Parents in Blue Hawaii

I’ve been on break from blogging because my parents arrived about a week ago and today is our first day without them here.  It wasn’t easy showing people around Hawaii when I still don’t really know my way around.  I think we did alright but it was stressful.  It rained 75% of the time they were here so my fallback plan (the beach) was totally down the toilet.  We had a couple of days at Kailua and Lanikai Beach which they  loved but other than that we improvised moment to moment.

We didn’t end up going to a luau but in my search for the perfect one (apparently Lahaina on Maui) I found an interesting non-luau luau called Feast at Lele.  Most notably you’re served courses rather than buffet style and I read one review on Yelp that said the dancers were a bit more engaged and professional.  I also found an interesting user generated travel site call Go Planit.

We took them to Chinatown and had lunch at Mabuhay Cafe.  I’m not a fan of this place.  The atmosphere is comfortable and cozy but the food gave me a stomach ache.  The crispy pata was pretty gross.  And they don’t serve Lechon.  In Chinatown we picked up some glutinous rice flour and my mom and I made ginataan with sago (glutinous rice and tapioca balls with coconut milk).  It was delicious.

In Chinatown I wandered into Cindy’s Lei Shop which I found so endearing and interesting.  It’s so easy to take something like a lei for granted but the tradition of wearing and sharing them is something I love about Hawaiians.  The woman at Cindy’s was very nice to me and showed me different leis even though she knew I wasn’t there to buy one.  I particularly loved the dense Christina Leis made of orchid petals.  It’s amazing that they range around $20.  If we were in NY they would be at least $75.

We introduced them to all the standard treats: shaved ice at Waiolas and malasadas.  Strangely the mochi balls at Waiolas were so awful.  K didn’t even finish his.  They tasted like feet.  I’m hoping it was an anomaly because Waiolas is one of my favorite sometimes-treats.

We love Leonard’s malasadas but it’s a production to buy them.  There’s always a huge line–a tour bus seems to be unloading everytime we go there.  Also the last time we were there we felt so pressured by the lady behind the counter to clarify our order (when we thought we WERE being clear) that we decided to try a less stressful place. It’s like ordering from the malasada-nazi.  We picked up some plain malasadas from Agnes Portuguese Bakeshop instead here in Kailua.  The place serves breakfast and lunch and seems like a a nice place to meet up or work off of your laptop.  I think they have wi-fi.  The malasadas were very very yummy but ultimately we prefer the gooey haupia, custard and chocolate fillings from Leonards.  So did my parents.

leonard's malasadas--a half empty box
leonard's malasadas--half empty box

My parents are catholic so I had to find a church for them to attend on Sunday.  We attended St Anthony of Padua last Sunday and found it quite nice.  They asked us if we were visitors and gave us seashell leis.  When the mass started we had to stand up and say where we were from.

We only had two days of big touristy style events.  One was visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor which was illuminating.  We probably should have visited the USS Missouri as well but my mom and I were kind of over it.  The most interesting part of the trip for me was the film before the short boat ride to the memorial.  The memorial itself is a touching piece of architecture but K had told me that it was a glass bottom structure so that you can see the wreckage of the Arizona.  In retrospect it makes sense that it’s not but I was pacing around the memorial trying to find a glass bottom to no avail.

Afterwards we drove into Waikiki to eat the sandwiches that I made us for lunch.  We parked ourselves in Kapiolani Park to enjoy a break.

My parents were impressed with Waikiki but my mom has a bad knee so we couldn’t walk around very much.  My mom wanted to go home right after the sandwiches but we dragged her around a little bit more — strolling around one of the hotels on the strip.  There were little tchotchke shops and a breakfast buffet with a giant aquarium backdrop that we hoped to return to but never did.  It looked nice, but that’s probably because I’m a sucker for buffets and aquariums.

On another day we took my parents to the Atlantis submarine adventure at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  It was pretty cool but definitely the priciest thing we did.  Sarah asked me today if it was a real submarine and it in fact was.  You take a boat out to the submarine site and part of the excitement is watching the sub come up from the previous trip.  Everything is designed to be very smooth for the 40+ passengers.  There’s nothing really jarring or raw about the transition from dock, to boat, to sub.  The only thing was that we seemed to be sitting on the wrong side of the sub (starboard).  Port side got to see everything first and more abundantly.  The guide joked about discount seats but I didn’t really think that was funny.  The Atlantis Company has basically created an underwater Disney-style ride.  The things you see are almost entirely created by the company–man made reefs, a sunken plane, and a sunken ship.  All these were purchased and placed by Atlantis.  The fish life surrounding all these objects is plentiful but not anymore spectacular than fish life you would see snorkeling even though the submersible goes down over 100 ft.  There was a shark but it was teeny tiny (and K wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t plastic).  And there was a sea turtle which I’m fairly certain was real. The tour guide said that the Atlantis ‘structures’ had created 3000 times more fish life in the area–that sounds good, but is it?  Either way it was an experience and I’m glad we did it.

I loved Hawaiian Village.  I think it’s the Long Islander in me.  It’s very mall-like but peaceful and pretty.  After the ride we had dinner at the Hilton Benihana.  It was yummy and fun for all of us but I did get a stomach ache afterwards.

For dessert we headed over to Bubbie’s for ice cream.  It was really hard to find Bubbie’s on University Road.  We had to park and wander around and eventually ask someone to direct us.  We got 2 pints of ice cream and chocolate covered mochi ice creams.  Oh it was really delicious.  Much better than the packages of Bubbie’s in the grocery store.

There was one rainy day that we were driving around Honolulu.  We passed a convention center that advertised a crafts and Hawaiiana fair.  I suggested we stop in and I have to say it was such a bust.  Parking and admission was like $25 for all of us.  I know everyone was being polite  because they knew I was excited about it.  But frankly it was a bunch of stuff that mostly looked worthless.  I’m sure there were plenty of secret treasures to be found but I’m less than a novice at vintage shopping.  There was one table that had interesting toys and knick-knacks like a beautiful head model of a Hawaiian-ish woman but it was over $100.  My main complaint about it is that they charge people to come in.  Maybe that’s standard but it was pretty misleading.

All in all it was a week of hits and misses. K says from my blog it sounds like a week of misses and misses 😀

On the last day we took them to Boots and Kimos for breakfast; took a dip at Lanikai; and then had lunch at Nico’s.  All of this was a huge hit with them.  I think that it might have been their favorite day.  As we drove them to the airport the most gigantic rainbow appeared and followed us all the way to the departure terminal.

Love you Mom and Dad.

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