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Tamarijn Aruba June 12 - 24, 2008

Author: Arubalisa (More Trip Reviews by Arubalisa)
Date of Trip: June 2008

We ended up with a newly new Hyundai Santa Fe with front wheel drive. We were not going to the Natural Pool so it was not an issue. So the morning of our island tour the four adults and 3 kids poured in and up we the coast we went. They had already seen the high rises along Palm Beach, so we stopped at the Fisherman's huts and watched the kite surfers from Aruba Active Vacations http://www.aruba-active-vacations.com/. Next stop was the opposite view that they had from Jolly Pirates at Boca Catalina beach. Then we were off through Malmok and on to the California Lighthouse. As first visitors our friends, I suppose many first time visitors are, at the drastic difference between the two coastlines of Aruba.

Once we left the lighthouse and were off road we headed down with the ultimate goal of reaching the Natural Bridge with stops at Alto Vista, "Baby" Natural Bridge and Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. Following that we headed down towards the south end of the island for views of Baby Beach and Rodgers Beach. By then we were getting hungry for some lunch and one of the girls was a little car sick. We headed back to the Tamarijn.

Friday night for our anniversary, a friend as well as my parents, had recommended Passions on the beach at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.

When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Diana the hostess/maitre d' and everything from the food to the service, it was nothing less than perfect and a wonderful evening. Our table was closest to the water with torches and a lantern on the table. I can imagine how nice it would be at sunset, however since we can view that from the comfort of our patio, and like to eat later, dining under the stars with the Aruban tradewinds are just delightful in my book!

Dd had Caesar Salad with shrimp and a seafood sampler platter with Caribbean lobster tail, shrimp, grouper and mahi-mahi. I had a filet mignon and dh had grilled grouper and shrimp with a creamy spicy sauce. For an appetizer he had goat cheese with prosciutto, arugula and honey dressing, I had a crab salad. Everything was delicious! If anyone has that recipe for the crab salad you just pass it on to me

Dessert was amazing ...a sampler with full size portions of cheese cake, tiramisu, raspberry mousse, key lime pie and chocolate cake. We practically rolled back to the Tamarijn.

Another dinner off of the Tamarijn with a not so happy ending was at Gasparito. For 13 years this had been our favorite restaurant. Before we began staying at the Tamarijn, we would eat here at least twice during our stay. Dh and I both agree, no need to go back.

They have a new menu with all of the most popular "old" items, BUT it seems that some of the recipes have changed? I had the Mussel soup and it was TOTALLY different, it tasted awful and I did not finish it. Jerry had the fish soup and said it tasted like dishwater. Believe me he is not THAT fussy. He ate a piece of swordfish at the Tamarijn our first night of vacation which he said was on the dry side and I did not hear about it until this night, almost at the end of our vacation.

For entrees they are pushing half of this and half of that. Jerry had half chicken keshi yena and half goat stew. Goat stew was not as good as he remembered. For dessert we have the apple and pear strudel, one of our FOREVER favorites. Again another dish totally changed.

The last straw for Jerry came when the bill arrived. He gave the waitress his American Express card and she very snottily told him that they did not accept it and just about threw the card back at him! For the money the dinner cost we could easily have gone back to Passions and had a much better meal. None of the old servers we knew were there either. Places change, people change and we will just move on.

We usually use the same taxi driver, Bully, throughout our entire trip. During our stay in Aruba he was off island on vacation with his family. He is honest, dependable and knowledgeable about the island. We have been using him for over two years now. This trip without Bully, our experiences with the 8 random taxi drivers we used, were, with the exception of 2 drivers, disgraceful to the Aruban people and very disheartening for us. In every instance but two, the drivers tried to overcharge us. With no increase in fares since 2002, paying a 12% tax and not being able to pass it on, and the high price of gas, we were faced with a large percentage of drivers with the attitude "let's screw the tourists". Not to say that there are not other honest taxi drivers, but we met 6 out of 8 who were NOT. Loving Aruba and her people as much as we do, we were very saddened by their behavior to say the least. Having traveled to Aruba before, at least we know some of their unjustified, in my opinion, reasoning in this situation. I cannot imagine a first time visitor to the island who knows what the fares are "supposed" to be, being charged whatever fare the driver makes up. The Aruban government sets the taxi fares; they need to give these drivers a raise. Hopefully the raise in fares will once again make the drivers honest. Again, to their credit, we did have two very nice and honest drivers, one a woman on Father's Day night and another nice gentleman the night we went to the Promenade.

