Days 56 - 62
We arrived at Honolulu airport slightly early and raced through to the baggage reclaim area to collect our luggage and get to the pub asap. An hour later we were still at the airport and we were not impressed. We found the bus stop relatively easily but there was a huge sign stating luggage wasn't allowed on board, so we ruled out that option. We headed back down a level to get a taxi but they were charging 45$ and we weren't prepared to pay that so we decided to catch the shuttle, except we had just missed one. The operator informed us the next one would be approximately 15 - 20 minutes so we had no choice but to wait. 40 minutes later it still hadn't arrived and I was ready to lose my temper (I am my parent's daughter after all!) It was approaching 9pm and we hadn't eaten anything since LA and we had landed well over an hour ago. The shuttle eventually turned up and a further 45 minutes later we were dropped off at our hotel. The only high point of all this was that we met a lovely couple on the bus, who were sharing our frustration and almost asked us if we wanted to share a cab into Waikiki, DOH!! They gave us their card, as they were from LA and asked us to give them a call when we returned to the mainland so they could advise us where to go. Americans are such nice people.
We quickly threw our bags in our room and freshened up before heading to the bar to meet everyone and finally eat something. It was so good to see Mr Fagan, Gaz, Stu and Tracy and we picked up where we left off and before too long you wouldn't have known we hadn't seen each other for months / years.
For some stupid reason our hotel stopped serving breakfast at 8:30am. What sort of time is that?? I have to say I did become very grateful for this as the week went by as it meant we were up nice and early and we made the most of the day but that first morning after 5 hours sleep and suffering jet lag I was not very impressed! A singer and dancer welcomed people into breakfast every morning with traditional Hawaiian music. Unfortunately the routine didn't change and by the end of the week we had to resist very hard not to push them in the pool!
Breakfast was a buffet and we were given a little cool bag each which we could fill with whatever we wanted and take it down to the beach. This was a lovely way to start the morning. After a little while John, Lucy and Maisie joined us and went for a swim. Stu and Tracy had errands to run for the wedding so they went off with Gaz and we spent the morning with the Fagan's and caught up on their news. After lunch they took Maisie to the Aquarium and kindly gave us the key to their condo so we could do some washing. After a couple of hours we took our lovely clean (and some still wet) clothes back to the room and had a quick shower before heading out to meet everyone. We all ate at a beach bar called Dukes and consumed quite a few cocktails before having a relatively early night.
We woke early for brekkie and ate by the pool as we were going on a tour today and needed to be outside the hotel to be collected by 9am. A mini bus drove us to Hanauma Bay, which was quite spectacular with a shallow coral reef and some good snorkeling areas. After watching a safety video (only the Americans!) on how to preserve the coral and talk us through the rules and regulations of the beach we walked down the steep hill and found a nice spot on the sand. Straight away the boys wanted to go snorkeling so off we went, leaving the Fagan's to entertain Maisie in the sea. I didn't enjoy myself at all, the coral was far too shallow and I scraped my knees a couple of times. The bay was horribly over crowded and people didn't look where they were going. One person swam straight into Dan and we were both suffering from snorkeling rage, so I left him to it and went and dried off and sunbathed.
We had bought sandwiches for lunch and as we were eating a lady close by decided it would be a really good idea to feel the seagulls, despite being told not to in our safety video and further signs displayed on the beach prohibiting it. This meant, once she had finished, that the seagulls went looking for food and started bothering us. One pesty bird actually few straight at my salad bowl. I can understand why some people are afraid of fowl!
After lunch we had an hour left before we were being picked up again so the boys went back for another snorkel and the girls relaxed on the beach. I attempted to take Maisie for a little swim to give Lucy a break but I stupidly pointed out the fish in the water, which upset her so back we went to find Mum.
Before too long we packed up and walked to the top of the hill, where the car park was (although Lucy somehow managed to get a free shuttle ride!) and we boarded the bus back to Waikiki.
After a quick shower (getting quite good at these aren't we?) We, together with Stu, Tracy and Gaz walked over to the Fagan's condo for a bbq, in which all of Stu's family had been invited so we got to meet everyone properly. It was good to finally put names to faces and get acquainted before the actual wedding so everyone knew everybody. Jim, Stu's step-dad, bought some Spam, (apparently a Hawaiian favourite) which once toasted was absolutely delicious, much to mine and everyone else's surprise. Gaz did a superb job cooking and everyone had a great evening.
We said good night to the Fagan's and most of Stu's family and went and found a very cheap but slightly seedy bar on the main road and I got to know Jon, Stu's middle brother, a bit better. After a couple of 3$ rum and cokes Tracy and I left the boys to it and headed back to the hotel.
