Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hawaii Part IV: Wedding Bells

We would have likely stayed in Maui for our entire trip if not for the Oahu wedding of my sweetie's friend from back home. Indeed, the wedding was the impetus for our trip to the islands in the first place.

Day 7: After a complementary buffet breakfast at the Kuhio Beach Grill in the hotel, we went to check out the USS Arizona memorial. Commemorating the military personnel who perished during the attack on Pearl Harbor, including the 1177 aboard the ship, the white memorial straddles the sunken hull of the battleship. After queueing up for a ticket, we checked out the exhibits that describe the events leading up to the attack and the subsequent effects in the visitors' center while waiting for our pontoon ride to the memorial itself. I have to give major props to my girlfriend, who endured the endless lines and the unbearably long wait for our turn to visit the memorial.

After leaving the memorial, we stopped by Leonard's Bakery for some fresh, hot malasadas, the Portuguese take on the doughnut. We each enjoyed a couple of malasadas, one filled with a creamy custard and another simply dusted with granulated sugar. After polishing off the sweet confections, we hurried back to our room and changed for the welcoming reception at the Hyatt for all of the visiting wedding guests. Despite the heat on the lanai, we enjoyed made-to-order sushi and other finger foods, while we cooled off with some icy cold adult beverages and visited with my girlfriend's twin brother and her other friends from back home in the Poconos. After the reception, we made a return trip to Duke's, where we hung out with some of the other wedding guests until we made our way to the Rock Island Cafe for a late-night snack of "Duke's" pizza and cheese fries.

Day 8: Taking advantage of the wedding event-free day, we decided to take a drive up to the North Shore. Before heading up, we stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch at Nico's at Pier 38, a little eatery nestled between warehouses in the middle of the commercial fishing district. You might expect good fish there. Not only will your expectations be met, you also get the fish at great prices. My girlfriend's plate of furikake pan seared ahi with a ginger garlic cilantro dip and my fried tuna belly set us back less than $20. The fish in each dish was generously portioned and very fresh; I wouldn't be surprised if the fish were still swimming the daylight broke that morning.

We then started our way north on the Pali Highway. Our plan was to meet up with my girlfriend's brother and high-school friend who were playing golf up at the Turtle Bay Resort. We stopped to gaze at the scenic overlook at Nu'uanu Pali, the site of one of the great battles in Hawaiian history, before continuing along the windward shore of Oahu. Just a short distance before Turtle Bay, we saw a bunch of cars parked alongside the highway and a long line of people queued up to a little roadside shack. Naturally, we pulled over as well to see what was going on. It turned out that we had stumbled onto Romy's Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp, a little family owned and operated stand that serves up some of the tastiest shrimp in the area. Though neither of us was particularly hungry, we still wanted to check it out so we split the cocktail shrimp plate. We were not disappointed. The shrimp, harvested daily from the ponds just beyond the stand, were firm, plump, and tender, a perfect delivery device for the spicy cocktail sauce that accompanied the plate. After polishing off our second breakfast, we met up with our friends at the golf course and headed out to the proverbial 19th hole at Haleiwa Joe's for some drinks.

No visit to the North Shore would be complete without some shave ice. So after hanging out for drinks, we figured that we would head down the highway another few hundred yards to sample some shave ice at the famous Matsumoto's. In business for more than 55 years, this little store turns out over 1000 servings of shave ice on a warm summer's day. After splitting an icy treat, we doubled back to Waimea Bay Beach just in time for sunset before heading back to Honolulu. Once again, we were treated to a spectacular Hawaiian sunset:

After getting back to Honolulu and picking our friends up from the airport where they dropped off their rental car, we decide to grab a small dinner. After getting completely lost on some residential neighborhoods, we stumbled onto Ezogiku Noodle Cafe, where we each enjoyed a nice bowl of ramen (with curry and miso-flavored broth) and gyoza before heading back to the hotel for a good night of sleep before the big wedding day.

Day 9: This morning, we woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast at the Kuhio Beach Grill. As a little surprise for me, my sweetie had set up a massage session for the two of us in the hotel spa. The massage was fantastic; it really helped work out the knots in my back and was thoroughly relaxing. After going back to our room and cleaning up, we changed into our far-too-hot-for-the-weather wedding attire, we headed over to another hotel just further down Waikiki Beach to catch a bus that would take us over to the wedding. Even though the walk was only three blocks long, I was feeling quite overheated by the time that I boarded the bus. Luckily for all of us, the A/C on the bus was working quite well.

After a beautiful and short ceremony at church, we boarded the bus once again and were given a short tour of Honolulu while the wedding party was busy with photos. We drove over to the Punchbowl National Cemetary of the Pacific, before heading over to the State Capitol and the 'Iolani Palace, with the entire tour narrated by our hilarious driver who kept telling us that he really just wanted to take us to the liquor store. Eventually, we made it to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel back on Waikiki Beach for the wedding reception. By this time, the temperature had subsided, which made for a very pleasant evening cocktail hour out in the reception area overlooking Waikiki Beach. Dinner was also fabulous: we started out the meal with a tasty lobster bisque en croute (which was unfortunately not the best choice for this hot weather), followed by a crab and seafood salad. The main entree was grilled filet and garlic prawns with assorted vegetables. For dessert, we were treated to a guava sorbet with fresh fruit as well as wedding cake. All in all, it was one of nicest weddings that I have attended.

Day 10: We had an early flight back to the mainland, so there wasn't anything really too exciting that morning. I will mention that we had breakfast at the nearby Cheeseburger in Paradise, a place that I wanted to check out in both Lahaina and Honolulu. Unfortunately for me, I found out that "Cheeseburger in Paradise" = "Overcooked Food" + "Crappy Service". I'm mean, how can a place that purports to specialize in cheeseburgers cook a beef pattie so long that it is literally crumbling from the dryness?? After the disappointing breakfast, we headed for the airport.

Though by this time I was looking forward to going home, sleeping in my own bed, and finding some less humid weather, I found myself thinking about and looking forward to my next visit to the Islands. For those of you who have never been to Hawaii (like me prior to this trip), I recommend that you give it some serious thought for your next getaway. It is a fantastically beautiful place where you will experience some unforgettable memories.


Karen said...

Let's not forget our good luck at having Ron Jeremey be the videographer at the wedding! The man, apparently, has many talents.

Loren said...

But, of course! Who could forget the Hedgehog? On this occasion, he decided to be on the other side of the camera.