Our worst "taxi" incident came outside the Holiday Inn returning back to the Tamarijn from Palm Beach following our day aboard the Jolly Pirates. We walked outside of the lobby at the Holiday Inn and there were 4 taxi drivers seated on benches hanging out. Since our friends were with us we were 7 people total and needed 2 taxis anyway, so this was perfect. Dh asked them what the fare was to the Tamarijn and they eyed up one another and one of the drivers said "$10". Knowing what we were up against, before we even left the Tamarijn in the morning, dh confirmed with our favorite concierge Iris that the fair should be $8. Dh politely but forcefully asked to see their fare sheet where it showed the fare was $10. Well don't you know all of a sudden they acted like they could even barely understand English. Dh did not back down and again asked to see it in writing. Finally one of the drivers got up and went to his taxi to get the fare sheet. He came back with it, but then walked away from us to be by himself to eye up the chart. He then came over to us saying indeed it was $10, still not showing us the chart. Dh told all 4 drivers point blank that we would pay the $10, since obviously we had no choice, but we were also going to take the taxi's numbers and report the drivers to the Aruba Tourism Authority. Well gosh, don't you know, all of a sudden the taxi driver who had the sheet in his hand, stumbles over to me and points to Oranjestad ($10). Yeah, right, we told them all right from the start that we were all going to the Tamarijn! They do not even come close to sounding alike and I have only been to Oranjestad twice in the past 5 years. SO, clarifying that we were going to the Tamarijn, I showed the driver it was $8. Normally we would have paid him the $8 for the fare and a $2 tip for a total of $10 anyway. Needless to say, we did not tip him and he only got his $8 so he lost out for his foolish behavior. Our friends also did not tip their driver and would have under better circumstances.

Our final taxi ride of our Aruba vacation began with Bully picking us up to take us to the Tamarijn at 12:15 p.m. He had returned home to the island the day before and called us first thing that morning to confirm our pick up.

For those who have been to Aruba before and know how it can happen, it seemed to be partly cloudy to the north towards Eagle and Palm Beaches, but mostly cloudy over the Tamarijn so leaving was not as bad. We arrived at the airport and who do we run into curbside but Eloy from Kini Kini! Bully introduced us and we once again thank him for the great ATV excursion.

Once inside, Delta's line was short so we were able to get through all the security checks, US Customs and Immigrations and arrive at the gate within 45 minutes. Not bad. Passed the time in the usual way, eating, reading, last minute rest room stop and then we had a gate change. Our plane had not yet arrived from Atlanta so they were juggling space for it when it finally did arrive. A second gate change later, the Delta plane from Atlanta finally arrived. By this time the skies over the airport had opened up and it was raining harder than I have EVER seen it rain in 17 visits to the island. And it rained and rained, at least an inch that hour.

Another thing you do not know unless you have been to Aruba before and it has rained, as happened to us once when we arrived during a heavy downpour, NOTHING happens on the ground in Aruba at the airport when it is raining! They will not refuel the plane, nor will they load or unload luggage. So we waited, and then we waited some more. At 3:20 p.m., our departure time, Delta personnel finally made the announcement that our flight would be late in departing due to the late arrival of our plane and the rain. We would departing at 4:20 instead of 3:20 p.m. as scheduled.

The rain finally lightened up a bit and they began unloading the luggage for the Atlanta passengers who had just arrived and were surely standing around downstairs wondering what the heck had happened to their luggage. It made us at least appreciate that we could SEE what was going on, knew the reason for the delay and were able to be seated. The poor folks who had just arrived, more than likely hot, tired, hungry and eager to head to their hotel did not have seats and more than likely had no clue as to why they were waiting over 50 minutes and had yet to see one piece of luggage come out onto the belt.

We finally boarded our flight which needless to say was FULL. Once aboard we sat, and and sat as we could hear our luggage being loaded. Lucky for us we did not have to catch a connection in Atlanta, but felt sorry for those who did. Surprisingly we did not hear any grumbling. At about 5 p.m. we left our home away from home among finally brightening skies and light drizzle. We later found out that that weather continued like that with heavy showers on through the next day.

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