Pearl Harbor to Diamond Head

On Sunday I decided I was going to Island hop over to Oahu and check out the historical Pearl Harbor. I was able to snag an Hawaiian Air 7am flight for $29!! I also was able to grab a Southwest flight back to Maui.

My day started early, I had to take my rental car and fill it with gas before returning it for the trip. I got to the airport around 6am for the 7am flight. The airport at that hour is all inter-island hopping folks. There wasnt a single person in line at TSA when I got there, it was awesome. Made it to the gate nice and early, so early in fact that two other flights boarded and left in that hour before my flight!

The flight from Maui to Honolulu was a quick 25 minutes. On the flight they served snack-size juice or water in prepackaged containers. They immediately collected the trash and we landed.

I rented a car from National for today. Since I am Executive level with them I was able to pick any car I wanted, and selected a Mini Cooper convertible. I thought, yes, a convertible!! I kept the top up in the garage thinking I would pull over once I got out and put the top down, but when I drove out of the garage the rain started. I was so bummed. I thought “I only have this car for a few hours and its raining!”

I headed the 8 minutes to the Pearl Harbor memorial. I had read online that the tickets before 11am were first come, first serve. I got there around 820. I was excited to take my SLR camera with me and get some good shots. I put it in my backpack along with my water bottle and headed to the entrance. Security stopped everyone with any sort of bag bigger than a CD. You had to bag check everything. Sadly, because it was still raining at that point, I choose not to bring the Nikon in. I checked my bag and entered. I was handed a ticket for 845am for the movie and boat ride out to the Arizona.

I bought a poncho and the audio guide as well. The movie is a brief history of the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the movie you board a boat and head out to the Arizona. Normally you get to get off at the memorial, but due to some damage at the dock, it is currently closed. Instead, the boat moves slowly next to the wreckage heads towards the Missouri, turns and moves slowly next to it so each side of the boat can see the memorial and wreckage. They ask you to stay quiet and respect the memorial – I would say half the passengers on the boat actually remained quiet. None of them were American, so I am guessing it was a language barrier that had not been crossed to get the silence message.

After the boat ride, I continued walking through the park. So much history surrounded the location and the Naval vessels still in the harbor. I stopped and read and listened to every board of information. I headed to the bus line to head to the Missouri. You cross through the active Joint Base to get to the dock where the Missouri is currently housed. Fun fact: the Missouri is no longer owned by the US Government, instead a private non-profit owns and maintains it. You are not allowed to have cameras out on the drive from the Pearl Harbor memorial park to the Missouri.

Once at the Missouri you have a to buy a ticket in order to board the ship. It was like $30 – but that came with a 35 minute tour and historical context. I bought the ticket that also came with a discounted Bowfin ticket. I boarded the ship and waited a few minutes for the tour to start. My tour guide Jacob was a young guy, I would have guessed like 20, but turns out he was 32!! On this tour I learned that this was the last Battleship commissioned for the US Navy. It was also where WWII ended! The Japanese officially surrendered on board here!

After the Missouri I hopped back on the bus and headed back to the Pearl Harbor Memorial park. I headed over to the Bowfin submarine and was given another headset to get an audio guided tour. Touring the Bowfin really gave me some respect for Sailors. They live in some of the tightest quarters and somehow can stay sane.

After I walked off the Bowfin I headed to the museum because I heard there was a Styrofoam cup that showed what the pressure of being down 500 feet did to objects.

At this point its about 2pm and I was starving!! So I put the top down on the Mini Cooper rental car and headed over to the Spaghetti Factory! Its my favorite place. I think mostly because of the family ties and the memories of the family going to eat at the beach at the Newport Beach location every summer. I got my usual brown butter and Mizithra. I was able to enjoy my book (Becoming by Michelle Obama) and my food over the next hour.

After my lunch I went back to my car and headed to Diamond Head Park. It was only about a 20 minute drive from downtown – on the one little interstate they have. Ok, so its not that little – but why does Hawaii have an interstate? It doesnt go to another state?! I didnt do much reading up on Diamond Head – other than it could take like 45 minutes to hike up to the top. I figured it would be a good way to end the day. Another thing I read was that parking isnt free, if you want you can park on the street.

