Day 1: Tuesday, July 27
Heading to the airport and flying to Aruba
At some point this year I managed to become an "A-lister" with Southwest. I have no idea what I did to get there, but the only thing that matters is I made it! So, what that means for us now is that I no longer have to pay their outrageous prices for them to sign me in and snag one of the "A" boarding passes. Since I always book myself and Sakari on the same booking, we would both get this status. That left me to only have to "sign-in" the free flying hubby 24 hours in advance of the flight. This is the part I always try to avoid and purchase the Early Bird Check-in. However, this time I set my alarm for 24 1/2 hours ahead of time and got up to push the magic button. It was funny how the free flying hubby managed to get the very next A boarding right after us. We were A25, 26 & 27.
Since our flight time was 6:15am I always calculate our time to get to the airport the night before. I do this count backwards calculation which involved:
6:15am flight leaves
5:45am flight boards
4:30-4:45am check in luggage, obtain boarding passes and clear security: possibly longer since it was International
4:00am half an hour for parking the car and catching a shuttle over to the airport
3:30am leave the house to head to the airport
3:00am wake up and pack the car
Whew!!! 3:00AM!!!! That's before the birds are even up and chirping! Why-o-why?!?! But that was our magical number this time around.
The day before we all took a dose of Melatonin and headed to bed around 8pm. We knew it was going to be hard to fall asleep and we figured at least we'd be able to catch a little shut eye on the plane if we really needed to. However, Sakari decided she would take a different option and that would be to pull an all nighter!
Up and at'em at 3am (Sakari was still awake of course), get dressed, throw the suitcases in the car and we were out the door at 3:45am and on our way to the airport. A little slower than I had calculated so I had to let the hubby down and tell him we didn't have time to stop anywhere to get breakfast.
But first, there was a full moon out tonight (scary thought right?) and Sakari and I would take pictures of course.
Arrival at the airport parking lot and we grabbed a spot right at the entrance and on the shuttle we went.
Our passports NEVER work at the scanner and we always have to do a full check-in at the counter. Out of all the times we have flown, this would be the very first time that the person at the counter would tell us the reason why... the name you put on your ticket has to perfectly match your passport. That's includes your middle name and for Sakari that means 4 names lol So now we know and will use this information in the future.
There was next to no one in the security line (I think we were the 4th people back) and we came across one of the friendliest security agents ever.
Agent looking at my passport tells me to pull my mask down: "Well hello beautiful"
Agent looking at my hubbys passport as he pulls down his mask "My your handsome"
Agent looking at Sakari's passport and she pulls her mask down "You are flawless"
And away we went...shoes off, pockets empty, everything in the basket for xray. I immediately ask Sakari if she had that damn gigantic eraser that gets her pulled out of line each and every time. "Nope, I took it out". Thank goodness.
This time the gate was all the way at the end of the airport terminal. This would be a first. Usually the International flights are at Gate 1 for us. It has to be the full moon!!!
When it was time to board Sakari always has to touch the outside of the plane for good luck.
We were on one of the new planes and they are always fun and different than the "normal" older planes we are on. They have color changing lights from blue to red and so on.
The other cool thing was they were playing music and we had a speaker above us and we were jamming...at 5:45am in the morning!
The not so cool thing is we were up at the crack of dawn!
It was a short ride to Baltimore for our plane change. But, they made sure to provide us with our free breakfast.
I don't know when they started passing out these "Brownie Brittles" on the plane because I think this was the first time we had seen them. But, I believe these are some teenagers creation while making a batch of brownies and you know how the edges get hard compared to the insides? Well I think these are the scrapings of a brownie batch. Hard! I'm still undecided what my thoughts are on these. My taste buds are somewhat confused.
Once we landed, it was a very long walk to the other side of the terminal and the hubby stopped at McDonald's for breakfast and I headed to the store for pop and $36 worth of snacks. Oops!
