Day 1, MSN to Curacao

Seems like anytime you travel the first hop is always the longest . . . today as no exception.

We left home at 8:00am and drove to O’Hare airport for our noon flight to Miami. We tied up with Becky and Charlie in Miami for a three hour layover before our flight to Curacao.




During our layover at the Miami airport we had a nice supper. This was an interesting concept. Friday’s had a ‘smoking room’ available for those who needed it.


To get around the No Smoking laws the room was open air, no roof, in order for the area to be ‘technically outside’ Their was an air curtain above the automatic doors so whenever someone, entered or exited, what smoke there may have been remained in the room.

With all the wait times, time changes, etc. we arrived in Curacao at 11:00pm. It was a long day but once we got off the plane and felt the warm, AND humid air one quickly realizes the short discomfort of traveling to your destination is ALL worth it!!


You know there s a change in humidity when after the plane lands and switches to ground power, the air handling system begins pumping ‘fog’ into the plane interior! Looks like the whole interior is on fire!!!


Might have to checkout Williburger, featuring goat burgers, while we are on island.

We were met by our local property manager, Sidney, who proved a ride to our house. The car rental agencies’ all close at 9:00pm so it would be back to the airport tomorrow to pick up our rental.


Along the way we picked up a few groceries so we would have some breakfast goodies. Interesting that most places open late have a metal gate they close over the main entrance at about 9:00pm to prevent robberies. You conduct your transactions through the metal gate They take the money first!!!


Of course it was pitch black when we arrived but the interior of the house was VERY inviting!!!

It was about 1:00am when we turned in for the night and all got a good 8 hours of sleep. Air conditioning in the bedrooms so we cranked it down and actually slept with the quilt over us. Best of both worlds NICE!!!

Day 2, Down Island


Good morning sunshine!!!


Beautiful view off the veranda . . .


with a beautiful native!!!



What a difference daylight makes!!!


Sidney was back by 10:00am and it was back to the airport for the rental car and a nice little lunchy!!!

A great location, our house sits right on a hillside overlooking the ocean , , , going to be a full moon on March 1!!!

oh yeah . . . and we are living in a gated community!!!

First order of business was a nice little lunch, which we had at Landhuis Klein Santa Martha also sitting up on top of a hill.

emJay considers having a ‘Dirty Holiday cocktail’ that has vodka, blue Curacao and juice . . . but settled on a beer.

lite lunch of BIG salads. We all felt we needed some greens!!!

. . . so naturally we had room to share two pieces of strawberry cheesecake, made in house, with a lovely berry compote/sauce and whipped cream!!!

Soon it was off to the grcoery store. Centrum is the local chain about the size of a Woodmans! We will be eating breakfast in house, lunches at the beach and on and off with dining out and eating in for dinner. One thing we considered was spaghetti. I went looking for some type of meat to make a sauce with and found what look like yummy sausage. Ended of it was a freezer of dog goodies!!!!

. . . hey, I felt like I was at Woodman’s  . .  .

This looked REALLY familiar . . .

. . . it should, considering it is made 20 miles from Madison!!!!

. . . and Centrum reminded me of Miller’s Market in Verona where the locally employed high school students take your groceries out to the car. Centrum was full of an army of blue shirted young men and Edmund was the nice one who took our groceries out to the car. We gave him a tip!!

Seems  like you can contract for any services on the island to show up at your doorsteps including masseuses, professional photographers, videographers, guides and even professional bartenders. Soon our personal bartender for the week, Carlos, showed up for our evening to assist with our cocktail on the veranda tradition . . .

. . . and started preparing what could become our signature drink while on the island, ‘The Blue Lagoon’!!!

. . . his assistant sous chef, Maria, also showed up to to prepare our pre dinner snacks . . .

 . . .all was good as we sat on the veranda, drinking and snacking, watching the freighters on the horizon and the sun set, planning dinner and our activities for the next week. Carlos also manned the grill and we had a great dinner of basa fish with Indian spices, Israeli couscous and Brussel sprouts. chocolate for dessert!!!

We’ll miss the heatwave hitting MSN this week with a high of 48 degrees!!!

Day 3, Cas Abao Beach

Charlie and Becky are down for two weeks and emJay and I for one. There are over 60+ beaches available and open to the public. So many beaches . . .so little time. Curacao is part of the Lesser Antilles, formerly part of the Netherlands, and one off three islands known as the A -B-C’s. Aruba, Bonair and Curacao. Only 12 degrees above the equator the temps barely vary year round, or daily. While we are here the daytime temps are predicted to be 80 degrees and the night time lows 78!!!

