I’m going to Hawaii. It’s a place I have always wanted to visit but always thought of it as a honeymoon destination and far too expensive for my budget.
Well that’s not the case. After careful shopping around for flights and finding quite literally a paradise retreat, I am disappearing for three blissful weeks with no agenda other than rest, recuperation, yoga, hiking and diving.
Last night I touched down in LA after an 11 hour flight on Norwegian Airways. Cheap as chips, the no frills of international air travel. You have to pay for drinks and food but the flight and service on board are actually not bad at all.
I didn’t sleep on the plane. Far too excited. Plus I was sat across from an irritating British woman who has an American boyfriend and now lives over there. She has adopted that shouty-way of talking that some yanks have where even the people at the front of the plane now know that she misses eating bacon and white bread from the UK. For the love of God someone knock her out.
Two films, one documentary and a lot of reading later I touched down in LAX. I arranged to have dinner with my friend Shiner – he got a black eye in Argentina after defending my honour on the dance floor of a dodgy bar when a local guy wouldn’t let go over my wrist we’ve stayed in touch ever since. He booked a beautiful Italian restaurant called Capo in Santa Monica on the seafront. It was packed and very buzzy. I haven’t seen him in six years. The last time was when I was with The Northerner when we were over in Los Angeles for his 40th! Shiner is a generous soul, we don’t agree on politics and he lives a ridiculously extravagant lifestyle which borders on obscene. He is an extremely well off banker….but still, he has very good manners and always insists on picking up the bill no matter. Old school gent even if he is a Republican.
We ate and I mean we ate. I had a quite an appetite after my Pret a Manger carry-on salad didn’t even come close to sustaining me through the flight. Shiner devoured the bread basket and leafed through the encyclopaedic wine list. Looked like volume one of the Britannica series. We dined on grilled Calamari, creamy burrata with shaved truffle and al dente asparagus, followed by speciality pasta for me and steak (filet) for him. All washed down with a big Cab Sav from California 2002 Berringer. Stunning bottle I hate to think what it cost! We caught up and bearing in mind I have been on the wagon for the last 6 weeks and had no sleep for 24hours I pushed through and I’m pleased to say he still had to fight for airtime.
I’m hoping to catch him again on the way out, he’s promised to take me out for amazing sushi, he reckons the best outside of Japan. I’ll take his word for it. Japan I have yet to discover….next year…maybe.
This morning I bounced out of bed at 5am. I conked out in seconds when my head hit the pillow. With only 5 hours sleep under my belt I felt surprisingly sprightly must have been a deep sleep. The flight to Honolulu is six hours, a short 90-minute lay over and then another hour flight to Hilo, The Big Island. I was getting closer.
Hawaii is strange place and I don’t mean the islands themselves I mean the types of people who come here. There are a lot of East Asians here. More than in the continent of Asia I would argue. I’ve seen more Vuitton bags on the arms of the well heeled and well coiffed than are probably in the factories that make them. The locals have an interesting look. The men can either be really short or really tall but they are all are stocky, broad and strong as an ox. The woman are either really pretty or have an unfortunately slightly squashed face look (is that cruel?!) like a dolly that a toddler has really had a go at. But you get what I mean. One thing they all have is that sparkling personality that comes from living in a beautiful sunny place – big smiles and great hospitality.
As for the rest of the tourists you have groups of guys, gaggles of girls/women; not to mention smug newly weds and those clearly celebrating anniversaries. But you rarely see single travellers like me: rucksack on my back, hiking boots on my feet and headphones wedged onto my ears.
At every custom point I was asked “Is it just you Ma’ma?”
“Yeah buddy, single people can still have a life you know?” I wanted to say. But immigration officers in the US do not have sense of humour so on each occasion I bit my tongue and resisted the urge to unleash my sarcasm and politely answered “Yes just me. I’m here on holiday. Aloha!”