This Was Meant To Be Short – Trust Me.
I’ll start this by saying that I have an overdeveloped (some say warped), sense of humour – seems to be an Australian thing, but it’s all about having fun.
So, Our Three Weeks in Hawaii
Arrived at Honolulu at 0600, owing to Australian daylight saving – not even the sparrows were up. Good news – Customs and Immigration were up and we sailed through the airport in record time. Outside, and the ever reliable Mark from Hawaii23 was waiting for us, door open, but first, an ice cold Kona Longboard Lager – it’s a ritual sort of thing. Chug. Nice. Good Start!
Mark is a good operator, meaning he is a virtual travel guide, a source of news and a really decent bloke. He also knows not to get stuck in traffic on the freeway and generally drives down Nimitz to Ala Moana Boulevard on the way to Waikiki. As we leave the airport, I phone Trieu, the guy who owns the condo we rent at Waikiki Shore. Another really good bloke, Trieu meets us at WS and stores our luggage in his locker while the cleaners do their bit.
Feeling a bit frazzled after nearly 22 hours of wait/fly/transfer/wait/fly/transfer, so Katrina and I head down to Starbucks for a few of those rather tasty caramel ice coffees - sorry, I can’t spell Frappuccino. We head into the Outrigger Reef, find some nice comfortable chairs and suddenly find that Zombie status has set in, we’re now babbling incoherently and in short, are both desperately in need of a nanna nap – does a bloke have a nanna nap?
Trieu to the rescue – he sees us comatose in the Outrigger chairs, phones the cleaners to let them know we’re coming up and five minutes later, our well needed nanna naps are in progress. Thanks Trieu – you are a gentleman. This is the sort of thing that we love about Hawaii – check in time is 3.00pm and Trieu has organised for us to be in at 8.30am. That’s Aloha at its best.
Two hours later, we’re up, refreshed and hungry. I don’t know what they do to get airline food to taste the way it does, but, we only eat it to soak up some time and some wine and I am really hanging out for a good breakfast. A quick look at EggsNThings becomes ‘no way’ when we see the length of the line, so off to Giovanni Pastrami for a really good Eggs Benedict, washed down with AFMB – (A Few More Beers).
We stop at the ABC for a few 6 packs, (don’t need milk, bread etc, just beer) and head back to our condo and spend a very pleasant time sitting on the Lanai, just taking in the magnificent view and feeling warm for the first time in months – oh, and sinking AFMB.
I think I should say at this time that I may appear a little pre-occupied with beer, but fear not dear reader, I am simply doing a little market research – I run a small brewery.
Time to check out the surf. Rats! There is a 10 foot break literally all the way from Kuhio to Ala Moana and I am way too old to go play in that. Time for AFMB.
Another little sleep and it’s time for dinner. For years, we’ve been walking past Breakers and noticing a Japanese Restaurant named ‘Wasabi’. Time to try it out. It looks like the food must be good – it’s full of Japanese people and we are literally the odd couple. It doesn’t matter, everyone is just so nice and hospitable and the food was excellent – on the list for a return visit. Not sure about Kirin Beer but Sake – oh yeah.
A quick stop at Henry’s to pick up some watermelon, papaya and my favourite – coconut ice cream. How old is Henry? Great Bloke.
Back to the condo, another QLD (quiet little drink) session on the Lanai and lights out on day one.
I love dawn in Honolulu. It’s still and peaceful and that magical view over Diamond Head and the water – sensational. Time to check the surf. Can’t believe it – 10 foot break again – no way for this little boy, so I spend the early morning configuring the I phones; the I pad and the notebook computer to WS wifi service – easy and no issues – new note to Trieu – thank you – everything works.
A beer for breakfast – maybe I am an Alcoholic? Naah – Chug. Nice. Good Start.
Time to stock the kitchen, so down to the bus stop for a quick trip to Ala Moana. Why not ABC you ask? Because the booze prices (there’s that pre-occupation again) at Foodland are really good, particularly if you get a Maikai discount card. Foodland is a good shop, stock everything and, more importantly, stock POG in gallon containers and also Clamato – basic cocktail ingredients when mixed in profusion with Malibu, any good rum, vodka – OK, I probably am an alcoholic.
Anyway, a small bank loan worth of food later, we grab a taxi back to WS, stock up the fridge and spend a very pleasant few hours on the beach, watching the brave surfers on 8 to 10 foot waves and doing a little planning for the next few days. Not too much planning mind – we are on holiday.
