This is my first post from on the road. One week blocks might be a bit large for posts but I’m giving it a try and will post shorter, more frequent updates if I need to. Note: I’m having trouble getting photos uploaded. I’ll add them to the post when I get a chance.
- Day 1: Busses and Planes – Beer and Whiskey
- Day 2: Golf – TheBus – Skyline
- Day 3: Sunrise Photos – Waiting – Breakfast – Swimming – Ukulele Lesson – Walking the beach – Bowl – Diamondhead
- Day 4: Pear Harbor – Ala Moana – Hilo Hatties – Planning
- Day 5: Changing hostels – Academic Call – Snorkeling – Luau
- Day 6: Photography tour – Hostel BBQ – Bar Night
- Day 7: I rested
Day 1: Springfield, MA – San Diego, CA
I did my best to start my trip off with thrift and took a bus from Springfield to Logan Airport (I can actually thank my father for the bus ticket). It was actually a quite pleasant experience. I was surprised to find that the bus had AC and USB power for every seat. I had to transfer at South Station in Boston and the gates where to Logan bus left from weren’t labeled; however, there was a fair crowd of other confused people waiting to go to the same destination.
I booked an Alaska Airlines flight from Logan to Honolulu for $367 with an overnight layover in San Diego. Fortunately I have a cousin in San Diego and he was able to put me up for the night. It was actually a great, though tiring experience. My cousin, Rusty, and his son picked me up at around 10 pm the airport. It had been about four hours since my last dinner, so they suggested I might get something to eat at a local bar. By the time we got there the kitchen had closed, but Rusty bought me some liquid dinner which was followed by a round of Irish whiskey that the bartender got us. After that I went back to Rusty’s place and crashed.
Day 2: San Diego, CA – Honolulu, HI (Tuesday)
The next morning I had a flight at 11:15 am, but decided to join Rusty for 9 holes of golf first. I’m glad I joined him because not only did I have a lot of fun, but I got Par on one of the holes! Never mind the part I got over double par on most of the other holes. I got back to the airport in time to grab something the to eat (all I had since getting there aside from beverages was a granola bar) and board the plane.
Alaska Airlines really impressed me. There was plenty of leg room (for an airline) and power outlets in every seat. There was no free entertainment, but I had electronic devices with me to keep me busy. I did end up buying a meal on the plane, but it was only $6 and was fairly sizable.
Upon arriving in Honolulu I heads someone calling out that the shuttle for Waikiki and I asked that chap how much it cost. I told him “no thank you” after being informed that it was $27. My hostel room was only $28 a night and there had to be a cheaper way to get around. Fortunately the lady at the Information booth was able to point me to where I could find the city buses, called “TheBus” and got a ride to my hostel for only $2. It was well into the afternoon so I checked into my hostel (HI – Waikiki) which is only two blocks from Waikiki beach.
I then proceeded to wander and found a super market. I got PB&J supplies for a week and a half, cereal, milk, yogurt and bananas. That has covered two meals a day for my trip so far. Eating two meals in and eating a really tasty meal out each day suits me well. After a nap and enjoying a free show on the beach I went out and took some night time pictures of Waikiki skyline.
Day 3: Honolulu, HI (Wednesday)
Due to the time difference I knew I would be up early, so I took advantage of that to get some sunrise photos of Diamondhead and Waikiki. The Photos of Diamondhead didn’t come out great, but I did get some good photos of the skyline. The biggest downside that I did not foresee was that the kitchen on the hostel didn’t open until 7. At that I went and got a 2.50 cup of coffee and waited while doing research on my laptop. I was quite hungry by the time the kitchen opened.
After a wonderful breakfast consisting of both a small bowl of yogurt with bananas and cereal with milk I changed into my swimsuit to swim a little. I was able to take a swim, shower off at one of the beach showers and air dry before a free Ukulele lesson at 10:00 am. The lesson was a blast and went over because it was pouring outside and no one wanted to leave.
