Honeymoon Journal: June 23 & 24
4:30 am EDT
After going to bed around 1:30 (early for us), we got up at 4:30 to finish packing and clean up before meeting my Dad at his house to go to the airport. We got to BWI by 6, then headed through a surprisingly crowded security to wait for the plane. No issues meeting & boarding our 7:30 flight, and the flight itself was uneventful. Ben slept through most of it, and I even managed a brief half-hour nap.
We landed in Denver around 9:15 local time and ran to the nearest sports bar, two gates away, in time to catch the last 15 minutes of the US vs. Algeria game, the last of group play, and even witness the winning goal! We had a rather unfortunate experience with a waitress having a bad day (many tables were ordering little, and so she had no patience to look through the menu for non-dairy options with me). After speaking with the manager, we headed further along the terminal to find a more pleasant lunch option.
Lunch ended up being a very tasty turkey sandwich for me (and a depressing muffin from the angry sports bar for poor Ben). We played cards in the terminal until we saw they had begun boarding without any announcements, and caught our group’s boarding just in time. This was to be our long flight, with two movies and meals available for purchase. We bought a couple chicken wraps (quite tasty), and I slept for a good 3 to 4 hours. Ben dozed only briefly, having slept through the whole first flight, so we were about even on sleep. The movie, “Ghost Writer”, which had played on our first flight, was the second movie on our second. We hadn’t watched it the first time, so we did the second. The crew played a “Halfway to Hawaii” game, where passengers guessed what would be our halfway point on the trip. We were close, but not close enough, and did not win the CD. We landed at 3:15, and headed off the plane to breathe Hawaiian air.
3:15 Hawaii Time
A shuttle waited to take us from the terminal to baggage claim and ground transport. We found the Waikiki shuttle in time for them to close the doors in our faces and drive off without us. This gave us the first of two early lessons: we always will miss the first bus by mere seconds. We were told the next bus was in 20 minutes, so we decided to wait. And wait. At 4:00, we got onto the shuttle, which finally left ten minutes later, nearly an hour after we’d landed. Lesson #2: Hawaiians have no concept of time.
With traffic, it was 5:00 before we got to the hotel. The Ilikai is pure Art Deco on the outside, and total 1990s luxury in the lobby. The rooms are somewhere in between, but comfy suites, so I’m not complaining. We had a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony overlooking the ocean (with the tennis courts sort of obstructing most of it). As we had little intention of hanging out in the hotel room, this was not a big deal.
The weather, of course, was grey and cloudy. It figures that our first day in Hawaii would be drizzly grey. Still, though, the bad weather there beats a DC summer hands down!
After settling in briefly, we headed out to find dinner. A lovely walk along the beach later, we found the Royal Hawaiian shopping center (outside the hotel of the same name). Ben saw a sign for “Chibo” that leapt out at him, so we checked the directory to find its exact location. The full name: Okinomiyaki Chibo. We had to go.
A couple years back, Meg gave us a recipe for Hiroshima style okinomiyaki, and it’s become a house favorite. Chibo specializes in Osaka style. Plus, they have the added advantage over us that they know how it’s supposed to turn out. We’d never had okinomiyaki cooked by anyone other than ourselves. So, not surprisingly, it was the best okinomiyaki either of us had ever had! We decided at that point that if we had the time, we had to come back to try the yakisoba.
After dinner, we wandered around the touristy shopping area, buying nothing but making mental notes. We headed back to the hotel. We were both exhausted. Local time was 9:00, but after figuring out that we’d been up for more than twenty-two hours with only brief naps, we decided we could live with the shame of an early bedtime.
June 24: Day Two
Ben and I got up “early” to catch the Japan vs Denmark game. After a solid 12 hours of sleep, we both felt much better. We watched the first half of the game, then decided to head out and find breakfast. We ended up back in the touristy area at a place called Moose McGillicuddy’s. The name alone meant Ben had to see what it was about. Turns out, that meant local style food, including fried rice for breakfast and eggs on everything. We left with our bellies full.
Originally, we wanted to start with a visit to the Arizona Memorial, but the concierge said we ought to be there by 6:30am just to wait in line! Instead, we decided to check out the Dole Plantation by way of public transit. We got TheBus schedule from the concierge, and walked over to the Ala Moana shopping center to catch the 52.
Just like the airport shuttle, we saw the bus pulling away as we arrived, so we settled in to catch the next one, twenty minutes later. We had a fantastic conversation with a gentleman sitting across from us. Danny had lived on the island on and off for nearly 40 years, and as a result, had some great tips on things to see and do. The bus ride took us nearly two hours, so we had quite a long time to talk with him, as well as getting to see the parts of Oahu where people actually live.
We finally arrived at the Dole Plantation to take a tour and see this World’s Largest Maze. With our experience with winery and brewery tours, we were expecting this to be similar. See how they make stuff, see where they grow stuff, taste some tasty things. Oh no. Not here.
See, first of all, you should know something about Dole and Hawaii. Dole is a large part of the reason that Hawaii is no longer mostly inhabited by native Hawaiians. Dole did the typical industrial revolution corporate game of importing poor people from all over the world and practicing indentured servitude. Ok, so we got amazing Japanese and Portugese food in Hawaii as a result, but Ben and I unknowingly had taken ourselves to a museum celebrating indentured servitude. It was weird.
The second thing you need to know before heading to the Dole Plantation that we did not know is that Dole no longer grows pineapple in Hawaii. No, seriously. They have a huge plantation museum dedicated to the pineapple and we did not get a single taste of pineapple all day. And when we went to go purchase some candied pineapple or something tasty to bring back as a souvenir, all the stuff said on the back “Grown in Taiwan” or “Made in Thailand”.
Also, going through a gigantic hibiscus maze in the shape of a pineapple sounds like a lot better idea when you’re not lost somewhere in the middle, trying to go by the “just pick a wall and follow it” theory of dungeon-crawling. Contrary to popular belief, gaming skills do not always translate well into the real world. We did get out and we weren’t technically “lost”. I was able to find our path on the little map they gave us later, and we did pretty well. But it was an hour in the sun and we’d run out of water.
The highlight of the trip up there, however, was the little farm stand outside the plantation. There were two locals with a couple tables of actual Hawaiian-grown produce outside. We bought a bag of sugarcane and two lychees to snack on. We’d never had fresh lychee before. The guy selling them instructed us on how to eat them. After our eyes bugged out at the amazing deliciousness of it and we got ourselves composed again, we purchased a one-pound bag and he gave us the recipe for lychee martinis (peel lychee and put in baggie. Add gin or vodka. Place in freezer. Eat. Do not drive.).
We headed back on the bus, which took another two hours, and decided that we needed to rent a car if we wanted to leave Honolulu again. The bus dropped us off at Ala Moana center, which is sort of like a mall only, in true Hawaiian fashion, it has no roof. It was about dinner time, so we wandered around looking for a place to have dinner. We stumbled into a ramen bar, where we were among the only white people present. This spoke well to its authenticity. We sat down and placed our orders. They had two beers on draft, Kona Fire Rock Ale and a Kirin Ichiban. I asked what sort of beer the Kona was (since I’m not fond of IPAs). The waiter said, “It’s a draft.”
“Yes,” I said, “but is it an IPA…?”
He looked at me oddly. “It’s a draft beer.”
“I’ll have the Ichiban, thanks.”
The food was great, as was the beer. We carefully watched the people around us to see how we were supposed to tackle this giant bowl of noodles and broth. After some studying, we were feeling brave enough to try the newly learned techniques on our own and were rewarded with a very tasty meal.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to plan the next day out, and crawl into bed.