I arrived at Diamond Head and was on the driveway into the park when I noticed a spot that didnt have any signs about paying anything. I grabbed and noticed a group of people walking through the tunnel to get to the park. I left everything in the car but my wallet and headed into the park. Little did I realize I had about a half a mile walk to get to the park entrance and another quarter mile to get to the start of the hike. It cost $1 to hike – and of course – I had no singles. In fact, I only had a $100 bill. There was a sign that said “No Bills Over $20.” I thought for sure I would be turned away, but the lady manning the booth was amazing – she said since it was just me, it was fine to walk on in!! Woohoo!!

The path starts out all paved, handicap accessible. It was cool!! It doesnt last though – maybe about a mile of the hike – then it because rough travel. There are a lot of stairs and a lot of switch backs. So many stairs!! At this point I was really starting to question if this could only take 45 minutes. I had only 1.5 hours for the whole thing or I could miss my flight back to Maui. I continued to the hike (like really hiking up, via stairs but lots of them!) I had to stop and take a break at the lookout – ya know a rest with a view!!

I headed back onto the trail and continued to the hit the stairs. Im not sure I can say this enough but SO.MANY.STAIRS. When I got to the top of the hike, there was a wonderful breeze and a beautiful view!! And…..it only took me 38 minutes!! Seemed longer, but only 38!! I took in the views, enjoyed the breeze, snagged some selfies and headed back down.

I got to the bottom in 18 minutes! And I wasnt even trying – but going down stairs is less stressful on the lungs! I was able to get back to my car and head to the airport. Because the hike was so quick, I was early to the airport. My flight was at 730pm and I got to the airport around 615. I was flying Southwest back – and it was their inagural day of flights from Honolulu to Maui. We didnt get anything special – but the earlier flights of the day did. I enjoyed my 20 minute flight with my little cup of sealed water and pretzels.

Empty Southwest Lounge – there were only about 20 of us on the flight!

I grabbed an Uber when I got back to Maui and headed to the hotel. My Uber drive was great – gave me coupons for the Aquarium that I gave my cousins and a coupon for a restaurant – we didnt end up using, but it was the thought that counts!

It was a long, eventful day – and worth every minute of it!!

NAB Las Vegas

I came. I saw. I did NOT conquer. I tagged along to the NAB convention with my friend and her husband. But before NAB started we had a fun day with my friend and another friend.

I flew out from Oakland on Southwest – always an enjoyable and fast flight from Oakland. My flight arrived 20 minutes early at McCarran Airport. I arrived in terminal 1 so I had to get over to terminal 3 for my friends – they flew JetBlue. There is a terminal transfer bus that comes like every 15-30 minutes. Im not sure why it doesnt come more quickly, because it was only like a 5 minute ride from one to the other. Terminal 3 was DEAD. I walked in and didnt see a soul other than the people who were on the transfer bus with me. I walked over to the baggage claim that is JetBlue’s to wait for them.

Once they arrived, NAB had a badge check in at the terminal, so we grabbed our badges and headed out to catch our Uber. We headed to our Airbnb. Our Uber driver was super friendly, he drove us to the house, we dropped our bags (we got there early and it wasnt ready yet) and then took us to the Container Park for some food. He actually recommended another place but the line was far too long. We got some tacos and walked around. The Container Park was a pretty cool place, little shops, little restaurants and a park to entertain the children. I would recommend swinging by – its at the end of Fremont Street Experience, two blocks down.

After lunch we headed out to Fremont Street so I could do some gambling! Kristi and I tried our hand at Roulette – she won a couple bucks, I lost. We were heading out and she put $20 into a Wheel of Fortune machine and won a couple more bucks! The lucky streak was on Kristi’s side!! After our quick gambling experience, we snagged an Uber and headed to a grocery store to grab some grub for our quick 2 night stay. Our driver was awesome! She waited for us to shop and then we were able to walk out, load the car and then head off to the Airbnb and check it out.

