Dec 26, 2014

Caribbean Living - Part Two

Happy Holidays! I hope you all have been enjoying the holidays so far. I thought it would be perfect to post this picture of a Christmas tree from the hotel in Aruba. Yes, that's a peacock!

If you're a self-proclaimed foodie, like myself, then you know that food is just as important to your traveling experiences as scenery and activities. During my stay in Aruba I ate any and everything that looked or seemed to be appealing. 

Instead of going down the list of what we ate everyday I'll break this up into the good and the bad. Since I strive to remain positive, I'll start with the good food:

Good Eats

 My favorite restaurant in Aruba is Gianni's Ristorante Italiano. Being that I'm not Italian I honestly thought Olive Garden was supreme Italian eating. Boy, was I wrong. Gianni's offered an authentic Italian dining experience. We had the option of dining inside or outside, of course we chose the latter. This place was so good y'all that we ate there twice!

The first time we went, I really didn't know what to expect so I wanted to play it safe. I ordered Shrimp Alfredo. Everyone else ordered Caesar salad but I was a little nervous about it. However, my mom was gracious enough (as mom always are) to let me taste some of hers. Hands down, the best Caesar salad that I have ever tasted. There was this sweet after taste that reminded me of Miracle Whip that made it so good. When the food came to the table I really didn't know what to expect. But all of my expectations were blown away by the size of the shrimp. I have never seen a shrimp so big in my life. Not only were the shrimp huge but the lobster in the tank put the poor lobsters at Red Lobster to shame. Caribbean lobsters have 50% more meat than a Maine lobster. Check out the picture of me holding a Caribbean lobster.

Don't you feel cheated!? My mom had lobster in her dish and she said it was wonderful! I'll have pictures of everyone's food below. Unfortunately the picture that I took of my Shrimp Alfredo got deleted, I'm so mad about that. But trust me it was worth getting. The second time we went mostly everyone got the same thing, except me, I got Shrimp Scampi. It was as equally as good as the Shrimp Alfredo. Also, I got my own Caesar salad that time around.

 Frozen strawberry lemonade

The shrimp were huge as well

Vodka sauce, pasta, lobster and shrimp

Another amazing place, with delicious food was Smokey Joes. If you are a rib lover, this is the spot for you. The outdoor restaurant has 4 types of ribs; original. smokey barbeque, dry rub and jerk. On Tuesday nights its all you can eat ribs and you can choose from all four styles or two styles. When I went the first time in 2006 I tried all four of the styles and the jerk ones were too spicy for me. So this time around I didn't get jerk or original (because I can get those back at home), instead I got smokey barbeque and dry rub. 

Aside from the great food that they offered, they brought us all out a free ice cream sundae after we finished eating dinner. Honestly, we were all stuffed but when our waiter said that the sundaes would be free, we decided to have them. It'd be wrong to turn down free ice cream.
 Iguana Joe's hot sauce

Beautiful view from our table

Big Mama Grill is another great restaurant that we visited. This restaurant is on Baby Beach. It gave a Flinstone's era vibe. The entire restaurant was outside, and it sheltered us from the rain. The restaurant is a Jamaican owned spot with typical eats. Burgers, chicken, fries, etc. The service was exceptional and the food was very tasty. The owner was very sweet, she came over to our table and asked us about our experience and thanked us for coming. They get a lot of business since this restaurant is right on the beach Its the closest food spot for a couple of miles since Baby Beach is in a residential area. 

Pelican Pier is a restaurant located on a pier at Moomba Beach. It was just a short walk on the beach away from our hotel. The food and service was really nice. The view was also splendid. We went there late in the afternoon so as we were finishing up our food the sun started to set and it made for a beautiful walk back to the hotel. 

The last place, that is on my good eats list is Taste of Belgium Restaurant. We went there twice, once for lunch and the next day for breakfast. The breakfast was my favorite meal there. One of the breakfast specialties is Belgium waffles, so I tried that, with a side of bacon. I'm a breakfast lover and I'm really hard to please, but Taste of Belgium went above and beyond my expectations. And also, our lovely waitress Paula (Pow-la) took really good care of us. She served us both days and we couldn't have asked for a better server, I asked to take a picture with her and to post her on my blog and she happily agreed.


 Paula & I. If you ever visit Taste of Belgium, ask for Paula!

If you are ever in Aruba I think you should try out these five restaurants. They all had great service, which is kind of hard to come by in Aruba, at least by American standards. 

Bad Eats

 I really hate to write this section but I have to be completely honest with you guys. Every restaurant didn't have perfect customer service or fantastic tasting food. Some offered good food, but bad service while others offered great service, with bad food. Also there was karaoke there, I got up and sung Proud Mary by Tina Turner. I'm not a bad singer, but I'm not Beyonce either.

The first place that I want to talk about is Mathew's. I have to start of with the positives about this restaurant. It's a beach front restaurant with a beautiful view of the beach The service was also really great, the people there were extremely nice to us and the service was great. The only bad thing was the food. My god mother and I saw crab cakes on the menu and thought it would be the perfect meal, big mistake. For those who don't know (and have never seen Wedding Crashers), "Crabcakes and football, that's what Maryland does!" with that being said lol, you can't give a Maryland girl a sub-par crabcake. This crabcake looked good but as soon as I took a bite it had imitation crab meat. That's a no-go for me. So because it wasn't up to my expectations I sent it back and got a salad. 

Another place, that actually had bad service and bad food was a beach front restaurant and bar called Hadicurari. It was our first day in Aruba and the experience at this restaurant left a bad taste in my mouth. The waitress was careless and very slow. And she was very rude when we asked for her to fix mistakes that were made by the staff. Unfortunately I can't remember her name, but I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone. 

