And here’s me again after quite a long break. First off, Happy New Year you guys and gals! Hope 2010 will be happy, fruitful and eventful.
As for myself, 2009 was a lot of fun. Both in terms of traveling and “normal” life as well.
The highlight of 2009 was definitely my trip to Hawaii (the island of Oahu). The Russian mentality has always pictured Hawaii as something extremely exotic, with tropical plants, waterfalls and palm trees. There’s even a Russian song called “Oh, Hawaii!” that has a line that goes: “Coconuts grow there”. Well, they don’t and now I know it (at least I failed to find any on Oahu). 🙂 Pineapples do though. 🙂
A quick couple of Hawaiian facts. Of course “Oahu” says nothing to most people, so here’s a list of all 8 Hawaiian islands and the number of reasons why I picked the one that rhymes with “Shmoahu”. 🙂
- Hawaii (a.k.a. the Big Island)
The capital of Hawaii is Honolulu and it is located on Oahu. So, basically all major U.S. cities have direct flights there. And I didn’t feel like making any more connections after flying from Moscow to New York and then to Minneapolis. 🙂 Second, Oahu has many other attractions apart from beaches, such as: Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center, Waikiki downtown area that includes International Marketplace, bars and restaurants, shopping plazas filled with local stuff and world known brands, etc. But perhaps the key reason why I picked Oahu was the fact that the topline TV show “LOST” is being filmed there. 🙂
Right after I found out that Oahu is cooler than Hollywood, I started searching for ways to get to see all “Lost” film locations. It turned out that the best way to see them is through the “Hummer guys” (as they were called by Jorge Garcia starring as Hugo “Hurley” Reyes in “Lost”). Here’s their website and a free whole-hearted promotion for the Hummer guys 🙂 http://www.hummertourshawaii.com It was a real blast riding in the jungle and seeing all the movie locations in the middle of a beautiful privately owned Kualoa Ranch. Apart from “Lost” spots, you get to see places where many other movies were filmed, such as “Jurassic Park”, “Mighty Joe Young”, “Pearl Harbor”, “50 First Dates”, “You, Me and Dupree”, “Godzilla”, etc. Well, enough of that, here’s a couple of pics that say more. 🙂
Time for a couple of complaints about my trip. 🙂 As I said before, most Russians (including myself) portray Hawaii as an exotic place with white-sand secluded beaches and tropics. Well, I admit that I have fallen a victim of this stereotype but I found very few places like that there. First, Oahu is the most populated Hawaiian island, so don’t expect to find a quiet cozy spot – there are crowds everywhere. Second, Honolulu is the capital, which means a severe urban touch on the whole island. Moreover, it is the 2nd most expensive city in U.S., next to Anchorage, Alaska. The most famous district on Oahu, Waikiki, is often called “the tourists’ trap” for its numerous expensive stores and restaurants. But you can still catch a cool sunset there though. 🙂 Well, I guess these are about all my “complaints and grievances”. 🙂
What I liked most about Oahu is the fact that you can find all types of entertainment there. It’s not just a boring resort where you get sick of swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing 3 days after you get there. You can amuse yourself with tons of attractions, from “swim-with-sharks adventure” to exploring history at Pearl Harbor. Oh, and don’t forget that Hawaii is the surfer’s paradise, so, if you’re not a surfer already, make sure you take at least one surfing lesson. They are offered in abundance on Waikiki beach and elsewhere.
Here’s a cool website that helped me pick most attractions beforehand: http://www.hawaiiactive.com You don’t have to book them from home and don’t buy the usual “Hurry! Limited offer!!!” crap either. 🙂 Most Oahu hotels have a desk with loads of information and a tour guide who can help you book your adventure as late as 1 day prior to the tour. But it’s still better if you at least make a draft of your program in advance. Here’s another source of info for ya. 🙂 http://www.gohawaii.com
And I’d like to wind up with a short Hawaiian video of mine. It shows just a few things that I did on Oahu but I’m sure you can do much better and much more than that! 🙂 Happy traveling and ALOHA!