Turns out, our Airbnb really is a party house. It was apparently advertised as such, but the pictures didnt necessarily represent what we got. This is for sure one of the risks with Airbnb. The condition of the house isnt all that great – tons of beds, randomly created rooms with many beds. It was picked because we each get our own room – so thats a perk!! And we havent spent any time there really.

We came, settled in and then had to head out to the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Kristi’s brother is in the show and he got us tickets to check it out. Sadly, he wasnt performing last night, but we enjoyed the free meal and the show. We got called out for not being excited enough and had to act excited in front of the whole audience. The experience is like Medieval Times. For the meal you get a cup of tomato soup, a Cornish game hen, potatoes, broccoli, a biscuit, and apple cobbler- but no silverware! Which means you sip the soup and no butter for the biscuit! Hen was a bit dry (ok lots of dry) but I was hungry, so I finished most of the white meat. The soup was the best part for sure!! The show was pretty good!

After the show we headed back to the Airbnb for the evening. Getting ready for another day in Vegas.

Today we got up and we all had to work – conference calls and paperwork. We had a picnic outside near the pool because the weather is just fabulous here this week. After our morning at the house we headed over to NAB.

I had no idea what to expect!! And I wasnt ready!!It is the largest convention in Vegas – anywhere from 90 – 100,000 people show up for this show. The National Association of Broadcasting. So many people!! They take up the ENTIRE convention center at Las Vegas Convention Center. People come from all over the world for this. We saw like a tour guide set up from Asia. There was a lady with the flag for the group and then another gentleman who was translating for the rest of the group who had ear pieces in their ear.

We spent only a few hours walking through the South Hall portion and about 45 minutes in the Central Hall. We only saw about 20% of the show!! And thats just seeing – not even learning, just SEEING!! So many languages, so many people, so much technology.

We left for a late lunch and headed to Maggianos! I love that place!! Apparently many locals dont go there, but the food is consistent, and if you have a food allergy they take it very seriously. Its a great place!

We went to the North Las Vegas outlet mall after lunch. It’s a big mall that allows plenty of shopping! We got our 10,000 steps in between the two places today – and I spent far too much money on things I dont really need at the outlet mall.

Sadly tomorrow is just a day of work before we have to head to the airport and back to reality!

WOW!! We got blown out of Iceland

Today was our final day in Iceland. We started the day off with breakfast on the top floor of our hotel. The bread in this country is just amazing. Always so light and fluffy, full of flavor. After breakfast we headed out for our last little excursion – a trip to the city’s church (Hallgrimskirkja)

Apparently Christianity has been around for like ever on Iceland. However, while 90% or so of the island is Christian (mostly Lutheran) there are not that many religious people and about 55% of the island believes in elves, so take all these numbers with a grain of salt. Anyway, this church was started back in the mid 40s and finished mid 80s. So this church, Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran church – interesting style and made to stand out.

It has a HUGE organ and to me the outside of the building also looks like a weird organ. You can take an elevator ride up to the top floor (level 6) and then walk up 2 flights of stairs to the clock tower. From there you get a beautiful view of the city. It was something like $9.

We were greeted at the top of the church with a wonderfully powerful wind storm outside. We were watching the freezing rain whip and whirl, people hustling and trying to protect themselves from the crazy weather. We headed down after checking out the views and attempted to head out of the church. The wind was strong enough to move you. Strong enough to make you second guess how much you should be pushing against it. And then BOOM, it was gone. So we moved quickly to get down a street to get a bit more protection from the wind.

By this time we realized we needed to eat again before our flights, but that we werent hungry. So option 2 – go pack. We headed back to the hotel to pack up our belongings. After what seemed like far too long to take to pack, we headed out to lunch. The expert she is, Lauren was able to find us another vegan hot dog place. And once again, it did NOT disappoint. It wasnt served on a bun, but instead with some roasted root vegetables and micro greens. I loved it. Lauren was able to get a final Icelandic beer before we headed out. So we left full, happy and relaxed (or as much as one can be….)

