We had an excellent ontime flight taking less than 5 hours & it went by very quickly. We also gained 3 hours, The food was good & we didn't bother with the movie. On arrival we were greeted by a beautiful slim Hawaiian girl Nastasha who looked like Audrey Hepburn. She had lovely purple & white flower leis for us.
When we arrived at our hotel Terry was waiting for us but not checked in yet. We were able to check in right away. We had a great room almost on the top floor with balconies & views of the sea, mountains & several pretty parks. An extra bed was put in for Terry & he had his own balcony & view.
The weather was nice but humid enough that the locals were complaining. I thought I had timed it right this time but it wasn't due to change for another 3 days. The weather there doesn't vary very much. The average temperature goes from a low of 71 to a high of 78. So it rarely gets as hot as SF or the UK. It is so nice to walk out on a balmy evening without a jacket.
The next day I got up at 6 am (9 am SF time) Terry got up next & Bill slept in. Setting a pattern for our entire stay. So we never competed for the bathroom. The hotel served a continental breakfast from 6.30 am to 10 am. There was tea, coffee, juice, doughnuts, rolls & danish. It was served on a terrace at the top of the hotel just above our room.
The hotel had quite a few amenities. A swimming pool with a waterfall, a laundry, an excellent sundries shop that stayed open late, a tour desk & an upscale fish restaurant. It was an excellent location. 3 blocks to the beach & at the beginning of the shops. There was large park across the street & a small park in front of the hotel that had a statue, a fountain & a flock of white doves. There was an eccentric gentleman who spent all day picking up petals that dropped from the flowering trees.
Our package included an orientation the first day which was held at 10 am at the Grand Hotel in an open cocktail bar looking into the Kapiolani Park. We were given guide books & free Mai Tais, a delicious rum fruit cocktail. Bill didn't make it. The hotel plus all the extras cost us less than $30 each a night.
We found lots of old & new places to eat. We lunched mainly at cheap coffee shops. Wailana was very old fashioned but with a good salad bar. Zippy's is a popular local chain that has a nice atmosphere & good food. Le Patisserie is a bakery cafe German owned with fancy cakes & great sandwiches.
Waikiki has been created or ruined depending on your point of view by building many lavish high rise resort hotels. We spend a lot of time walking through these admiring the grounds, the lobbies & the beautiful floral arrangements. Apart from swimming in their pools, you can enjoy all their amenities. They also have a lot of free entertainment. Bill especially enjoyed the Lappert's ice cream available at the Hilton Village.
Besides hotels there are many shopping centres. The most famous being the Ala Moana Shopping Ctr. Apart from size, I hadn't been too impressed by this previously. But we were told it had gone upscale & indeed it had. Many fancy stores & lovely landscaping. Bill & Terry spent the whole trip looking for aloha shirts so they had a field day here & Terry found some bargains in Penney's.
The food court is huge & quite overwhelming but we soon found a great place Lahina Chicken which featured delicious roasted & grilled meats with nice fresh vegetables. We all tucked in with gusto.
Terry & I took a bus out to the Kahala Shopping Mall which was quite nice but didn't quite live up to it's write up. We checked out the prices in a big Supermarket & found them much better than 6 years ago with many great specials.
Lynn & Phong, 2 friends of a mutual SF friend, entertained us twice. They live in an enormous elegant condo. We had a marvellous brunch on their balcony which is big enough to hold a banqueting table & huge carved wood bar plus lots of beautiful pots of orchids.
Afterwards we went for a drive around the island. The first stop was the Mandarin Hotel which has extensive grounds including a dolphin pool. Then past many beautiful beaches including a famous Blow Hole. The Valley of the Moon with its huge Buddhist Temple. A famous burial ground overlooking the Waimea Valley. We stopped off for tea at a Hilton resort hotel with a lovely ocean view. We came back via Pearl Harbor & had dinner in Honolulu at a popular Chinese spot.
We did a lot of walking through various parks & on the Sunday saw a free concert by the Royal Hawaiian Band with some excellent vocalists. It was very entertaining with lots of good music. A german frau type in the audience was conducting enthusiastically while an elegant gentleman was marching up & down to the music nearby.
One day we took a free trolley ride out to Hilo Hatties. This proved better than expected. It was a beautiful breezy ride & the store was very attractive. We got a free shell necklace, juice, coffee & dried fruit. Bill & Terry were in 7th heaven looking at all the shirts while I sat watching a video.
On the way back we stopped off in Honolulu at the Aloha Tower. This formerly depressed area has been turned into a fancy tourist shopping mall. Downtown Honolulu is very attractive with many beautiful public buildings but Chinatown is very dreary & dilapidated. We went into several of the big stores.
One afternoon we took a bus out to the University. It is a very large attractive campus. People were very friendly & we were provided with a map & other info. The first thing we did was have a snack in the student cafeteria which had great prices & even had a bar. We didn't have time to explore thoroughly but we enjoyed what we saw.
That evening we took a sunset cruise on a catamaran. Something we had meant to do last time. It was great. Perfect weather. Going over the surf waves was a bit exciting & so was sighting some sharks. There were lovely views of Honolulu including a rainbow. It included 2 drinks, an excellent buffet supper & some first class entertainment. It was a nice crowd & we met several friendly English people.
Near the end of our trip we spent the day at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. We got a good deal which included transportation, admission to the park & an Imax movie, the canoe show, a buffet dinner & the evening theatre show. The first thing we did was have lunch at the snack bar then onto the canoe show. This takes place on the lake & different groups act out pacific myths & legends. They are all beautiful young people with gorgeous tans in colorful costumes.
Next we saw the Imax movie "Polynesian Odyssey" which was very spectacular & must have cost a fortune to make. You really feel like you are there as you fly through sensational scenery. Afterwards we visited the individual displays by various ethnic groups. It was soon time for dinner which was served in a huge hall. The food was quite plain but wholesome & plenty of it.
The climax of the day was the evening show which took place in a large amphitheatre with a lavish real jungle set with fountains & waterfalls. It was an hour & a half show with an enormous cast of native dancers. It was amazing how much variety they managed to bring to the show. The finale of fire dancing was fabulous.
On our last day we took a walk along the Ali Wai Canal which is such a pleasant walk. Then to a vintage shirt shop for Bill & Terry's benefit. Across the park to Waikiki Beach where we sat for a time watching the beautiful people.
In the evening Lynn & Phong took us out to dinner at the Otani Hotel. An elegant place right on the beach with pink table cloths, subtle lighting under a huge banyan tree. I had a fruit smoothie, a shrimp in pastry appetizer, steak with asparagus & roast potatoes, a rainbow sorbet served with tropical fruits & double cream.
Our favourite restaurant was probably Keno's right by the hotel. A very pretty Thai place open to the street. Filled with flowers & staffed by an army of dashing young waiters. We had a nice dinner there & went back for a cheap breakfast.
Had a good ontime flight back. Watched the movie which was "Shanghai Noon". I was home by 11 pm. This time I lost 3 hours.