2. Being There - Oahu
Day 1, Monday 8th June
I had read that Honolulu airport greets you with the sweet scent of plumeria flowers. For us, our first impression had been of cockroaches. Giants. We hadn't yet learnt that they could fly. However, we left them at the airport and thought no more of them (for a week), as we took the Roberts Waikiki Shuttle to our condo, 'Pink Plumeria' on the fifth floor of the Ilikai Marina building and, upon opening the door, knew our journey had been worthwhile. Lila, the condo manager, had left the door open and the lights on for us. From the door, past the kitchen granite worksurface on which there was a bowl of fresh tropical fruit, past the sitting area with the huge comfy sofa and the flat screen TV, past the dining table, through the sliding glass doors to the small lanai - there, there were the lights twinkling on the harbor, backed by the distant lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean.
It was now 9:00pm and, as the time difference between Hawaii and the UK is 11 hours, this meant that, in England it was 8:00am the following day; 25 hours since the alarm had gone off in the Marriott. And yet, although tired, we were not totally exhausted and we took a stroll up to the very handy McDonalds and ABC store over the road, before going to bed - Terry and I in the king bed in the bedroom - and Paul on the sofa bed, which must've been the most comfortable sofa bed around.
Now it was morning and the full beauty of the place screamed at us from the view from our lanai, as Paul continued to snooze.
T and I went down for a smoke. There were two places we could smoke - either by the garage, just outside our condo door - or downstairs, outside the condo building entrance. This is where we went and, as it was such a totally beautiful morning, we decided to take a short stroll past the harbor, past the Hilton lagoon and, before we knew it, we were on Waikiki Beach! We have been to many beautiful places in both the USA and Europe, but this was certainly a worthy candidate for the superlative 'paradise'.
We weren't to pick up our car until 2:00pm, so we pottered around, tidying up and unpacking, before returning, this time with Paul, to the beach. We sat awhile, sighed awhile, paddled awhile (there were shoals of tiny fish in the water!) and then we sauntered over to the Hilton, bought salad, ate it on the beach, washed our feet (mainly to cool down as, by now, it was sweltering) and then strolled through the Hilton grounds - where there were slider turtles and black footed penguins, which are natives to South Africa. There was also a profusion of tropical plants - chief amongst them, gigantic hibiscus and scented plumeria - and, out the front, a pond with magnificent waterlilies. We had already seen a couple of 'new' birds, which we later (once we had a book) identified as red crested cardinals (native to South America). It is so exciting seeing new birds and plants!
The Alamo car hire place wasn't far, along Ala Moana Boulevard, from our condo. We had joined AARP and I had booked a discounted rate. Or so I thought. We had to add insurance to this and it would not allow the lower premium, only the tops one - so it ended up costing us about three times more than we had planned for! But it was a silver Chevrolet Impala (as we'd had on our Pacific NW trip) and was a friendly enough car. Our next trick was to book parking for the rest of the week, in the garage attached to the condo building. This also wasn't cheap, but it was worth the outlay as it was very easy to access both the condo and our car for the entirety of our stay.
'Where shall we go?'
Of course, we couldn't wait to get the wheels out and explore! We started to drive towards Pearl Harbor, but, realising it would be closed by the time we arrived, we opted, instead, to take the Pali Highway as far as the lookout. The road (one of 3, crossing from Honolulu to the windward side of Oahu; the others being the H-3 and the Likelike Highway) was beautiful and gave us our first glimpse of tropical, rainforest Hawaii. We had to walk a little way, from the car park to the lookout and it wasn't all that warm! However, the views were lovely, even if killer bees were lurking.
When we returned to our condo (after having endured immense difficulties in getting into the parking garage, as we couldn't park the car close enough to the ticket innie thingie, much to the disgust of the woman in the booth) we decided that we needed to go in search of food. I looked up Safeway on the internet and found two stores close-by - we decided on the one whose map looked the most straightforward. But, still, I think we had difficulties in finding it and I'm not sure which one it was, as we never saw it again! But, ah, the delights of American supermarkets! Orange cauliflowers! Made-to-measure coffee beans! We loaded loads of stuff. Cold meats, breads, deserts, a cool bag, a Father's Day card, cans of drinks ... loads. At the checkout, the kindly assistant informed us that, if we had bought 2 x 24 packs of soft drinks (Pepsi and Sierra Mist*) then we could get 2 more 24 packs of soft drinks for free! Paul and I rushed back to fetch those! And, after signing up for a Safeway Club Card, we saved about another $70 on our bill! I have no idea what we had for supper. If I don't remember, then it's probable that it was either Subway or McD. What is also probable is that we got lost driving back to the condo! But it's no heartbreaker getting lost in Honolulu!
*Sierra Mist has been produced in the USA, by Pepsi, since 2000. As it is similar to 7 Up (also produced by Pepsi) Sierra Mist has not (yet) become available in other countries - and 7 Up is not available in the USA.