We walked back to the hotel and grabbed our things, checked out (cuz you still gotta do that here) and hit the road to the airport. KEF is about 45 minutes from downtown Reykjavik and we also needed to get gas and return our rental car. So first of course, find gas. They had two stations within minutes of the airport, so I picked the closer of the two to our destination. What I have learned about Iceland and their fuel pumps is that they are not reliable. Today the issue was with the internet connection. Both times Ive had an issue with a pump its been an extremely windy day. Regardless of the reasons, I had to venture to the other gas station. I fueled up one last time and headed to Ace-Rent-A-Car to drop our little car off. This is when we found out Lauren’s flight was over an hour delayed.

A now extinct WOW airlines flight attendant

Once at the airport we parted ways to check our bags and we were supposed to meet back up by Lauren’s bag check area, but apparently that was not at the actual WOW airlines desk. I should back track a bit….Lauren is flying WOW air to Boston. WOW air is currently trying to avoid shutting down. We have been hearing rumors that no one will be bailing them out and you will be stuck if they shut down. So last night Lauren found another flight as back up on IcelandAir if WOW was to go out of business before her flight.

Ok, back to the story. So I checked in and went to the WOW desk and there was no Lauren. So I waited a minute, went and did my tax free paperwork and then went back to WOW. Still, no Lauren. So I sent her an email and headed up through security. I got a special “fast track” line because of my upgrade on IcelandAir. Didnt do me much good because they pulled all my stuff off to be checked. I was waiting and watching for Lauren – and all of a sudden there she was, on the other side of security! We met back up and hit the Duty Free shop. No wine gums could be found in said Duty Free.

We walked around the airport a bit, and I went to see if I could bring a guest to the lounge, but no such luck. While I was upstairs Lauren got an email from WOW asking them to come to the gate in an attempt to beat the weather they were going to try and board and leave as early as possible (while still being delayed). They assigned her gate and off she went! I headed back up to the lounge to gab some snacks and a 7up before the flight.

When they assigned my gate I headed out, still needing to hit passport control. When I got downstairs, apparently every person in Iceland was also hitting passport control. We weaved and weaved and weaved. But it was so fast. They are just so relaxed here, its a nice change from the States. I walked to my gate and they basically started the check in process right away. I hopped in line, and got on the plane. And I have NO ONE next to me, tons of leg room and a fancy meal coming my way shortly!

I had an amazing time exploring Iceland with Lauren – we did so much laughing, it was like we worked out! We’ve already set up our google doc for our next trip – so be on the lookout for the next L&L adventure! Before that adventure I will be hitting up Maui, Hawaii in April, an Alaskan cruise in July and have decisions to make about the fall!! Safe travels everyone!

Ok, so DRAMA!! About 3 hours into my flight there was some bustling around happening a few rows in front of me. Of course, being a nosy Nelly I had to do my best to get all the info. This lady seemed drunk and was basically yelling “Im going to hijack the plane” and then rambling things I couldnt hear in my seat. It was about 15 minutes of scuffle before the 5 flight attendants were able to get her to walk back into coach and put her in a row all on her own. At this point she was handcuffed!! They then proceeded to strap her down to her seat, legs, chest, etc; while she remained handcuffed behind her back. She continued yelling for a bit and even said “Im fine, this happens sometimes, this has happened before.” Needless to say it made for an interesting hour or so of chatting about it up in front.

When we landed the EMS, Fire and Police came on board, a police officer said “No one on this plane is getting off.” So everyone sat back down. It was about 20 minutes of talking to her and negotiating with her to get her off the plane. We then had to wait about another 10 minutes before they let us disembark. The poor father who had to deal with all the drama, he got police escorted through customs, passport control and luggage area. Other passengers were getting upset over the fact that passport control was taking longer than they wanted it to, even calling out minorities as non-Americans in the US passport line (they were all Americans, by the way). Happy to have gotten in my Uber and hit the road home!

Kuala Lumpur – not koala bears….

Man,

Today has been long and I lost an hour traveling, so it’s even earlier than I’m used to, but I’m just beat!!

My morning started at like 430am, had to get to the airport, which was about a 45 minute drive. The hotel (and pretty much everyone I talked to) said to get to the airport 2 hours early. My first piece of advice, if you ever find yourself leaving Thailand through Krabi, 1.5 hours is more than enough. I spent 20 minutes just waiting to queue in the security line. Once it was finally open it was a breeze. But let me tell you, you can tell the EU and American travelers. They try to take off their clothes and all the crap in their bags. Security just stared. This girl from the EU dumped her water, took everything out of her bag and finally went through. No one else did that. So neither did I. My water bottle was full of water. They could care less. They just want to make sure you don’t have a gun?? I’m actually not even sure what they are looking for.

I flew Air Asia again (by the end of the trip I may have a free flight, unless I can transfer the points to American). Their international planas are nice!! More leg room, newer seats!!

And apparently not many people take the morning flight cuz the middle seat was open, And there were many empty rows. It was a quick 1.5 hour flight to a new country, Malaysia.

I landed and saw Uber ads all over the airport, I was so excited!! Once I opened Uber it said it was no longer available and I had to use Grab. I knew that was coming. Anyway, used Grab got a car assigned. After 22 minutes the car hadn’t moved and the driver wasn’t responding. So I canceled. Called another one, got assigned and after 5 minutes he said he was blocked in. So I canceled him. The third driver was assigned and after a minute said he was blocked in and would go look for the other driver. He never found him. So I gave up on Grab and went to the taxi stand. The guy I got was so nice. We talked about the city, and what I was going to do. He even offered to come tomorrow and take me to the airport for the same price. I then talked him into taking me to the Batu caves before the airport. So he said, ok 150 ringgit (roughly $35). So for $35 he’s going to drive me 30 minutes north to the Batu caves, wait for me, then drive me the 1.25 hours back to the airport. I like taxis here!!

The airport is like an hour out of the city, I honestly feel like that was a poor design decision, until I was entering the city, they literally have no room. I feel like 1 in every 5 apartment/flat buildings was well over 25 stories, usually with a twin tower right next to it.

My hotel is nice. It’s 2 years old, and a 15 minute walk from the towers. I paid $57 for a basic room, but was given an upgrade to the suite!! I was even early for check in by 2 hours and they let me have my room. This room is on orbitz for $144. So I’ll call it a win. I should have waited a day to do laundry though, cuz it has a washer/dryer combo for free in my room!!

I dropped my stuff off and headed out to the towers. The Petronas towers are the office towers for Petronas, an oil and gas company. On my walk over there I passed a ton of food places and a hop on hop off bus. None of the food was Malaysian, so I passed. I inquired about the tour, But wanted to do the towers first.

The towers are pretty cool, tallest twin towers in the world. You get to go to the bridge between the two towers and then up to the 86th floor on one of them. They finished them in 2.5 years. Two general contractors, One from Japan and one from Korea. I enjoyed my time, but would have loved more construction information on it.

They are also 90% done with the core of another tower called the Signature tower. It will be 40 meters taller than the twin towers. That tallest building title won’t hold long for signature tower though,because another building is being built that will be 117 meters taller than that one!! It’s only in the footings stage right noe, But by 2022 it will hold the tallest building in Malaysia title.

After the towers I found the bus stop for the hop on hop off bus. This is usually my favorite way to see the city, it drops you off eight at the places you want to go!! And it was only about $16 for the 24 hour ticket.

They said it was about a 2.5 hour ride. I decided to ride it and then eat after. There were 23 stops. After an hour, we’d only made it to 5 stops. So I gave up at stop 9, walked around for a bit, and found stop 17 and got back on to ride to near my hotel. It took another hour. By this time I was starving….so I decided to eat whatever was closest. Italian!!

I had an Italian pizza for dinner. I couldn’t help it. I was starving, so I ordered the 4 cheese pizza and was in heaven. I ate the whole thing. Since I didn’t eat lunch and had only had a banana for breakfast it seemed reasonable to me.

I grabbed an ice cream and a Gatorade and came back to the hotel. It was by far the hottest day of the trip so far, I know I didn’t drink enough today so I’m sure that had something to do with it as well.

I’m looking forward to the Batu caves to hike up the 330 stairs to the temple on top.

Malaysia is a hodgepodge of people and religions. Many people are Muslim, but I’ve also seen temples and churches. The tour said everyone takes pride in that here, that they all can get along.

I’ll do the caves then head to the airport for my final stop of Singapore!