By the time we made it to our gate, they were already lining up. We had the same boarding positions as our first flight. Go us! There was only 1 hour in between flights and of course they always board the plane 1/2 hour before leaving which really means you have only 1/2 hour to get to your gate, buy your food and snacks...them boom! You are headed down the runway again. All I can say is thank goodness my walking has gotten a lot better over the last 3 months! Like A LOT better.
This time, the staff started out by telling everyone on the plane they had better not catch us with our mask down unless we were eating or drinking and in between bites we were to put our masks back up. They also continued to tell us that if they caught us otherwise, there would be authorities at the gates in Aruba to arrest us. Wow! Welcome aboard! Either these employees were having a bad morning or had been on duty all night and were aggravated. They were not nice at all with their announcements like we normally have on flights.
It would be 4 hours and 20 minutes of flight time to Aruba. Sakari started off strong with passing the time by as she doodled in her art pad about the dragons and creatures that she loves to draw so much.
Sakari finally couldn't hang with us in staying awake and she managed to take a 2 hour nap. I believe I napped off and on but the whole head falling down and back and forth like a bobble head thing kinda didn't give me a good nights rest.
Outside our window, we were seeing very familiar waters and the excitement grew... at least for those of us that were still awake!
Then it was that moment we had all been waiting for...arrival in Aruba!
I noticed there were 3 ships in port. One was NCL Joy and a Carnival (I think Horizon) and another smaller unknown ship.
Once we landed, things rolled super fast! I'm going to try to remember the process...so here goes nuttin'.
There was a line for those passengers who uploaded their test to the Aruba Health App and are verified prior to departure. This allowed us to go to the faster "Pre-Approved Health Lane". I don't know why this is because you had to do all of that prior to arrival and get the "green check" before you could come. Anyhow, we happened to be the 2nd people in line which was sweet like candy. They handed us a "pass" to carry along with us. I'm honestly not sure what the significance was to this because I never recall this happening before.
We headed into another huge room with luggage and they pointed where to find our luggage and we could spot Sakari's from across the room. Then you handed someone your pass and then walked outside.
That was it! Like we seriously didn't spend more than 15 minutes in the place from start to finish.
Once outside, we headed over to where our car company told us to meet them at, but they were not there. Remember, the pilot knew a shortcut that shaved 15 minutes off our time PLUS we were 2nd in line so I'm sure they never thought we would be outside waiting on them so quickly. We didn't wait more than 15 minutes and our guy pulled up.
He drove us to their company location and as we were signing the papers, he was putting our luggage in our car. We were in and out in about 15 minutes and ready to hit the road.
We were EARLY!!! Our check in time for the house wasn't until 4pm and we had hours to wait.
I pulled up my handy dandy mapsme app to check out where we were and where we were going.
I'm telling ya, if you don't have this app yet, you need to get it! It's the absolute best thing ever created! You don't need wifi or service for it to work...ever!
You can go and put pins in places of interest or where you want to go and it's just like google maps and will take you there step by step and talks to you. So simple to use!
It's not an app just for vacationing in unknown countries...you can use it anywhere, any vacation location, even in remote places were services might go in and out at home. It's just wonderful!
(As you can tell, I have a lot of places marked on my map of places we've been and things to do. LOL
So after leaving, we decided we wanted to locate our house and do a drive-by. It was super easy to find and the cleaners were there. Ok, so now what? We were all hungry from the long trip so figured maybe we should just go someplace and eat for awhile. My thoughts were to head to Arashi and off we went, basically down the street and around the corner.
IT.WAS.HOT! Sakari and I had pants on and I had really wished I had dressed like the hubby in shorts this morning. But, I always get so cold on the planes. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I'd rather be hot than cold. We headed toward the restaurant and I notice that Sakari now has shorts on. Wait, what did I miss? Now I was the only weirdo with pants on in 90 degree weather. Yes, everyone in bathing suits at the beach bar was eyeballing me. So, I decided I could at least pull up my pants leg and make it not so noticeable that I was an idiot that day. Just blend in Kim, just blend in I told myself.