Another little nap and it’s time for dinner. Steak time = Ruth’s Chris on Lewers, so we make a booking to sit outside later on and I make up a few cocktails to wet the appetite. Try this one in a tall glass: Two measures of Mailibu; One measure of Vodka; fill with POG and then float some strawberry daiquiri mix on the top.
So, a quick walk to Ruth’s Chris, an efficient and pleasant young lady greets us at reception, offers us an inside table (no thanks, it’s always freezing inside) and takes us to our nice little table outside. Time for AFMB – Heineken this time. RC makes great French onion soup, so two of those (superb) and then, one of the meals I have been looking forward to – a cowboy rib-eye and a serve of Alaskan crab legs with drawn butter. Ruth’s Chris staff are excellent and their chefs also make their own hot English mustard, which is just so good with beef – be careful if you try it – it’s so hot by comparison that it makes Wasabi taste wussy. Back to WS, AFMB on the Lanai and lights out on day two.
Another magnificent dawn, a pot full of Kona coffee and – YES – a nice little 3 foot break. Down to the rack, grab my nice big board for nice big surfers, wax up and off I go. Cannot believe how many people are already out but it really is ideal surfing for we old blokes. Got about twenty waves, had a ball and for the non surfer – you’re not too old and the buzz you get heading towards Waikiki with all the scenery, the warmth of the water and a fair bit of on wave camaraderie makes surfing here a little special. Note to self – watch out for beginners on the inshore break. There is a surfing etiquette in Waikiki which basically starts and finishes with not getting in the way of the locals and proving to them that your lilly white bod has spend a lot of time surfing – in fact – I’ve probably been surfing twice as long as most of them have been alive. G’day Buzz and Skeeter – told you I’d mention you - I enjoyed the on water chat.
Back to the Condo – have a shower just inside the gate, (so no sand in the condo – yeah right). It’s Beer O’Clock. Chug. Nice. Good Start!
Oooh – bad news, my better two thirds wants to go shopping. I know how this is going to go and I don’t have time to chug a six pack to dull the pain. Take the Bus to Ala Moana and be prepared to spend six hours as the carry boy while my dearly beloved does her best to melt the credit card. Good news – three hours in and she wants lunch and that means AFMB for me. We’ve eaten all over Ala Moana – the food court is superb, Bubbas is fun, Ruby Tuesday is good pub grub, but, we have never tried the Jade Dynasty Chinese on the top floor. In we go – this place is huge. The food was really good, the wait staff attentive and the beer (Sapporo) was cold and good – can’t ask for much more than that.
Oooh – bad news – more shopping. Can’t I sit and watch the underwater basket weaving society clip toenails? Eh, no – I forgot that my job is to carry and to never say the fatal words – ‘your bum looks big in that’.
Finally, back to the Condo. Taxi again – I have now worked out that when she wants a taxi, it’s because there are so many shopping bags to carry that my back will be thrown out carrying them any distance and I therefore won’t be able to carry more bags the next day. Out on the Lanai for some medicine and a lie down. Four shots of medicine later, I am feeling hungry and like a well adjusted human being again. Where to? Uncle Bo’s is the pick and off we go. This place is great – fantastic atmosphere, good cocktails and the food is brilliant – try the Clams and the Boca Rotta. Waddle out the door, decide not to walk back, grab a taxi – got talking to the driver - Hi Lee – thanks for the tour and the drinkies at your place. Finally got home a little (lot) later than expected – end of day three.
Dawn again – absolutely stunning as usual – settling into a routine. Coffee time, then a look at the waves and YES – I’m going surfing this morning. Grab my board, a short walk down the beach – a long paddle out – (seems a lot further than yesterday to get to the same place). Got around 20 waves, which seems to be my limit – warm water is just great – no wetsuits needed here - feeling good – met a few nice German girls who were learning to surf and promised to catch up later at the Yardhouse. Note to self – watch out for beginners on the inshore break and destructors who don’t know enough to keep beginners on the inshore break.
