The Other Oahu

Yesterday was our day in the big city.  Today we were planning on being taken on a tour of the North Shore (where we are staying) and the Eastern Shore.  Basically making a loop around the entire island.  The plan was to leave around 9:30 this morning but I know my family and knew that was not even going to be close to our departure time.  My money was on 3:00 pm.

With that knowledge I decided to take a walk along the beach and check out the surf and sand.  The beach where Lost was filmed is just a short (although, with the thick sand it seems much farther) walk down from where we are staying.  On my way back I was lucky enough to spot some sea turtles swimming in the surf.  I was hoping they would come on the beach (always looking for that Christmas card picture!) but they somehow managed to stay in the water despite the waves.  I did not find many shells but but did find a small, dead crab.  The sand was so thick it was really hard to walk and I’m guessing I will feel it in the morning.

I came back to the house and sat with my Dad on the porch when started spotting whales so we spent some time watching the whales.  Turtles and whales all in the one morning!

Time was ticking away and we were no closer to leaving but I was much closer to needing lunch.  We went to Kua ‘Aina which is a popular burger joint in Haliewa.  It was delicious!!  I don’t know if it was just my hunger level or not but I think it was a darn good burger!  They serve all the burgers with a giant grilled onion on top and I’m not usually an onion person but it tasted great!  We also got some fries which were hot and fresh and skinny which are my favorite kind.  The other interesting thing about it was the giant carrot that was served as a side with the burgers.  Delicious but unexcpected.

Next we headed to the Aloha General Store which is in a small collection of shops that sell everything from jewels and clothes to super tacky souveniers.  We had the shaved ice talk comparing between the General Store and the famous Matsumoto.  I was not in the mood for a line so we went General Store.  I got the chocolate cherry bowl which was a scoop (very generous) scoope of fresh made chocolate ice cream covered by cherry ice and whipped cream.  Yum, yum!  My Dad got the a coconut and mango shaved ice and enjoyed his as well.  Be careful for freeze headaches!  We did a little shopping and then headed back to the house.

Around 4:15 we finally piled into the car for the big tour.  If you’re keeping track I was only off by an hour…  Anyway, we drove by Sunset Beach and Turtle Bay before heading to the eastern coast.  We stopped at the Chinaman’s hat for some pictures.  It’s pretty cool.  It’s a big rock formation just off the coast that is shaped like a chinaman’s hat or the Prudential rock if you ask my Dad.  There is a nice park that you can pull into that gives you great views of it and excellent picture ops.  We ended our tour in Kailua which is actually a good size city.  My Dad’s family has this thing about driving by houses they used to live in, or in this case, thought about living in.  The cool thing about it is that it was on the same street where the Obamas stay when the vacation here.  By this time it was dark and time to head back.

The eastern coast is so different from any other part of the island.  You are right up in the mountains and they all look so prehistoric.  All covered in green growth.  The bad thing about that side of the island is you miss the beautiful sunsets but I bet the sunrises are amazing!   The surf is definitely more gentle than what is here on the North Shore and Honolulu is entirely different from both of these areas.  I was happy to have the chance to check out the scenery.

Tomorrow I have some free time to get out and explore a little so I’m looking forward to that.  I have a few ideas so we’ll see which way I head!

Big City, Big Traffic

My dad and I left yesterday and flew the 11 hours it takes to get to Honolulu.  Suffice it to say my dad has no burning desire to see Australia now…  We got in around 6:00 pm and I was feeling okay even with the flying and the time change (5 hours).  We came to visit my dad’s cousin who spends quite a bit of time over here and owns a house on the North Shore (when I saw on, I mean on – more on that later).  He was very concerned with what time were coming in and what the traffice situation was.  I thought – “it’s Hononlulu, how bad could it be?”  Answer – bad, really bad.  I mean, Los Angeles bad.  I could never live here, even with everything else going for it.  By the time we got to house it was dark, pitch dark so while I could hear the roar of the ocean I had no idea how close it was.  There is nothing like falling asleep  to the sound of the surf.

I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to go.  I looked out the bedroom window and saw the ocean – right there, along with the mountains and tropical trees, just beautiful.  Turns out they have beach access right in their backyard.  Just a few steps down the path and beach!  It’s pretty sweet!  For all you Lost fans, I can see the beach where they filmed the series from where I’m sitting right now if that gives you any idea.

We decided to head in to Honolulu today.  Dad and I set out with the tour books and the first stop was going to be Pearl Harbor, until we missed the exit.  Signage is a little lacking down here, speed bumps  they have plenty which is ironic because you can rarely speed given all the traffic.  So, we kept driving and  our new first stop was the Punchbowl National Cemetary.  Very beautiful and active cemetary.  Also, great view of Honolulu and Diamond Head.  After that we had to find food.  Our plan was to stop on our way to the highway but unlike home, there are not fast food  joints on every corner.  We grabbed a quick bite and decided given  the traffic and lack of signs we would drive to mall where you could buy  tickets for a hop on/hop  off trolley.  And, if you’ve read this blog before you know I have a hard time passing up trolley tours!  Sadly, when we  arrived at the ticket booth it was closed for lunch 😦 

So we wandered around and were very near the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  This building had been used by Hawaiian royalty and is now an upscale resort.  However, since they don’t use many doors or walls here we walked right in.  The  first thing we saw was the hotel workers setting up for a wedding which would overlook Wakiki beach.  It was fantastic!  I was then convinced we could  access  the beach through the hotel and we did!  I got to pop my toes in the Pacific and marvel  at the sun, sand and surf!  Quite  a different  scene from things up  at the North  Shore where the waves come fast and furious.

After that we headed back and got our trolley tickets.  We bought the historical Hawaii tour which took up by some of the older hotels on Wakiki Beach and then went up  to the Iolani Palace.  We hopped off there and checked the Hawaii state  building,  the palace, the statue of King Kamehameha

(which happens to be in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court – quite different from other Supreme Courts I’ve seen).  It’s also near the oldest Christian church on Oahu which is made from coral stone,  probably not the best use of coral but what did they know back then?

Hopped back on the trolley (by the way, we used Wakiki Trolley and they were pretty good, our one driver was much better than the first driver but it worked out well and they were fairly timely).  The last two stops were shopping malls which clearly help  subsidize the cost of the tour but that’s okay.  We got in the car and went back to tackle the Honolulu traffic.

We stopped for a snack on the way back to the house and I had heard about the masalas so tried those – two big thumbs up!  I had chocoloate and my dad had custard so we each tried some of both.  We may made it back to the house and now I’m sitting on the beach watching the sunset as I type.  I’ve never seen it drop so fast – I could barely get a picture before it disappeared.  Here’s a little taste of what I watch!  What a beautiful world!!