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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

ALOHA HAWAI'I


Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii's state flower--the hibiscus

Isn’t it Honolulu and Waikiki Beach that we picture when we dream about Hawaii? This was the picture in my mind, fine tuned by years of music, movies, TV shows, and books.  Fiction.

It is true that from our balcony at the Royal Kuhio, our view of Waikiki is often stunning, but it is not what lived in my imagination.  Putting it in perspective, picture this: Waikiki is a touch less than one square mile in size but contains more than 60,000 hotel rooms!!!  On a given day, 40% of all Hawaiian tourists sleep there.  So if I expected a laid-back beach resort atmosphere….  Actually, friends, that is what I did expect, and I had some major adjusting to do!

Here’s the real deal.  Hawaii is pretty special. There truly exists  “The Spirit of Aloha.”  Hawaiians really work at it.  Simply put, this is a friendly spirit of acceptance.  Google that phrase, and you will learn its more complex meaning. 


The Shaka sign
(courtesy of avagabonde.blogspot.com)

The Spirit of Aloha is practically palpable.  People use the “shaka” sign.  People say “Mahalo” (thank you).  People wear Aloha shirts and have a laid-back attitude.  On the busiest, most commercial street, you might pass a person barefoot and carrying a surfboard as easily as you might pass someone all dressed up for business.  People obey traffic lights (as a New Yorker, I am shocked at that), and people are friendly and helpful.  Get right into the program, and the spirit of aloha will make you quite happy, and you will thoroughly enjoy your visit despite your preconceptions.

Look at our view from the 27th floor and a mere two blocks away from the beach! 

Honolulu, HawaiiMauka, Hawaiian meaning “toward the mountain,” (more on this beautiful language in a later post) we’ve the constant reminder that this island is a marvelous and ancient result of volcanic eruption.  There is an almost ever-present and impressive thick blanket of clouds hiding the peaks, and we look to them over a fantastic golf course (Hawaii is a golfing mecca) bordered by the Ala Wai Canal where people scull or walk/jog on the adjoining trail.  You forget you are in the middle of a city.

Honolulu, Hawaii
Mauka--and the Ala Wai Canal and golf course

Makai, meaning “toward the sea,” we look over the high rise buildings toward the pink hotel, The Royal Hawaiian, and the sparkling waters of the Pacific that break on Waikiki Beach.  More on this hotel—our Waikiki hangout—later.
Honolulu, Hawaii
Makai at dusk.  See the "pink hotel"? That's the Royal Hawaiian.


Straight ahead and in the distance past the other high rises looms the ever-present majestic Diamond Head crater keeping watch over Waikiki Beach and reminding us of the past.
Honolulu, Hawaii
That's Diamond Head in the distance


Looking down from our balcony to a lower floor is the Royal Kuhio’s tennis court and sports “field.”  Out of sight is the pool.  (I did not come to Hawaii to use a pool.  That seems like sacrilege to me!  I did not even go to check it out.)

Sunset from our balcony is a splendid show of changing colors of pinks, greys, yellows, oranges and red.  Sunrises are equally magnificent—enough so that I even woke up for ONE.  I’m guessing the others were memorable too.   
Honolulu, Hawaii
This is actually a SUNRISE--a miracle for me to get up for this--but
isn't it gorgeous?!


One day looking down at the street, I spy Cinderella’s coach!
Honolulu, Hawaii
Sorry this is not clear, but I was definitely caught up in this fairytale moment.


My dreams may not have been accurate, but Hawaii is kind of magical!

If you are a bit surprised as I was at Honolulu’s density, take this fact into account.  Honolulu has over 470 high rise buildings and an impressive skyline. Flying in to Honolulu, it is the big skyline and the white buildings that first catch the eye.  Spread out below is the sweet crescent of Waikiki Beach, and then the eye spies Diamond Head.  It’s exciting.

As always, Rob and I arrive ready to hit the ground running, and if Honolulu is not quite as we expected, we quickly shift gears and are ready to discover what Honolulu is today.
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