Monday, December 15, 2014

Aruba: Welcome to Happiness

This is the short version of our trip.  My next post will have the daily journal I kept while we were there if you want to read more detail.

In our exploration of Caribbean islands, we have been to St. Barts, St. John, Virgin Gorda, Nevis and Curacao.  Aruba was next on the list.  It is part of the Netherlands Antilles island chain called the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao.  When Southwest Airlines began service to Aruba in August I tried to book our flights using miles and was successful.  Then began the search for the perfect rental house.  We found Washington Gardens Villa through Aruba Happy Rentals and the trip was locked in.

I love flying over the Bahamas because the water and islands from the air are surreal.  I always sit glued to the window with camera in hand.  It is God's abstract handiwork.


We were drawn to this island because of its English speaking friendly people, beautiful beaches, driving on the right, we could use American money and, although we are not gamblers (we dabble in a bit of slots), casinos.  We picked up our rental car and found our way to the villa.  We were immediately in love.  Walking in the door, we could immediately see how clean and new everything was.  And best of all the whole wall of sliding glass doors leading directly to the inviting pool.

Another reason I was impressed by Aruba was the great variety of good restaurants and the best island supermarket I have ever seen: Super Food.  It sure lived up to its name.  We loaded up on Dutch cheeses, lunchmeats and breads.

Months before our trip my research alerted me to what was reputed to be the "best" restaurant on the island, Madame Janette.  It was suggested to make reservations long in advance to ensure a table.  I made reservations, not realizing that, conveniently, our rental house was just a few blocks away.  We awaited our visit with great anticipation.  We arrived on a balmy evening and were seated in a charming twinkle-lit backyard.  Relaxing live musical entertainment enhanced the atmosphere.  We were surprised that some of the menu was comprised of German dishes:  goulash soup, schnitzel, apple strudel.  We decided to try the goulash soup and pork schnitzel.  

To my amazement, it was better than any I'd had in my childhood home (my family comes from Austria), or even food I'd had in Europe itself.  I told our waiter as much, saying I was born in Graz and asked him to compliment the chef for me.  Our waiter said, "Our chef is from Graz!"  On our way out we met the chef, Boris and reminisced about the old country.  He wanted to buy is drinks, but the portions had been so huge we couldn't manage anything else.  Then he asked if we'd had dessert, saying he makes "Kaiserschmarrn", a dessert my mother used to make all the time.  We told him we'd have to have some the next time.  On our way out we stopped at the desk to chat and made another reservation.  In the parking lot, just about to drive away, we saw Boris running toward us with a carry-out bag and the Kaiserschmarrn dessert.  

Much later that evening we could resist no more and enjoyed the best dessert.  His Kaiserschmarrn was drizzled with Austrian Stroh rum, powdered sugar and surrounded with fresh fruit.  

We ended up eating there twice more and each time Boris treated us to either free drinks or free dessert or both.  If we lived there, I'm sure we would be very frequent guests.

It was a week of relaxing, eating amazing food and enjoying the blue sky and bluer water.  There is something about palm trees that makes me happier than almost anything else.  I'm very fortunate that we have had many opportunities to relax under them often in many wonderful places.  People ask which was our favorite vacation.  Choosing between them would be like choosing a favorite child. They are all different and wonderful in their own way.  I loved Aruba because it was modern, clean, safe, not overly expensive, easy to get to, we can use American money, the people are English speaking and it has all the comforts of home.  That isn't always what you are looking for on vacation, but in this particular case, it was perfect.

No comments: