Just in time for my birthday the garden has finally produced ripe tomatos, cucumber and lettuce (not shown) all in one go. Yum!
We’re not talking about how old I am, suffice to say that it’s a milestone birthday.
Home time. We were ready to leave and wanted to stay all at the same time. We had a pre-breakfast swim (Bliss! Must do this more often!), a farewell breakfast at IHOP and finished up the last of the packing. The bags held up admirably, absorbing all the little things we’d forgotten to pack last night. We were remarkably calm (neither of us do in-transit very well), which we put down to our pre-packing and morning swim.
Checking out was easy and we were quickly on our way to return Quality. Alamo has the return process down to a fine art and we were on a shuttle bus on the way to the airport within 10 minutes of arriving. After some minor confusion on which gate/terminal we were supposed to check in in, and where we were supposed to take our bags (we don’t like self-check in – paying for business class should mean that someone else does this for us), we found the Hawaiian lounge and sat for a while before making our way to our gate, where boarding was in progress.
We were amongst the last to board (the Boy *really* doesn’t like being on a plane for longer than he has to be) and the crew welcomed us like long lost friends. We do like Hawaiian’s service. It wasn’t a bad flight home. We had enough to keep us occupied for the ten hours and were grateful that we had planned for a bit of variety. We didn’t sleep – we took off at midday and landed at 7:30pm, so sleeping seemed like a dumb plan.
The only slight hiccup in our arrival home was the lack of one of our bags. It turned out that packing a large cast iron baking dish and all of your electronic devices (cables, battery chargers and the like) in the same suitcase leads to it looking somewhat … suspicious. the TSA decided that it wanted to spend a bit more time with said bag and it was held back in Hawaii. We filled in a claim form at the airport and were assured that it should arrive in the next day or two. We were reassured that at least they knew where it was!
Missing bag notwithstanding we arrived home without a hitch, I unpacked what I could and we crashed into bed. The problem with maximising holiday time is you minimise recovery time – we were both due back at work the next day.
To wrap up, we’ve both agreed that whilst we love Hawaii and will definitely be back, we have to go somewhere else for our next holiday. Probably Europe again. We’re also thinking that we could go to Canada and have a short break in Hawaii on the way there or back, possibly staying at Turtle Bay Resort for at least some of the time to be closer to those shrimp trucks!
There will be a short pause in the Hawaii travelog while we unpack and get settled back in to normal life again. The posts have been written but are trapped on my new iPad that isn’t quite connected up to our home wifi yet and the photos are trapped on our cameras with no way to get them off since one of our bags, the one with all the IT equipment in it, is still in transit. The last 4 posts will be coming soon, promise!
We seem to want to either go shopping or be in nature this trip and today had a bit of both. We decided to go to Lyon Arboretum in the morning but started the day with a quick swim first which was wonderful. Why we haven’t done this before now I don’t know! We swam before breakfast, returned to clean up the last of the bacon and then headed out to Lyon about an hour after we thought we would. It was just as gorgeous as we remembered it from the last time we went four years ago. There was no tour this time, so we followed the main path up further than we’d ever been before. There were a lot of photos taken:
Next up was Ala Moana for the last time, with only two goals in mind – one to pick up our purple Le Creuset baking dish that we’d ordered last week and the other to get another baseball hat for the Boy. We succeeded at both and returned for packing and trying to work our way through the entire contents of the fridge in an afternoon. We packed successfully without the need to emergency overflow bags (just), but failed at eating the ton of cheese that seemed to have accumulated in the fridge over the past two weeks. Oh well, better luck next time.
Conscious that today was our last full day in paradise, we had a very lazy afternoon, breathing the air as much as possible. There were farewell fireworks for us at the Hilton across the way that we enjoyed. Nice of them to put them on for us.
The next thing on the list was another road trip to the other side of the island, the goal this time was Waimea Valley. I figured since I’d named my new iPad Waimea, I really should see the place! We headed off counter-clockwise – the reverse direction to most of our other trips. This approach turned out to have some key advantages, the main one being we were on the right side of the road to find an easy park when we got to Turtle Beach and saw that there were turtles. There were at least five large turtles floating around in the water waiting to be washed up so they could munch on the algae on the rocks. It’s the first time either of us had seen turtles (we can’t even remember seeing them in zoos, only tortoises) and they were awesome:
We bid reluctant farewell to the turtles, telling them that they really were turtley awesome (a reference to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt the Boy has), and heading onwards to Waimea Valley. It was pretty easy to find – just follow the signs. We parked easily, and found a very different experience to the last garden we went to. There was a wide, concrete path/road up to the falls, designed to that you could either walk or catch the “shuttle” (golf cart) if you didn’t want to walk. We walked (of course), took photos:
and generally enjoyed ourselves. There were a couple of bridges over running water, so this meant Pooh-sticks (of course, what fine sunny day with a bridge over a stream would be complete without Pooh-sticks?). Some bridges were dismissed as being too rocky (after much inspection, which resulted in many groups of tourists behind us also staring intently over the bridges, probably wondering what on earth they were looking at), but we found some that were good candidates:
We experimented with a little-known Pooh-leaf variant, but quickly returned to the original game.
