I noticed that The Guide Was missing an important country for the Discriminating Gentleman : Aruba. I was there in October of 1996 and I had the chance to observe nightlife and customs of the place thoroughly enough for a review. I will write separate sections about :
Accommodations Local People and Tourists Beaches Food Nightlife Night Ladies
Accommodations Aruba has a pretty wide range of accommodations, varying from the big American chains - Marriott, Hilton and so on, to residences. I don't know the prices of the big joints but my advice is to get quotes from various travel operators, including the windsurf travel ops. windsurf is really big on the island so these guys have good connections and good prices. Something like travel + 1 week, 750 $, food excluded [from the US]. Their residences are pretty decent and especially MAKE SURE YOU GET AIR CONDITIONING. Most of the people in the local tourist industry are local, of course, and Dutch, both of which are very good mannered people and they really mind their business when it's about your "guests". You can elect to stay in the (only) city or outside of it, which doesn't really matter since taxis are cheap, about 5-10 bucks on the average. Car rentals abound too. Should anybody ask, you are going to learn to windsurf.
Local People and Tourists Local Folks, at a first glance, look kind of scary. They reminded me of people from unsavory neighborhoods of the city I live in. They are very courteous and serviceable to the tourist though, they will give you exactly what you ask them, they won't rob you, and you are safe walking at night in Aruba. It's just that damn look.. Tourists are for the most part on packages, mostly from the States, Holland, Scandinavian countries, Austria, Switzerland. The gringos are basically only families or couples, staying mostly in the big hotels, and I think the reason being that Aruba must be the cheapest or one of the cheapest Caribbean spots from the states. Mostly nearly-trailer-trash people. I have not seen any single Northamerican girls or, for that matter, a single decently looking Northamerican girl during the whole length of my trip. These people are on packages : they never go out of the hotel or go to night clubs, they don't have the money. European people have to shell out more money to get to Aruba so there are more youngsters between them, but again because of packages, they go to one place and sip their one small beer for three hours.
Beaches Two flavors : free beaches and hotel beaches. You can still go to hotel beaches, but it's only old and married people so you WILL be alone. The free beaches are good but if you go for companionship, keep in mind that you will find couples for the 85% and the rest are cheap European girls that are thinking every five seconds how much will it cost to put more suntan lotion on their buttocks. If you find yourself hitting on Europeans with ease, go for it. Be warned : eurochicks will want a real romance from you, with all the related mind trips, they consider intercourse a mere byproduct of that.
Food Aruba is also called a "dry" island. It is not related to alcohol, it's just that there are no sources of natural water. So nothing but coconuts grows on the island. They IMPORT FISH from the States [!]. Nothing is not imported. This may explain the two different kinds of food you can find on the island : fast food - steak house food. Nothing in between. Actually you have medium priced restaurants but you will soon learn not to eat there. My advice is to eat at Wendy's for most of your trip, and when you feel like good food, go to a steak house. They have Argentinean steaks that are the best in the world. you will pay something around 30-40$ and you will go back. DO NOT eat at the Paddock, unless you only want French fries. It will make you feel stupid to eat poisonous food after a 1.5 hour wait. They also say on the guide that you get at the airport that because lifestyle is slow you should expect good but slow service. It is crap. Good places have good service, bad places have bad service. Just leave and go next door. They won't say anything. Without tourism they are dead.
Nightlife You only need bother with two places : The Cheers bar, and The Cellar, a discotheque. The Cheers It is a bar with a small dancing floor. You have a lot of local people, some windsurfers and a few Argentinean males, who are the only people not on a package and spend big at the hotel and the casino. There is a lot of salsa playing, and you can find somebody to mingle with. In my experience, the locals will not mingle with you, but as usual they will be very nice with you.
The Cellar You only want to go there to pick up girls. You will only find Dutch or other European girls, and the place is boiling hot. People sweat so much that the floor is wet and slippery, including the stairs. As usual, you will have to pay for their drinks and stay up late speaking about psychology and their childhood to get some, the day before you leave, once. Also they will require that you go back to the same place, with the horrible heat and sweat.
All other places contain couples, of all kinds, but always with one more male than you need.
Night Ladies Many of you will be disgusted by the lengthy descriptions I have given and will be barking: where is the beef? Right here, pals! Aruba is the place where you go to get the knockout of your life. The Ladies are all from Colombia and Venezuela. You will also find some dogs, but tip them and they will take them to the beauties [not more than $20, AFTER they take you to the place. Flash money in their face. ]. I only have found two places where you can go and BAM!, get them. Wait till 12pm and then from the Cheers, walk to the Cobalt Club. Don't enter, just stay right in front of the door and have a cigarette or two. when you see single girls, smile to them. If they came over to you, they are Ladies. Should you get bored to wait, walk to the Sonesta Casino [3 minute walk]. Circle around casually , downstairs from the Casino and smile to single girls. Once you find them, they will rarely be more than average. If you speak Spanish, pick the one that looks the smartest, if you don't, pick the one that speaks English. Flash a twenty, and instruct her to find you a beautiful Lady. She will try very hard to be your Lady, but be firm and get her to find you a Queen. Whatever she will say about the day after is a lie : she will promise she will find one tomorrow and so on. I could not find out where they spend the early hours of the night, but she will also be able to tell you the usual hangouts. They should basically be the big hotels and the casinos. Just start from the first night and find their hangouts. If you ask locals or cab drivers, the Ladies don't exist, because you can just pick up a nice girl and have a good time... The place I have read in the WSG a lot of bad stuff about Southamerican places that charge you to have company in your room, your host has to register and follies of the kind. In Aruba, if you are staying in a residence, there is nothing to be worried about. I don't know about the big hotels, but in general, the tourist is always right in Aruba.
Your Wallet Once you find a Lady that you like, she will ask you 100us$, independently from her looks. If she is a dog, you can go down a lot, even to 40$. If she is not, you can bargain on the services rendered. Remember, you will only get what you have contracted for. Be specific and very firm. See some other WSG report for the details of bargaining, but bargain hard. There are a lot of Ladies on the island and the competition is fierce, because of the travel package people that cannot spend money. DO NOT disrespect the Ladies. They know people that you DO NOT WANNA MEET. You can also get her to spend some days with you, but be aware that she will try to get you to buy her the whole island, so account for that in the bargaining process. You can have a lot of average Ladies or just one Queen that will stick in your memory for a long time. I personally go for the latter. I had the chance to meet a Queen right away, but you might have to look harder than that. Remember, bargain hard. You have the chance to find a young and extremely attractive girl for pocket change: you won't find that opportunity back in the States. Go for it !
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