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26th trip to Aruba - Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort

April 22 - May 1, 2012 by ~Amy~®

Aruba Forum Profile: ~Amy~®

Arrival

Flew First Class on US Air using frequent flyer miles (MSP-CLT-AUA.) Was a little worried about the 46 minute connection in Charlotte but we arrived early and my connecting gate was only 3 gates away – plenty of time!

As I waited for the luggage belt to start in Aruba, I took a quick look in the Duty Free shop in the baggage area. No beer, a few bottles of wine and a couple of bottles of champagne, and a lot of hard liquor and cigarettes. So my purchase amounted to zero.

Rented a car from Tropic and saw Denis in the usual spot waiting for me. Walked to the parking lot, gave him my paperwork, and he gave me the keys...and a "Club" to use at night to deter from any fiascos like last year. I remember the license plate number from last year (since I had to deal with this car on a regular basis after the trip) and it was the exact same car. I joked that normally in the U.S. you would circle small dings/dents on a diagram of the car...well, for my rental you should just circle the entire car. LOL! But, it ran great and the A/C was cold so that's all I needed.

Grocery Stores

I arrived at 1:30pm on a Sunday so all of the usual grocery stores were closed already. I debated between Chengs and Kong Fui and decided on Kong Fui. They seem a little better stocked now since the last time I was in there. I got everything I needed except ended up with an unknown Argentina champagne which I later found was good for Mimosas but not so much for a glass on its own. The next day I hit Ling & Sons for some decent champagne. Later in the week, I stopped at the new mini-mart located behind Alhambra. Very nice place and for a small store they really did have everything from Bloody Mary mix to Corn Flakes to Balashi Chill– even a few fruits and veggies to pick from. They also had whole roasted chickens to go - perfect take out meal for a dinner on the balcony.

Amsterdam Manor

Checked into Amsterdam Manor and had a complimentary rum punch while they did the paperwork. Booked a one bedroom and I was happily upgraded to the honeymoon suite.

They are just starting to redo the décor in the rooms and it is absolutely beautiful – the new artwork/photos on the wall and the new linens and pillows add some much needed Caribbean color and flair.

Peter is the new bartender at the pool/upperdeck bar. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) loves Peter! A great bartender, fun and nice guy, and a definite asset to Amsterdam Manor. He definitely made me visit the pool bar a little more than I normally would have.

Eagle Beach

My first day at the beach was happy hour at the beach bar on the day I arrived. And just when you think you've seen it all....I was sitting at the beach bar having my first mojito and what do I see frolicking on the beach with a dog? A goat! Yes, my first goat on the beach! LOL! He had a collar on so he looked like he was a pet and seemed very well behaved. Just very strange to see a goat on the beach. And no, I did not have too many drinks yet. LOL!

Went for morning beach walks or sometimes I’d walk to the Phoenix and back. When I did the beach walk a local dog (someone told me that his name was Blackjack) would walk with me and dig for sand crabs along the way. He does have an owner but apparently Blackjack is an early riser. He was fun to watch – when he’d find a crab he would get excited and jump around the crab because he had no idea what to do with it.

My other brush with "beach wildlife" was seeing a large Portuguese Man-o-War in the water. I was just wading out and was up to my waist (no one near me except some guy looking at the water) and about to jump in when I saw something floating just below the surface. Thought it was a clear garbage bag at first and then I saw the top was clear and he had all those little stringy things hanging out behind him. So I (along with the other guy) just stood there and watched and tried not to get too close when the waves brought him in. Couldn't tell if it was dead or alive but it was the biggest one I've ever seen (have only seen the smaller jellyfish in FL on the gulf side in the past.)

Other than that, the beach was great every day – of the 9 days, 8 were sunny and 1 was cloudy but not a drop of rain. Some days it was so windy that when your drink was half full you’d have to hold onto it or it would slowly move across the palapa "table" and into the sand. I talked to a woman one day who had just flown in and she said it was raining at the airport when she got in but at that same time it was clear and sunny on Eagle and Palm Beach. So I guess if it’s raining where you are, then just move to a different part of the island. LOL!

