down.

We enjoyed reading the paper daily, especially today, since the snow and ice was falling at home and we were not there to share in the joy of our family & friends. We were also thrilled to hear of the Jet Blue issues at JFK, hoping that we would be forced to stay a few days longer than anticipated.

Thursday, 2/15

Tried the Continental Breakfast at the Pirate’s Nest again and since it wasn’t anywhere near lunch time, we had a much better selection of food. Spent some time at the beach then headed downtown for the afternoon. No cruise ships were in town that day so it wasn’t very crowded at all. We wandered around, peeking in the shops. Ate a late lunch at Iguana Joe’s – had the mandatory two carafes of Iguana Pink Lemonade. John had the Chicken & Chili Burrito (huge & delicious) and I had the Mahi-Mahi BLT – yum!

We walked around some more & I made the mistake of going into a jewelry store and finding a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring. Of course, more than I could afford, even though it was "on sale." Stopped at a couple of the casinos, played some video poker and came close twice to the royal flush, which, of course, would’ve been more than enough to run back down the street to buy me the ring. Sadly, Lady Luck was not with me at this time. Took a cab back to the hotel and decided to go use the hot tub. The tub and pool were just recently filled and warm already since no tap water comes out cold.
We couldn’t find the button for the tub so just decided to swim for a bit. The air actually felt chilly at 80 degrees but again, would we be swimming at night at home? No!

We were a little hungry so we headed across the street to Pizza Bob’s for some wings & beverage. Sat at the bar and were entertained by Johnny (the bartender) with little bar trivia questions. He told us that if we had any combination of four beers that we would end up saving a dollar a beer. Being savvy on saving money, we each had four beers with our wings.

Friday, 2/16

Can it really be our last full day here already?? Grabbed some Dushi Bagels and headed down to the beach to do a lot of nothing but laze around and swim and nap. Lunch time! John ran over and to Pizza Bob’s and got one to go and we ate at our palapa on the beach. You could hear the comments as he walked back to our hut with it about what a great idea it was. I think people were jealous! We were joined for lunch by many birds and even a couple of iguanas who were lounging on the restaurant deck and made their way across the sand to keep us company.

We went for a short happy hour since we had dinner reservations at 6 p.m. at Chalet Suisse. We had wanted to go later but that is all our concierge could get for us. It worked out in the end. Being one of the first people there, we were greeted by Benny ("Welcome Home" which made me want to cry) and he took us to table #32, one of the quiet ones tucked back in the wall. We had a perfect view of the beach and got to watch the sunset while we had dinner.

Our farewell meal was shrimp cocktail, escargot, Chateaubriand for 2, chocolate mousse and crème brulee. Everything was excellent (even better than what we remembered) and despite being seated early in one of the prime tables, we didn’t feel rushed at all. The service was attentive and well organized. Back to the hotel, we tried our luck (or lack thereof) at the casino one more time. On our way back to pack, there was lots of loud music playing on the main drag so we went over to check it out (notice the stalling to pack) and got to watch the tail end of one of the Carnival parades. The costumes were beautiful all lit up at night and the only people really watching were tourists since all the "marchers" were residents. They even tried to get us to march with them. The speakers on the trucks were HUGE and our ears were ringing for a couple of hours afterward. I’m guessing there are no noise ordinances during Carnival.

Back to the room to pack – I don’t want to talk about it. ) =

Saturday, 2/17

Made sure we got up early so we could get a couple of hours in at the beach and take one last swim. We got a front row palapa and the view was more amazing than it had been for the last week. I think I cried for two of the two-and-a-half hours we were there. Finally forced ourselves to go back and shower so we could check-out of our room. Check-out was quick and smooth, paid our bar bill (OUCH!) and checked one last time hoping for a canceled flight back home. Our flight wasn’t until 5:30 p.m. that night, so we went to have one last Gouda burger at Pega Pega. The wind had really died down that day and it was very humid, reminding us of our October trip. Grabbed a couple of sandwiches at Subway for the flight home and just relaxed in the outdoor sitting area at the hotel.

Around 2 we decided we’d better head downtown. Once again, a great cab driver giving us the scoop on Carnival, etc. He even stopped on the main drag in front of his "trailer" where they watch all the festivities of Carnival and told us to look for him next year. He was so animated and excited talking about it he didn’t really notice the cars behind us honking and yelling.

At the airport, unloaded and got in line for our tickets. Nobody was in Jet Blue’s line and we marched right up to the counter. Thankfully we were not flying US Air, as their line was out the door. Having a later flight, we noticed the airport was a lot more crowded than when we left in the morning last time. (Mental note to self to not leave on Saturday again). We stood in all the mandatory security & customs lines. They didn’t take as long as they seemed to and we got through everything in an hour. When we got to the big suitcase room, there was my bag, not John’s. Poor thing! We found it finally and were thankful because at the ticket counter the bags were so backed up on the belt they were just tossing them behind the counter.

Our flight was delayed an hour due to other flights before us being delayed MANY hours, so we were lucky as we listened to others and hearing of their delays. Although sitting at the airport knowing it was sunny out and people were having fun at the beach without us was sobering. And speaking of sobering, the only part of me at this point that will enjoy being home is my liver.

The flight home wasn’t sold out so the seat next to me was unoccupied and we had plenty of space to spread out. I cried again during taxiing and take-off. The pilot made good time (must be because he looked like he was 12 years old) and we landed only half an hour late. Funny how the white on the ground didn’t look too much like sand we had just left. As we got off the plane, we were directed immediately outside (are they kidding me? How very cruel!) to a shuttle which we took to get to the luggage carousels. For the first time in our travels, John’s suitcase came out in the very first batch!

While checking his cell phone, we found out one of our friends we’ve traveled to Vegas with decided to go to Aruba the same time we did and we missed hooking up with him. Found our car service to take us back home & climbed in a brand new black Mercedes, all warmed up with all the bells and whistles you could think of except for a bar. Apparently, somehow John’s friend found out we had a not-so-nice ride down and this sweet gentleman was told to take very good care of us and he did. We make good time back to Danbury and get dropped off.

Once at John’s, first thing he says is "I need a glass of milk – I’m going out to the store." Its midnight, wait until tomorrow, but no, he wants it now. OK, have fun. Ten minutes later his phone rings & its him. Some nut backed into his car at the grocery store….ugh! Hardly any damage, but still. He should’ve listened and waited until morning! End of trip – welcome home.

In closing, (yes, I’m really almost done – thanks for your patience!), our trip was amazing and even better than the last time. We had beautiful sunsets daily and I think I probably took way too many pictures of them, but I can’t help myself when it comes to that. Everyone we met was friendly, from visitors to staff. I expected it to "feel" more crowded as it was Carnival and high season but we didn’t really notice it at all, even when it came to dinner out – we rarely waited more than 40 minutes and what’s the rush? Besides, that’s why bars and cocktails were invented!

We’re ones who like to try traveling to different places and during our first visit were absolutely amazed at the number of people who were "repeat customers" in Aruba for 15-20 years and were staying for 2-3 weeks at a time. More than ever before, we completely understand why they do it and are already counting the days until our trip next year. Before we left the beach the last time, John said he wants to stay for 10 days next year and be one of those people down the road who can say "Its our 22nd year here…" and amaze another newcomer. Yay, John!!