So here it is as promised – my take on certain aspects of my Hawaiian vacation. Now let’s get started….
::Our Waikiki Hotel: High and Low. Miramar Waikiki was perfectly decent, clean and they even upgraded our room to a partial ocean view for free. They also provided a bottle of champagne since we said we were on our honeymoon – but I’d told them not to bother since Trinity and I don’t drink. The room itself was pretty no frills – but it was OK, since we didn’t spend a whole lot of time in it. But the water was fickle – sometimes scalding, sometimes freezing, and Internet access from our room would have cost an arm and a leg. But it was in a great location. Just about three blocks from our convention hotel, along Kuhio Avenue and near all its restaurants and shops, across the street from a Food Pantry and Beard Papa’s, which I didn’t discover until we’d been there almost a week.
::Waikiki in general: Low. Trinity thought it was like Vegas, and I likened it to Hollywood Boulevard. I mean, yeah, it was convenient, but it sure didn’t feel like an island. I mean, dude – there was traffic and graffiti. Those things are not paradise-like. Waikiki Beach didn’t seem to be great either, even though its rated as one of the Travel Channel’s world’s best beaches. Plus, if you stayed out too late, the hookers began joining the tourists. (And you could tell the hookers apart from the tourists by their four-inch stripper heels.) By the time I left Waikiki behind, I was ready to write Hawaii off.
::Lion Coffee: High. Leave it to me to stumble on the coffee that everyond seemed to want. Walking back and forth between our hotel and the convention hotel, I’d noticed a cute little bakery on Kuhio called Saint Germain. I liked the coffee they served – Lion Coffee’s macadamia brew – and Trinity liked their pastries. It started becoming habit for us to stop in there while we were walking around. One day at the convention, I walked in with my little cup and someone pointed at the cup and chortled, “Ah ha! Lion coffee!” Trinity and I looked at each other like, “ohhhh kay……” We split up to go to our respective seminars and as I was on my way, someone rushing past stopped dead in his tracks, pointed at my cup and demanded, “Where did you get that? Did you buy it here or bring it in?” A little frightened, wondering if we weren’t allowed to bring in outside coffee, I cautiously said, “I brought in.” He huffed and stormed off. Later I asked our unofficial social director Daniel (a local) about it, and he explained that people, especially the tourists, really love Lion Coffee and stock up on the ground stuff from the ABC stores, but very few people can find it on drip. Ah ha.
::The Convention: High. I always love going to AAJA conventions. I was trying to explain to Trinity – these conventions and seminars aren’t like a chore for me. They’re more of a refresher on why I love the business. You get to be around all these people who have the same bug, but also have different interests and specialties. It’s awesome, especially if you’re in a job where you like the work, but maybe not the environment, a scenario I found myself in at my old job. The workshops I attended were mostly online related, but still very cool – its exciting to learn new things. I don’t know why some people don’t feel the same.
::Hiking Diamond Head: High. And I’m glad I’d been exercising regularly pre-hike, because man, that is one hell of a hike, and we did it pretty fast. The views, of course, were amazing, as was the historical factor to the whole thing. We had booked the hike through AAJA and a tour guide from Oahu Nature Tours gave us a pretty detailed history of how the islands came to be culturally, a brief geology lesson about the Hawaiian Island chain and the different birds we could spot along the hike. (We only spotted 9.) It was also awesome to see the American history in the extinct volcano – a four-story bunker built into its summit, with lookouts built all along its crest. So cool.
::Our Maui hotel: Totally High. The Napili Shores Resort is amazing. It looks like an apartment or condominium complex converted into a hotel. We booked an ocean view room and they meant it on Maui. The room was awesome too – a fully furnished studio with a bed you could tuck away. A DVD/VCR player. A 5-CD changer and stereo. It’s quiet and peaceful there. There are barbecue grills next to the pools. There’s a walkway to the volcanic rocks and tide pools along the shore. It was paradise. My only regret was not being able to spend more time there.
