Back in Honolulu after a 21 minute flight from Kauai…Out and about for shopping, fun and food!

Crossing over a bridge in Honolulu.
Yesterday, we left the condo at 10:30 am to drive to the airport in Lihue. As always, Tom drops me off at the curbside with the luggage while I grab a skycap to take away our three prepaid checked bags while he returns the rental car.

We’ve got this routine down pat for check-in only. When we’re leaving an airport, we haul the bags ourselves, which we’re able to do with me pulling the wheeled cart with all the carry on bags and wheeling the smallest of the three bags while Tom wheels the two heaviest bags. This way, we only have to pay for assistance part of the time. 
We took the Pink Trolley to the shopping mall in Honolulu.

After the flight as we made our way to baggage claim, Tom suddenly realized he didn’t have his driver’s license in his pocket. Having to show it several times to board the plane, he kept it in his shorts pocket.

When he realized he must have dropped it on the plane, he left me outside with the carry on bags while he ran back to see if it could be recovered. Losing his license would be a fiasco when at many ports of call, showing it is required to get on and off the ship.

And, what about the rental car in Cairns, Australia which requires a driver’s license?  How would he get a replacement through the mail from afar? It was a dreadful thought. Again, “safari luck” kicked in. A kindly baggage agent ran to the plane moments before it was taking off again to recover the license, refusing to take the generous tip we offered.

The fare was $2 per person each way.

After the 25-minute taxi ride, we finally arrived at our hotel, Hyatt Place Waikiki by 3:00 pm. It was hard to believe it took so long considering the short flight. It’s all the “monkey business” in between that takes up the time, typical on every flight regardless of its actual flying time. The hotel room was small but conveniently outfitted with a big-screen TV, free wifi, and a comfortable king bed.

As I write this now, the Indy 500 just ended and before too long we’ll check out and head to the pier. Having not seen the race in a few years while living outside the US, it was exciting to see how the presentation of the race has escalated with newer video technology making it all the more exciting.

Over the past several days I’ve been thinking about purchasing a pair of white pants to go with the many tops I purchased a week ago in Kauai. To avoid putting pressure on our time, I threw it out there as a possibility if time allowed.

The exterior of our hotel, Hyatt Place. 

Yesterday, once we were settled in the room, I looked online and called Old Navy to see if they had white jeans in my size. With a few options in stock, Tom who despises clothes shopping agreed to go with me to the Ala Moana Shopping Center a few miles down the main road. 

Instead of spending $50 for the round trip taxi, we decided to take the Pink Trolley that travels directly to the mall and back. All we had to do was walk two blocks to the trolley stop in front of a hotel down the road. Within minutes we were riding on the open-air Pink Trolley, thrilled that we’d decided to do this enjoying the scenery along the way.

A ukulele store we passed on the ride.

When we were in Honolulu/Waikiki last October for 11 days, we walked everywhere instead of taking the trolley. But, as the day wore on and wanting to have dinner at our favorite local restaurant, Cheeseburger in Paradise, taking the trolley ensured we could accomplish it all.

And we did accomplish it all. Not only did I find a pair of white pants, modeling them for Tom while he sat in a chair in the fitting room, but I was also convinced I’d found exactly what I wanted when he smiled and gave me the thumbs up. I think that the first time Tom had ever been in a fitting room with me.

A blurry photo of a Banyan tree which lines the boulevard in Waikiki.

The only item I needed to complete my wardrobe for the cruises was a pair of high-heeled shoes, preferably with a cork wedge-type heel for added stability. Recently, tossing a pair of shoes, I was down to five pairs. I had no qualms about replacing the sixth pair with something new and attractive in light of three upcoming four dress-up nights on the cruise.

In no time at all we found the shoes and were back on the return trolley, getting off at the correct stop for the restaurant.  It was 7 pm. All had worked out as planned, we had a great time and didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes to get a table. The dinner was great as expected. I had my usual Cobb Salad and Tom splurged with a burger and onion rings.

Before dark, we arrived at the restaurant for another great meal.

By 11:00 am, we’ll be checked out of the hotel and shortly on our way to the pier taking a shuttle arranged by the hotel for $17. Cruise check-in begins at noon.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with ship photos and more. Please check back then!

Have a safe Memorial weekend!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2015:

A breathtaking view from our veranda of the private home we rented in Madeira, Portugal for two and a half months. We were never tired of this view. For details from this date, please click here.

Finally! Itinerary gaps filled…Flying to Africa, challenging…Honolulu/Waikiki, here we come…

Flying from country to country in Africa is no simple task.  Check out this map illustrating the size of the African continent compared to the US and other countries.

Once we’re situated in South Africa, we’ll continue to search for flights as needed, especially the difficult process of finding our way to Morocco three months later. There’s no such thing as a direct flight from South Africa to Marrakesh, Morocco. Most likely we’ll have to stay in a hotel overnight along the way in order to maneuver in that direction. 

Africa is not comparable to the US where you can fly just about anywhere in less than a day with few layovers if any. These maps illustrate the vast distances.

Booking flights is our least favorite form of research. Overall, we’ve found the research for vacation homes most enjoyable and hotels, second, a necessary reality when a vacation home isn’t practical for short stays.

To have finally filled every gap between now and May 15, 2015, we feel a sense of relief.  One may ask, “Is this when it all ends?” Nope. This is as far out as one can get a commitment for a booking for most vacation homes, most cruises, all flights (330 days or less for bookings), and many hotels.

Over the past few days, in the hopes of freeing our time to begin packing to leave two weeks from today, we wanted the peace of mind knowing that we’d filled the remaining gaps: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, October 5 to October 16, 2014, a mere 11 months away and, Boston, Massachusetts, USA from September 14 to September 17, 2014, only 10 months from now.

Today, we’ll share the details of our find in Honolulu and tomorrow, Boston, which in itself presented a few challenges based on our needs at that time.

Here is the link to our 11 night rental in Waikiki.  Need I say, we’re thrilled and relieved to have found exactly what we were seeking, at the best possible price, in an ideal location convenient to everything. (These vacation home websites don’t allow photos to be copied making it necessary to follow the link to see the photos).

Researching Honolulu/Waikiki was brutal. Prices are through the roof, especially when including the 13.5% rental tax, resort fees, and in some cases, fees paid to the company listing the property. What started at US $185 a night (it was higher than listed on their site, due to time of the year), the price we paid for our selection, ended up at almost US $200 a night.

The owner of this ocean-view condo has been fabulous to work with so far and based on the reviews we’ve read, that will continue to be the case throughout the rental period. 

With our rigid criteria of having an ocean view, laundry facilities, free WiFi, a lanai, close to buses for sightseeing and dining, the search was frustrating. Most properties with a view were much more expensive. As we were just about ready to bite the bullet and pay more, we stumbled across this property by leaving HomeAway to search this other well-known listing site, AirBNB that we’d casually perused in the past.

Minus a few glitches we experienced in the booking process late last night, we were able to work it out. The time difference between Hawaii and Kenya is 13 hours. Waiting until after we returned after dinner last night made it possible for us to communicate directly with the owner, as he was waking up (on the same day) to assist us in fine-tuning the details. 

The rental is paid in full and we don’t have to give it another thought until the time nears, and we’ll need access information.  Most likely we’ll make those arrangements during our cruise to Hawaii from Vancouver, BC arrives in Honolulu on October 5, 2014. Ah, relief.

Tonight, we’re trying a new-to-us restaurant for dinner at the upscale Swahili Beach Resort.  They’re having their usual Saturday night buffet of local favorites. If the food isn’t great, as it wasn’t last night at another popular resort, the company will be extraordinary as usual.