Sunday, July 26, 2009

aruba part 1

we did not leave for our honeymoon immediately after our wedding; instead, we left at the end of the week. (we got married on a sunday but did not leave until the following saturday.) brian had to go in to work for two days during that week which kind of sucked, but i was off work and used the time to write thank you notes and just enjoy being a brand-new-newlywed. and then saturday came and we were off to aruba!

we had a week booked at the caribbean palm village resort starting on saturday august 7, so we took the red-eye out of san francisco on friday night. you can't fly directly to aruba from the west coast, so we flew into jfk in new york and from there headed down to aruba. we arrived early saturday afternoon and stepped out of the airport into the balmy, breezy caribbean air. fabulous! we spent that afternoon unpacking and relaxing by the pool before we went to dinner at the resort's italian restaurant, valentino's.

the next day we slathered on the sunscreen (aruba is in the tropics, so the sun is stronger and we didn't want to burn) and headed into downtown oranjestad, the capital city. aruba is a small island of only about 110,000 people, and oranjestad is pretty much the only town of interest. the other "towns" (like noord, where we stayed) are really tiny hamlets, and are scattered around the island's southwest half. the southwest half of the island is pretty, developed, and the beaches are white sand and sheltered from the pounding waves of the sea. the water is warm, turquoise, and calm, like a giant bathtub.

on the pier at king's beach

the next afternoon we took a submarine tour of aruba's coast. we saw a couple shipwrecks, common because the populated southwest shore is so shallow. (the calm, clear water, shipwrecks, and abundant sea life all make for great snorkeling and diving as well.) neither of us had ever been on a real submarine before - the ride at disneyland doesn't count! the captain even settled the submarine down on the ocean floor. it was very neat being under the sea, knowing that it wasn't a theatrical ride tethered to a track along the bottom.

we visited two shipwrecks in the submarine. because the water off aruba's populated coast is so shallow, numerous ships have wrecked there.

the next day we headed back into oranjestad - we were taking a heli-tour of the island! again, neither of us had ever been in a helicopter either, and we didn't know what to expect. i'm not a huge fan of flying and was terrified for the first ten minutes, but i finally relaxed enough to enjoy the ride. our pilot, christian, took us over the barren northeast coast, whetting our appetite to see more of aruba.

with our pilot christian, before i gave myself a heart attack

oranjestad from the air

the natural bridge, on the northest coast

after our heli-tour we explored downtown oranjestad. pretty much every day in aruba is around 85° with a cool ocean breeze - in other words, perfect and perfect for strolling. we had lunch on the marina (and maybe enjoyed some yummy aruban beer) and then went out to see what we could see. downtown aruba is pretty small and quite walkable, and there were a few historic sights for us history lovers.

lg smith boulevard, downtown o'stad

caribbean colors in downtown o'stad

iguanas are a protected species in aruba, so they're everywhere. there are four in this photo. though they are protected, they are also a delicacy, and we were told if we wanted to sample some iguana soup, there was this guy down on the beach...

jan henrik, one of aruba's prime ministers

brian thought queen wilhelmina was pretty hot

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