Tuesday, September 26, 2017


We are back from our vacation!!!
Honestly, for a minute there I didn't think this trip was going to happen. You may remember me mentioning that we had finally booked our anniversary trip to St. Martin about a month ago. We literally booked it and got trip insurance on August 28, and then Irma formed/was named on August 30. Watching the Weather Channel when it hit St. Martin September 6, I literally was sick to my stomach. I am so, so thankful we got trip insurance, but super sad for all of the devastation on that island. Hopefully we can go back for our 10 year anniversary trip? It really looks like a beautiful place and I am disappointed that we didn't get to go this year.

Anyway! 10 days out from our trip, we had to search for a new destination. Pretty much everywhere we had considered had also been in Irma's path: Turks and Caicos, Virgin Islands, Antigua. We also wanted somewhere that had a direct flight out of Charlotte (we didn't want a layover in Miami because we weren't sure how Irma would affect travel there, since it was projected to be super bad). We were about to go back to Aruba and stay at the same hotel where we honeymooned, but Travis noticed that their main pool was closed for renovation. All of the other Aruba hotels that still had availability didn't have the best we started looking at the island next to it, Curacao. We found a hotel where Starbucks was included in the all-inclusive plan (and it was owned by the same people as our honeymoon hotel in Aruba!), and a direct flight out of Charlotte! So we definitely lucked out big time. 

Here is a view of our destination from the plane!

A few things about Curacao before I share 19475 pictures:
-It is very Dutch. Wayyyyy more Dutch than Aruba. In the airport, literally everyone had passports from The Netherlands. There are direct flights from Amsterdam coming in all day long.
-Everyone there speaks 4 languages fluently: English, Dutch, Spanish and their native Papiamento. It was incredible to observe the bartenders switch between all 4 over the course of 10 minutes when talking with different people!
-The sun is insanely strong there. On my Weather Channel app, every day the UV index was 11: Extreme. I didn't even know it got above a 10! 
-We had hurricane hunters staying at our hotel! They arrived the same day we did (September 16) to fly Hurricanes Lee and Maria (which had just been named that day). Every night/early morning, they would fly up to wherever the hurricane was (usually about 2 hours away) and then they would be back a few hours later. It was very cool talking to them by the bar or pool, and they even showed us some of their videos (it was just sheets of hail; totally crazy and scary!). 

Upon checking in, we were told we had been upgraded to an oceanfront room! It wasn't a swim out suite like we had booked in St. Martin, but the view was pretty amazing anyway!

I would say a good 70% of our trip was spent by the beach/pool with yummy drinks. Travis made good friends with the bartender at the beach bar who was working every single day of our trip. He even let Trav have control of the remote to the outdoor bar TVs on Sunday for football (insert me rolling my eyes).

Apparently, they have an over abundance of iguanas on Curacao. This one didn't mind pooping on the beach right in front of me! 😖

It was really fun to watch all of the big ships coming in and out of the harbor all day! Later on in our stay, there were a lot of US Coast Guard boats going to and from Puerto Rico. 

The hotel is right next to the cruise ship "Mega Port," so 2 of our days there, we woke up to huge cruise ships right outside!

On Tuesday, we decided to walk around the town of Willemstad. 
Our hotel was right next to the Rif Fort, which had all sorts of cute shops and restaurants.

And then once you go past the Rif Fort, there is a beautiful view of all the pretty buildings in the town!

There are 2 sides of Willemstad: Punda and Otrobanda. Our hotel was on the Otrobanda side, so to get to the Punda side (where most of the shops and offices are), you have to cross this cool wooden bridge! 

And then you are here:

Below is the floating market, where people come from Venezuela on boats to sell their produce and fish.

Behind all of that fruit is a line of boats, where the sellers live while trying to sell their goods.

We walked back later that evening to see the bridge at night! So pretty!

My only complaint about our hotel was that there were not a lot of dining options. We ended up eating at the lobby bar a lot because we really liked the bartender there! He also became our unofficial photographer by the end of the trip 😉

He even made me a flower out of a napkin! Watch out, Trav! Ha!

On Wednesday, we went on a tour of the whole island
First we went over a really tall bridge! 
You can see the wooden bridge we walked over the previous day way out there...

And here is a view of the back of the floating market. See all of the boats?! That's why they call it the floating market!

Our first stop of the day was the liquor factory where they make Blue Curacao liquor! 

We learned that the liquor comes from the peels of these little oranges called laraha.

Did you know there are so many flavors?!

Of course we got to try a few! The Tamarind kind was my favorite. 

We went to the east side of the island first, which is where all of the rich people live in these super fancy houses. There are also a lot of these flowers everywhere. I can't remember what they are called but they were all over. 

We also stopped by the Spanish Water area, which had incredible views!

After lunch, we headed to the west side, which is a bit more country, but where most of Curacao's beaches are. Our first stop was Shete Boka, where we got to go in a small cave.

We climbed up a flight of steps on top of the cave to see a pretty spectacular view.

Because of the hurricane, the waves were so much bigger than they normally are!

The first beach we saw was called Playa Forti. You can see at the bottom of the picture below that the water looks a little dirty. Our tour guide said this is not normal and also due to the hurricane. Crazy how much a hurricane can impact a place that is hundreds of miles away!

The next beach was much better. This one is called Grote Knip and is considered the most beautiful beach in Curacao! I was obsessed with the pretty blue water!!

We actually got to go swimming at this beach for a little bit, too!

Everywhere we went, they had these trees, with what looked like apples on them. Apparently, they are super poisonous, so there are also warning signs nailed to their trunks!

Our last stop was to see the flamingos! They are wild, so we couldn't get too close to them. 

 After a fun 6 days, it was time to head home!

Bye, Curacao!!! Thanks for a really fun time!

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