Oahu, May 7-12 2004

Day 1

We left on a Wednesday morning and the flight was really pretty reasonable since it was non-stop. But Hawaiian Airlines is seriously crapcake; we were wedged into our little seats and there were screaming babies everywhere. (On the way back, both these things were true and there was also a roaring toilet flushing right behind us every few seconds and a woman with a large pink polyester bottom sat on my arm.) When we arrived, everything was already on Island Time, and we had to wait over an hour in two different lines to get our rental car (boo, Dollar!) It was steamy hot and I couldn't wait to change. It was a long drive to the Imperial Resort of Waikiki, as we encountered our first taste of the constant traffic on Kalakaua Avenue. I guess it makes sense there would always be traffic in a city of millions of people perched on one edge of a tiny island.

When we reached the resort, it was a giant high rise, but very close to the beach and on a protected little street, which was really nice. David's folks met us and went with us to see our room, which didn't go that well because the place reeked of smoke, the kind of smell that's embedded in the furniture. I threw my weight around a little bit and they showed us another studio, but now I expressed a very real concern that we would be uncomfortable on the double-size Murphy bed. The manager, Tony, was very friendly, and ended up offering us a free upgrade to a one-bedroom suite, which was fabulous. It had a huge living room, full kitchen, and (bliss) TWO bathrooms! Even though it was on a low floor and had no view, we were thrilled-and anyway, there were lots of nice palm trees brushing the windows.

Click for bigger image

We changed quickly and met Joan and John for a mai tai at the Halekulani Resort across the street. I had read that their beachside bar, The House Without a Key, was a great spot for drinks, and man was that right! The Halekulani is the only 5-star resort on the island, and the service was impeccable. Not that the service could compete with the view, which encompassed a wide swatch of light-blue water from Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head in the distance, and three men playing lovely Hawaiian music (later joined by a former Miss Hawaii who hula-ed gracefully for us.) The mai tais were delicious, and we ended up having a light supper capped with the most scrumptious coconut cake in the world, as light as air. The sun went down and we just luxuriated in the Hawaiian-ness of the sights and sounds and tastes. Afterwards, we took a little walk to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (often called The Pink Palace, for obvious reasons) and admired the lovely old buildings (open since 1927) and lush vegetation. We stopped into the beachside Surf Bar and made a reservation for Mother's Day breakfast.

Click for bigger image

After watching some fireworks from the 26th floor of the Imperial Resort (a perk reserved for timeshare owners) David and I ventured out into Waikiki for an evening walk. The streets were buzzing with people, a phenomenon I imagined to signal the beginning of the weekend, but it turned out every night is like that in Waikiki, a mile and a half strip that is never empty of tourists. There were torches burning, shops and restaurants teeming with laughing people, stands selling leis and t-shirts and jewelry, and street performers, including a man covered head to toe in newspaper, reading a newspaper with a newspaper-covered dog (thankfully not real.) One department store was fronted with a glass wall of huge tropical fish, and others advertised designer purses and shoes at several thousand dollars apiece. There was a random mix of haute couture and tropical kitsch. We also discovered the phenomenon of the ABC Stores, which has a seeming monopoly on tourist goods, as we noticed one literally on every corner (from some spots you could see three at a time!)

We found the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, formerly The Moana Hotel, which has been open since 1902, making it the most historic tourist site on the island. It retains its original plantation-style look, with a huge verandah, rocking chairs, and a massive banyan tree at the center of the open-air piano bar in the back. It was incredibly romantic. We sat on their sea wall and looked out at a crescent of Waikiki Beach for a little while, watching the couples squish sand between their toes and the light glinting off the water. Not until we'd been sitting there for quite a while did we realize that a cross-legged man with a long beard was meditating only feet away from us.

Click for bigger image

We continued our walk down the beach, passing a bunch of people playing chess by the beach, a huge statue of a local royal figure adorned with real leis, and several more luxury hotels. Finally, we were exhausted from the time change, and headed back to the hotel to try out our new suite.

[Home] [Day 2]