Our second tour, and this time we were going off on a boat trip, and the mad Captain Bob collected us bright and early after we managed to get everyone in the right place. Captain Bob's name was actually Jenner and on the journey to Kaneohe he went on a slightly mad rant about his name and how he was teased at school. The journey took us over the mountains and we saw the first of the steep sided and heavily vegetated volcanoes that Hawaii is so famous for. We got to our boat and while they took us out to the sand bar we all got into our swimmers and sun creamed up with the sun already baking. When we arrived the staff set up a volley ball net and we grabbed the Frisbee and headed into the water. It was no more than ankle to knee deep and deliciously warm and we spent a while playing around. Eventually we joined in a big game of volley ball with the other trippers, and after an hour or so we were all called back to the boat for lunch of burgers and salad which had been cooked on the BBQ on the back of the boat. Very yummy and we had Jenner singing and playing away on his guitar.
After lunch the boat set off from the sand bar and we went in search of sea turtles and it wasn't long before they were spotted to much excitement. They were amazing but we didn't see much of them as they only popped up for air before diving back down.
Finally, leaving the turtles behind, we headed for the reef where we were going to be snorkeling and spent a good hour or so swimming. We didn't see any turtles but there were plenty of fishes in all different colours. The girls got back on the boat after a little while and made the most of the sunshine while the boys took silly photos.
It was then time for the boat to leave and get us back, so with a beer in hand we cruised back to the harbour and Jenner drove the group back to Waikiki.
Once we got back Dan went and met John and Gaz and did a spot of shopping so I hit the gym for an hour and then we all met in the hotel bar for a drink.
We headed out for dinner and ended up in a restaurant where we were told had lava running underneath our feet. You won't be surprised to hear we were bitterly disappointed and the lava was actually a combination of poor paper mache, paint and lights, which didn't look remotely like lava! The nachos lived up to their name though, Stu, Tracy and Gaz shared a VOLCANO of Nachos, all of which had eaten their fill by the time they had finished, Dan had a burger and I had my third salad of the week! It wasn't that I was actively trying to eat healthily because I was spending all my time in a bikini, or even that it was to counter balance the alcohol intake! It was purely because that was what I fancied eating at the end of a very hot day, and they were delicious!
After Breakfast Becky arrived (Tracy's bridesmaid, who we had met once before one New Year's Eve) and us three girls went downtown to Tracy's hair and make up trial while the boys chilled on the beach. The trial went really well and Tracy looked beautiful. It was nice to have some girl time away from the boys, and I'm sure the boys felt the same way.
When we got back we all spent some time on the beach (minus the Fagan's who were shopping for an all important 3rd birthday) and Stu and Gaz went and ran some errands and came back to inform us they had booked a Mustang for next week. Quite how seven of us were going to fit into a four seater sports car was beyond me and Tracy but the boys promised they would catch the bus and we could transport the luggage so we were happy. A few minutes later we met Mike, Stu's Dad and Jon and we made our way back to our hotel for lunch.
It was the girl's turn to run errands later that afternoon while the boys hung out on the beach and tossed the Frisbee. We were trying to find a strapless bikini for Tracy, who under my strict guidance had somehow managed to get strap marks - not a good look with a strapless wedding dress! We booked the revolving sky tower restaurant (very similar to Seattle) for a sunset tea but the rest of Stu's family couldn't make it and it was a tad expensive so we ended up at Dukes again.
This time there was a typical Hawaiian musician playing very chilled music who got us all smiling and singing. Me being me said "He would be perfect at a wedding" and sowed the first seed in Stu and Tracy's mind. Eventually I went and asked Lawrence if he did weddings and if he was free and Tracy booked him a couple of days later! On the way back to the hotel we did some last minute shopping for the Stag Do which was taking place the following day. The lads bought 100$ worth of alcohol, sunscreen and 21 cheese burgers from Maccy D's for brunch the following day. Tracy and I thought this was not the best idea and wondered how bad they would be in 12 hours time when they were cold and soggy and we were very grateful we would not be sampling them.
Today is the day of the Stag. Unfortuantely you will not be informed what really happened because what happenes on Stag Do's stays there so you'll have to put up with more of me rambling on! (Basically they went fishing, they didn't catch anything so they got fairly drunk istead!)
After four hours sleep Dan somehow managed to get out of bed and pack, very noisily, all he needed for the fishing trip. He said goodbye to me and off he went, leaving me to go back to sleep. I had arranged to meet the girls at 10am for brunch in the cafe underneath the hotel but woke at the normal time DAMMIT!!! Tracy also didn't sleep in and went to find her parents who arrived late last night.
Eventually, after brekkie we planned what the four ladies and Maisie would do and we went to the Expedia help desk in the hotel. We decided we wanted to go to Wet n Wild so we looked at all the different transport options. Unfortunately we had missed the shuttle bus, which left at 9am, the bus would take over two hours so that was out as the park closed at 4pm, a taxi would be extortionate so that wasn't an option, which left us no alternative but to hire a car, so we got ourselves a Dodge! Very smart it was too! Off we went to collect it and I went and met Lucy and Maisie.
