I was not so happy to get away to the Happy Island last weekend as I was leaving a client with some serious issues. The travel on Friday was thus preoccupied with work, but ultimately I had to wind down as I was getting farther and farther away. It took almost another day before my mind started focusing on the time-off. Rama had her elite retreat at Aruba and I had tagged along. We had to leave Vikas behind due to his Science Fair finale at Penn State in State College, PA. Here are some photos of the trip.
Sunset time HAS to be great near the water. The reception dinner was on the huge lawn of the Renaissance. There were more vegetarian options this year. But the food attracted a lot of flies and thus wasn’t very enjoyable unless, of course, one doesn’t notice them or one enjoys eating them!!
I was tired by the journey and just took my G12 along. I have to say I love this camera. But what made the sunset photos here great was the time of the day. If you shoot in mid-day sunlight, all photos will turn out with washed out skies and especially if there is a layer of clouds spread across, photos turn out to be flat and unflattering.
The marina in downtown Oranjestad is filled with fancy boats and yatchs. Getting reflections of any thing in water always makes a great photo.
The last time we were at Aruba, we had loved the Belgium coffee at one of the shops. This time around, it was disappointing. There were plenty of high end shops at the resort, which meant we didn’t visit any of them 🙂 But their mainly glass facade with displays make a great photo. Make sure you have a circular polarizer on to see through the reflections.
In the afternoon, we took the boat to the resort’s private island. On one side was the water with the flamingos. It is okay to take wide angle shots of landscapes, but when you have subjects in them that you want to catch attention like birds, animals or human beings, you must take a close-up lens. My kit 70-300mm IS lens on the Rebel XS took some fine photos of the birds displaying their vivid red pretty well. This lens isn’t sharp, but you can’t beat what you get out of a kit lens when you don’t have to spend hundreds and event thousands of dollars on a zoom lens.
The evening dinner was great, many deserts as always – we just made sure we didn’t go overboard on the sugar.
Sunday was open day – meaning you could do what you want. We took the high-speed boat ride to the snorkeling area. The ride was fantastic. The boats held about 10 people each. The captain docked the boat about 100 yards from a very small piece of land. The water was mostly shallow. Almost everyone put on their snorkeling gear, some with life jackets, swam to the land. There was a lot of corals around which should have made some pretty interesting diving. We stayed back on the boat along with a few others. The team that was leading us was pretty entertaining. The lead guy had gone with the others for showing them around during their snorkeling. The guy who drove the boat, while swimming around, picked up a HUGE sea shell only to throw it back. Rama asked for a keepsake and he swam about 50 yards away in the deeper waters and was back 1/2 hour later with a huge shell. That was a nice souvenir to take home. We generously tipped him. Another boat had this African/Caribbean guy who was very entertaining. He helped a lot getting the not so able in and out of water. Getting into a speed boat from the water with life jackets on can be pretty challenging because of the height you need to haul yourself up to the deck.
We broke for lunch at the Aquarius restaurant on the hotel property. The cook made us some healthy pasta with vegetables. After lunch, we took the jeep ride which was supposed to take us through the back roads into inaccessible places. We visited the volcanic rock formations, Natural bridge and a water area just off road-side houses. The driver was annoyingly talkative, sometimes bordering on inappropriateness; we were glad Vikas wasn’t around to listen to his banter. It was the least enjoyable part of the trip.
The evening farewell dinner was a formal one, with a very long line to get the food. But it was fun and talk and catching up for the instructors. I played observer for most of the part and was missing Vikas all the time.
Monday was the day of departure. We had breakfast on the terrace of the hotel with specially ordered sandwiches which were great. Afterwards, we headed back to the Renaissance’s private island once again. The weather was nice to start with. We timed it so we could finish up lunch at the restaurant on the island. Aruba-Riba and a triple decker sandwich for me and a grapefruit drink for Rama prepared us for the long flight back home.
Shops behind the resort
The coffee shop we yearned to re-visit
Wish I could stay back forever here!
Flamingos on the island beach