Hawaii, specifically Honolulu on the island of Oahu, is stop two on our mindful mileage run. Enjoy the blurbs below and watch for more detailed posts down the road. Aloha!
We're spoiled. At the airport, they were looking to bump people flying Seattle-to-Honolulu due to head winds. The flight was going to be a nearly (a whopping) 7 hours. Since we have flexibility, we said "why not" in hopes of getting the $800 in vouchers. They didn't need us but - thanks to our traveling deliriously tendencies - we got upgraded to first class. Remember, it pays to have status with the airlines. In case you don't know, or even if you do, it's not 1980, so flying first class isn't that great. Is it better? Much. It's nice to have the room, great to be treated like all passengers should be treated and nice to not have to pay for food. Or, in our case, nice not to have to bring the big sack lunches (that actually make co-flyers quite jealous) from home. Having said that, it's more interesting in the back; that's where the best people-watching happens.
Our mothers would have strokes. Upon exiting the airport terminal in Honolulu to examine options for getting to Waikiki, we were approached by a guy who offered us a ride in his van - his white van. Because, no joke, I think we're still in a fog from D.C., we said "sure!" As I write this, we are alive and well at our hotel. It was a good risk to take. Please do not tell our mothers.
Now that we've been impostors in first class. It's time to get back to our deal finding, smart traveling ways. Because we're on a string of travel that, next, takes us to Prague followed by Boston, we want to see how economical we can be here in Honolulu. Truth be told, we're trying to be mindful of being healthy, too, so we want to be especially careful where food is concerned. It's just too easy to make stupid decisions. We're off to the market. We want to eat at least two meals a day on the super cheap. Will we be able to do it?
Our trip to the market last evening was a success. We spent just under $80 and we think we got enough food to cover breakfast and one other meal for a week. Oh, and that covers beverages, including rum (hey, what can I say, we're still decompressing from last week in D.C.). How will all this work, you ask? Well, our little – and I mean little – room has a microwave, a toaster and a fridge.
We had an early morning work session (and some breakfast in the room!) before heading out for a run. We need some sunshine after the blustery weather we had last week back east. We're staying in the Ala Moana area, so we enjoyed a long run across Waikiki and past Diamond Head. We got to watch the city and beach come to life as rain feel down lightly, making for an enjoyable foot tour of the area. The best part? It smelled like a bottle of shampoo outside. God we love Hawaii.
It isn't all fun and games... After an afternoon at the beach, we had to get back to the hotel in order to make a conference call with a client. It was annoying. The client wanted to talk forever (ahem, micro-manage the project), and we just wanted to get out of sand filled swimsuits. We have "off" days too.
Yesterday, after meeting our goal of having oatmeal and fruit for breakfast and then soup, salad and bagels for lunch, we decided to head out for happy hour (a cocktail was sounding good after that client call).We found a sort of hopping place on the beach complete with the requisite island music and tourists clad in a variety of aloha shirts. Watching Waikiki Beach wind down is almost as fun as watching it wake up. Surfers heading for the streets, carrying their boards as though they weigh an ounce. People standing on the beach madly clicking pictures of Diamond Head so as not to miss a single change in the shifting light. There's something about this place.
We decided to dig into the enjoyable vibe and walk the beach in search of more people-watching and fun. Light rain started to fall - not the kind that matters or the kind you run from. On the contrary it was the kind that makes you say "this is paradise!" Besides, we had just had a conversation with a cancer survivor who hadn't been away from home in seven years. You know how we love an inspiring story.
OK, so our room has that kitchenette, BUT... the view sucks. Things aren't always perfect (we're actually working on that post now). So, while our hotel and room are OK, we like to be away from there. Today, after some work obligations, we spent part of the afternoon on Waikiki Beach. What a place. I don't know that many destinations compare from a people-watching perspective. There's a bit of a sadness in the air, though. Many of Honolulu's tourists are from Japan. Everyone's heart is with them.
Our time in Honolulu is getting to be, well, a little un-relaxing. Again last night – transfixed by the vibe of Waikiki and the unusual yet alluring flow of the city/beach hybrid – we stayed out later then we should have. We had some work this morning and are now preparing to head out for a long run up to the top of Diamond Head after breakfast. Oh, and we've been able to stick to our plan of having 2 meals a day on the cheap.
