14 – Hawaii 2023

This all started when I could not make a reservation for Hampton Inn using the web site as we were preparing for our trip to New England last summer. I had to use the telephone to make the reservation, and the person I spoke to mentioned that I could get some more Hilton Honor points if I was willing to talk to someone else after the reservation was done. Well, I am retired and have the time, so I said I would be happy to do that. And when I got to the second person, I was offered 5 nights in Waikiki for the two of us for about $800. That was too good to pass up, so I signed up for it. I did learn that the “catch” was that we both had to sit through a Time-Share presentation while we were there. We have sat through such things before and kept our wallets closed, so I didn’t see anything wrong with it. As it happens, we have a Time-Share now, inherited from Cheryl’s parents, which we may well get rid of either by giving it away to one of Cheryl’ siblings, or just dropping it.

In any case, we made the purchase. Then I called up and asked about adding a few more days, and got it up to a full week. Added days, airline flights, and a car rental later, and it was a lot more than $800, but I still think it was a good deal, and I don’t know if we would ever have gotten to Hawaii otherwise, so it was good to get this done now. It did make for a crowded calendar, though. Our flight to Hawaii was on March 1, and we only got back from our RV trip on February 23. But we always said we wanted to spend our retirement traveling, and we are certainly doing so.

Departure 20230301

We left the house at 9am to head for the airport. We plan to park in one of the offsite lots that has a shuttle, and the idea is be at the airport itself reasonably close to 10am for our 12:40 flight. We always try get in the terminal early. to avoid last minute hysterics. As it happened, our flight left on time, and it was a 9-hour non-stop flight to Honolulu. When you account for time zone differences, we arrived in late afternoon in Honolulu, but it was past our bedtime in Michigan. Which is to say that we were very tired. We stopped to pick up some groceries at a Walmart, and we learned that in Honolulu, at least, there are no parking lots to speak of. Stores have to build their own parking structures as part of the building if they want traffic from people in cars. And the food was very expensive and fresh food was scarce. This is probably due to the fact that these islands have to bring in everything by boat.

When we got to the “resort” we were in for serious disappointment. It was not by any stretch of the imagination a resort, it was in a fact an old rather run-down hotel with problems. First, the only parking is valet parking. You cannot park your car, you have to have them do it. And then they charge you $50 a night for the parking. When we asked for a luggage cart to bring our bags up, they told us that hotel guests were not allowed to use the carts. I never heard of such a thing. They said they would take our bags out of the car after parking it, and bring them to our room. One hour, and three trips to the front desk later our bags finally arrived. The explanation was that the front desk had given them the wrong room number, and that may even have been true. In the room we saw that a number of the outlets were so loose that you could put in a plug and it would just fall out. I just hope that is a code violation, since it is clearly a shock hazard. The room had a refrigerator, but apparently it can only be made to run for 2 hours at a time, so forget keeping anything cold in there. The bathroom is small, and there is no counter space at all in there. If you have any toiletries to set up, you have to set them on top of the toilet tank, I guess. Finally, they offer a buffet breakfast for $30 per person per day. So to have breakfast for two and park your car you have to plan on $110 per day on top of the room charge. So I have to say that Doubletree by Hilton on Waikiki Beach is the worst hotel experience we have ever had. But enough of that, to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream.

Waikiki Thursday 20230302

We awoke, and found that there is an IHOP just down the street, so we went there for breakfast to see if we could do better than the $60 the Doubletree wanted. We could, but not by much, as with tax and tip the bill came to $48.00. To give you an idea, an omelet there is $22.99, though to be fair it was huge. And we made a decision that the circimstances of the hotel are not anything we can change right now, but there is no reason to let that ruin our trip, and there are plenty of things we want to do here. This may well be the only time we ever get to Hawaii, and there is no reason to not enjoy it as much as possible. While we breakfasted, we checked into our options for things to do in Waikiki and the island of Oahu, and found some good options. Diamond Head has good hiking and fantastic views. And there are tours of the island that hit many of the major tourist sites. And while were at breakfast I bought two tickets for a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial for Saturday. Coming out we ran into a tout selling tours of the island, and it looked a lot like the ones we were viewing a few minutes before, so we bought two tickets for Sunday. So now our schedule looked like Thursday (today) free, Friday morning free, Friday afternoon we have to sit through the Time Share presentation, Saturday at Pearl Harbor, Sunday a tour of the island, Monday and Tuesday free, and Wednesday we fly back.

