Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Day on Oahu

It's been a while since I've done a trip blog, and my recent weekend in Oahu made me realize how much I missed going on and writing about my various excursions. The focus on this particular blog is a 3-day weekend in Oahu. It isn't very foreign or exotic, but if I'm being honest I was in need of some serious shopping time and the sweet smell of luxury items, people with too much money, and air pollution.

Day 1: History Lessons and the Usefulness of Social Media

The flight left at 7:15 AM from Hilo and we were in Honolulu and outside the airport waiting for the bus by 8:30 AM. The flight was so short, I didn't even fall asleep and that's saying something. I'm usually passed out before the place even leaves the tarmac. We opted for the bus this trip because we didn't want to pay exorbitant taxi fees and renting a car seemed like a huge headache when everything I wanted to do Sunday was within walking distance. The bus is $2.50 and you have 2 hours to transfer to your final destination.

The first order of business was dropping our bags off at our hotel, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani.  I got our room off Priceline.com and I used the "Name Your Own Price" feature for the first time. While it was definitely significantly cheaper than the list price and we certainly got way more than we paid for in such a popular tourist destination, I'm not sure I'll use the service again and this is why: Priceline doesn't include resort fee costs in the price.  That means that while you might have signed up to pay $120 a night, you're actually paying $120 a night PLUS a $24 per night resort fee. Lovely, right? That's an additional $50 for a weekend trip and, in my opinion, isn't worth the "low price" I got from Priceline. Next time I plan a weekend away it's a hostel for sure!

That's my snobby tea face. 
Our hotel let us stash our bags without a fee and then we went in search of the closest, biggest breakfast we could find. That turned out to be Jimmy Buffet's at the Beachcomber with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for $14. Normally I would have turned my nose up at such a franchise but we had a big day ahead of us and I was already starting to get crabby from lack of food.  The buffet was what you'd expect in Hawaii - lots of starches, meats, miso soup, and fruit. It wasn't remarkable but it kept me full until dinner so it ended up being a pretty good deal. We left the restaurant and got on the bus headed toward Pearl Harbor and, lucky for us, our bus transfer ticket was still good so we scored that ride for free.
My breakfast companion!

I was completely unprepared for Pearl Harbor. First, the prices are way higher than I've ever paid at any park or attraction with the exception of maybe Angkor Wat. . . for 3 days.  After some serious debating, we settled on the $28 package that let you see the Pacific Aviation Museum and tour the USS Bowfin.  I would have loved to see the Missouri (Battleship) but the cost just wasn't justified.  Something else worth noting is the ban on all backpacks, purses, and anything tote-like. They have a bag check and it's required - at $3 per bag.
Inside the USS Bowfin,

The second thing I was unprepared for was how much of my WWI and WWII history I had forgotten. My trip here might have been a lot more informative if I had brushed up a bit on the sequence of events leading to the war and some of the immediate repercussions of the Pearl Harbor attack. Even if you don't remember high school US History, the audio tour for the USS Bowfin is well organized and interesting. You pick up the headset and audio device at a kiosk in front of the submarine and listen to the tour at your leisure. If you're taking your time and exploring, you can expect the walk through of the Bowfin and the corresponding museum to take around 2-3 hours.
They let you climb in some of the aircraft they're restoring!

The Pacific Aviation Museum is a bus ride away over the bridge on to the naval base. If you've never seen aircraft up close before, this museum is impressive. However, if you've been to the National Naval Aviationmuseum in Pensacola or the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, you're going to find the PAM a bit lacking and tired looking.
As we wandered we found part of the museum where they stored
reclaimed items or things they hadn't gotten around the restoring.
Something tells me they don't have a maid. 

We took the bus back to Waikiki to check in and put our bags down in the room before venturing out to find dinner. I was in the mood for seafood, and after looking at all the lines, the shortest one we found was at Atlantis Steak and Seafood.  Prices weren't awful for dining on the main drag, but the food wasn't super memorable. What was memorable was the fact that I checked in on Yelp (my preferred method of finding restaurants while traveling) and finding out my check-in got me a free calamari appetizer! The appetizer may have been the best part of the meal, actually.

After dinner, we did a lazy stroll back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep. I hear the nightlife in Honolulu is pretty amazing but I wouldn't know anything about that.

FYI: This post was actually from quite a while ago. It's part of a 3 day adventure but I never actually posted it up. It's a shame to let it go to waste, so here is one day. That's it!