After paying an arm and a leg for the insurance we set off and arrived at our destination without getting lost or driving on the wrong side of the road (well done Tracy and navigator Becky). Lucy took Maisie into the Children's area, where she slid down the slide enough times to exhaust her poor heavily pregnant Mum and had an absolute ball. The three older kids went on every ride in the park, which were so much more adventurous than at home. There was one ride in which you sat in a rubber dingy with someone else and you slid off the platform almost vertically and then up the other side and back again. I almost lost my nerve for the first time ever and tried to back out and suggested Tracy did the ride with Becky who was waiting patiently at the bottom but Trace was having none of it and eventually I sat down and went backwards down this horrible slide. It was absolutely fantastic though and definitely worth it but I am finding as I get older my nerves of steel for adrenaline activities are turning into nerves of cheese and I am slowly losing the enjoyment of such activities. I hope I last till we get home!
Anyway, for the last half hour I played with Maisie in one of the shallow pools, and she had just discovered she could go underwater and enjoy it so of course I had to do this too! Lots of fun but I was glad when the lifeguard informed us it was time to get out.
The drive back was uneventful apart from very heavy traffic as we entered Waikiki, which lost us valuable time. We raced into our hotel for a quick shower (surprise surprise), and Tracy arranged to meet her Mum in the foyer in 20 minutes. We were all downstairs, showered, dressed and made up and waited around for Pip but somehow missed her. Tracy ran up and down the stairs and over to a couple of different Aston hotels just to make sure there was no mix up but Pip was in the right place, just at reception when were in the pool area, or calling the room when we were looking in the bar etc. Eventually we had to give up looking for her and say goodbye to Lucy because we had agreed to surprise Rick, who was landing at 7pm so off we went. Rick was very pleased to see us when he walked through the gates and enjoyed driving through the streets of Honolulu with three hot chicks and we dropped him at the said bar as requested and headed back to the hotel.
We finally found Pip, who had returned to her apartment having missed us and she joined Becky, Tracy and I for dinner at a lovely Italian Tracy had found when running round looking for her. Afterwards we headed to Dukes for a couple of cocktails. Just before midnight I got a text from Dan to say he and Stu were back at the hotel all ready, so let it be known the girls lasted longer than the boys! Although their day did start at 5am!
The two couples and Becky met Tracy's parents on the beach for breakfast at the usual time, not wanting to waste our final full day before moving to the North Shore. The Fagan's were already in transit so we would meet them tomorrow. We decided to make the most of the Dodge so the five of us squeezed inside and drove to Diamond Head. It was very hot, not ideal for walking but it was a clear day so we knew it would be worth it. Becky wasn't feeling too good so she stayed in the Crater and we headed up the short path to the top, which took us 20 minutes. The vistas were beautiful and we could see Pearl Harbour and the airport in the distance. There was a lookout point at the very top and a World War II bunker ideally placed as you really could see for miles. After about 20 minutes we headed back down and off we set back to Waikiki.
Dan, Stu and I were dropped off near our hotel and the girls took the car back and then did some wedding stuff in town. The three of us went to find out how our two boys were doing after getting in as the sun rose. They were awake but feeling sorry for themselves so we made as much noise as possible and headed out for lunch. We split up almost immediately and everyone did their own thing for the afternoon. Dan and I had a look around the shops, trying to find me a dress for the wedding as I wasn't happy wearing cream or white, which was all I had suitable. I found one I really liked but Dan thought it was too formal for a beach wedding so I left the shop empty handed. We bumped into Stu's Mum Liz, Jim and Jon, who were making arrangements for their final evening in Waikiki. After chatting for a little while we said goodbye and walked with Jonny down the main street before leaving him and heading back to the hotel. Dan had a dip in the pool and hooked up with Rick and Gaz for the good ole hair of the dog while I did a couple of things for Stu and Tracy.
Eventually we all met with Stu's Dad, Mike, Tracy's parents, her Brother DJ, his wife Helen and their two kids. There was quite a wait for the Cheesecake Restaurant, which is where we were hoping to eat so we went back to the "Lava" restaurant but ate in the quiet bar next door rather than the main area. After we had eaten DJ and Helen took the kids to their room to bed as it was getting late and I asked Tracy if she would mind giving me advice on the dress I had seen earlier so we sneaked away for half an hour. Good job too, she loved the dress and found one for herself as well (obviously not to wear on the same day!) We rejoined the others and eventually made our way back to our hotel but got caught in a torrential downpour! We had a few sneaky ones to say goodbye to Waikiki before heading to bed (well it would be rude not to)!
Waikiki was very touristy but it had it's good points. We were within throwing distance of the beach and we were spoilt for choice when it came to drinking venues. Dan and I really enjoyed not just spending time with the crew, but also with Stu and Tracy's family before the wedding. It meant that on the actual day we were all friends and we all spent time with each other.