We finally made it to Aruba. That sentence is weighted two ways…1) we wanted to come here for our honeymoon, then for our second anniversary, but couldn’t get it through the timeshare when we were able to come; and 2) our travel getting here this time didn’t go exactly as planned…
Our flight out of Knoxville was scheduled for 9:20a. We left the house at 7:30a and arrived at the airport at 8a EXACTLY as planned. We checked in, grabbed breakfast and…that’s where it all fell apart.
Bub got a call on his cell phone and answered it, when he realized it was automated, he hung up. A call came through again about 10 minutes later, after we made it to our gate (huge airport, I know) so he answered and listened. The flight was delayed an hour. Ugh. Still not a huge deal, but made us cut it a little closer to our layover in Charlotte. We were annoyed, but still fine.
A few minutes later, the flight was pushed back to 11:30a. Our flight in Charlotte was to leave at 11:30a. Obviously a problem. They called us up to the counter, and gave us our options. You can still go through Charlotte, but then you’ll go to Miami instead of straight to Aruba as you will have already missed the last flight out of Charlotte to Aruba until tomorrow. They usually leave in the morning before noon. (We know, that is why we booked the 9:20a flight.) Ugh 2. Of course I ask how sure we are the plane coming to get us will get here in time for us to make the new Charlotte flight. Not sure…another plane was coming but the one coming to get us hadn’t even left DC yet due to mechanical issues. Not looking good. What’s the other option? Leave the next day. Boo!
A few minutes later another attendant comes on and says, the plane for Charlotte will arrive by 11:30a and leave on time (the new time), but I have six seats on a flight leaving here for Charlotte in about 15 minutes. At this point, I hopped over a child and slid to the front of the line around the side of the counter before people could make their way up. I got us on that flight, and was assured our luggage would make it all the way to Aruba, despite the new travel arrangements. Fine, whatever, just get us to Charlotte so we are at least starting our vacation.
On the plane to Charlotte we had no problems and even had the nicest flight attendant ever! At first Bub was in the window seat at the very front of the plane and i was in then back by the bathrooms. a very nice man, Bub thinks and air marshall, traded seats with me so we could sit together at the very front! We had a pretty short layover in Charlotte and boarded the plane to Miami (things were looking up even though we were headed to a state we hadn’t planed to be in). The layover in Miami was going to be about three hours (boo 2), but don’t worry, we had some stress to help us kill time.
Having flown to the Caribbean before we knew that you’re supposed to check your luggage at the international airport if you don’t check it all the way through, which most of the time you can’t because you have to change airlines. We were SUPPOSED to fly all the way through with US Airways, but they had our last leg of the flight switched to American due to the screw up BUT when we left Knoxville they said your luggage will get to Aruba. I had my doubts. The attendant had retagged it by hand when it was moved from the first delayed Charlotte flight to the second later, but still on time, Charlotte flight. I watched her write CTL, MIA, AUA on both tags. I watched her go down the jet bridge with the tags and come up without them. When I boarded the plane I asked, “So our luggage was switched over right?” She nodded and said yes.
When we landed in Miami, we didn’t see the Aruba flight we were supposed to be on listed on any of the boards and our tickets were US Airways tickets for an American Airlines flight. I had more doubts. I stopped to ask someone at a ticket desk what we should do and she was more confused than us. She sent us to the check in counter. We walked past every check in counter in that terminal (probably 50 and the length of four football fields) and didn’t find an American one so we walked all the way back to one of the first ten counters for US Airways. We told them what happened and they weren’t sure what was up and told us to go to the American gate check in all the way in another terminal. Luckily, I had a moment of panic and decided we should go check for our luggage at baggage claim, since we hadn’t really been told where it was going to end up.
No luggage. I went to the lost baggage area (my lease favorite place) and told them what happened. She took my tag receipts and scanned them and said that they hadn’t been checked in and likely they were on their way to Aruba or would come the next day on the original flight pattern, but delayed. When I started to well up with tears, she decided to go look for them (clutch my pearls, I nearly kissed her). She came back and said, “They’re back there. They were going to transfer them to American…they didn’t have these tags on them, they had new ones…that’s why it wouldn’t scan.” Then she did the most customer service oriented thing I’ve ever experienced in an airport…she asked us if we wanted her to pull them, give them to us, let us take them and re-check them with American ourselves to ensure they were on the same plane as us (as best we could after you watch them go through those tiny doors). Of course we said yes and thanked her profusely. Then we began the almost two mile trek (probably not an exaggeration) to the American counter. We checked our luggage, went through security and began to search for food. We found a Cuban place, had ham croquettes, pork, black beans and rice and a guava pastry. Then we waited.
