Back at the start of July I went to Honolulu, in Hawaii for a week to meet up with the WordPress.com Forums squad. It took something like 25 hours of flight time to get there from Glasgow – and if it had been any further it would have been quicker to go the other way.
But… I made it.
Our hotel was just a couple of blocks away from the beach, so it was easy to take a wander down and sit by the sea, or to jump down for a quick swim in between our ‘meetings’. That said, I’m not one for going onto the beach then going back to work or out straight away. I can always feel the salt water and sand on me and need to wash it off. Killjoy over here.
Hawaii is part of the United States, but (at least in Honolulu), it doesn’t quite feel like it is completely. It’s less rushed or intense… a lot more laid back. Another interesting fact is that it’s the only State that still has the Union Jack incorporated into it – up in the corner, like Australia.
It definitely still had the modern, slick feel you would expect from an American city though – maybe somewhere like Miami, or Florida. It was a lot cleaner and orderly than anywhere I’ve been on the coast in Europe, and consumerism was definitely in full flow. It lacked a bit of a gritty edge, and in that regard, it felt more American than New Orleans.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before visiting. I just had the perceived notion that it was some sort of island paradise where fruits were everywhere and girls in grass skirts draped those flower necklace things on you… and maybe guys walked about the street with surfboards.
Okay, so maybe some of that was true…
and we did have to drink out of a pineapple just once.
but we re-used them afterwards for cocktails.
We bumped into one of the managers of the company that owned the hotel (or someone high up anyway), who was staying there for a few days, and he very nicely let us make use of the penthouse office suite, which had some pretty cool views over the city.
For lunch we ended up going to a farmer’s market across town. I ate something ridiculously healthy and unbelievably tasty (vegan lasagne – don’t judge me), whilst others had pizza. I definitely looked at their pizza with envy – and drank mason jars filled with flavoured lemonade. That’s the still lemon juice they have in the US, not the fizzy stuff we have in the UK.
On one of our afternoons off we headed over to take a boat trip out and see some dolphins.
I’m not sure why of all places they chose to congregate in front of one of the ugliest buildings in Hawaii, but still – it was pretty cool to see them so close up. They circled around the boat and did flips out of the water.
We took a day off to hire some cars and travel further away from the big city to explore a bit. For some reason, it was cheaper for me as a foreigner to pay for the cars in my name, and so that meant that despite being the only one not from the US, I was down to be a driver for part of the trip.
I’ve now driven more in the US in the past few years than I have in the UK… though it’s a completely different experience driving a huge fully automatic SUV thing down wide lanes than it is a manual 1L Corsa through the windy back roads in the Scottish Countryside.
Driving meant we got to see some pretty cool bits of the island that we wouldn’t have been able to any other way.
The pictures don’t really convey this very well, but I feel like it felt a lot like the rugged landscape in the North of Scotland in places. Though the weather clearly doesn’t help with that.
Outside of the tourist areas, the island is pretty remote and beautiful. People have their wee houses built right onto the beach, which doesn’t look like too bad a life at all.
Another sign of Hawaii being part of the US was the number of warning signs and danger signs and signs generally telling you not to do certain things because of blah blah.
Luckily the Hawaiians are much less prone to paying any attention to these signs than other people, so they seem to go largely ignored.
We eventually reached the beach where we planned to decamp. It was the place that locals went to swim, and it was easy to see why.
The water was beautiful.
The one problem was that it got really deep really fast. Like, from knee height to way over your head in the space of less than a metre.
The next day we properly felt it in our arms and legs, from struggling to keep close to the shore against the power of the waves. No wonder the Hawaiians all look in good shape. Who needs a gym when you swim in that sort of current every day?
Since I didn’t expect to be in Hawaii again anytime soon, it made sense to take the chance to go to a luau – the traditional party with dancers and food and all that stuff.
I’d heard all these stories about how people who had gone had ended up completely drunk and had a great time, so obviously that was something I was keen to get in on.
But eh, it was terrible. The one we went to was so unbelievably touristy, expensive, and fake it wasn’t worth going. It felt like one of those over the top cheesy dinner drama places you see in American movies. Awful.
The company was good though.