Just because one is on holiday doesn’t mean you can’t start the day with a hearty breakfast!!! My usual omelette, toast and fruit!!!

emJay was the next one us this morning. The whole house can be basically wide open if you prefer. Very few windows have screens and the sliding doors can be open wide. Took us one day and emJay’s nose to find that out. This morning I had opened one of the sliding doors and she unfortunately walked into one that was not (see nose smudge marks circled in red). She had to sit down for a bit and rest her shnooz and forehead . . .

. . . but soon she rallied, opened up the entire set . . .

and she had a nice breakfast too!!!

Time for a little post breakfast birdwatching . . . she has started a bird list down here, and a fish list (not the kind we have eaten but the kind we have seen snorkeling).

Speaking of snorkeling soon we were off for a day of adventure to one of the most popular beaches on the  island, Cas Aboa Beach, and it was only 5 minutes  from from our house!!!

And it was quite a place. Most the the beaches with ‘amenities’ even have wifi!!!!

Our team preparing to meet the ‘deep’.

Becky, or ‘Bicky’ as she is know outside of Madison . . .

Charlie . . .

. . . and emJay.

. . . relaxing after a little lunch and trying to protect our winter ‘pasty white bodies’!!!

We snorkeled, sat in the shade, ate French Fries and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and drank beer. And read or listened to ‘books on tape’ (mp3) a lot too. Too soon it was time to head home.

A nightly round of our signature drink, The Blue Lagoon, A great sunset (with a cloudless horizon and we were able to see the infamous green flash). Got to take a movie of the next sunset to share the flash with the non-believers.

And soon it was onto dinner. Tonight the women cooked and we had a yummy chicken stir fry with a big salad.

After all the drinking, eating and SUN . . . we were all turning in for the night by 9:30PM!!!

Day 4, Playa Lagun Beach

After another good lights sleep (thank heavens for the air conditioned bedrooms) and a hearty breakfast it was time to head to the beach. We were actually on the road today by 10:30am!!! Today we would explore Play Lagun Beach, located about 20 minutes from our house.

A great little inlet or ‘boca’ with nice shelves and steep sides with lots of structure . . . good for snorkeling and seeing LOTS of fish!!

emJay makes her way into the ocean . . .

. . . it’s always awkward getting into the water with your fins and mask bouncing around in the waves, but once you are in the water its like the movements of a fine dancer . . .

. . . white puffer fish

There were divers below us coming in from their dive and it was fun to watch them  . . .

. . . before one knew it it was time for a little lunchy,  served in the restaurant located high on one of the boca’s cliffs.

Once of the standards for lunch seems to be grilled panni type sandwiches with fries, which  I think that were fried in lard. Today’s sandwich special, ham, cheese and pineapple chunks . . . YUM!!!! Who could say no!!!

. . . plenty of time for relaxing and reading.

. . . as well as chatting with some of the natives!!!!

. . . back in the water after lunch where there seemed to be . . .

. . . a whole different changing of the guard as far as fish types . . .

emJay, the marine biologist!!!

Soon it was time to head home, shower, clean up the gear, have a round of Blue Lagoons and head out for tonight’s dinner. Along the way we passed by Williburger, a place we are determined to visit before we leave the island . . .

. . .  home of the goat burger. There was a herd of goats and sheep, grazing right down the road, and we wondered if they would be appearing on the menu soon!!! . . .

. . . and the place rivaled Hollywood in popularity!!!!

. . . but tonight we would be heading to the Coral Reef Resort for dinner where we walked along the nicely appointed grounds of the resort including their infinity pool . . .

. . . nice views from their veranda as the sun set. Missed the green flash TONIGHT!!!

Soon we were seated in their beach side, Karakter Restaurant.

Nice setting for a great meal . . .

. . . starting with a nice little amuse-bouche from the chef . . .

. . . a caprese salad . . .

. . . and a nice tenderloin, medium rare, with mashed sweet potatoes and a creamy cheese mushroom sauce . . .

. . . Charlie was even able to order a bread course. As he says, ‘ . . . a good bread stands on it’s own!’

Great memories of a wonderful night . . .

. . . topped off with a two nice lava cakes alongside French vanilla ice cream and a berry coulis. Each couple shared one . . .

Not in bed until 11:00pm tonight. Sweet dreams!!

Day 5, Willemstad


Another beautiful day in paradise as we all woke up between 6-7am, had a nice breakfast and coffee on the veranda and fantasized about life on the freighters we watched crawl along the horizon. Today we play tourist and visit some of the sights on the southern end of the island.


