We’ve been in Honolulu for just of 48 hours, now, and we’re off to the airport shortly to move on to our next stop. I’m glad we ended up having this particular leg: Honolulu has been fascinating.
We had originally intended to be up early on our first morning, working on the basis that we went to bed super early the night before. That… did not end up happening. Instead, we slept for nearly thirteen hours and didn’t wake up until 9:30. That, plus our attempt to find somewhere decent for breakfast, meant we didn’t get on our way to Pearl Harbor until about midday. Moreover, we caught a city bus rather than a shuttle, and that took well over an hour. End result: we had a lot less time than we’d intended. No matter. I have to say the city bus was actually worthwhile in that we saw quite a bit more of Honolulu than we would have otherwise.
Once we got there, for Rohan, the biggest thing was the Bowfin – a submarine. An look, even I found that reasonably cool. We debated after that over whether to do the memorial, or to look at some of the other museum type stuff. As it turned out, we were just in time to hop in to the 20 minute Pearl Harbor film and from that into the boat road to the memorial, despite not having picked up tickets before they ran out. I was last there 11 years ago, and remembered it as being worthwhile; my recollections were pretty much spot on. It’s a really classy, well done memorial – striking, and not overdone. Even the film they show is (mostly) understated.
It’s eerie, though, watching the oil rise from to the surface and glisten in the sun. Seventy years on and it is still leaking out at a rate of 1-2 gallons a day. There are thousands and thousands of gallons left, but there’s no way to now whether all of it will leak out – it could stop tomorrow. Or in years and years. I also really like that survivors are having their ashes placed inside the wreck, allowing them to rejoin their former shipmates all these years later. There are 13 still left; the youngest is 86.
I went for a swim when we got back to the hotel (it was lovely), before we headed out for dinner. On the first night, we went to The Cheesecake Factory, which was a weird experience for me. We don’t really have family chain restaurants like that in Australia, so I haven’t really been to any in 15 odd years. They haven’t changed much, which made it feel even more familiar, even if I don’t think we ever went to that particular chain. As expected, the food was ok but nothing special, and the portions were enormous. Big enough, in the end, that we could not fit in any cheesecake. After Pearl Harbor, we found a little Italian place, which was lovely.
In both cases, the service was far above what we’d get in an Australian restaurant. We don’t have the tipping culture, which means there is no particular reason for servers to go above and beyond; As a result, water glasses don’t get refilled and no one tends to check up on you. I still find it horrifying that people don’t just get paid a proper wage to begin with, but I can see benefits with the system too. At the Italian restaurant, a woman at the table across from us basically threw a tantrum after her meal was accidentally missed in a group order. The staff did their very best to get it out as soon as possible, but even once she had it she bitched about it and refused to eat. I do understand being annoyed, but that just felt excessive, particularly when the staff promised it would be free. Meanwhile, when my cheesecake took a long time to come out, Rohan’s scotch was also removed from our bill; we were pretty pleased with that. In short: we’re getting used to tipping. I think.
This morning, we made sure to wake up earlier – in time for me to have a swim again. Our big plan was to try and climb Diamond Head, but that proved a little over ambitious. We satisfied ourselves with walking around the head towards the beach, which proved to be more than enough. It was stunningly beautiful, though, and a lovely change from how built up and commercial Waikiki itself is. By the time we made it back, though, we were exhausted… and more drinks were required. I haven’t actually had a glass of wine yet – just cocktails. Lots of cocktails. I approve.
We’re now sitting in the bar at Honolulu airport, about to head across to the Big Island. TSA proved to be much more helpful than the actual airline staff; so far so good.
Next up: Louise tries not to kill us both by driving on the wrong side of the road. And tomorrow? Volcano!
(PS: Louise did not drive on the wrong side of the road. Only the wrong side given what she’s used to. No one died. More later.)