Hawaiian Islands Tour
January 24 to February 5, 2020
P. Michael Henderson
I've traveled to the Hawaiian Islands several times on business but Judy has never been there. Of course, when you travel on business you really don't see a place, so this is an opportunity for both of us to experience Hawaii.
For those of you interested in photography, take a look at my photography notes for this trip here.
1/24/2020 (Friday) We took Skipper to boarding yesterday. It's always sad to leave him but we know the people at the kennel will take good care of him.
We have an 11:40am flight today but had the limo come early - 8:30am. As usual, here's a picture of us ready to leave. We're traveling a day before the tour starts. Tauck provides one day extra at the beginning or end of the tour and we chose the beginning. We'll have most of Saturday on our own.
The limo arrived early. Here's the driver loading our suitcases into the car. It's the first time we used this limo service - Carey Limo - so I was glad the driver arrived early.
Even though we were traveling during rush hour the trip didn't take long. We checked in at Alaska Airlines and were able to use their lounge to wait for our flight. It was a nice lounge but a bit crowded. We found a table with access to a power plug and had some coffee while we waited.
Eventually, it was time to go to the gate. We arrived just as they were loading and went directly onboard the plane, a 737-800. We were surprised that the flight wasn't full. The tourist section was only about 75% full.
Soon we were off and heading out over the Pacific - the flight is scheduled for 5 hours and 44 minutes.
The flight was uneventful and about 3:30pm local time we arrived in Honolulu. The picture below shows the area where the battleships were moored on December 7, 1941. At the end of the red arrow you'll see a small white dot - that's the Arizona battleship memorial. At the bottom of the picture is Hickam Field.
When we landed, the Tauck representative was there to greet us.
She gave us each a traditional lei as a welcome. I believe the flower is a purple dendrobium orchid.
She took us to the hotel van where we met Chris, the driver, and his helper.
It was a bit after 4pm when we left the airport and headed into Honolulu traffic - at least as bad as downtown LA traffic. It took us 45 minutes to get to the hotel, a distance of about 10 miles.
Here's the entrance to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
As we entered the hotel we were given a lei of kukui nuts.
We checked in and went to our room on the 5th floor, overlooking Waikiki Beach. The hotel is old, first opened in 1927. It was closed in 2008 for renovations, reopening in January 2009. It's a nice hotel but not as modern as some we've stayed in, such as the Intercontinental Ljubljana. The staff has been excellent.
The view of Waikiki Beach from our room. You can just see the edge of Diamond Head at the far left of the picture.
Here's an aerial view of the hotel. The arrow points to the approximate location of the room we're in, which is in the Mailani Tower, built in 1969. The original hotel is the pink building on the left, and is called The Pink Palace of the Pacific.
After getting settled, we went to the Mailani Lounge where they had snacks, appetizers and drinks. We met a couple from Sacramento and talked until they closed the lounge (just 7:30pm :-).
By then we were tired and went to bed.
1/25/2020 (Saturday) As usual when we travel, we awoke early, about 5am local time and were greeted by a beautiful sunrise. You can see the outline of Diamond Head in the far left of the picture.
We had a light breakfast in the Mailani Lounge and then walked along Waikiki Beach. Here's a view looking back to the hotel from the beach.
Judy, walking barefoot in the surf.
After washing the sand off our feet, we explored the hotel, including making reservations for dinner at Azure, the hotel restaurant. Then we took a walk through the Waikiki area of Honolulu, which seems to be mostly shopping, and high end shopping at that.
When we got back to the hotel, Judy went to the pool area (see next picture) while I, your dedicated scribe, worked on this blog.
Eventually I joined Judy on the beach. You can see Diamond Head clearly behind us.
There wasn't a lot of surf but it was enough to splash you.
About 3:30pm we met the Tauck tour director, Heidi Lamprecht, in the Coconut Lanai to review the activities for tomorrow and to provide her with some forms that we filled out. The "official" tour dinner will be held tomorrow evening. Heidi is German, originally from Berlin.
We had made a reservation at the Azure Restaurant for 5:45pm, and were seated right at the beach front, giving us a perfect view of the setting sun.
Here we are with the sun still bright in our faces.
Honoring the celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Lion Dance passed through the restaurant. Tradition says that "feeding" him money brings good luck. We offered him some, wishing for good luck on the tour.
Dinner was very good, and not too heavy. After dessert we headed back to the room. We have an early departure for the Arizona Memorial tomorrow morning.
Our adventure continues here.