Chinatown for the day. We love Chinatown – endlessly interesting shops/markets and a good place to buy Jade. The traders are great people – good fun, good hagglers and a few have a little bottle of medicine that tastes remarkably good. We found some beautiful jade vases – just what we want for the entrance hall at home – some good bargaining (and a few shots of medicine later) our new vases are on the way home. Time for lunch – off to Ducs Bistro. There is a lady standing in the doorway at Ducs telling us how expensive the restaurant is – interesting! We let Duc know about her and he just smiles, grabs a can of coke, gives it to her and off she goes, happy as a lamb. We have a bit of a chat with Duc and he brings over Michael to look after us. We had a great chat with Michael – he had spent years as a professional fisherman and had a host of stories. Thanks for the chat Michael. Back to the food – no other word needed than – sensational – try the Duck Breast Grand Marnier. Time to walk off lunch, so we head towards the water and lo and behold, there we are at Murphy’s Bar. This place has real atmosphere and excellent bar staff. They also serve a ‘real’ pint of beer, so I am in hog heaven as I replenish the fluids lost in all that walking.
We take the bus back to WS – go up to Henry’s for some more fresh fruit and it’s drinkies on the Lanai time – in a tall glass, try 2 shots of vodka, top with Clamato, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, celery salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Food needed, so off to Doraku Sushi – great Lobster Tempura and Clam Sakamushi, washed down with a tiny gallon of Sake Sangria.
Quickly back to WS, cocktails made and out on the Lanai for the Hilton Fireworks show. We’ve got a few minutes before the fireworks, so we fire up the Ipad and Skype up a mate who is freezing his backside off at home. We’re having a nice video chat with him when the fireworks start up, so we turned on the Ipad’s front camera so that he could watch the display – we may now be off his Chrissy card list- either that or we’ll see him tomorrow.
Fireworks over and we’re just sinking into a balmy, relaxed evening on the Lanai when, the door bell rings. It seems that we are not the only Australians staying at WS – we met a few in the lift - the bottom line being – party! A very loud end to day four.
Dawn is not so good today – I have a German Oompah band playing inside my head. Only one thing for it – go surfing! Two hours later, I’m back - only did about ten waves – it just took so long to get out the back – I wonder why?
Katrina has decided that she wants some time on the water, so either Waikiki Yacht Club (the people there are fantastic hosts and make visiting yachties very welcome) or one of the Catamarans off the beach. The Outrigger (sorry, the Rigger) wins, mainly because it does not involve walking any distance, so we front up, politely remind them that we’re return customers, get a nice discount (thank you) and climb aboard. This is really civilised fun sailing – anyone who provides me with a beer when sailing is my friend, so, I’ve got a lot of new friends. A good breeze offshore and we sail east to Diamond Head and return – great attitude from the crew – they know how to make the passengers happy and have a good laugh at the same time. Also, thank you Mr Budweiser for brightening my day.
Considering the excesses of last night, going surfing in the early morning and sailing in the late morning, I am need of a large fry up (breakfast), so off to the Wailana Coffee House. Four eggs on toast, extra bacon, extra sausage and Tomato Juice (which tasted better when someone put Grey Goose in it) and a really nice, helpful and efficient wait staff who looked after us – Hi Macy – thank you.
Back to the Condo – in need of a nap.
It’s Saturday night and one place we never miss going to is Chef Mavro on South King Street. When we booked the day before, we spoke to Donna (Chef M’s Wife) who really blew me away with ‘ Oh Hi, welcome back – it will be nice to see you again’.
We did the six course degustation with wine paring. Hand on heart, this is one of the best restaurants that we have eaten in – ever! – and that’s a lot of restaurants. Serious damage to the credit card occurs here, but it is worth it.
Home we go – out on the Lanai and a pleasant few hours sipping cocktails – starting to feel that warm, contented glow – lights out on day five.
Woops, Katrina is up early – trouble coming. I am reliably informed that playing in the water is out today and that it’s time to get out in the country and have a look around. We walk down to rent a wreck (not their real name, but very appropriate) and pick up an OLD Mustang that was formerly owned by Noah.
Where to? Well, there are three particular view spots on Oahu that we love:
Pali Lookout - a magnificent view and some interesting history, but playing dodgeball with buses isn’t fun.
Diamond Head – you just have to do it – (take two hats for when one blows off).
Tantalus – I know it’s a pain to get to, but it is so worth the pain.
Time to go – Tantalus it is - I’m a bloke – I know where I’m going - I don’t need a map.
OK, so an hour later, I finally have to admit that I can’t remember how to get to Tantalus Drive. We stop and ask for some directions from a local. He looks at me like I’m the village idiot looking for his hut and tells me ‘go back down the road you’re on and turn right in 100 yards – that’s Tantalus Drive’. Errrrr.
