Hawaiian paradise very different from Europe

Trip Start Sep 02, 2010
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Trip End Sep 12, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Thursday, September 2, 2010

I had only 3 days in Houston before I left again for an eagerly anticipated trip to Hawaii with 7 great friends.  The Hawaii trip was the reason I left Europe when I did since I would have gladly stayed through September waiting for the temperatures in Houston to cool.

I had last been to Hawaii 6 or 7 years ago with Lee and this time I was joined by Bernie and Chuck who have been to Hawaii many times and Bob and David who had never been before.  Our arrivals were coordinated well so we got our rental car (thanks to Bob we actually had a car when that had been in doubt, also thanks to Bob, til the last minute) from Alamo and, with Chuck serving as tour guide, headed into Waikiki.  David's nephew had generously given airline miles to pay for the car and hotel (many thanks!!!!).  The Marriott at Waikiki was in a perfect location although having to pay $20 a day for Internet access is ridiculous.


After the long flight we were all pretty tired and I was suffering from a bad cold and pain problems.  Chuck took us over to the Sheraton for tropical drinks and to watch the sunset.  It was a magnificent setting and so nice to see friends I hadn't seen in months.  The others had a nice Thai dinner while I went to get cold medicine and some sleep. 

To see all of the people out early in the morning and the stores open was a dramatic change from Europe.  The guys went to Eggs 'N Things which was eagerly anticipated but reality didn't match expectations.  After that we went to one of the most popular attractions on Oahu - Hanauma Bay.  A marine park, Hanauma Bay,
has clear water, colorful coral and a myriad of tropical fish that seem quite comfortable around humans. 

I've visited the park several times and it's still a gorgeous setting that has to be seen if you visit Hawaii.  Some of the brightly colored fish were a foot long and larger than any I saw in Europe.  The visibility wasn't as great as many places in the Mediterranean but the sandy beach was certainly superior and we enjoyed a pleasant morning before the crowds got to be too much.

With Chuck guiding us we took the coastal highway past blowholes and crashing waves to a hole in the wall Korean restaurant where we got takeout for a picnic.  After several attempts to find a picnic spot at the beach we finally asked for directions and found a great park with picnic tables and a super view of the coastline.  The sandy beach and steady wind were hypnotic and perfect for an afternoon nap. 

The Hawaiian traffic is as bad as Houston's with fewer options to avoid congested areas.  We spent a lot of time stuck in traffic.  The group had planned to hike up Diamond Head but by the time we got there the park was going to close at 6 which didn't allow us enough time to get to the top and back. 

A brief nap and then the guys were off to dinner at the International Marketplace.  The small dishes selected weren't as good as what we had the night before.  If possible, Waikiki has gone even more upscale since my last visit.  High rise condos, luxury hotels and lots of expensive retail shops have squeezed out the mom and pop restaurants and family motels.  Fortunately the magnificent beach hasn't changed a bit.

With only one full day on Oahu we couldn't show Bob and David as much as we wanted but a trip to Pearl Harbor was a must.  It was very easy to find and even better, totally free (some exhibits cost extra but the core part of the park is free)!  We thought we'd allowed plenty of time for Pearl Harbor but in hindsight we needed more time there.  Fortunately, we were able to get on the next boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial.  You spend 30 minutes out there looking at the USS Arizona beneath the memorial as well as reading about the history of that fateful day. 

There are many informational sites within the park educating visitors about the details surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A 23 minute film was very well done and helped put the event into context so that guests could grasp the planning behind the attack and the total destruction that was delivered by the Japanese.  With so many Japanese visitors you couldn't help but wonder how they were viewing the memorial and how their perspective was different.

We headed straight to the airport from Pearl Harbor, barely a 10 minute ride.  After returning the rental car we checked in with go! Airlines for our flight to Maui but learned that it was delayed an hour.  Unfortunately that was just wishful thinking on the part of go!  As we learned more we became increasingly pessimistic about our chances of getting to Maui anytime soon.

Several flights on go! from Honolulu to Maui had been canceled the night before so there was a large backlog of passengers trying to reach Maui. We learned that mechanical problems had grounded at least two of the airlines six (according to Wikipedia) planes.  One woman that worked at the airport said that the cancellations and delays with go! had been going on at least a month.  The passengers were getting increasingly frustrated with the total lack of accurate information provided by the go! employees.  They obviously had no idea which flights were going to actually depart and which were to be canceled. 

Our flight departure time was pushed back three more times until it reached 4:30pm (almost three hours late for a 23 minute flight).  Many people on earlier canceled flights opted to take a different carrier (saving their go! ticket to use on a future flight), decided to go the next day rather than spend all day waiting with no guarantee of getting out or just elected to not go to Maui at all and apply for a refund.  Since our flight had not been canceled our options were more limited but actually better than those who had been on a canceled flight.

If our flight got canceled we would then be in the queue behind literally hundreds of other people trying to get from Oahu to Maui.  Given the reduced capacity on go! and the small planes it could easily take several days before it would be our turn to go so buying a ticket on a different carrier would then be our best option. So we just crossed our fingers and hoped than our original flight would actually depart at some point and not get canceled.

We spent the afternoon in the airport bar watching the monitors for updates and trying to get as much information as we could on the status of our flight.  We learned much from our fellow frustrated fliers and managed to eat and drink more than what a new ticket from Honolulu to Maui would cost!  Finally our incoming flight landed and we boarded, on our way to meet Mike and Gary (and later, Barry).  The flight was so incredibly short which made the long delay seem even more offensive.  Our group was just glad to get safely to Maui and swore to never again buy a ticket from go! Airlines!






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Comments

Maxine on

This reminds me of what, 20+ years ago?! Can't wait to see you!

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