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2024 - February - Day 24 - Honolulu

Another day when we had to set the alarm. It’s been one of those sorts of trips. Today we had another ‘free’ walking tour booked which started at 9am. The trouble was that the starting point was 2 ½ miles away. We thought we would try the apparently reliable bus service to get us there.


So after more cardboard mush for breakfast (for cardboard mush read Special K) we were heading out of the room at 8.02am. Karen was annoyed we were 2 minutes behind schedule which I felt sure was not down to me.


I had worked out the location of the bus stop on the map the night before, or at least I thought I had. The Hotel is such a large complex with a clue being it contains the word village that I was confused where exactly we came out onto the street. We needed to be one block further over. Tolerant Karen didn’t complain at all as I took a while to get my bearings again on my phone.


We got to the bus stop just as the No13 turned up. Unlike what I had read we couldn’t use our credit cards to tap on, but fortunately I had the right cash on me to feed into the machine as it didn’t give change. That is the first cash I have used in Hawaii. The driver was very helpful and told us he would let us know when we got to our stop which was the Iolani Palace. We were to meet our guide outside the King Kamehameha Statue.


The starting point pleased me. I recalled it from our visit here in 2012. It is heavily featured in the start of every episode of the new Hawaii Five 0 and stands in front of what served as their headquarters. Of course, I know it isn’t really used for that but it did seem surreal to be here again. I wanted to hear someone shout ‘Book him Danno’ which though sadly was only said very infrequently in the remake.


Anyhow our guide Susan turned up as did many other people from around the world to take the tour from the likes of Brazil, Peru and NZ. We were the only Brits.


I found the tour although short with not much walking very interesting detailing the history of Hawaii, the rulers, the relationship with the UK and then its annexing to the USA. The guide was interested in History and explained it all very well. For some reason Karen found it a bit too wordy but we thought it was because the guide wasn’t an over exuberant thespian as they tend to be. I also learnt that Hawaii is the largest and most isolated population in the world and has the only state flag that has another country (UK) on it.


We walked to the oldest church, then State Capital building and finally the palace.


I got very distracted outside the State Capital building with a statue of Queen Liliuokalani and I had to google to check my suspicions were correct which they proved to be. For any old NU/Aviva peeps, she was the Queen who not only visited Pinebanks in 1897 but also had a game of chess at the top of the old Folly whilst on a whistlestop tour of Norfolk. I recall the plaque on the side of the Folly which is only section of Pinebanks that has not been mysteriously destroyed by fire.


After the tour we needed a cuppa. Whilst looking for one we went to see the Hawaiian eternal flame for the war fallen, which seemed to sadly neglected and forgotten.


For some reasons there were no cafes in sight of the area we were in. We asked directions and eventually found one.


Then we caught the bus back. This time it was standing room only full of miserable locals none of whom seemed happy with their lives. We missed our stop, and had to walk back from the one past it.


For lunch in our room, we had finished the corned beef. I was glad it was finally all gone.


Then clouds darkened and it started raining lightly. We gave it a while to stop but, in the end, decided to go out. It wasn’t cold but the rain was like a misty effect as we walked around the village complex of the Hotel. The village reminded us of a small Disney Springs with prices in all the shops and restaurants to match.


I was taken by the expensive but collectable ‘Reyn Spooner’ Hawaiian Shirts. They were about $120 each. All the locals and all service workers wear these types of shirts. You would know them as Hawaiian shirts but they are subtle and not at all loud or garish. I am not prepared to pay that much for a shirt though even if they are supposed to hold their value. Knowing me I would spill something down it and ruin it the very first time I wore it.


We sat for a while having another drink at one of the Starbucks. Despite being indoors we were constantly being hassled by white pigeons who were looking for food, including one that tried to land on my shoulder. It reminded me of the time in The Red Lion in Eaton when one fell down the chimney, singed itself on the hot coals on the fire and tried to fly around the pub but couldn’t get going because of its burnt feathers and so landed on my head to rest whilst I was eating. The chap I was with (Adam) jumped up and took it off my head and carried it outside to a round of applause from everyone else in the pub. I was crying with laughter for ages afterwards and it still makes me laugh aloud even writing this. Perhaps you had to be there.


After this we walked to find the supposed exclusive Lounge with a happy hour for ‘Gold’ members of the Hilton loyalty scheme. I only had that status through my Amex card. It sounded delightful. It wasn’t. It was no more exclusive than any other part of the hotel. In fact, it was just a lobby. The happy hour consisted of a dollar off still overpriced drinks. We moved on.


We walked round the lagoon before heading back to our room.


Although we have loved Hawaii, like most places it doesn’t look its best when its grey and damp. Neither did the Hotel or its village.


Overall, we have come to the conclusion that we are disappointed with the Hotel. We expected more. It is like being trapped in a not brilliant Disney or Vegas Hotel. We are lucky that we are prepared to walk and escape. It is all geared up to get you to spend more money once you are here. Everything has a price and is overpriced.  You want a sun bed – that will cost you. No, you can’t have a kettle in your room, but you can buy drinks from our many outlets (although Karen has worked out how to get hot water from the coffee machine). Our room and balcony are very good though.


Another issue we have with the hotel is the daily resort fee. All we seem to benefit from it is the Wifi, but that appears to be free so anyone can join it.


Then on top of that the latest they will allow us to check out on Saturday is 1pm. Our flight isn’t until 10.20pm. They said they can store our luggage for free but there is nowhere we can change or shower after we have left the room. This is not ideal. So, when I got a text message asking if I would be prepared to give them a 10/10 rating, I decided to tell them absolutely not and why. Eventually after many text exchanges and my replies getting increasingly terse, the hotel agreed to waive most of the resort fee. I felt vindicated in raising my points but would still have liked a later check out time but if they genuinely don’t have any spare rooms then I guess I can understand.


Tonight, we headed to the nearby Hard Rock Restaurant and were immediately seated. We both had a burger. I went for the ‘Messi’ burger. Quite why they or indeed him felt the need to link up together other than money I really know. It’s not as if he really did design the burger but anyhow.


The food was very edible. Like other restaurants in this chain, the walls were adorned with music memorabilia. I haven’t been in many but everyone seems to have one from Bono and Clapton. For a strange reason the ones near the rest rooms were much more interesting ones, including that was authenticated as being owned by John Lennon and another owned by Jack Lord from the original Hawaii Five 0 cast that Elvis used to play when he went to visit him.


Anyhow after popping into the CVS store opposite for a couple of things, we headed back to our room to finish the wine but only after stopping to hear the band playing outside our block below us for a while. They were not bad.


Bad in the room along with the wine, Karen finished off her cheesecake and got into bed watching the end of the original Wonka film on BBC America.

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