In Texas it's grey and raining, temperature 14C. Such a contrast to our last week when we were luxuriating in the balmy airs of Hawai'i, where it's low 30s every day and high 20s every night. And that's every day and every night.
When we arrived in Honolulu thirty-odd years ago, the first thing Jo did was to vomit on the sidewalk. We did it better style this time, since the best way to get into Waikiki was in a stretch limousine; same price as a cab, and it swallowed all of us, Roo in his car seat, and Jac's colleague Mel, with room to spare. So we cruised into the Hilton Hawaiian Village, with everyone looking to see who the celebrities were.
The Village is best thought of as a beached cruise ship: it aims to provide its guests with the complete, "authentic" Hawaiian experience without having to leave the complex. There are four or five 30+ floored towers and a multitude of shops and restaurants, several swimming pools and an artificial lagoon, all set in beautiful gardens with pools, waterfalls and exotic birds (even flamingos), none of which are actually Hawaiian at all. But I must say that the gardens and the plantings were delightful, no doubt all tended by an invisible legion of gardeners.
Unlike the cruise ship, there's nothing free in the Hilton after you've paid for your room, so we had to go out to forage. Breakfast was easy in Wailano diner just across the street where we ate quick, cheap and sometimes very large meals, cheerfully served. Jac quickly sniffed out a cheap Vietnamese pho restaurant for our evening meal, and later a rather good Japanese place which was a bit hidden off the main streets.
But we didn't have to pay to swim in the pools, the sea or the lagoon (the latter two are public and well frequented by the locals). It was lovely to get in the water, and even Jeannie swam a bit.
Our range was a bit limited by The Boy's sleeping patterns and Jac's conference responsibilities, but we explored a few old haunts around Waikiki, including our apartment block in Tusitala Street, looking a bit faded now. Jean and I went to the Hawaiian Academy of Arts, which is notable as much for its lovely building as for its collections. And we all went down town to the Foster Botanical Gardens with it huge old trees and exotic flowers, and back through Chinatown where Jac walked wide-eyed through the food markets.
Our only major excursion was a birdwatching tour around the eastern end of the island with a guy called Mike, who showed us most of the introduced small birds in the gardens and parks, but also several native sea birds and water birds. Our only native bush bird, an amakihi, we found up one of the valleys, but even here the bush is all introduced plants, mostly eucalypts!
All in all it was a great week.
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