Aruba Trip Reports

33rd trip to Aruba - Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort

May 14 - 25, 2016 by ~Amy~® and Mike

Aruba Forum Profile: ~Amy~®

33rd Trip to Aruba – Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort May 14 – 25, 2016

Arrival - Flew first class on Delta (our usual flights and airline to Aruba) and all was good and on time. A few days before the flight I filled out and printed the online immigration form to bring with me for arrival. Tried to show them the paper at immigration but they didn’t even look at it and just waved me through to use the passport scanner/reader. I was in and out of immigration in less than 5 minutes. My husband, who arrived a couple of days after me, had the same experience.

Car Rental - We rented our car from Optima. They were out in front with the small shuttle van as usual. It’s always just us in the van and they drive you to their office which is located at the Toyota dealership on the main road between the airport and downtown. Paperwork was quick and the car was running with the A/C on so it only took a few minutes. I had to pick up my husband a few days later at the airport and they offered to let me park my rental car at their office while the shuttle driver took me to the airport since he is allowed to park for free. It worked really slick. I was only waiting outside the baggage claim area for about 5 minutes when I saw my husband. We took the shuttle back to Optima, got in our rental car and headed back to the hotel.

Amsterdam Manor - We stay here every year and it’s the perfect place for us. Rooms have everything you need (kitchen with frig, stove, microwave, dishes, etc.) It’s a small hotel so the beach is always quiet – never an issue getting a palapa at any time of the day. Beach bar is great for lunch when you’re too lazy and only want to walk a few steps. Love the 2 for 1 happy hours at both the beach and pool bars at 5pm – and Peter always seems to know what it is I want to drink (how does he do that??) Also ate at their restaurant Mango’s one night and was happy to see some new items on the menu – food and service were both excellent. Another excellent stay and always love seeing the same staff every year.

L’America Museum and Art Gallery - Collectible cars, art, books, and even wine....we stumbled upon this place by accident and we’re always looking for something new to do or see so this definitely fit the bill. Really loved some of the old cars, art work, and, of course, they had a nice collection of wine to purchase, too.

Prince Tribute at Casabari - The Prince Tribute at Casabari was the night I arrived but I knew I had to just keep myself going so I could enjoy some of the music. The musicians were local from various bands around the island and their covers of the Prince songs were amazing. They used purple lighting on the rocks around and behind the stage and also did some great videos/photos of Prince on the rocks while they played. It was a lot of fun and I ran into many friends there (Ingrid, Evert, Carsten... both visitors and locals.) I was completely exhausted the next day but was so glad I made myself go to this event. It was probably about my 15+ tribute for Prince (we live in Minneapolis) but it was definitely one of the best ones and it was great to be able to enjoy his music in Aruba.

New Donkey Sanctuary - We ventured to the new Donkey Sanctuary which was a breeze to find compared to the old one. It’s located near Frenchman’s Pass – main roads most of the way and then there are signs once you turn toward Frenchman’s Pass. We stopped at a small grocery store just down the street from the sanctuary and almost bought them out of carrots. The older gentleman putting my carrots in the bag said to me “Donkeys?” I replied “No, I just really like carrots” first he thought I was serious. LOL! We had a good chat and I made a new friend. So we park the car at the sanctuary and see a small cooler at the gate that had a sign on it that said something like “use for carrots/apples”. We opened it, nothing inside and didn’t really understand. So as we’re walking about half way to the new pavilion a woman starts yelling at me to put the carrots under my shirt...still didn’t get it...then she said to raise them over my head...ah, donkeys are now walking toward us and are extremely smart but I made it to the shelter before the pack could accost me. They have combined the donkeys from the two sanctuaries so now there are over 100. We fed them carrots and the two ladies who were volunteers gave us some history about most of the group. A tour group arrived and probably stayed about 15 minutes at the most. After that, the volunteers put us to work as they could not open one of the new bathroom doors. It was definitely not constructed properly so we tried to take it off its hinges but it wouldn’t budge (needed a few more tools.) Mike had a grand idea of lifting me though the transom at the opening at the top of the door since it seemed to be locked from the inside. I vetoed the idea in the event I would be stuck in there. We gave it our best shot but, unfortunately, were not able to help them. It’s a nice place and much larger but they need to figure out a little shade for the visitors. The tarp between the two buildings had been pulled off by the wind so really not much shade at all. Will definitely be back on our next trip (and maybe bring a few needed tools.)

The Wine Room – has moved to a new location and it’s much larger/nicer than the old one. A lot more room to move about, same great wines and snacks, and a new addition upstairs called The Purple Room for private parties. So who wants to have a party (and please invite me)?

Too many great dinners and lunches – but there is always that one “flop”. This year it was Salt & Pepper. I should know better since over the years I just stick to regular meals there and skip the tapas since they always seem re-heated. Well, I was on a ceviche roll in Aruba and was ordering it everywhere I saw it so I ordered it at Salt & Pepper. The fish and calamari were very tough and chewy – definitely not fresh. They asked how everything was and since I only had a bite I said “okay” (thinking maybe it would get better). It didn’t so I let them know my disappointment with the ”old” ceviche (at this point I had a few bites) and their response was “you should have told us when we asked” – that was it. LOL! Not a sorry or an explanation or a “we’ll take it off the bill”. It will be awhile before we go back – and NO MORE tapas for me. My fault for thinking the ceviche would be fresh. LOL! If you want good ceviche, Bingo is the place to go – had it a couple of times there during our stay and it was great!

2 Fools and a Bull with a new chef in the kitchen still rocks! Great food, wine, and just an overall fun evening every time!

Also had a wonderful meal (love wahoo) at Wacky Wahoos – many thanks for the wonderful treat and dinner conversation with Ingrid and Evert! We ran into them again one afternoon at SideBar so we were able to enjoy another meal with them before they left.

Parking downtown is easy and there are plenty of places to park. Parking at West Deck, however, is a pain in the neck during the day because a lot of downtown workers park there for free so it’s hard for customers to find a spot. It looked busy one afternoon with all of the cars there but we managed to squeeze ourselves in a spot only to find just 4 people eating there.

If you’re in Savaneta, there is a new restaurant on the main road called Chris Restaurant – open for lunch and dinner.

Screaming Eagle has an AWESOME wine deal on Mondays nights – about 40% off on all bottles. Best deal in town!

Wilhelmina – this place was amazing!!! Food, atmosphere, everything! And we got an added treat by running into Stef (owner of the old Rumba and Matthew’s) and his wife who we haven’t seen in awhile and were able to enjoy dinner while catching up with old friends.

Special thanks to special people who invited us to their homes for amazing dinners, wine, and good conversation into the wee hours of the morning. Christy and Johan – thank you so much for inviting us to your lovely dinner party – loved meeting everyone! Jeroen, Brenda, and Elie – next time kick us out if we stay too late and drink too much of your wine (thank you for your wonderful hospitality – I think we will skip sleep next time and just go straight to breakfast!)

Bingo and Barney’s - my two favorite casual places on the island where I can show up at any time and always get great food or a snack or just drinks – BEST bartenders/owners.

Departure – got to the airport about 2 hours before our flight (departed on a Wed.) and we were at the gate in about 30 minutes – enough time to relax and have a last Bright at The Old Dutch Bar until next time.....