|Written by Katy Draper|
Mike & Jaki Milligan
Aruba? Never heard of it? It is one of the Dutch Antilles in the Southern Caribbean, 16 miles off the Venezuelan coast, out of the hurricane belt. The temperatures are always in the mid 80s but a cooling breeze means it is very comfortable.
We flew from Manchester to Amsterdam and then direct non stop to Aruba with KLM, much easier than having to tackle Heathrow with its many terminals. Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) has only one terminal but it is spread out. We had only one hour to connect with the flight to Aruba and it was quite a brisk walk! Anyone with walking difficulties would definitely need help.
The Posada Clinic in Oranjestad is privately run, all the nurses have been trained in Holland. There are 8 machines but only 7 are used at any one time - hi tech Fresenius compared with the one Mike has at home. A Doctor is always on call. The charge per dialysis is US$330 plus a weekly doctors fee of US$40/60, payments can be made by credit card.
The clinic was a 10min taxi ride from our hotel, all the taxi fares are fixed so you always know the cost will be the same.
We chose the Bucuti Beach Resort Hotel which is on Eagle Beach. There are two main hotel areas, one with all the high rise hotels (Marriott, Hyatt etc) and one with low rise hotels, which is the area we chose and it suited us perfectly. The rooms had the all essential fridge for EPO (and beer!), plus microwave, coffee maker and cable TV. As with most smaller hotels the staff were extremely friendly and nothing was any trouble. We spent most of our time relaxing in the shade by the freshwater pool, but the majority seemed to prefer the wide immaculate beach. One nice touch - if you are on the beach and need a drink or snack, stick a red flag in the sand and you will be waited on by the hotel's beach attendant.
Eating out was exceptionally good, prices pretty much the same as UK. The choice of fresh fish and seafood was tremendous, although steaks also feature highly on most menus.
We hired a car for one day and saw some of the more remote parts of the island. Although only 20 x 7miles, once away from the main towns the roads leave a little to be desired. Many people hire 4wheel drive jeeps and if you intend to do much driving these are a better option. We saw the rugged NW coast with its rough seas, the California Lighthouse and the natural bridge made out of coral formed by the sea.
Another day we went on the submarine Atlantis 6 and dived to 150 feet to see the coral reef, amazing fish and wrecked ships off the coast of Oranjestad. One way to see the undersea world without getting your face wet.
Aruba is one place we definitely intend to return to. As it says on the car number plates "One Happy Island".
[Mike and Jaki have also been to St Lucia]
(We also have other travel stories)