Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Aruba – January 12, 2016

Today is an early arrival to Aruba – 8 am.  Although we wake very early we are not in a big rush so I write and post my blog while Bernie heads off to get the needed caffeine.  

We glance at the paperwork delivered last night and see we have been given the port guide for Grenada, not Aruba.  
Hmm is there something wrong here as Bernie shows me.  

He is asks “are we in Grenada today” a quick glance outside and we are saying “nope this is definitely Aruba”.

Our plan today is to meet up with Dave and Cindy at 8:30 and pick up our reserved car at the Renaissance Hotel and then drive to Baby Beach.

We are off in no time.  We are the only ship in port and we are a short walk from the ship, thru the terminal and then the parking lot to the main street.  Our pick up is at the Renaissance Hotel where the Casino and little mall is.  
We easily find the Hertz counter right at the base of the escalators and we are there right at 9 am our pick up time. I should add that I had pre reserved a car online for an intermediate car for the day for a total cost of $67.87.  

Hose (yup that is his name) is the attendant behind the counter – a lovely man I am sure but one who maybe needs some more training on the computer/electronics.  Put it this way -- we didn’t actually get in our car and leave until 9:45!  Yup it took 45 to check in.  

First he was quite frazzled.  He authorized our card twice for the $250 deposit so had to release one of them.  Then he tried to get us to get the added items.  He clearly said “there is a mandatory insurance of $15 a day” we said “no” and showed him on the paper that it was not mandatory. 

Then he said “there is a $3 added fee for replacement insurance” also again we said “no that is already reflected in the total cost of $68” and showed him.  

Hmmm he is only getting more frustrated.  He wants our email and I say “you already have it… you sent us the paper work”. 

At this point we are almost ready to walk away and I am sure if we would have had another issue, we would of but we really wanted to head to Baby Beach.  

Thankfully Hose (really it is spelled like this – a different variation of Jose I am sure) runs off to get the car.  An intermediate car here is a Nissan Versa – but it is only for a few hours and will certainly accommodate the four of us.  

So at 9:45 we are off with directions of where to drop the car off (different spot across the street – more on that later).  We are given a tourist map that is pretty much useless so if you are going to rent a car here be prepared.  

But the island is easy and it is hard to get really lost.  

Drivers are very friendly in the city and provide right of way easily.  But be prepared for them to not waist time when outside of the city.

We know where we are going, we have been here before – quite a while ago but it is coming back to us.

After about 20 minutes of driving we are at the very South end of the island.  Baby Beach is a stunning beach with very shallow water that is protected by some breakers.  Many people were snorkeling, and we brought our gear but neither of us snorkeled.  For me my ears are both hurting (been having issues with them for a few months – again more on that later).

We head closer to Big Mama’s restaurant where a guy is offering lounge chairs (that have seen better days) for $8 each (pricier than many areas but kind of in the ball park for Aruba).  Make sure to bring exact change and it will take a long time for them to bring you change – if they ever do.  

Of course we know the game and after an hour (after reminding him once about the change) he comes over and asks for another $1 and he will come back with a $5. No we said bring the $5 and we will give you a $1.  Which he finally does.

I think next time we would just forgo the chairs and head more to the right of the beach where there is lots of room to spread out our sheet we brought.  Those lounge chairs were not comfortable.  Lesson learned.

The water was cool but once you were in it was ideal.  So our day was spent moving from lounge chair, to water, to walking the beach, repeat.

Our friends had lunch at Big Mama’s restaurant and they said it was good.  We opted for the food cart type restaurant just to the right of Big Mama’s.  We shared a red snapper dish that was amazing.  I had an $8 pina colada and Bernie had a $3 local beer.  In total the meal was $25 including tip.

There are washroom facilities but you have to pay for them.  
After 4.5 hours here we head out around 3 pm.  We meander back to town and return the car to the main hotel section (located on the other side of the street – water side).  This is where the cars are stored and the main desk is.  We have no problem returning the car.  Our receipt was printed out with no issue and we were on our way.

Aruba is a lovely place, great shopping, and excellent weather but windy, which will mask how darn strong that sun is.

I slathered 30 SPF sunscreen on three times and still had some burn sections.  Especially areas that my suit would rub, like shoulders and waist.  My legs got a bit red where I missed areas so I look a little odd later tonight.  

I will report on our evening activities in the next blog because it was a fun night.

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