Monday, July 25, 2011

Twenty One - Book 'em, Danno!

After Sunday in Vegas was Saturday night, Monday was definitely Sunday. Time to recover from the days before and prepare for the flight the next day. Hard to believe that in ten weeks travelling I haven't been on a plane. I squeezed my stuff into just two bags, fretted about weight limits, dumped loads in the bin, but couldn't resist another day by the pool.
In the evening I had dinner in the "pink taco", ate something very tasty called “Sabana de pollo” and did some serious gambling. I’d tripled my investment by the time I'd eaten and was wondering whether I should stay in Vegas and make a fortune. But it was time to move on..
Actually having to get up before 6 in the morning was a real shock, but for once everything worked out beautifully.
As I said goodbye to the Camaro the guy asked how many speeding tickets I'd got in it.
"None? You've not been driving it properly!"
No queue at check in. No queue at security. A nice new plane with decent screens and an empty seat next to me. I had to pay six bucks to watch telly but I didn't mind when I saw what was on.
They had the new series of Hawaii five-0. So I could watch an action series and learn a bit about Hawaii in the process. I watched six episodes back to back and every time the iconic theme music played my excitement increased.
Despite my protestations that I still had two episodes to go, the pilot landed us smoothly and I was in state four-9!
Hmm, must have missed one. Oh well, there’s always next time around.

A nice lady called Kate drove my taxi and pointed out President Obama's high-school, where to shop and why they’re digging up the high street. She also pointed out that they didn’t have gun battles and car chases every day. TV lied!
The Holiday Inn isn't right on the beach but it's damn close, and convenient for all the shops and bars in Waikiki. Even better, my room is available.  So I’m a very happy man as I use a contemplate unpacking for the first time in 2 months.
I’m less happy when I take a walk around. The famous Waikiki beach is actually quite small, and it’s packed with people. There’s adverts for surf lessons, but the waves look even more packed than the beach. The streets are crowded with people, and all the shops seem to be selling “Aloha shirts”. I’d spoken to the Army guys about the corner shops over here called ABC stores, but I hadn’t realised there was going to be one every fifty yards! I kid you not!
I failed to buy a shirt but succeeded in replacing my broken camera. I was tired after the flight – not so much from jet lag, but from getting up early – so I gave up looking for authentic food and decided to just grab a burger. But around the corner from Mick D’s I spotted the original “Cheeseburger in Paradise” restaurant.
Of course, they don’t make any claims about the burger itself, just the location, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to get a fairly average burger! I staggered back to the hotel for an early night, but stopped for a quick one in the hotel bar cum surfing museum.
Other than the signed surfboard from Apocalypse Now (Charlie don’t surf!) the displays weren’t much fun. The barmen were though and I had a good laugh talking to them and the other guys at the bar. They closed at 9, but the main restaurant next door, “Jimmy Buffett’s Margeritaville” had a live covers band. So once again I found myself hanging out, chatting to the band and talking to randoms.
In fact that was to become the shape of the week. Unlike mainland USA where I would jump in my car and head on down the road, here I’m trapped. It’s very expensive to rent a car, and if you do you have to pay for parking. Besides, the roads are jammed with traffic.
It’s not a terrible thing. The sun is shining, the people are great, and there’s plenty of bars within walking distance. It’s just not the adventure I’ve got used to. But it’s good to take a break from the relentless movement, right?
By Thursday I’m coming down with a cold. Figures. I usually catch a cold when I go on holiday. Combination of my immune system relaxing and sharing a spending a few hours in a metal tube with a few hundred germ infested people.
I resort to pay per view and watch a movie called “Soul Surfer”, hoping to be inspired to book some lessons. It’s a good story and although it doesn’t get me in the water it gets me out of bed.
By Friday I’m not coming down with a cold. I decided it’s time to get out of the city so I rent a car for the day. Of course I can’t just get a sub-compact so I find a shiny red Mustang convertible and blast off into the hills.
…except there’s too much traffic, which I expected, and no hills, which I didn’t. Oahu’s roads skirt the green hills, and for much of the island there’s only really one road, so everyone’s on it and looking for a parking spot near the beach. I plod on, and eventually reach the East coast. Here the road runs right along the sea and finally up a rise over the hill. It’s all very pretty, but not gob-smacking. Maybe I’ve seen too much, or maybe I need to get to the other islands.
With not enough to do, I start to think:
Vegas was paradise for a single traveller, with so much to see and do available instantly. Hawaii is paradise for couples. Romantic dinners and excursions abound. There’s another contrast, Hawaii is very much about culture and history, two words that don’t exist in Vegas. How much you enjoy the island spirit may come down to whether you enjoy being enveloped in the sounds, sights and smells of island folklore, or recoil at the sight of a bunch of blokes in skirts setting fire to things.
So I wouldn’t recommend a deliberate trip to Oahu to a fellow road worrier, but it’s a handy stop off, and there’s other islands to see.
I make the most of the evenings. There’s a Hard Rock CafĂ©, a place called the Yardhouse that has 102 types of beer, a “Giovanni Pastrami” and many more. People seem even happier to talk out here than anywhere I’ve been, probably because they’re almost all on holiday. I meet Aussies, Kiwis, Americans… I get bought beer, buy beer for people. Spend a night with more military guys, this time it’s the bomb squad – and you thought you had a stressful job! I meet a girl whose come to Hawaii with no money, hoping to get a bar job. There’s a couple from Christchurch whose home was badly damaged in the quake, and they tell me the after-shocks still continue!
..and for five nights I’m happy to finish up watching the band.
By Sunday I need an early night. But the blog’s overdue, and I need to make some plans. So it’s a long session on the ‘net.
Eventually I have a plan to get me home. The next Hawaiian island lined up. Chance for another road trip, and still the possibility of a second cruise…

Best go and say goodbye to the band.

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