The falls themselves were a little disappointing after the gardens but we saw them and the electronic Waimea is now proudly sporting this photo as his background:
We walked back down the valley and decided that shrimp trucks sounded like a good option for a late lunch. We tried the one we went to last time, but it had a 30 minute wait, so we headed back up the road a bit to try Fumis:
We preferred the first one (garlic crispier, less butter, brown rice as an option), but it was all still very tasty.
Hunger dealt with it was time to head back. Rather than go back the way we came we decided to continue heading counter-clockwise around the island and then cut across the middle. Either way we went it was a long drive – about 2 hours to get back.
We were tired and collapsed for a bit when we returned, but we couldn’t rest for long – we had reservations at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse for veggies! Oh, and some steak. We had been last time we were here and knew the drill. Get one steak between the two of us and lots of veggies. We had plenty of meat, along with some fries, broccoli, asparagus and mushrooms for the Boy. We couldn’t finish all the veggies, but we had a good time trying! We did notice there is a bit of a routine there that we failed to partake of this time. It seems like a very popular place with the Japanese, so the routine is – food arrives at table, waiters step back so diners can take photo, waiters serve food (food is “family-style”, so everyone gets a bit of the sides served to them), waiter takes photo of food with diners making a variety of silly poses behind food. I’m not sure if our waiters were relieved or confused that we didn’t have a camera!
We are starting to get tired, and are grateful that tomorrow is our last day and that we have a relatively quiet day planned. All this shopping and eating is exhausting!
I had a very loose list of things I wanted to do this trip and a little culture in the form of the Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts was on it. This was the day. After a reasonable amount of driving yesterday this was essentially a rest day. We found the museum pretty easily and after circling the block we found parking too. We had been to the museum on our last trip because it’s the starting point for the Shangri La tour, but we hadn’t fully explored it. We grabbed a map and chose a direction at random, ending up in the Asian section first. The Boy didn’t have his camera with him and it was unclear whether photography was allowed or not, so I only took two photos inside the galleries:
The second for research for the Boy more than anything.
We only spent about an hour all up in the museum – it was relatively small and very manageable in that time. It’s well documented that we like museums with useful items instead of just art, so the smallness was a good thing! The two things that we liked the most were the sculptures/installations outside the building:
The thing in the second photo moved slowly with the wind, the two arms just missing each other as they turned. It was mesmerising and appealed greatly to the Boy’s mathematical brain.
After our hit of culture for the day we headed back to Ala Moana for some more shopping. It’s been a little while between shopping expeditions and we felt up to it. I just wanted to walk around with no real list in mind. Some highlights include the Boy finally finding a baseball hat that fits his giant head (he wears a size 8 in a fitted hat, which is generally one size too big for the standard snap-back fittings you see). He got a Hawaii state one in black, and will probably be back for another one before we leave. I got some purple sparkly nail polish from Neiman Marcus, and I finally bought a swimming costume from Macy’s so we can go for a swim! To round out the purchases we got a mostly non-tacky Hawaiian 2012 Christmas bauble.
We returned to our room and spent the afternoon in the usual lazy manner. We seem to have developed a routine.
After saying goodbye to my mother and Michael (and receiving their leftovers gratefully, although the fridge is now mostly cheese), we headed off to IHOP for breakfast. We seem to have hit upon our favourite options – a short stack of plain buttermilk pancakes for the Boy (with copious amounts of blueberry syrup) and a 2x2x2 (2 pancakes, 2 eggs (poached) and 2 bacon rashers (one donated to the Boy) for me. Thus sated we thought that it was best to do something relatively active to work it all off, so we headed back to the gardens over the mountain, this time determined not to get
lost temporarily misplaced.
