The Planning stages....
Well, I will start with...the inevitable...COVID. It's still going strong therefore we are still doing land vacations. I did a lot of research on places to go. I thought really hard about going somewhere new this time around, but checking prices and weighing my options, I kept coming back to wanting to return to Aruba again. It had been 3 long years since we were there and I was missing it. Aruba is like no other island we have been to. Everyone is so friendly, it is super easy to navigate, the beaches are beautiful, snorkeling is great, various things to do on the island other than beaches (gasp, say it isn't so...I love my beaches!), we have a friend that lives there and we had been missing her dearly, and the island is super small so you can cover it all in 1 trip! Who would even think about passing all that up? Not I, said the Mitsugirly.
So, now it was time to pick a date. I had several in mind and we usually vacation around August because we try to squeeze in one last hurrah before the not-so-munchkin goes back to school. However, I found better pricing in July this time and started weighing my options for a place to stay. We like the Noord area because it's an upscale area and I feel like a celebrity when I'm there (a girl can dream right?). I started looking for a place like the last house we stayed in and studying the area and maps once again. As much as I would love to stay in the house we were in before, it's just not practical for us...and I don't know who it is for because when we stayed before, we paid $156/night...it's now $500-600 a night! On days they don't have anyone booked and slow season it will now run you a good $360/night. As much as I loved that 1.5 million dollar home, I'm not willing to pay those prices...well, unless I was able to drag some of my older children with me to split the expense.
As I searched for that perfect place to stay my options were really getting slim. The houses in that area were "flying off the shelves" like it was a pandemic toilet paper. Everything I would save on my airbnb account as a prospect turned up booked the following day. I was getting VERY worried...like VERY! I decided to consult with Hija...wait Hija was my last review, we are no longer in Mexico. I guess I have to convert back to Sakari...even though I'm still attempting to learn Spanish, or more of a version of Spanglish would be more like it.
Back to consulting Sakari...I ask if she would rather stay in a home with a private pool or a resort that had multiple pools. She picked private, so private it was (she just had to pick the harder option). I figured as she had gotten older she might want the resort so that there would be other kids her age around and she could make a "pool friend" but she's in the awkward stage that easily making friends with others her age seems to no longer be an option for her. She's shy and doesn't approach other kids like she did when she was young and played with all the locals or anyone that was around for that matter. My how times change.
I finally came across a cute little house in the next subdivision over from where we stayed before and I knew it was a decent area and what we were looking for. It had a decent price for July ($218/night) and we normally stay for 10 days. However, checking the airline rates coming home...well the prices were a little ridiculous. So I went with the cheapest day to get there and the cheapest coming back. Who cares that it ended up being 15 days and costing more for the home? I like an extended vacation. I have always said that 10 days seems to be the MAX for us and I'm ready to go home after that whether it be a land or cruise vacation. That's always been my limit. So, I wasn't sure how this was going to pan out. We will see....
Booking our flights...well, as I said, cheapest day there and cheapest day back. That would end up being July 27 until August 11th. Now everyone knows that we fly free BUT we still want to pick the cheapest days so that we use less points. The hubby always flies free as my companion and Sakari and I use our Southwest points.
The only offering was an early 6:15am flight out with a stop in Baltimore and arrival in Aruba at 12:50pm.
Coming back was a late 1:45pm flight out of Aruba, delay in Baltimore and arrival at home at 10:40pm. <---that's not an ideal time to come home but it is what it is.
I had posted the airbnb pictures of the place prior to this review...they are located here....
Now comes another issue...we have our house booked, but need to book a car as well. We are all over the place when vacationing and are not the type of people to just go somewhere and stay there the entire time. I must have transportation to explore!
Well, we were running into more problems finding a place that actually HAD an available car FOR 15 DAYS! Yea, throw that into the mixture and you have yourself a whole lotta "what have I done now" issues. Everyone that I emailed were getting back to me letting me know they had nothing available. FINALLY, I found a place that said YES! And by YES that's exactly who they were! Yess Rental Cars. Now before you think I ended up with the bottom of the barrel jalopy rust bucket with no air, you are wrong. They came highly recommended on the Aruba fb boards and they actually had a pretty decent price compared to some of the other companies that didn't have cars. So, I immediately booked!
CLICK FOR THEIR WEBSITE ---->
The planning stages...what to do this time around???
Well, we are going to go ahead and SKIP this section. Ya know why? Because we HAD NO PLANS! We were going to throw caution to the wind this time around. Say whaaaat?!? Yep, this will be a first time for Mitsugirly...absolutley NO planning! I think I had fried my brain cells trying to get everything booked that I didn't feel like trying to plan anything at this point. We've been here enough times to know what all there is to do and I figured it all involved beach, snorkeling, scuba diving and anything else we might feel like. I did have a couple of things in mind and I'm not going to lie, I did google "things to do" that we might have not done before. I came up with a few ideas, but never officially booked anything. I would just wait until we got there and see what we were in the mood for on any given day...or in our case any given week. :D
Are you allowed into Aruba????
Well I got so anxious to start this review and posted the first page that I completely forgot the most important part, well, other than going to Aruba....HOW ARE YOU ALLOWED TO COME HERE???
So, with COVID and everything, the world has changed and so have the requirements to visit there.
1) You have to get a negative covid-19 molecular test within 72 hours before arrival. This is for all visitors 15 YEARS OLD AND OVER. So, Sakari got lucky and didn't have to take a test. (Now they have changed it since we went to 12 years old). It needed to be a PCR or Antigen test.
Here's your bible for knowing which day you can go:
So, here's the good part for us US people...we can get this test for free! Go to CVS or Walgreens, make an appointment for the rapid test and usually you get it in a few hours.
We ended up going to Walgreens and they are actually having you drive up to the pharmacy, they send out your testing supplies to your car, then you do the test yourself. You put your swab back into the container and then send it back in.
Ooooohhhhh the burn!
Our appointment time for Walgreens was 10:30am. We had our results by 3:23pm. Not too shabby (oh and we actually went 48 hours ahead of time)
2) Go to the Aruba site and fill out an ED card. It contains 5 components.
*The first is your basic travelers information about yourself and your plans for traveling. The second is they ask you the basic COVID questions: symptoms, quarantined or contact with someone who has had COVID.
*The 3rd is: Upload your negative molecular COVID-19 test
*4th component: You must purchase insurance coverage. Now this is COVID insurance in case you get COVID while you are there. The price of insurance is $15 per person over 15 years and older. Those under 15 will pay $10.
*The 5th thing is to consent to Aruba's government mandates
Once you have completed the ED card they will look over everything and you wait for your approval in your email.
When you get your GREEN CHECK it is the most wonderful feeling in the world! Then you know you are approved to visit the most beautiful island ever!
NOW WE ARE SET TO GO TO ARUBA!!!