After playing getting my I – VI – IV – V – I chord progression down I took off to walk the length of the beach, which is quite long. Along the way I came across a catamaran named the MaiTa’i which I had seen reviews for in the morning. I decided to book that $45 snorkeling trip for Friday. I then continued to the end of the beach and found a shrimp food truck. Unfortunately it wasn’t open so I walked into the city and started back down the main road toward my hostel. I found a little spot called the Hiking Hawaii, which seemed to be filled with locals. For lunch I had a local coffee with refills and an item on the menu I didn’t recognize for lunch. Apparently the Pitaya (Dragonfruit) bowl and it’s cousin the Acai bowl are local delicacies. It consisted of a base of pitaya, banana, pineapple gelatto topped with house-made granola, banana, kiwi, raspbierries, and honey. It was both tasty and filling. I also needed a rest at this point so I chilled there through two mugs of coffee, and I drink coffee slowly.
I then wandered back to the hostel and was awed at the premium New York shopping I passed. If there is a high end shopping chain, they have several in Waikiki. I can not comprehend why people would travel here just to go shopping for big city fashion you can find in any major city, but that appears to be a big thing here.
I then changed and got ready for a hike. I took the public bus over to the DiamondHead State Park. The bus ride cost $2.5o and admission to the park was $1. It was a fairly steep hike, but it was quite beautiful. I was accompanied by a mother daughter couple who were touring when the mother was free from conference for the American Association for Reproductive Medicine, which made for some interesting discussion while hiking. She was an advocate for embryo adoption, which is certainly a form of adoption that isn’t often talked about. When I got down the volcano it started pouring and getting dark. The bus driver questioned the validity of our transfer tickets, but let us on anyway.
Day 4: Honolulu, HI (Thursday)
Day 4 was the day to visit the Pearl Harbor memorial and see the USS Arizona. After breakfast I took an hour public bus ride to the memorial. Unfortunately I hadn’t realized no bags were allowed, fortunately I could check my bag with my lunch for $3 and fit most of my stuff in my pockets. The admission to the USS Arizona memorial was free and I got a ticket for just 15 minutes after my arrival. The video they show before the ride to the memorial was very good, informative, and emotional. There had been rain the last day so the water had low visibility. It was impressive to see the remains of the ship and the diagram of what was showing. I also noticed oil that still constantly leaks from the ship. I viewed the other free displays which were all well put together and maintained and was done around 12:30 pm.
I got on the bus back toward Waikiki and got off right at the edge. I then walked over to the Ala Moana shopping center. It’s one of the largest shopping centers on the island and was filled with stores you would expect on 5th Avenue in New York. I had just missed the free daily hula show so I wandered around and people watched. I also took some pictures of the Koi that were in the mall. After that I started walking back toward the center of Waikiki and noticed the free trolley to one of the biggest gift shops on the Island, Hilo Hatties. I figured I might as well continue windo shopping and took the free shuttle and was greeted with a free shell lei when I got off. The store had free samples of local honey and coffee, but the vast majority of what was being sold was actually from China, Korea, and Vietnam despite looking Hawaiian. I took the shuttle back to the edge of the beach area and walked back to the hostel. I got some really great Pho at the food court of the Royal Hawaiian Center and there was a great free performance going on when I finished eating. There were a bunch of hula dancers who were obviously students. The way they practiced bits in the back and looked nervous made me think of my first dance performances. I also made plans to switch hostels the next day, since the hostel I was originally at was closing its kitchen for reservations.
Day 5: Honolulu, HI (Friday)
I slept in a little later, but was still able to pack before breakfast. After breakfast I checked out and walked my stuff (not very well packed) the four blocks to the new hostel, which was a significant upgrade from where I was staying. I wasn’t able to check in so early, but I had my snorkeling trip at 10:30 am so I locked my gear up in the lobby of the new hostel and brought a day bag out with me. I had been in touch with some academics regarding some motorsport noise work and had a call scheduled for 9 am. I had to admit is was amusing to be talking technically about acoustics over the phone while walking down a white sand beach in beautiful weather.
I walked around the beach until 10:15 when the tour started loading. A professional photographer took a photo of each passenger as we boarded.
The snorkeling experience was amazing. We only went about a kilometer out from the beach to a reef and water about 25 feet deep, but it was far enough out for there to be few people and several sea turtles cruising around the surface. Another boat with divers was also there. After a short demo we started snorkeling. I wasn’t a match for a few of the other snorkelers who could dive down for a bit before returning to the surface and the water was still a little cloudy from the rains, but the bottom was visible and at one point there were three sea turtles beneath me.