::The Road To Hana: Totally High, even though I got a raging headache halfway there and had to surrender the driving duties to Trinity for the rest of the day. I couldn’t even make it past Hana to see the Seven Sacred Pools, as much as I wanted to see it. However, I seemed to have planned things pretty well – we had bought a foam cooler at the nearby Napili Market the night before and stuffed it full of ice, water, sandwiches (that we bought ingredients for and made ourselves) and plenty of snacks. Even with a headache, everything was utterly beautiful. We spent probably the most time at the Twin Falls (pre-headache), first following a more hidden trail to a waterfall, then going another way at a fork to the actual Twin Falls, where all the tourists were. The driving was as treacherous as I’d read, but again – Trinity became chaffeur pretty in the latter half of the day.
::Sunset Horseback ride: High, in spite of the dust we found coating everything we wore after our horseback ride. We even found it in our noses – ewwww! Genuine Red Dirt shirts, indeed. The scenery was beautiful, the horses were serene and intelligent. I even earned the title of cowgirl for the day when I calmly led my skittish horse, Dixie, past an ATV. She apparently was not a fan of ATVs, but I didn’t actually realize that – I was thinking she just wanted to go into the grass for another nibble.
::Haleakala Sunrise: Totally high, literally and figuratively. Sure it sucked being up at 5 in the morning (on your vacation, no less), sure, it sucked wearing woefully inadequate clothing for the freezing temperatures at 10,000+ feet. But it sure was beautiful! I drove the way up, and Trinity had the thankless job of driving down, which he later said was painstaking because, oftentimes, the lack of guardrails made it look like he was about to drive into the clouds. And I didn’t help keep him awake or alert – I was fighting sleep myself in the passenger seat, with my head jerking forward everytime he hit the brakes. We had breakfast at a place my sister recommended (more about that later), and I took the wheel afterward. I discovered that the lack of sleep made Trinity act drunk and begin reading aloud the roadside signs he saw. He was particularly tickled with “Just Maui’d.”
Other stuff in general…..
::Internet access: Low. On Oahu, Internet access meant going to one of the many, very busy cyber cafes around or spending an arm or a leg to access it from my hotel room. On Maui, it was a little better – there was a hot spot in the lobby. I don’t know – I guess I’m just used to having access at my fingertips. But I guess having a free hot spot in the lobby is better than nothing; plus, wouldn’t you all kick me if all I did in Maui is be online all day? *Side note: During our 8-hour overlay at Honolulu International, I did opt to spend $4.95 to get online for two hours. But then I left my purse (which I’d taken out of my carry on so I could use my card) behind. Doh! However, Lost and Found seemed to have found it intact, and its now winging its way back to the mainland and me.
::The music: Pretty high. Trinity and I came to like the laid back vibe of the Hawaiian radio stations, which even played Hawaiian-style Gospel at night. We didn’t have a rental car on Oahu, so mostly listened to the radio in Maui. They seem to really like Rihanna though, even though she’s not from Hawaii. I ended up buying my mom three CDs of Hawaiian music, most of which had stuff from Iz (who we heard died while we were on Oahu). I’ll be copying those CDs for my iTunes, of course, and I may begin tuning into Hawaiian Eye every so often.
::The food: High and low. Food in Hawaii is expensive, even with my handy Entertainment card with its two-for-one discounts. Low points included Maui’s Royal Ocean Terrace at the Royal Lahaina resort and Longhi’s (what’s the big deal?), where we had breakfast after going to Haleakala. High points were Keo’s by Keoni (Waikiki), where the food was reasonable and the waitress our first day was very nice and Roy’s Kahana, where I ate the dark chocolate souffle that I am still dreaming about. We also made it out to Taste of Honolulu, which turned out to be pretty cool, once we figured out how it worked.
::The vibe: High. We like Hawaiian time – including the “15 Hawaiian minutes or whenever we get there” (from our host at the Paradise Cove Luau) and getting up with the sun and going to bed with the sun. It makes sense. Life seems so much simpler there, even though I know full well that it’s not. But I guess that’s the picture that Hawaii’s tourist industry has painted for us mainlanders.
We’re definitely coming back, and even if we do decide (begrudgingly) to visit Oahu again, we’ll be staying at the North Shore. If I come to an island, I want to feel like I’m on an island – not the Vegas strip on an island. But our next trip to Hawaii, whenever that may be, we’ve already decided it will definitely be to the Big Island and Kuaui.