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Trip Report A hui hou (until we meet again!)

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Short summary: we did a whole lot of nothing, staying in a resort-type place in Kaanapali. Now you know everything, so you don’t have to read the very detailed report that follows.

A direct flight from SFO to OGG was 5.5 hrs to the island, 4.5 hrs coming back. We’ve switched to Hawaiian time at SFO, I think, as both flights were late taking off. Hawaiian time “in a few minutes” was from the very beginning to the very end. No food service on United, only food for sale, but lots of water, soda, and juices.

The landing at OGG was shaky, felt like a student tried to land the plane; the reason was high wind. This was our first surprise. The shuttle driver said the afternoons are always windy in that area. Going back, late again of course, but no wind.

We made a round-trip reservation with VIP Transportation, and will never ever use them again. They promised to meet us in the airport, and just in case of anything going wrong, I gave them 2 phone numbers, indicating which one is home and which one is cell. Nobody was there to meet us; this company has no counter at the airport, no messages on my cell phone, so we walked out to the pole #2 per advice of the information desk. Luckily, another shuttle from the same company was picking up our flight crew, so the driver called the office requesting a shuttle for us. It was a short but unpleasant wait out in the sun and exposed to wind, with no place to sit.

Going home I made a reservation for 9 am. The day before a woman called to confirm our reservation, and seeing the oncoming traffic on the way to the hotel, I worried we wouldn’t have enough time, so I asked her to switch our reservation to 8 am. She happily agreed, but said the shuttle will be at 8.15-8.20, wait in or outside of the reception area. 8.20 – no shuttle. 8.30 – no shuttle. 8.40 I called; they asked me which travel agency. What??? Oh, you made your own reservations. In a few minutes!

At 8.50 the shuttle had finally arrived, and the driver showed her hand-held mini-computer: nobody informed her about the time change! She was on the phone with the office, they told her to pick up another passenger scheduled for 9.30. She said, no way, and we finally went to another hotel to look for another couple who was scheduled for 9.15. They were not happy to have to leave at 9 am.

Fast-forward to our return home. 3 messages on our home phone, 2 of them from “David” and one more from somebody else at VIP. They were looking for us – apparently, they don’t check with the airline for late arrivals despite the flight number provided at the time of reservation.

The driver of the shuttle that finally picked us up at the OGG airport was excellent. He was talking non-stop, shared much information about the island; it was a really pleasant trip, and the first taste of Hawaiian hospitality.

We reserved the cheapest room at Kaanapali Beach Hotel. The whole place and our room were so much more than expected! When confirming our reservation a few days before arrival, I asked for a ground floor room as the building did not have an elevator. It was not guaranteed, so getting the ground floor at check-in was a sort of a pleasant surprise. The room was spacious, tiny shower and toilet compartments same size as on a cruise ship, but the sink had a large counter, the closet had many hangers, and the best was the lanai – the back door to the outside table and chairs, with the view of a gorgeous park-like landscape. Each room has either a lanai or a balcony.

Meals were not included with our room, but we got a coupon for one complimentary breakfast. It reminded us of a time-share presentation, as it was a small show with conch blowing, and a presentation of all hotel activities and tours for sale. When a guy came with card tricks, we left. It was a commercial of the magic show and dinner in the hotel that we did not want to see. We also had a good-bye ceremony with a beautiful song and Hawaiian necklace that we brought home.

Food was easy to find. In the hotel itself there is a restaurant opened all day, we only went for dinners, and they have a great chef. A bar seemed to be always opened, people drinking all day. Take-out food in the evening. A small convenience store opened all day. Restaurants and lots of shops at the Whalers’ Village – our favorite was, of course, ABC.

We had several dinners in the restaurant on hotel’s property. Had chicken, fish, ravioli – all taste great. Not in one sitting, though. One night I tried the “Hawaiian dish” with a choice of chicken or fish. Don’t think chicken is a national dish, must be added for tourists who don’t want fish. This is when I tried poi. Traditional Hawaiian cooking, the note on the menu said, is without or with very little salt. I cook this way too, trying to control high blood pressure. Poi was absolutely tasteless, and adding salt didn’t help. It was not like mashed potato, more like thick sauce. I like taro and cook them sometimes, but I don’t think I will ever order poi again. Sorry. I really tried.

Every morning we would get a phone message from the hotel management about the ocean condition: it swelled, the waves are dangerous, cancel your water activities. As the man at the presentation said, face the waves going in the ocean and out, or do what the locals do, run like hell.

We didn’t go anywhere with the exception of the Whalers’ mall and museum. The museum is small, but full of interesting items telling about harsh life on the boat, and lots of whale teeth carvings, I highly recommend visiting even if it will require a drive up. When leaving the museum, go toward ABC store, this is where a whaling boat is displayed, looks surprisingly small for chasing a whale.

We took a shuttle to the Whalers’ Village and from there we could take a bus to Lahaina. My husband asked if I really want to wait for the bus in this heat. Of course I said no. So this was the end of our explorations. We spent our time in the hotel area.

Every morning we would go to the ocean, after all somebody must keep an eye on the water condition, right? The hotel is a bunch of buildings around a pool, and the pool is really in a shape of a whale. Must be designed to make swimming laps more difficult – watch that curve instead of going in a straight line! Lots of trees, bushes, flowers, birds, loungers. Every morning we saw things people forget the night before: beach towels, of course, but also t-shirts, and even a pair of pants!

Several people warned me about the sticker shock. Well, too bad I didn’t get it! The prices in the restaurants that we visited were $20-25 a plate for a dinner entry. Gas was more expensive, $4.59 Maui vs. $4.19 San Francisco. Most of the prices were the same or just a bit higher. These people obviously haven’t been to Norway, this is where the real sticker shock hides.

The hotel, like a resort, offered daytime activities that we did not attend being busy doing nothing; and nightly music with Hawaiian dances. I am glad we were there Friday as this is the only night when they bring kids from dance school, they are adorable, and their dance is not something to be missed!

One night we had light rain, the raindrops were large and warm, and everybody looked like they are enjoying the rain, not running away from it. With the exception of one couple: she ran to the nearest roof, he kept running till he reached the bar. Gender priorities? The temps were mid- to upper-80s during the day, but in the shade we didn’t feel the heat, so we both didn’t suffer. At night it was probably 60s to 70s, early in the morning we’d step out on the lanai to have the morning coffee; it was warm already, shorts-and-t-shirt weather.

What I’ve noticed, most of the women wore skirts. I usually do at home, in any weather, and sometimes feel out of place as everyone else is in pants. Maui was a nice surprise. We were glad to have brought only cotton clothes, best for the weather.

And to finish this report, we didn’t do anything all day without getting bored, just enjoyed relaxation, serenity, and each other’s company.
We loved the weather, the island and its slow pace so much; may be we can bring all our children for a visit.

(Photos will be ready next week, hopefully - need to sort them out)

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