Up the old road – this is a great drive, full of walking trails and without doubt, the sharpest curves ever seen. The views through the trees are spectacular and we finally come to the lookout area. There is a viewing platform over the grassed area and the view – well, we think it the most stunning view on Oahu. We get talking to some South Africans (who are the only other people in sight). Interesting couple – good chat, so we follow them to Alamo so they can drop off their rental and then shoe horn them into the back of the Mustang as we have invited them to late lunch with us at La Mariana.
La Mariana – what a great spot. Is it really the last Tiki Bar? – we hope not. This place has one of the best atmospheres of any bar we’ve ever been in – it’s a piece of ‘Old Hawaii’. Mango Daiquiris to start, graduating to AFMB. Oh, and the food was good too, particularly the Florentine Mahi Mahi. We were joined at our table by some of the Sailing Club members – G’day Chuck, Nancy, Jim and Karen, who had been having bets as to where our accents originated. Apparently, Australian and South African accents sound similar in Hawaii – or not (if you happen to be from Oz or SA). Well, the afternoon quickly became the evening, then the night, then it was time for more food (brilliant again) and then it was time to go home, so Katrina grabs the keys, (smart) drives carefully back to Waikiki, drops off Rudi and Hanna at the HHV with protestations of undying love and affection and then somehow convinces me that a session at the Yardhouse is really not needed. A firm lights out on day six.
Another magnificent dawn and I’m going for a quick surf before we do our Mustang version of the Grand Circle tour. Got some good waves – so, I’m sitting on my board, waiting for the third wave (usually the biggest wave in the set) when I notice a destructor has a beginner on a wave, heading straight for me. Long story short, a surfboard in the ribs actually hurts quite a bit and I spend a few quiet reflective moments discussing parentage with the destructor. Mind you, I’m a reasonable bloke - I can be cured with a soothing six pack.
Back to the Condo – well, here we go – my good mate Paul (oh he of the freezing backside and Skype session) is sitting in the WS Lobby with a grin from ear to ear. He’s made one of those ‘why not’ decisions, got off skype, got online and booked the first ticket he could get. We have a two bedroom condo, so Katrina moves her shopping off the bed and we move Paul in. Time is wasting, so we put Paul in the back seat of the Mustang and off to our first stop of our little tour – the Pali lookout. Paul hasn’t been here before so is hugely impressed with the view – it really is good and the information signage concerning the history of the lookout is very helpful – I know it’s been awhile since we last came here, but, when did paid parking come in for private cars?
OK – off to the North Shore. I’m a bloke – I know where I’m going – I don’t need a map, the result being that I missed the turnoff and we wind up in Kailua.
Finally back on track, (with an excellent case of sarcasm coming from the back seat) and I decide we’re stopping at the Macadamia Farm – a nice place – I like sitting down on the lawned area outside the main building – a very peaceful place to void previously mentioned sarcasm. Onwards to Kualoa Ranch where we have booked a quad bike tour around the Valley. No problem adding Paul to the tour – thank you. The quad bike tour is good fun, taking in bunkers and movie set locations but I really enjoy just zooming along (at the ‘do not exceed’ speed limit of course) on a bike in the valley – breathtaking scenery with a few stops for photos or the tour guide providing some local information. I’m not into guided tours but this is the only way to ride around in the valley and frankly, the guide was interesting and informative.
Time to eat – easy decision: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Fortunately, the line was not too long and we got three different types of shrimp to share and three shave ice from the Truck alongside. There are lots of stalls set up near the seating area, including a wood carver who was interesting to watch – one word of warning – the toilets – I’m a bloke – any tree will do me but the ladies like their comfort and the toilet (yes, one) at Giovanni’s needs a bit of work to be called ordinary.
Next stop – Haleiwa. There are people everywhere. The place seems to have lost much of the ‘surfie village’ feel that I remember from my younger days, but I guess that’s progress.
We decided to go down to Dole Plantation, mainly to get a huge serve of Dole Pineapple Whip (with Pineapple Pieces) – very nice – seriously touristy after their last expansion BUT – I may damage speakers if I hear ‘Pineapple Princess’ one more time .
That’s enough touring for the day, so back to WS, Paul hits the Jet Lag brick wall while we have a quiet little drink on the Lanai – have you ever tried Scotch, Cointreau and Ice Cream?
Paul wakes up hungry, so a visit to Ezogiku on Kalakaua for some Ramen and Gyoza
and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is lights out on our first week in Honolulu.
If you had a bit of a laugh with me/at me, let me know and I’ll do week two when I get back home next month – Chug – Nice – Good Start.