These gardens have lots of little sections with different types of plants in each, and we’d only done one section last time. This time we headed further in to find the Hawaiian native section. We walked slowly, taking lots of photos and appreciating the relative peace. We were pretty much the only people there. Apparently it gets busy on the weekends with campers, but it’s dead quiet on a Tuesday morning. The Boy made full use of his new macro lens, and I took some pretty good photos too. Here are just a small selection:
We spent a happy couple of hours before deciding to head off home. We stopped at a Longs and a Foodland just across from the entrance to the garden to plug some food gaps. Nothing particularly remarkable, except for finding both condoms and home pregnancy tests locked up in the same cabinet in Longs. Do we think locking up one might lead to the need for the other perhaps? We headed home for a lazy afternoon and evening on the lanai, tired from our outdoor adventures.
We thought we might go the the Waikiki aquarium today, but had one other important event on – lunch with the family. My twin cousins are here for their birthdays this week with their families and we were all gathered for lunch together at the Shorebird next door. I have no photos of this event – I’m sure some will emerge at some point. We had failed to get moving early enough in the day to get to the aquarium before lunch, so excused ourselves at about 2 and headed off. The Boy went a little snap-happy with all the fish:
(yes, that is my hand playing with the sea urchin and the hermit crab, both under the supervision of a volunteer). It was small, but very colourful and we’re glad we went.
Dinner was Chinese at PF Changs. We know it’s a chain in the US, but we’ve eaten there before, the food is good and there were veggies (something sorely lacking in our current diet!).
An early start again today with the goal being to arrive at Pearl Harbour before the crowds. The Boy, Michael and I headed off at 8:30 in Quality and after a short scenic detour (the Boy claims he missed the turn-off because I was holding the map up too high) we arrived at just after 9. We all wanted to return to the Pacific Aviation Museum – it was great last time and we thought they might have new stuff. We bought tickets for the guided tour and it turned out to be just us. Because we’d been before our guide, Kalani (I’m probably spelling that wrong) skipped the stuff we’d seen last time and focussed on the things that had been added in the past two years. He had a very different focus to our last guide, much more technical about the plane’s capabilities rather than the human stories. I’m not all that interested in WWII, but nonetheless I found it all fascinating. You can tell that we all found it interesting because very few photos were taken. Here are the few that I have:
After a small incident at the gift shop (the Boy coerced Michael into helping him hide the purchase of a Top Gun t-shirt), we returned to the main part of the complex and had a quick look through the new Arizona Memorial visitors centre. It was very well done, but we were glad we weren’t joining the queues of people going to the memorial itself.
We spent the afternoon reading (me) and playing Angry Birds (the Boy), before heading to Azure restaurant at the Royal Hawaiian for a pseudo-early-birthday dinner for me with my mother and Michael. I have a birthday ending in a zero coming up in almost 10 weeks, so it seemed appropriate to do a little celebrating here. The food was excellent, the restaurant quiet and civilized and we had a great time.
I don’t remember how I found it about it, but a couple of months before we left I discovered that the Hawaiian Food and Wine festival would be on at the same time that we were here. After consultation with the Boy and some gasping at the prices ($200 each per event for the cheap ones), we decided that the one thing that was too good an opportunity to miss was a vertical (multiple years) and horizontal (multiple varieties in a single year) tasting of Krug. Today was the day. It started at 9:30, so we awoke early and had a decent breakfast in an attempt to soak up some of the alcohol, which turned out to be a wise move.
We arrived at the venue, a hotel a couple of doors down from where we’re staying, and milled around a bit waiting for the doors to open. It was a small event – about 50 people. We were aiming for seats in the middle to back section, but they were all being snapped up quickly so we grabbed the two right at the front in the middle and surveyed the 8 glasses in front of us:
There was the regular nonvintage (which they call multi-vintage), the rose, and the vintages and grand crus from 1995 – 2000. We spent about an hour listening to the presenters talk about the wines, the history of Krug, the process and the various vineyards the wines came from. It was a fascinating talk, and the wines were, of course, excellent. Neither of us had had Krug before (mostly because the regular stuff runs at $300 a bottle) but we think it now will become an extra special celebration wine. Here’s the full lineup of the wines we tasted:
From left to right we have:
We think we got our money’s worth!
We returned around 11ish and thought that now would be a god time for a wander around Fort de Russy, the big bunker just below us. We spent about an hour looking at the exhibits before retreating back to our room. After a quick trip to Safeway to stock up on essentials (bacon), we settled in for an afternoon nap, the champagne catching up with us. Dinner was a quick burger at Cheeseburgers again – we seem to like that place!