We thought we could walk to Diamond Head, but as we got nearer I realized that in walking to there I would have to walk back, and that left no energy for hiking, so we decided to leave that for another day. By that point we were next to the zoo, and decided to walk around to the entrance and go in. But as we were walking we passed a park, and Cheryl noticed some activity, which looked like school groups, so we went over to check it out. It turned out it was school choirs from Hawaii Catholic Schools doing a little choral festival, and the kids were a delight. We sat for a while and listened, and Cheryl had her lunch. After about 45 minutes we got up and went into the zoo. Now, Honolulu zoo is a small zoo, and nothing major like Columbus Zoo, or even our own Detroit Zoo. But they seemed to have a specialty in tropical birds, which was interesting, and after visiting for while we walked back along Waikiki Beach to the hotel.

After resting up in our hotel room, we walked to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, which was delicious. Cheryl’s brother Mark told us that in a previous trip he had discovered that the Chinese food here was great, due to the numbers of Chinese living here, and so far he seems to be right. After dinner we stopped at a store for some wheat germ so Cheryl could manage her lunches and dinners and then walked back to the hotel. We did a lot of walking today, and I know I got at least 22,222 steps (getting my second Minions badge), so I expect to sleep the sleep of the just tonight.


Waikiki Friday 20230303

Yesterday we got a tip about a breakfast place just around the corner that is supposed to be the best in town, it opens at 7:30 am. Well, for us early risers that was not a problem. We got there at 7:15 and there already about 5 people waiting. They had a signup sheet by the door, and people continued to arrive and add their names to the list before they opened. We got in right away when they opened and had a nice breakfast, though a lot of the dishes they are famous for we can’t have because of the sugar and carbs. And we met a nice couple who live in Texas now, but used to live in Massachusetts, and had a nice conversation over breakfast.

Then we got in the car and drove to the Diamond Head State Memorial. When we got there we saw signs that out-of-state visitors needed a reservation, but fortunately we were able to do it on my smartphone and went inside. Diamond Head is a former volcano and the park is inside the bowl, and you reach it via a tunnel that goes through the wall of the volcano bowl. We did the hike to the top of Diamond Head, which was strenuous. There were lots of switchbacks, and in places staircases up the slope. But we reached the top, which had wonderful views of Honolulu and environs. We came back down again, stopped in the shade for Cheryl to have lunch, and then drove back to the hotel.

We had scheduled our Time-Share presentation for this afternoon, and it was right around the corner from the hotel. It was a much nicer property, and maybe we would have been more receptive if they had put us up here instead of the Doubletree, but in any case they didn’t. The presentation was very professional and enthusiastic, but we declined the offer. They did give us a gift of $200 off at a Hilton property in the next 6 months, and when we got back to the hotel read the offer, it excluded any hotel we are likely to stay at, which somehow seems fitting to the whole experience.

After this we had dinner to consider. Cheryl found what looked like a good Greek restaurant, but after a 29 minute walk it turned to be a booth at a food court, and in any case was closed when got there. There was a Thai booth, though, so we got a few dishes to go and took them back to the hotel. By now my legs were dead. I checked and I had racked up nearly 20,000 more steps, and many of them going up a steep grade to boot, so we have been getting our exercise. Cheryl can handle it better than I can, even though I am always glad to have done these activities. I predict another night of sound sleeping.


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