I still can't believe we actually, ok finally, were able to take our honeymoon ... a mere year in the making. ;) We headed to Hawaii - the island of Oahu and more specifically the Honolulu/Waikiki area. As I had mentioned before it had been a looong time since I last had an entire week off from work so I was more nervous about getting this whole "taking a vacation" and "relaxing" thing down. I can tell you honestly it took me until Day Four to finally feel relaxed. :P The wife fell so in love with Hawaii that I thought I would be returning to Chicago alone on Friday. ;) I enjoyed the area as well, but a lack of Dunkin Donuts, missing the pups and being frustrated with having to eat out every meal - I was ready to come back!!
The travel was brutal. We left on November 18 at 9am. Well, we were supposed to leave at 9am, but finally let about an hour after that - thank you delays. As a result we ended up having about 30 min between flights in Los Angeles. Overall, we survived and arrived in Hawaii just before 6pm. That is right. It took us in total about 12 hours to travel from Chicago to Honolulu. Whoa! My back was not a big fan of having a 4.5 hour flight then right into another 5 hour flight. Thankfully, a couple glasses of wine and a snack on the second flight and I was feeling better. :)
We picked up our bags (ours were actually the first two off the flight), headed to pick up our rental car and proceeded to sit in horrendous bumper to bumper traffic en route to our hotel. Gotta love Friday afternoon rush hour, right? Anyway, we finally made it to the hotel, went up to our room and realized they gave us 2 double beds. Let me tell you, NOTHING says romantic honeymoon like double beds. The front desk person was sweet and was able to move us the next morning to a room with a king size bed. It was late, I needed a drink so we took it. We had a snack and a couple drinks before crashing since I was still on Chicago time (four hours later than Honolulu time).
Saturday morning I proceeded to wake up at 2am. Yay time differences! (I can tell you this crash early/wake up early lasted the entire trip for me - I never got used to the change). We decided to take this day in stride: got breakfast, took a walk around Honolulu, window shopped, stopped by the beach and was out by about 8pm. :P Aren't I a wonderful travel companion?
Sunday was our day of relaxation ... I got up and did a nice 10k (6.2 miles) run along the beach at 5:30 (why not, I was up :)). The wife and I decided to pamper ourselves. We went to the fancy Spa at a hotel nearby, got a pedicure and an 80 min lomi-lomi couples massage. Wow! It was awesome!! I felt completely relaxed. It was also great to just play the rest of the day by ear ... enjoy some lunch, some drinks and some sun before hitting the "tourist" ground running.
We kicked off our tourist spots with Pearl Harbor. It was a truly overwhelming experience and I am so happy we took the time to go there. We saw the USS Arizona Memorial and went aboard the Battleship Missouri. While on the USS Arizona Memorial, it was just crazy to wrap my head around that 1,177 people were trapped/died inside the boat below where I was standing. Powerful.
Thankfully once we got back from the bus tour, the wife let me watch the Patriots play Monday Night Football. BUT, it was even better since MNF started at 3:30 in Hawaii so it was over before dinner. Amazing. Nothing like multi-tasking between a Patriots win and an amazing sunset. Rough day, I know. ;)
We finally put the rental car to good use on Tuesday. We headed to to the North Shore of the Island (we stayed in the South Shore) to take in Turtle Bay. I heard so many people talk about it that i needed to see it for myself. It is a stretch of beach where all the turtles congregate. My friend in February saw 8-9 turtles on the beach itself, but we didn't have that luck. We saw maybe 3 turtles in the water, including a little baby. But, hey seeing three is better than none. Especially after driving around searching for the "off the beaten patch" entrance to the beach.
On the way back, we hit up a bakery that a friend recommend - Liliha Bakery. People, it was lifechanging. ;) They are known for their coco puffs and they did not disappoint. Yummy!
We continued back towards our hotel to get ready to attend an actual luau. We hit up Germaine's Luau, which is one of the best in the area. It was amazing. Man, can those girls move their hips. I respectfully declined getting up on stage to take a hula lesson and instead took advantage of my 3 free drinks included in the price of my ticket. :)
Of course we put our late night right before our earliest morning. On Wednesday, we had to meet our bus tour at 6am to head to a dolphin tour/snorkeling. By far, this was the coolest thing we did. We actually got to swim through the schools of fish - all which reminded me of fish from Finding Nemo. Yes, the entire time we snorkeled (about an hour) I quoted Finding Nemo in my head. Especially, when we saw three giant sea turtles. They were sooo cool. I totally geeked out during this part. I was the last girl to get out of the water and third to last person overall. I didn't want to leave.
We even saw about 20 or so dolphins. At one point, they even surrounded our boat. It was just an out of this world experience for me to be so close to these amazing creatures. The boat also served on delicious spread: pulled pork, rice, terriyaki chicken, strawberries and some adult beverages of course. ;)
I think this was the first time on the trip that I was in my bathing suit (only second time I had put it on) and didn't feel so self-conscious in it. I was really just enjoying the experience.
After realizing that I had missed the Honolulu Half Marathon on Sunday, I decided to sign up for the Turkey Trot 10-Miler on Thanksgiving. It was a great experience. The views, colors and atmosphere were great. I even shaved seven minutes off my time and ran into an old friend. :)
Following the run, the wife and I had decided to climb Diamond Head Crater. That turned out to be a little tougher for me since I hurt my knee during the morning's run, but I pushed through the pain. And I am sure glad I did, I cannot put into words how awesome the views were from up there. There aren't any active volcanos on the island of Oahu so this old Volcano crater was the closest we could do. We had planned to hike a waterfall after that, but my knee was not having it!
We decided to take Thursday evening easy since we knew Friday would be a loooong day of traveling (left at 2pm Hawaii time on Friday and got to Chicago at 5am on Saturday). But, we did manage to finally catch a full sunset from the beach. All week other things had come up: clouds, being on a tour, etc so it was great to see just one in full before we left.
I was proud of myself for being as active as I was, but I know I should've done more/eaten better. But, I enjoyed my time and am back in healthly life mode now.
It seemed as if as soon as the vacation started, it was over. It was an amazing week and actually the first time the wife and I had spent that much time together straight without work or the pups. Maybe we should do it more often... ;)
I will leave you with some final pictures of Paradise: