Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Hawaii: more interesting than Iowa

It's all true. Anyone that tells you to see Hawaii at least once in your lifetime is a reliable source of information. The only drawback being an INCREDIBLY long flight.

Our hotel, Outrigger Reef on the Beach, was probably the best choice for a hotel we could have possibly made. It lies in the heart of Waikiki and effortlessly rolled out onto the beach just feet from the Pacific ocean. With a couple of open-air restaurants overlooking the ocean, it was just that much more attractive.

Waikiki is best seen and experienced by walking. Unless you enjoy awkwardly designed streets, heavy traffic and a lack of signs to inform you of your location, stick to foot for the local travels. There was PLENTY to see and do within walking distance. Our favorite activity, though, was simply lying on the beach for hours at a time. Refreshment and rental stands were just feet away and served us well with a raft rental and shaved ice.

The sheer variety of items you can purchase in the local shops is unbelievable. I came home with a ukulele and Mary came home with a necklace which contained a pearl setting - and in Hawaii part of the fun of buying jewelry is being able to select the oyster which the pearl will come from. We even got two perals for the price of one.

The only sour experience we had was at the supposedly famous Chuck's Steak House which was only a couple doors away from our hotel. The waitress we ended up with was bitter. She seemed to despise her job and would have fit in better at a midwestern truck stop rather than an upscale Waikiki restaurant catering to tourists. The rest of our encounters were great. Everyone is friendly and should be as they earn their money by catering specifially to tourists whose sole purpose of traveling is to enjoy the sights and spend money. Alot of money.

Another word of advice is to have an appetite for fruit - specifically pineapple. It comes, in large portions, with every meal. My tongue did periodically burn from inhaling too much of the acidic fruit.

The sights we saw were the typical tourist sights. We visited Pearl Harbor, The Dole Plantation, the North Shore and a roadside outdoor restaurant in Waimea all on our first full day in Hawaii. We also took part in a dinner cruise complete with hula entertainment and Mai Tais for refreshment. It wouldn't have been complete without seeing Diamond Head, a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the blowhole (a water spouting rock formation on the east shore) and a trip to the zoo which proved to be well worth it as we saw rhinos engaged in some loving... all captured by my camera to preserve for posterity.

We are still recovering after returning to Minnesota Sunday afternoon. It is amazing how much work builds up in the course of a week and just how much sleep is lost while flying on a jet for 10 hours in one stretch.

All in all, I would do it again. I would probably go to Maui rather than a second visit to Oahu. After all, once you've seen it, you've seen it. Plain and simple. Over time the memories will fade but we'll still have the souvenirs and pictures and even a chunk of video we shot. Good stuff.

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