Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Home from Hawaii
It was beautiful. Our trip was wonderful. It’s good to be home, but it sure was nice to be in Hawaii. We were able to catch an earlier flight than we’d originally planned, and arrived in Honolulu around noon Wednesday. When we got to the hotel (Hilton Hawaii Village in Waikiki), we hooked up with my friend Kathy and her husband Rob for a late lunch at CJ’s Deli in the hotel. The afternoon was spent walking up and down the beach, followed by some shopping in all the great (expensive) stores. We found the ABC store, though, which is where I got most of my souvenirs. I mean, why pay $115 for a shirt that costs $25 at the ABC store? We spent a few hours out on our ocean-view balcony, and enjoyed the sunset and the far-off rain out in the ocean.
Dinner was at the Lanai, with a quiet table for two right next to the “moat” full of fish and a lovely black-headed goose.
After an overpriced breakfast at the Tapa Cafe, still at the Hilton, we were picked up by the “Duck,” a big, bright yellow former amphibious assault vehicle that’s been turned into an open-air tour bus. What a blast! We drove around Waikiki for a bit, picking up other folks from their hotels, and then headed to Pearl Harbor to see the Arizona Memorial. That was something that had been at the top of our list to do, and we were all touched by what we saw.
After leaving Pearl Harbor, we continued on the “duck” through downtown Honolulu, where our driver showed us some of the local sights. Kathy and I spotted the Ala Moana mall, where we knew we’d have to go later, if we could. DH was able to check out Kewalo Basin, where the boat was docked that he’d take fishing on Saturday.
Before we went on our trip, I’d checked out Reid’s site, Ono Kine Grindz , where he has written about lots of restaurants on Oahu. Being fans of German food, we followed his advice and went to the Chef’s Table, an Austrian/Bavarian restaurant out on Keahole on the way to Hawaii Kai. Reid wrote about it here. DH had been wanting some sauerbraten, and the Chef’s Table didn’t disappoint him. He said it was great, and enjoyed the spatzle and red cabbage that came with it. The salad was different–mostly iceberg lettuce, with some carrot and tomato, and a dressing that neither of us could identify. (But it was good) After I ordered my glass of auslese (a very sweet German white wine that I LOVE), I decided to try the jagerschnitzel, since I prefer my zigeunerschnitzel to anyone else’s. I was surprised that it was not breaded and fried before having the sauce put on it. It was unbreaded; but still tasted pretty good. I know that foods are cooked differently in different parts of Germany and Austria, but didn’t expect tomatoes in the sauce. I’m used to a brown sauce with lots of mushrooms. I had asked for potatoes instead of spatzle with mine, but instead of getting the french fries I expected, I got salzkartoffeln. These had caraway seeds on them, an unusual flavor for potatoes. I gave DH my red cabbage, since I also prefer mine to anyone else’s. (I just don’t work well out of my comfort zone!)
Friday morning, we went to Eggs n’ Things, another local place Reid wrote about at the bottom of his post here. We arrived at about 7:15, and were immediately shown to the last open table for four. After we sat down, the crowd started to arrive, so we were glad we’d decided to go at 7 instead of 8. DH opted for eggs with Portuguese Sausage, something he’d heard about and wanted to try. I noticed that one of the specials was crepes with sour cream and mandarin orange filling, and opted for those, plus a side order of Spam. (I really like Spam–to me, it goes well with sweet breakfast items like pancakes, crepes, and French toast) These were fabulous. They weren’t overly sweet, since the only sweetening was in the oranges and a dusting of powdered sugar, and they were huge. And being me, I ate every bite! DH, Rob, and Kathy ordered regular pancakes, and all three commented on how “tough” they were. They said that they tasted wonderful, but couldn’t be cut with a fork–they needed their knives. Why is that? What kind of ingredients make pancakes “tough” but still taste wonderful?
Following that great breakfast, we parted ways. Rob and Kathy went to Hilo Hattie’s and the mall for some marathon shopping, while DH and I headed for the North Shore and a drive around Oahu. First stop was the Dole Plantation for the mandatory “Dole Whip.” It’s a non-dairy frozen treat kind of like sherbet. We had ours in waffle cones, which we enjoyed while we walked around the pineapple garden out behind the store.
From their we continued north on the 99 to the North Shore, stopping at Waimea Bay to check out the surf and surfers.
We’d noticed at a few stops that most of the surfers were watching the surf, instead of being out in it, and discovered why when we got to the beach.
Our drive continued along the shoreline, past Sunset Beach, Turtle Bay (where an LPGA golf tournament was going on), Laie, Hauula, and on to Kaneohe, where we picked up the Pali Highway back into Honolulu. That evening, the conference began, and we were entertained at dinner by a 5th grade choir from one of Honolulu’s elementary schools. What a precious, talented bunch of kids!
During breakfast Saturday morning, a local drum group played for us–again, local teenagers and great sounds. DH had gotten up at 5 that morning, and had gone out on a boat for some fishing. They were after marlin, wahoo, mahi mahi and tuna, and caught some great wahoo. He didn’t get to keep it, though, since we had no way to get it back home. So he donated it to the mate, who was going to go sell it at the fish market. After a day of workshopping, I found DH enjoying a beer out on the balcony, and we relaxed a couple hours until dinner. Since we didn’t want to drive, we had made reservations for four and joined Kathy and Rob at the Kobe Steakhouse for some teppan-style dinner. Yum–scallops and steak for me, steak and chicken for DH. It’s funny how much you really do eat. It doesn’t look like much as it’s being cooked, but by the time you’re finished with all of it, the soup, the shrimp appetizers, the meat and scallops, the bean sprouts, and the rice, you’re full. Plus, you get a pretty good show, too!
Sunday after the conference ended, we finally went swimming in the ocean.
The beach in front of the Hilton is nice, but as soon as you walk into the water, it’s rocky. I should have had shoes. Once we got further out and could tread water, it was okay. Naturally, we ignored all common sense and stayed in the water too long, and paid for it with some painful sunburn that night.
Kathy is a great tour arranger (she’s the one who set us up on the “duck”), and had made reservations for a three-hour dinner cruise on the Ali Kai, a large catamaran. They picked us up at the hotel, too, and took us to join 6 other buses of tourists getting on board. We were on the second floor of the two-story boat, and could go up another flight of stairs to an observation deck. Kathy and I went up for a while, just in time to see a small whale swimming alongside the boat, accompanied by a couple of dolphins.
Dinner was buffet-style, and was very “American” except for the teriyaki chicken and rice. There was a big bowl of iceberg lettuce, with ranch, Italian, and thousand island dressing, mashed potatoes, roast beef, cubes of orange jello, coconut cake, and spice cake. Our bus driver did triple duty–the drivers were also waiters, and then were also dancers during the show.
We saw several different types of hula dancing, along with a few different kinds of Polynesian dancing. Then came the audience participation, and we enjoyed watching the group of Japanese young men at our table. They were having such fun dancing and singing, and I think they must have taken a hundred photos of each other along with the dancers and the singer. This was a great way to spend our last night in Hawaii.