We raced back to the airport to catch our fight back to Honolulu. As we pulled up to the airport I was staring at the window and saw a plane with “United States of America” on the tarmac. It didn’t dawn upon me what I was seeing but quickly I realized that it was Air Force One! To be positive that I wasn’t delusional my brother google searched an image of Air Force One and confirmed that in fact I was not crazy. I got excited and thought that the President was at the airport or on the Big Island! Mama asked the car rental agent if he was on the island and she informed us that he wasn’t – boo. Apparently while the President is in Hawaii they fly Air Force One to various islands as a security measure to throw people off as to what island he is on. Sadly I didn’t get to see the President but I did get an up close view of Air Force One – couldn’t have asked for anything else on Christmas Day!
We started the morning with breakfast at the Hau Tree Lanai in Honolulu. During the hike from hell that Doc & I took yesterday we met an awesome Canadian named Barney who told us about this place. He gave us some great suggestions for places to go and restaurants to try in Oahu. Hau Tree Lanai are famous for their Eggs Benedict & Poi pancakes. The restaurant is right on the beach and it is named after the ancient Hau tree that is in the middle.
After breakfast we went to ‘Iolani Palace. I was amazed by the access visitors are given at the palace. We pretty much got to roam around where we wanted to and we were allowed to take pictures! With the admissions ticket visitors are given an audio tour which is great because you learn about the history of the royal family, how they were overthrown, as well as the significance of all the various rooms in the palace.
For Christmas Eve dinner we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center for a Luau dinner and show Ha Breath of Life. It was our first Luau experience! There was so much food! OhEmGee. We started eating from 5pm until the show started at 7:30pm! Even though Doc & I saw the show before while bestie was visiting – I felt that they hyped it up and added a couple scenes because it was Christmas Eve. Mama & Bro enjoyed the show and claimed to have enjoyed their first night in Hawaii!
Today we decided it would be a great idea to hike the Koko Head Crater Trail. The trail is 1.5 miles round trip, 1028 steps, and 1200 feet elevation. The trail used to be a railway tram track that was used during WW2 to haul supplies to the military bunkers on the top of the crater. The people on the hike range from grandma/grandpa to small children and even mothers carrying their infant children. It took us and hour to get up and hour to get back down. Going up was HELL. My asthmatic, unfit, skinny self had a very difficult time getting through this hike. At some point there is a part of the trail where the track turns into a bridge with no bottom. It was very scary & dangerous at the same time. Going up this bridge was easy but on the way down I had no shame in crawling back down. People judged me and some guy even took a picture of me – which I’m sure will surface on the Internet at some point and I will become a laughing stalk – but I don’t care. It was terrifying. All this said the view at the top was breathtaking! I would definitely recommend everyone to do this hike – except bring lots of water, do it early in the morning, and don’t wear a lot of layers. At the top you get to see Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, as well as a 360 degree view of eastern Oahu and the Pacific.
While we were at the top of the crater Doc spotted four jets. She took a picture but at the time we had no idea what was going on. Later we saw on the news that it was the four F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard which flew over the service at Punchbowl for the late Senator Daniel Inouye.
After the hike we rewarded ourselves with Li Hing Icees from the Crack Seed Store. Li Hing is a red powder that is used for flavoring on top of pretty much anything. It was delicious and it tasted really good especially after our intense hike! I’m going to stock up on some Li Hing powder and bring it back to MI!
Afterward we did some grocery shopping in Chinatown. At the apartment Doc cooked as I cleaned the apartment for Mama & Lil Bro when they come tonight! I’m super excited for their arrival! This will be the first family vacation – as in all 4 of us together – since going to Spain in 2010! Can’t wait for the fam bam to be together!!!
Friday night we finally made it to a Hawaiian sunset!!! We went back to Ala Moana Park to catch the sunset before heading to dinner.
I insisted on going out to dinner to celebrate the fact that the Mayans were wrong and the world did not end!! We went to Town in Honolulu. I found it online while googling for the best restaurants in Oahu. Apparently Town was ranked Top 5 restaurant of the year by Honolulu Magazine. For those of you who are live/from Ann Arbor – the Town reminded me very much os Sava’s. It is a very modern restaurant with fresh ingredients and small but yet filling portions.
Arugula Salad, which consisted of kabocha, fennel, pickled onions, almonds, and parmigiano. Doc got the ahi tartare with risotto cake & balsamic vinegar.
Risotto with grilled eggplant, mint, & pecorino. We went all out – since the world did not end – and even got dessert. For dessert we had the “milk and honey” buttermilk pannacotta with nalo meli honey. It was divine!
The winter solstice is a pretty big deal in Persian culture therefore I was adamant on celebrating it even though it is just Doc & I in Hawaii. We bought a pomegranate [yes just one because groceries are super expensive here!], sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds/almonds, and we couldn’t find an actual watermelon we bought watermelon juice. Since we didn’t have a Hafez book to do Fal-e-hafez (fortune telling based on Hafez poems) we googled a website that apparently does fal-e-hafez for you virtually! We ate our pomegranate, read our poems, ate some sunflower seeds and watched Real Housewives of Miami on Bravo. It was a very unconventional but yet memorable winter solstice!