First stop was an abandoned salt flat that after producing salt, now was just the home to large groups of flamingos . . . and a memorial to the Freedom Fighters (got to do a little more researcher on that).


The cameras on the Google Pixel phones emJay and I have were rated the best in the field (at least when we bought them) and I decided to use mine, exclusively, on my recent Florida biking trip. No regular camera along. It worked GREAT, synching  the photos in the cloud with Google Photos so they were immediately available on line for computer editing. The only downside discovered so far is the zoom option. Unlike most point and shoot cameras that have an actual optical zoom, the phones ‘zooming’ is done by just enlarging the digital image, usually resulting in rather poor results as pictured above. I zoomed in, in order to compress the  church in the  background with the flamingoes in the foreground. Turn out to be too ‘grainy’ with too many ‘artifacts’ for my satisfaction.


There were some cool looking little anemone type critters in the salt ponds that were opening and closing their gills to pass water and nutrients through. Chow time!!!


Oh boy. . .


Next stop was the Curacao distillery. A nice self guided tour gave us the history of the liquor and some facts about early life on the island . . .


. . . ends up when the Spanish settled the island they brought Valencia orange trees along, but the harsh arid climate produced oranges that were too sour and tart to eat. Somehow they developed the process of cutting off the rinds, drying them, then soaking them in a special spice mixture, combining the result with alcohol distilled from sugar cane, adding coloring and more flavorings and  . . .


. . . in 17 days you have the final product, in a variety of forms . . .


. . . just waiting for those with inquiring minds, and palates, to give the result a taste. We all agreed that of the three flavors available today for tasting, the tamarind flavor was the tastiest!!!


We toured around the city of Willemstad and discovered some interesting graphics and artwork .. .


. . . as well as the ‘floating market’ that consisted of a flotilla of veggie hauling boats arriving daily to sell their produce on the docks. Fun!!!


Great local art . . .


Soon it was time for lunch and we ‘set up camp’ at a nice outdoor restaurant right next to the canal serving the island main shipping port. Bicky ordered a daiquiri and the liquor for it came in a little test tube. FUN!!!! Chemistry at work. You can see the 185 foot off-the water bridge over the entrance to the harbor in the background.


. . . ‘island time’, a phrase one often hears, came into play today as our lunch turned into about a 3 hours event. VERY slooooooow service. But . . . one needs to just slowdown, take in the surroundings and have a few more drinks. Don’t fight it!!!


Across the floating pontoon Queen Emma Bridge was the Otrobanda neighborhood who has tried to imitate it’s older sister, the Punda areas waterfront color scheme.


. . . the pontoon walking bridge swings open from a hinge on the north side of the canal, quite often, allowing ships travel in and out of the harbor. Many times the operator only opens it 50-60 feet to allow passage of smaller ships . . .


. . . to wide open for the large ocean going freighters we have seen on the ocean from our balcony, to military ships like this French cruiser that was making a port call. Either military ships do not let the usual Port Pilot on their bridge to ‘bring the ship into harbor’ or they ran out of fuel because it was towed into the harbor by two tugs . . .


We finally finished lunch and walked a cross the pontoon bridge to the Otrobanda side of the canal. The women hit the bazaar while  Charlie and I studied the workings of the swivel side of the bridge. Quite ingenious!!!  And here is my rendition of one of the most poplar photos in the Caribbean, the Willemstad waterfront. The white canopies are the location of our lunch restaurant.

Soon it was time to head for home, with a stop Centrum Supermarket for some more vittles including milk from Organic Valley Farms located in LaFarge, WI!!!!

Blue Lagoon cocktails on the veranda, followed by iced Roses, followed by spaghetti carbonara, a big salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, garlic bread and a dessert course of dark and milk chocolate rounded off ANOTHER PERFECT EVENING!!!

Day 6, Christoffel National Park


Today would be another day of exploring, this time to the north side of the island and the national park. The ‘no-see-ums’, can be ‘aggressive’ at times and REALLY like to go for your ankles. We keep our room doors closed during the day and only turn the air on at night. This morning I woke up and thought I had been attached by a swarm of them that had snuck in during the night and had a convention on my ankles . . . ended up being sauce from last nights dinner . . . wish I could remember more about it!!!!


Before we headed out . . . how about breakfast on the veranda!!


The national park had a couple of whale skeletons on display . . . really magnificent creatures!!!


This park had a nicely remodeled and preserved ‘Landhuis’ which was the home of a plantation owner. Usually very nicely done with lots of rooms. The island has many of these remaining homesteads. Some are B&B’s, some are restaurants’ and some are shops. Some may still be in the original families ownership.