LaBodega Wine Tasting

On the last Friday night of each month, the LaBodega wine store has a special wine tasting. A couple of local friends invited me (one is a chef and helps prepare the food) and I was ready, willing and able! They do a different theme each time and the night I was there it was Spanish wines – and all of the small plates of food were Spanish as well (dishes with chorizo and paella, etc.) I’m not sure if I enjoyed the food or the wine the best but it was a lot of fun. I had a few language barriers since everyone kept forgetting that I could only speak English…. so I just drank more wine. I loved this night so much that I’m actually thinking of arranging our dates on our next trip just so we’re there for the last Friday of the month.

Restaurants/Bars

  • Passions – great food as always with the "toes in the sand" dining experience.
    Still love the watermelon salad!
  • Screaming Eagle – One of my favorites and has never disappointed. Chef Erwin is great!
  • Mango’s – they updated their dinner menu so I was anxious to try a few new dishes. Had the dish called "East Meets West" which was spicy shrimp and noodles and it was great! They have also updated their breakfast and now feature an expanded breakfast station/buffet with eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, waffles, fruit and fruit smoothies, juice, coffee, etc and a made-to-order grill for omelets, etc. – something for everyone and very good. It was $14.25/person.
  • White – LOVED this place. Had a wonderful ahi tuna with mango salad that was a work of art – and tasted like one, too.
  • 2 Fools and a Bull – I went with a friend and it was the two of us, another couple, and a group of 4 friends the night I was there. We started out having a welcome drink on their back patio (kind of like being at someone's house) then had 5 wonderful courses with wine pairings for dinner with breaks in between the courses. We usually went back outside on the patio with our glass of wine and chatted with everyone. Very fun, nice experience - great hosts (2 Fools!) and great food. It’s a concept similar to Carte Blanche but in a more relaxed atmosphere since you mingle more with the other guests like at a dinner party.
  • Amadeus – Can never go wrong with dinner here. Atmosphere is always so relaxing and their goulash soup is my favorite (along with the Lost Symphony drink.)
  • Barney’s – A great new, casual bar and restaurant that is owned by a couple of my favorite people (who shall remain nameless but dragged me out one night for a movie and shots/drinks at the Pijp until the wee hours – don’t ask! LOL!) But regardless of that, their food is very good and very reasonably priced - had a very nice tuna entrée there. They have a different special each night (one night is an all-u-can-eat ribs night). Very nice bar, too – good place for a nightcap with friends.
  • Ginger - Dinner was good but we talked to the owner afterwards (he stopped by our table) and told him he needs to add some "heat" to the dishes. They really lacked some good spice so we suggested maybe being able to choose mild, medium or hot so that he can cater to everyone. I would try it one more time since the food was good and prepared well but they need to spice it up a bit. It was a nice change of pace to the usual steak/fish places.
  • Bugaloe – this is required stop every trip for lunch (love the wraps) and a number of ice cold Brights! Staff is always fun and we always meet new people at the bar.
  • Le Bistro – Had lunch here one day after reading their menu online and it seemed right up my alley. Had a great pita/salad with chicken, feta, and olives. Nice service. Will try a dinner here next time.
  • Bingo - always the perfect place to go for drinks, a light bite, or a full dinner. Their service, friendly wait staff and bartenders, and food are always top-notch – and so are the drinks!

Bulletin Board Party

Had a nice turnout of around 15 people. It was fun meeting a few new faces from the board and also seeing a few "April people" who I haven’t seen in a couple of years since we switched our last couple of trips to May. Thanks to everyone who came (and thanks, Al, for the Brights) – cheers until next year!

Departure

Flight was at 4:40pm so I got a late checkout at 2pm. Spent the morning on the beach having a last look at the water, last swim, and saying goodbye to the "April people" who stay at Amsterdam Manor every year (Billie – thank you for the book!) Dropped off the rental car at the airport and Hans was right there to pick it up. Got in line at USAir (not even a line really at any of the USAir counters) as I proceeded to watch two different couples rearrange their clothes between all of their luggage so that they didn’t have to pay for one that was over 50 pounds. There wasn’t really much of a line but that held everyone up as we all watched them disperse things back and forth. I missed most of the crowds from earlier flights so I was at the gate within about 30 minutes after the wait at the counter. Flight home was in First Class again and uneventful (my favorite kind of flight.)

Thank You once again.....to the entire staff at Amsterdam Manor – it’s always great to see everyone again – it’s like coming home to family! And Eline & Ron – had a great night of bubbles and a movie - LOL!. Next trip: Segway rides! See you in Sept!