Another thing that made for a bad experience in Aruba was a service charge that was on the majority of our bills. The one place I remember that didn't have a service charge was Gianni's. The service charge is NOT the tip. The service charge is a charge that the restaurant charges and at the end of the month all the employees split it. It is not mandatory that you tip your server but the service charge is mandatory. At first we thought the service charge was the tip until we actually asked a waiter to explain it to us. 

Because the island is so laid back, the service is a little slower. Things are not as fast paced as they are in America. And because our party was always 5, the food took a lot longer to come. I wouldn't say this is a bad thing, it is just different from  what I am used to.

A picture of me on the way to Mathew's.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to try anything that would be considered Aruba cuisine. There wasn't many places that offered that in the area where we frequented. We stayed in the tourist areas because it was so many fun things to do in that area. The only time we ventured out was to go to Baby Beach. There was another restaurant that we never got around to trying called Flying Fishbone. When I return to the island I will make sure to try it out. 

I hope you all enjoy this post about the food that my family and I ate over in Aruba. Until next time.


Dec 12, 2014

Caribbean Living

First,  I want to apologize for not posting while I was on my trip. There was wifi but I was hardly in my hotel room. I spent most of my time out on the island enjoying the vacation. So please forgive me for not posting sooner.

Moomba Beach

Finally, my long awaited winter vacation has come. I have been excited to go on this trip since my family first started planning. My great aunt and uncle have a timeshare and they were at risk of losing it (for 2014), if they did not use it. So my mom decided that we would use it and go to ARUBA.

I have been to Aruba before in 2006, with my grandparents. My aunt (mother's sister) and her late husband, owned a home in Aruba, at the time, and we visited the island with them. As many of my readers know, I am a lover of tropical weather. So I was eager to visit the island again and see how much it had changed in 8 years.. 

On this trip I traveled with my mom, my aunt, Cookie, my cousin, Tamika, and my god mother, Arlette. When we arrived on the island it was 88 degrees! With my sweats and sneakers, I was hot as soon as I stepped foot off the plane. Upon arriving to the resort, the first thing I did was change into jean shorts and a tank. I wanted to wear something fitting for the weather, especially since I wouldn't be able to do the same when I returned home. 

Because we did so many things while on the island, I want to make sure that I break down all of the important things. So on this post, I want to talk about the beautiful weather, beaches.

Baby Beach

My two favorite things about the island was the weather and beaches. Like I mentioned earlier, it was 88 degrees when we arrived on the island. Our entire stay there the weather never went below 86. It was the perfect weather! Warm, no humidity (unless it rained) and the sun was always bright. It rained out first night there, but it was while we were sleeping. It also rained on Saturday morning during our commute

The two beaches that we went to were, Moomba Beach and Baby Beach. Moomba Beach was walking distance from our hotel and we went there Monday - Thursday.  Moomba Beach was a very nice beach but for me, and my family, it was overpopulated. It was crowded because on that one beach  there was about 5 or 6 hotels, and all of the hotels were really big hotels. So of course there were a lot of people out on the beach soaking up the sun. At Moomba beach we had access to beach chairs for free. The resort hotel gave us chair tags for our entire stay that we used to reserve our chairs. The resort also gave us towels that we could exchange for clean ones every time we went to the beach or pool.

A view of the water from the Red Sail Sports pier. 

We spent a lot of time soaking up the sun and swimming in the Caribbean Ocean that we only did one extravagant water activity, snorkeling. I have never been on a yacht nor have I been snorkeling (with professionals) so this was a very great experience for me. Jumping in the water and seeing all the fish in their natural habitat was one of the best experiences. And during the ride to the snorkel locations I was able to lounge out on the yacht. My mom, cousin and aunt also had a great time, it was their first time being on a yacht and snorkeling as well. We went snorkeling with Red Sails Sports. The experience was excellent. I would recommend for anyone that is traveling to Aruba to book your water activities with Red Sail Sports. At our hotel the concierge had all the information. We paid at the concierge desk and they booked our reservation.You can check out Red Sail Sports on their website.

While snorkeling not only did we see a lot of fish but we also saw a sunken ship. The sunken ship was in an area of the water that was deep and had rough tides so my aunt and cousin opted out of going in the water. My mom and I went in but we didn't stray too far away from the boat, so unfortunately we did not get to see the sunken ship that well. I wish I had been more brave and gone out a little further but when you are dealing with rough tides you never know what can happen. In that instance I much rather had played it safe than sorry.

On Friday and Saturday we went to the other side of the island and went to Baby Beach. Baby Beach was my favorite beach of the two we visited. The water was clearer and there were barely any people there. We knew about Baby Beach because of the home that my aunt used to own. Her home was very close to Baby Beach and I remembered it from my visit in 2006. However, it was VERY different. They built a restaurant, a small wall to section off the road and a parking lot for people that come to the beach. When I visited none of that was there. It was just a road and the beach. 

Since I was about 6 years old I have been in love with water. I would swim every summer as  a kid at my great uncle's house. Then in my preteen years I swam competitively on a team. So for me, the water equals happiness. I am not that athletic but I can do it all in the water so this trip Baby Beach was very relaxing for me. I spent majority of my time in the water.

That is all the water activities that we did. I don't want to bore you guys with my stories of all the swimming I did so I'll stop it here. I promise to come back next week with a post about all the good and bad experiences we had with food in Aruba. I hope you all have enjoyed my first post about my trip to Aruba. Enjoy some more pictures below.

Tamika and I at the pool bar.

 A tree in the water at Baby Beach

 Excuse my hair lol but I love my sunnies!

 L-R Tamika, Mommy, Aunt Cookie & I

There won't be many pictures (if any) of my god mother because she doesn't like taking pictures. But she was along for the ride during most of our activities and she enjoyed herself just as much as we did!


2018 Travel List & Goals

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