We found a table and ordered our food as I sat there in the sweltering heat wishing I just had my bathing suit on. The hubby and I ordered cheeseburger meals and Sakari had just fries and said she wasn't too hungry. Now I don't know what type of hamburger they used but the texture was weird and the only way I could describe it was "stringy" looking. I did not like the taste at all and this episode would scare me into not wanting to eat anymore Aruban hamburger for "almost" the entire trip. Gosh, what if all of their hamburger taste like that? Hubby said his tasted "ok" but they looked the same so idk. All I know is I didn't like it...but the fries were hot and crispy and super yummy!
At least we had a beautiful view and one that we were very familiar with.
Ok, as much as I loved the view, I needed to get back into the car with a/c. These clothes weren't cutting it!
What to do now??? We just decided to head out and explore a little...acting as if it was our first time ever here but everything we passed we had already seen hundreds of time's in the past. We decided to drive past our "old house" and yep, it still looked as beautiful as ever. We were noticing a lot of new house's that were now built and even more going up. We would notice this trend all over the place during our stay. I know COVID hurt the economy but by the looks of everything being built, you wouldn't know it.
We drove past our new house again, yep, housekeeping was still there.
Sakari came up with the idea to go to the grocery store and get needed items...or at least the necessities, you know...like pop, bread, eggs, bacon, cheese, rolls and milk and that would take up some of our time and we wouldn't have to waste valuable time after we checked in. She's so smart. Why didn't I think of that? So, that's what we decided to do. We headed down the street to the Noord Supercenter.
I was never so happy to find an ice cold No Sugar, Taste the Caribbean Coke (although I was wishing it was Pepsi).
Outside parked by us was Billy (Kendra's fiance) and I had to send him a picture asking if he had followed us here. LOL Now for those who probably don't know, Billy owns a car lot and he's always going to the auction to by "weird" things...from police cars, to ambulances and especially buses...short buses. I don't know what it is with the bus thing but he always manages to come up with one to buy at least every year. We've taken some "family trips" in them before and headed to another state with all the kids to places like the Newport Aquarium and had such a blast. It really is a lot of fun and we can all be together during trips.
Well, it was about 3:45pm and we had ran out of things to do so we decided to just go to the house and sit until it was 4pm and we could enter the home. I was tired of just driving and was getting anxious to get into the new home and get some appropriate clothes on.
When we arrived, housekeeping was gone...yippee! NOW it's time to start this vacation!
After checking out the house we knew exactly what we had to do...
The water was HOT! It wasn't at all what we were expecting but it was a hot day out so it really warmed up that water! Now the listing said they would have pool toys. We managed to find a boat and a noodle on the side of the house. Later we would find a round big ring as well. But they needed to be blown up...it was time to get my cheeks ready.
The Aruban orange birds (Troupial) greeted us in our back yard. They were all over the place sitting on the cactus plants growing out back. They are so beautiful and sing such a lovely song.
We swam most of the rest of the day away and then I went in to unpack our suitcases and put things away. We had so much room and places to put things it was just so great!!!
For dinner that night, I made spaghetti and toasted buttered bread. I had brought a lot of items for us to use there that were easy meals to make and didn't take up a lot of room. I also brought all of our snacks to last 2 weeks as well. We were hoping to save some money on at least the food portion of our trip because we remembered that food was very expensive on the island.
At the grocery store we had spent $129.65 ƒl or $76.26 US dollars so far. Now I'm a popaholic and this would be a large expense for us this trip. I would find that the price would vary between Coke, Pepsi and Mt Dew. It baffled my mind how Pepsi and Mt Dew could be 2 different prices when they come from the same manufacturer, but they did. My pop was always the most expensive. Go figure. So what does a 12 pack cost you here??? Roughly around $9.20 each!!!! WOW! Of course some places were higher and none of them were the same.
We were tired from our long trip today and being up at 3am in the morning. Sakari still hadn't slept, other than her 2 hours on the plane, and she was running on empty and I felt so bad for her but knew she would make up for it tomorrow.
We all headed to bed around 11pm...only our listing said we had a king sized bed and it was a queen. That was one of the things I found in the listing that was not correct. I would find more later on.
Here's a little video I took of us coming into our neighborhood and driving back to our house.