Friday, April 27, 2018

Aruba!! Our First Port Day! 11/28/2017

Today was our first port day, Aruba! I've never been to Aruba so I was really looking forward to spending the day here! One of the great things about Windstar is that the days in port are long! We would be docked from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm so we were able to really get a nice full day of exploring in! Lisa and I decided to do a full day Jeep tour of the island.  This tour would give us a great overview of the island, plus some time at the beach at the end of the day!  When we docked we had a bit of a walk to meet the tour, which was slightly confusing, but we figured it out and off we went!  Our ship looked pretty great docked in Oranjestad!

From the port we went in a shuttle bus, picking up a few more people in our group at some of the various hotels, and then we went to the spot where the Jeeps were waiting for us.  While driving our own Jeep sounded fun, ultimately neither Lisa nor I actually volunteered to be a driver and we opted to be passengers with a lovely couple from England.  The husband, who's name I can't remember right now, had so much fun driving, on the "wrong side of the road" in Aruba, and just enjoying the experience that it made our day that much more fun! And with neither of us driving, we got to spend that much more time seeing the sights! 

Once we left "town" we went into the desert area, which was definitely the off-roading experience!  It was so much fun! And the views were spectacular! 

Our guide is in the pick up truck in the front. He had a cooler with soda's and water for us so that at each stop we could grab a cool drink.  It was pretty hot out!

Our first stop was the California Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is named for the steamship California which was wrecked nearby in 1891.

Coconut anyone?

Then it was back to the jeeps for more driving though puddles and bumps and dirt!  It really was a lot of fun!  Our next stop was a beach area that was incredibly rocky. The landscape was beautiful! 

One thing you'll notice here on this beach, and in other parts of Aruba are the stacks of rocks.  Sometimes called wishing piles, but originally known as Cairns, there is a bit of controversy about these piles of rocks.  The original purpose of these rocks may have been for travelers to mark their paths, or for monuments or memorials, but now, with so many it seems that there is concern for the disruption to the natural habitats each time the rocks are moved. Something to thing about before you might build your stack.

In addition to Jeeps there were a lot of ATVs that we saw on the trails too. 

It was back in the Jeep and onto Alto Vista Chapel. This is the site of where the first church was established in Aruba was built. The current church is known as the "Pilgrims Church" and is a small Catholic Chapel. 

There are also some hiking and biking trails up here.

On the road again!  More puddles!  We were loving it, and loving that we weren't driving!  

Our next photo stop was at Wariruri Beach. Another spot with beautiful rock formations!

If the Jeep or ATV option isn't quite right, maybe horseback riding?  There are so many options here!  

We could climb up on top of the rock bridge for a better view even!

The landscape here was really like none I'd ever seen on a Caribbean Island!

Next we stopped at the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. This is the site of a once thriving 19th Century Gold Mill. I don't have too many pictures here because of all things, my shoe broke. So I spent most of the time here trying to figure out how I was going to manage the rest of the day with a broken shoe! 

But as luck would have it, our very next stop was at the Natural Bridge Ruins, and there happened to be a gift shop there! I was able to buy a pair of Aruba flip flops! My day was saved, or at least my feet were!  The timing was perfect!

The Natural Bridge that you can see in the picture below collapsed in 2005. The ruins are in my pictures below that. 

We stopped here for a bit.  There was a little shop, restrooms, a small cafe even.  This was a pretty big tourist destination it seemed!  Our day wasn't even half over!  So, to keep this entry from getting too long, I'll continue on in the next entry.... we still had so much more that we saw and did in Aruba!