**The Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach. We booked this through our travel agent and they upgraded us to VIP clients for free. We wound up on the 22nd floor with two oceanview balconies. (Previous blog shows view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. (Also, pictured below from the beach) Pictured above is the view of harbor and downtown Honolulu from other balcony). Lesson learned is always ask for 'best available'. It doesn't hurt) I truly didn't want to leave that place. It was fun just walking around the shops, which make up the village, at night.
**Our Honolulu day trip to Iolani Palace (only royal palace in US), lunch in Chinatown and a trip to the Bishop Museum. In the trolley, on the way back to the HHV, the driver pointed out the hotel where the opening scene of 'Hawaii Five-O' happens. You know the scene. The one where McGarrett is standing on a balcony with the camera zooming in.
**Manna, the stuffed penguin.
**The beauty of the rest of Oahu, outside of Honolulu.
**The beauty of the Hawaiian language with greetings of Aloha and Mahalo (thank you).
**Seeing the 'Southern Cross' for the first time, in the sky over Waikiki Beach. I always thought you could only see this constellation south of the equator. We learned that you could see it in Hawaii from our tour at the planetarium in the Bishop Museum.
**Our day trip to Polynesian Cultural Center. Our Samoan tour guide, 'cousin' Leon Jr. It's customary to call everyone 'cousin' as we are all one big family. Walking around was a lot of fun especially throwing spears and watching my wife take hula lessons. The night show was absolutely fabulous. Worth the trip.
**Fresh tropical fruit and fresh fish almost every day we were there. There is a HUGE difference here and what we get on the mainland. We ate fish that we have no idea what it was and couldn't order it again if we tried. But, it was great.
**Surfing lessons on Waikiki Beach. Checking that off the 'bucket list'. And, being called 'Pops' by the surfing instructors. Who were as old as me. Ouch! That hit home. I can't say I was the greatest surfer in the world. But, I did ride a wave once. What a thrill! My new hero is Duke Kahanamoku, Olympic champion and the 'king' of surfers.
**Realizing the 'evil' of television. I admit, most days I will plop myself in front of TV for a few hours before bed and flip through channels. But, the only thing I watched in Hawaii was the local news at 10p. Doing that made me calmer. Because, flipping through channels at home, creates tension from all the 'political wonks' screaming and spewing hate (both sides) and making our elections and issues a sport and an 'entertainment'. The American public deserves better than that.
**(Pictured above is our view from the Marriot Hotel overlooking Kalapaki Bay in Kauai.)
**Sitting on the balcony in the morning, drinking Kona/Kauai coffee, reading the Honolulu Advertiser, looking out over the ocean. (I was surprised to read that Hawaii's unemployment rate was 3.5%. I don't know why I was surprised but I was).
**Always wondering what EXACTLY I stepped on in the ocean that put a hole in my foot.
**Watching the koi feeding at 9a at the Kauai Marriott. Those fish will do ANYTHING to get some fish food.
**Now knowing why they call Kauai, the Garden Isle.
**Eating lunch at Scotty's and the great oceanview they had at the restaurant.
**The 15 minute 'monsoons' in Kauai, where it would just pour down rain for brief periods.
**(Pictured below is Wailua Falls, about a 20 minute drive from our hotel and easy to get to by car.)**(Pictured below is 'Spouting Horn', a old lava tube where, when the waves break, creates a geyser effect.) Also, seeing the 'green sea turtles swimming in this area.
**Seeing the Fern Grotto. A little disappointing as there aren't that many ferns anymore because of some shifts in the rock formations around the grotto. But, it was a nice tour of the Wailua River and the surprise of seeing the place where they filmed the beginning of the first 'Indiana Jones' film where he is escaping across a field to a waiting seaplane. (Field is pictured below) **Our discussion of which is better--the Kauai cookie company or the Honolulu Cookie company. It took us many cookies to decide.
**Red Dirt Shirts. The T-shirt company was almost wiped out in the '90s due to hurricanes at that time. They got an idea to dye their T-shirts in Hawaiian red dirt (also in Hawaiian coral blue and black lava rock). Of course, I got one. Then noticing HOW MUCH red dirt there is on Kauai.
**Our visit to the Kauai Coffee company. I don't what it is, but, Hawaii does have the best coffee I ever tasted. It was true 20 years ago and its true now.
**Chickens everywhere. I mean, everywhere. They are as prevalent as Canada geese in the Northeast. Except they are not called wild chickens. They are called Jungle Fowl.
**Our drive up Waimea Canyon Drive, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The picture below doesn't do it justice.
**Seeing one of the most beautiful spots on earth. At the top of Waimea Canyon Drive, I took the picture below. It was a bit foggy and a little chilly so my wife didn't have a sweater on. She wanted to go back to the car. I wanted to just stare at this scene. I've seen this picture before. But, I was there and it was breathtaking.