After snorkeling we got back on the catamaran, the crew put up the sails and we cruised around the coast for an hour. Non-alcoholic drinks were included and alcoholic beverages could be purchased. I had one MaiTai, while others had at least three. After the sail we were presented with the photo taken while loading. It was actually a really good photo, but I wasn’t about to pay the $15 for it. I declined and was more sad that there were printing out all those photos and throwing many of them away. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be the last time this happened in my trip.
I returned to my hostel, checked in, showered, and changed, because soon I would be headed to my official Luau of the trip. Paradise cove was one of the highest rated Luaus on the island and was less costly than several other options. I got to the bus stop early and soon enough a coach bus with “Paradise Cove” on the side pulled up, the person of authority who stepped of gestured for a line to form and voila, there was a line. Our guide for the evening was named Khi (Like the Greek letter X), at least that’s how his nickname was pronounced and he was amazing. He kept us well entertained on the long drive so we barely noticed the time passing.
Upon arrival we were leied with respect to how much we paid. I go the least expensive ticket to I got a shell lei, the ladies I was talking with on the bus got fresh flower leis, and the premium people got leis that looked like they were composed of large seeds. Our drink tickets were also stocked in proportion similarly. The first drink, however, didn’t need a drink ticket and we all got a MaiTai at the gate. Then they took a photo of us with dancers (sign, another waste of photo printing). Then we could spread out and see a bunch of different activities from Hawiian bowling, temporary tattoos, and flower head bands and wrist bands.
Then there were a bunch of different small activities leading up to the main presentation, including hula demos, palm tree climbing, and a very corny fishing demo that went back and forth between what might actually have been a cultural demo and embarrassing attendants and doing stuff that was comedic, but could also be considered considerably racist.
Then we all sat down and watched them pull the massive pig that would be served with the meal from an underground oven, saw more dancing, and then sat down at the banquet tables. The rest of the evening was a mix of great food and great dancing. People went on stage for a hula lesson. I couldn’t resist. All the people who went on stage were given “Certificate of Achievement” for successfully completing an accelerated course in Polynesian Dancing. That I hope to save for my alternate dancing resume.
There was a lot of emphasis calling out engaged, honeymooning, and various durations of marriages. They did mention single people once, and their suggestion was to go buy a drink, that’s probably the one part of the ceremony I didn’t appreciate. At the end I was handed another printed photo to decline and on the way back most of us slept on the bus. I went straight to bed since I had to be ready for a 7 am pickup for my tour Saturday morning.
Day 6: Honolulu, HI (Saturday)
My Saturday morning tour is definitely the was I was most looking forward to. In the Alaskan Airlines magazine I had read about the concept of photography tours, where a professional photographer takes you out to beautiful places and gives you suggestions on how to improve your travel photography. In essence it’s a combination of a tour and a photography class. I booked my tour through Blue Hawaii and couldn’t be happier. To top it off, when I was picked up I was informed that I was the only customer for the day, so I had a personal tour guide and photography teacher for 7 hours. She drove me around the island stopping at the major beaches and some stops that are not common tourist stops. We stopped to grab some of the best shrimp I’ve ever had from a shrimp truck on the north shore, saw the major surfing beaches, and some set up for a surfing competition later in the week. I also heard some lovely stories about turtle conservation on the island and the personalities of sea turtles.
After the photography tour I attended a BBQ dinner at the hostel, met some other wonderful solo travelers, and then most people went out to a local bar afterward. I called it quits shortly after midnight.
Day 7: Honolulu, HI (Sunday)
I hatched this crazy idea that Sunday should be a day of rest. As such I attended a local church, bought a $5 lunch plate for their hula club who traveled doing the hula and representing the church and Christ. Watched the latest Korra episode and wrote this post. In the evening I walked to Leonard’s Bakery for their famous Malasadas, and the bakery did not disappoint. It’s good to have a down day every now and then. I also hope I get quicker at writing these posts because this has been quite a bit of work.