We were supposed to board the flight out at 6p but a terminally ill marine coming back to Miami after meeting the president was arriving on the plane we were flying out on. There were legion veterans and an active soldier plus about five police and several American Airlines employees. He came off the plane in a wheelchair through two rows of passengers and all those service men clapping. It was pretty cool to see. Obviously. They drove him to baggage claim in a security cart with flags on it escorted by a bike cop. All that made us a little delayed leaving. We boarded at 6:30p. The fight was about 3 hours 40 minutes (and about a half hour longer than I was prepared to amuse myself for). We were FINALLY wheels down in Aruba at 9:40p. Six hours and an extra plane ride and city later than we had planned.
The benefit of this was that customs was a breeze, there were no lines. No hassle with luggage. No taxi lines and no lines for hotel check in. We checked in around 10:30p and then went to find a burger. We ate at Champions in the Marriott then made our way to bed.
The next day…
We were supposed to do an island tour that was picking us up at 8:45a so we set an alarm the first day of vacation. We got up, went down to the front desk and found out that our tour wasn’t coming. We were the only two booked and he had, apparently, been trying to call for two days to let me know they wanted to reschedule. So we got up early for nothing on a morning we really would have enjoyed sleeping in, but nonetheless, we rescheduled the tour to Tuesday morning.
We went in search of food and ate breakfast at a bagel place. Then we walked around a bit and made our way back to the hotel to go to the beach. We sat on the beach, drank fruity drinks and swam until we felt we needed to find some shade. We then went to the pool, found some shade, ordered more drinks and made friends with some LSU fans. We hung with them a bit then went to buy bread, bologna and cheese and chips for lunches. We came up to the room, made a poor man’s lunch and fiddled around for a bit and then went back down to the pool briefly. We then showered and got dressed for dinner. We decided to stay away from the more suggested restaurants with it being Saturday night since we assumed everything would be slammed so we decided to try an Indian restaurant called Taj Mahal. It got pretty good reviews on trip advisor so we went for it.
We got nervous when we went to get a cab and no one knew where the restaurant was. Someone finally figured out (after we told them) that it was downtown near where the cruise ships come in. I happened to see it as our cab driver drove around aimlessly. Still not a good sign.
We walked in and there was one guy sitting at a table. He looked like he might work there but didn’t speak to us. We were really confused. It took a full 30 seconds for someone to greet us…so long that we almost left. Seriously, Bub was at the door. We seated ourselves and waited about three minutes for menus. At this point we were debating leaving even more, but I really wanted to try it. The waitress came over and brought us menus and water. A few minutes later she came back and asked if we wanted anything else to drink. Bub ordered a spiced salty drink from her and she said, “You ever had it? You won’t like it.” He was pretty taken aback. She pretty much refused to serve it to him! We decided to stick it out due to the comedy of errors that was occurring. I HAD read on Trip Advisor that the food was good but the service was not outstanding. So far they were right about the service part.
We chose our food items, an appetizer, two dishes and naan and rice. She didn’t come back until she brought our appetizer. She brought out two sauces and the tea Bub had ordered. She was right, he didn’t like it. It was a mix of black salt, cumin seeds, and some other stuff…meant to help with digestion. Sort of like a detox drink. I thought it was weird, but not horrible….though I wouldn’t want to sip it with dinner.
I will say, our food was good. We did like it. The waitress grew on us and us on her, but we were the only two people there besides someone we couldn’t see but could hear…a man, I’m pretty sure, who may or may not have been choking. But since the waitress didn’t seem worried, we tried to ignore it.
We walked around a bit after dinner at the mall (even went in Louis Vuitton…I looked at the bag and when the lady told me the price and asked if I wanted to try it on, Bub said, “I don’t think she does….” You can bet $1800 he was right) then caught a cab back to the hotel.
Now we are just relaxing (read: I’m blogging in bed and Bub is asleep on the couch….I’ll wake him up shortly). Tomorrow is more of the same as today, except I have to do a better job putting sunscreen on T. His shoulders and face are a bit red even though I thought I was very diligent. I need to determine a better combo of water resistant and non-pore clogging sunscreen for him. Good practice for when we have kids!