The life and times were explained in the various rooms including the ‘marrying bed’. Click here if you want to know the details!!!


. . . and because of the hot weather here, at the end of life the deceased were usually buried within one day or in many times the day of their death . . . this casket had a viewing window that could be opened and closed!!!


Soon we were on a hike up and over dale heading to the sea . . .


. . . the island is FULL of various forms of cactus’s and some are beginning to bloom!


As we neared the ocean we came upon this high point where we could see the plantation home and Christoffel Peak standing at 1,239 feet above sea level behind us.


One great view . . .


Back at the headquarters we toured around a little more and came across this ‘gaggle’ of  donkeys . . .


. . . right next to them was this more modern form of transport someone used to get to work . . . Shimano group


. . . as I walked back, after taking the bicycle photo, I saw this guy who I must have missed stepping on, by inches, on the way in . . . lucky for him!!!


We took a nice drive through the park backcountry on paved roads so steep I’m not sure how they got the cement to dry instead of sloughing down off the mountain.

Would NEVER get up them in WI during the winter!!!


On the way back to the house we scoped out a few beaches we may visit in the next couple of days. This one had a unique, psycodelic, Alice in Wonderland type entrance!!!


. . . and is known for having turtles around during the day and sure enough they were around . . .


. . . lots of them!!!


. . . ends up after the local fisherman come ashore with their catch, clean the fish on  shore and throw the innards into the water  . . . the result? LOTS of turtles around everyday waiting for breakfast, lunch and supper!!!


. . . on the way out of the beach we saw this agave type cactus sending up a flower shoot that looked like a HUGE stalk of asparagus . . .


. . . so why not head back to the house for a few drinks and snacks before dinner!!!

We went to a great restaurant only several miles away and were lucky to get in without a reservation. Popular place. Bicky had the shrimp, emJay and I had ‘Dutch’’ Beef Stew’ and Charlie had a deep fried Asian pork tenderloins. All was very tasty . . .


. . . everyone Bailey’s coffee for dessert except me . . . I went for the last piece of tiramisu. Hey . . . I’ll be biking in Big Bend by the end of the month and need to ‘store up some calories’ especially with G and George cooking!!!!

Day 7, Playa Porto Marie


Full moon last night and when I awoke at 5:50am the moon was in the western sky . . .


. . . emJay was soon up to see the moon set and the sun rise . . .  and she saw a flock of flamingos fly by . . . FUN !!! Although she did need to have the citronella candle going because of the no – seums.


. . . we headed out early today to get to beat the crowds at the beach which attracts many visitors and we wanted to be in the shade. No problem!!!

And there were all kinds of ‘critters’ at the beach!!!


At first I thought this guy was the pigs owner the way he was following it around and taking so many photos . . . but after watching him for a while I don’t think he had a thing to do with the pig other than using it as a way to meet women. Seemed to work!!!


Pete the Pig ate some grapes out a small plastic container and kept coming back all day to these girls location. Wagged it’s tail like a dog and the little kids had fun petting it!!!!


emJay . . . ready to ‘suit up’ for our adventure. The sand was as fine as sugar . . . very nice.


. . . and here was our dive team. Bicky, Charlie and emJay ready to explore nooks, crannies and depths never before visited by man!!!!


. . . most of the islands have a sand beach/shallow area around the landbase. On aerial photos, or from the air you, can seed a definite darkening of the water usually 1/4 – 1/2 mile off shore where the ‘wall’ usually drops off to the abyss. We had a definite wall on this beach as you can see the depth dropping away and a lack of light penetration.


. . . soon it was time for a nice little lunchie. Charlie has a book highlighting the 63 beaches around Curacao, rating three categories for each. High on our ‘must have’ list is good snorkeling AND a restaurant. We have made good use of both criteria.


Charlie had his second ‘Frikandel sausage‘ on the rip. He’s is become somewhat of a connoisseur of the saucy, seasoned sausages. This one looked a little lonely though and being a ‘man of pan’, he requested a bun.


. . . emJay on the other hand decided on a Williburger made from goat meat. Evidently the Williwood Restaurant has an agreement with this beach to served their gourmet burgers. It came with a little Curacao flag on it to show the country of origin. She said it tasted a lot like the Plazaburger from Madison.


. . . soon we were back in the water for a little more snorkeling. I was instantly surrounded by a herd of ‘Holstein Puffer Fish’ which were very curious about me, hovering 1-2 feet away. FUN!!!