Wow. The run/hike to the top of Diamond head was well worth it. The views of Oahu and the leeward coast are stellar. Definitely worth it despite the lines of people filing up to the top. On the run back, we made a stop at the beach for a little rest. We are going to be pink and tired tomorrow. I can tell you that much already.
We're calling it an early night. Today has been an embarrassment of riches, so we don't want to push it. After our big run, we headed back into Waikiki for some hat shopping (yes, finding a new ball cap has been a long term goal of 1/2 of NVR) and then off to dinner at a place (highly recommended by our travel tribe) called Side Street Inn. It's joints like Side Street that confirm our foodie ways AND make us questions why we are mostly vegetarian. We had fried rice and spicy chicken but had to pass on the bread pudding because we were in "food coma" mode. We're now back in the room for foot recovery time and sleep. Big day planned for tomorrow.
Yes! We're only light pink. The sun didn't beat us as badly as we thought. We're in the middle of a quick work session before running to grab a car and heading up to the North Shore. We got a e-deal from Alamo, and were able to rent a car for only $15 a day. Straight from our top way to get travel discounts.
We just ate at another recommended place, Byron's Drive Inn, and are in heaven. This is another place we would have sped by had we not known otherwise. Feeling a little badly about dinner last evening, we ordered two portobella mushroom burgers. We then blew it by having bread pudding AND the March special - deep fried mint Oreos. What is happening to us.
So, we headed out today for a cheap day at the beach and ended up buying a camera. What?! Oh, Costco, why do you tempt us with your incredible offers. But I digress. It was a rainy day (where's our sun) - good for doing a lot of poking around on the North Shore but not for beach time. The beaches looked enticing and dangerous. Not a great mix for a novice. The area seemed quite developed for the "other side" of the island. Checking out the outskirts of Honolulu – including the deservedly-hyped Chinatown – on the way back, we bumped into Costco and decided to pick up "some necessities." Several hundred dollars later...
First things first. We continue to make good on our promise to have two super low cost meals a day. I don't think we've fallen off once. It makes a big difference, and we aren't sacrificing experiences at all. It good, too, because we now have a fancy new camera to pay for. Last night, we were going to go for a long walk and end up someplace with mai tais. A huge storm ruined that idea and, instead, made it a perfect night for some rest. We got up early to bust out some work so that we can head out for a monster of a hike and then on to the windward side of the island for beach time (fingers crossed for sunshine).
OK, we really love this place. We went up into the mountains behind Honolulu and explored the trail system up there. Specifically, the Maniki-Manoa trails. We went down into rain forests and up to viewpoints where the city could be seen in the distance. Everything was verdant and floral. On a scenic viewpoint buzz after the hike, we next made our way to the Pali Lookout, which places you amidst rugged cliffs as you look out to the windward side of the island. After that, we enjoyed Kailua Beach Park and the drive back to Waikiki via Waimanalo Bay and the beautiful south south corner of Oahu. We found the entire region to be splendid as we attempted to discern which mountain was which. They appeared to be popping up everywhere. Time for that mai tai we missed out on last night.
We can't keep ourselves away from Side Street Inn. We went again last evening for dinner. this time, we had wanted to make it to dessert in order to try the bread pudding, but we were stuffed mid-way through dinner. Our time is at an end, so we lamented over having to hurry back to the room (after that mai tai) to pack for an early departure. Something hit us, though, as we were gazing up at Diamond Head one last time. Although we had done this mile+ walk to and from our hotel a dozen times, we realized how lucky we are to see and experience a place that many people only dream about. We took the long way back and walked slowly.
As I write this, we're on the plane for the trip back to Seattle, where we have a short stop before traveling onward to Prague. Being frequent flyers is paying off. just minutes before take-off, we got pulled out of our seats in coach and upgraded to first class. Now we get to save our big sack lunches for dinner back in Seattle.
Time to pack away the shorts and bust out the mild weather clothes (again). We're heading to Prague.
What travel adventure are you on (or planning)?