. . . beautiful animals that actually have little armor plates for protection against predators. Also, they are able, when attacked by predators to secrete poison which is lethal to fish that are nearby. Sometimes they squirt a jet a water directed to the sand to uncover hidden sources of food like worms and small crabs.


. . . and soon we were hovering over a team of divers coming in from the depths. It’s been years since I scuba’ed but remembered how much fun it was . . . especially at depth, when one ‘dials in’ neutral buoyancy and floats around weightless. Must be what it feels like floating around in space.


. . . I wanted to grab on to this guy and hitch a ride!!!


. . . soon it was time to head home, get cleaned up, have a few Blue Lagoons on the veranda and head out for dinner. Right across the street from us is this cute little Jack Russell terrier who comes to the fence to say good by and welcomes us home whenever we leave. He makes a few laps around his pool at full speed and then jumps up on the fence. Very cute!!!! His owner says the pooch likes to sneak out everyone once in a while, but always returns home.


Tonight we would head out to the Eetcafé De Buurvrouw Restaurant for our emJay and my final dinner out on the town . . . lucky Bicky and Charlie have another week in Paradise.


. . . it was quite the structure with a soaring 55 foot conical shaped ceiling made of palm fronds!!!


Bicky ordered the grilled snapper, I  had the apple and brie roasted chicken breast and Charlie and emJay ordered the skewers . . . which were delivered to the table on these funny contraptions attached to the serving plates . . .


. . . it was a lot of food . . . but after an action day of snorkeling and adventure, hearty appetites soon . . .


. . . produced this result!!!  Sad to say we were all too full for any dessert!!!! But . . . we did return home and have a little wine spritzer aperitif as a night cap and all fell instantly to sleep!!!!

Day 8, Blue Bay Beach

Last day in paradise for emJay and me as we head back to WI tomorrow . . . lucky Bicky and Charlie have another week!!!

Today it would be a journey to the Blue Bay Beach and the DELUXE Golf and Resort . . .

Nice beach . . .

. . . with an interesting shoreline for snorkeling!!!

In Willemstad, we saw several cruise ships in port. They would pass by our house in the evening as they ventured on to their next port of call.

During the day the cruise lines offer package tours onshore, including visits to beaches for those who are interested. The local tours haul the beach goers around in happy, open air, buses like this . . .

. . . and if you look closely at this photo you can see many blue and while striped towels that all have a ‘Holland America’ logo on them, supplied by the boat line.

We settled in for a nice relaxing day at the beach (what a GREAT habit we are developing!!!)

But of course  . . .  soon it was time for lunch. The advantage of going to a more ‘well developed’ beach are the amenities, including nice beach side restaurants that we have come to REALLY appreciate. No ham and cheese sandwiches, out of a cooler, with sandy grit in your mouth, for us . . .

emJay and Bicky had the nice Nicoise salads , , ,

. . . while I had a GREAT mahi mahi sandwich complete with bacon bits!!!

. . . as with everything in life, a little rain must fall, and this afternoon it rained for a while at the beach . . . talk about a deluge. A straight down, gully washer that probably dropped an inch or two in an hour. Intense! We retreated to the pallapas and enjoyed a few more ‘beverages’!!

Tonight we would eat in and enjoy our last night on the island. Charlie has been our grillmaster and asked Sydney, our local host, if he could get us some real grill utensils rather than the small tongs you can see Charlie holding in his left hand. He came through for us and this afternoon when we returned there was a full size set waiting for us. NICE!!!

After a few Blue Lagoons, appetizers, grilled pork chops, salad, ratatouille and roasted potatoes, it was time for a little chocolate and a a final glass of wine.

emJay and I had an 8:30am flight back to reality, tomorrow . . .

Day 9, Curacao – MSN

We were up at 6:00am and on the way to the airport at 6:30am with Charlie behind the wheel.

The airport didn’t open until 6:30am so when we arrived at 6:35am, we were through check in, security and customs in all of 15 minutes . . . easy peasy!!!

What a GREAT week it had been with Charlie and Bicky. They were very gracious to invite us along to share their house. emJay and I had not been to the Caribbean for a nice relaxing vacation for some time and it was very refreshing.

Great weather, great food, great scenery and snorkeling and great friends. Everything was perfect (except for the fact I accidentally threw the house keys in my bag and now have them in MSN. We’ll see how the mail service is to Curacao or it is going to cost me $65 for the lost set!!!)

And yes it was still winter in WI

. . . as we traded this view from our veranda. . .for this version . . .

However . . . someone was VERY excited to see us (well, at least to see emJay!!)

. . . on to the Texas Big Bend area at the end of the month for a little biking!!!