Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hawaii and Japan, 2014 - 10/20 - Day 5 - Octagonal Churches, Gas Stations, and Squid Ink

Our last partial day in Maui we had breakfast at the Kea Lani restaurant at the Fairmont hotel in Wailea. Sean opted for the breakfast buffet, but I'd reached my tolerance level for buffet style food (which is pretty near zero) so I went with a potato hash made with Hawaiian style cured beef. All and all the breakfast was pretty disappointing. It was no where near the quality and service of the Ka'ana Kitchen from earlier in the week and was similarly spendy.
Holy Ghost Church, Kula, Maui
Afterwards, since we had several hours before our flight, we headed up into the "high country" part of Maui, where we stopped by the Church of the Holy Ghost Catholic mission in the very little town of Kula. The church was built in 1894 by father James Beissel, for Portuguese immigrants who were working the sugar plantations nearby. The wikipedia page on the church says that it 'may be the only historic octagonal building in Hawaii,' so I guess its got that going for it. It's also got an amazing view of the western side of the island.
After the church, we drove through the 'cowboy' town of Makawao. Google maps took us on a slight detour here and we got to see a lot of houses where the locals actually live, but the main draw of Makawao is their quaint downtown, with all sorts of out-of-place high end shops and the standard set of ice cream stalls and t-shirt stores. We were running out of time, so we just drove through and returned to Kahului.
The last interaction we had in Kahului, pre-airport, was at a Tesoro station, where we went to fill up the car before returning it to the rental center. I'm reluctant to even write this down because the entire interaction made me feel like an idiot. The configuration of the gas pumps at said Tesoro was the same as any other gas station. You pull up, you select your payment method, you flip up the lever of the grade of gasoline you want, and you proceed to fill your tank and move on with your life. I'd like, if you'll humor me, to re-enact the interaction that occurred between me and the attendant over the intercom.
Attendant: "Excuse me, you have to prepay that pump unless you have a card."
Me: "Ok, I have a card. I'll just run it."
[At this point the machine says 'Please Wait' for about 3 minutes.]
Attendant: "You need to flip the lever up to use the pump."
Me: "I have flipped the lever up."
Attendant: "You have to flip it up but not back down again. Just leave it up."
Me: "I didn't flip it back down again. I know how to use a gas pump; I've been doing it for more than twenty years."
Attendant: "Slide your card please."
Me: "I can't slide my card. The screen says 'Please Wait.'
[At this point, Sean brings my card into the station, where the attendant holds onto it while I try to decrypt her witch-machine. I'm getting looks from other customers now in the vein of 'how the hell does this guy not know how to use a gas pump?']
Attendant: "Ok, I've unlocked the pump."
[Pump does nothing.]
Me: "Am I on candid camera?"
Attendant: "We'll just start over."
Through some combination of arcane ritual and dark sorcery, I eventually got the fucking gas in the car, and then as we were driving away one of the other customers flagged us down to inform us we had left the gas cap open and I felt like even more of an idiot. When it rains it pours.
That afternoon we said aloha to Maui and headed out to say aloha to Oahu instead. What we thought would be a fairly painless air taxi ride from one island to another turned a bit more stressful when about twenty minutes before our scheduled departure Sean realized that he didn't have his rolling bag. There were a few minutes of panic (though both of us handled it remarkably well considering our penchants for dramatic response.) It turns out he had left the bag when we went to get coffee after passing through security and someone had turned it in to lost and found. Sean had to go back through security again to retrieve it, but we made the flight just fine.
The flight itself from Maui to Honolulu is comically short. We never even leveled off before we were beginning our initial descent in the the Honolulu area. We gathered our goods, picked up our awful, kind of dirty rental car from Hertz, and set out for our hotel on Waikiki Beach. Honolulu is a pretty big city. Considering its on an island, its pretty spread out. It also is most densely concentrated near the southern shorelines and drops off pretty dramatically as it sprawls up the mountainside to the north.
The view from our balcony in Honolulu was a bit lest
captivating than in Maui
We are staying at a hotel right along the main shopping area of Waikiki beach. There are a few miles of very pricey boutiques here - Dior, Coach, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, etc.
We spent several minutes wandering around trying to find a restaurant to go to. I had scheduled some reservations at some really awesome looking places for the next few days, but nothing was available for tonight so we decided to wing it. Eventually we stumbled on a high-rated Italian restaurant named Aracino, and boy am I glad we did.
We were seated immediately, even though the restaurant was quite busy. Their menu was in both English and Japanese, and it did seem like the place was very popular with Japanese tourists. They had some exciting things on the menu and none of them were disappointing.
I admit I look silly eating squid ink pastaI had an antipesti plate with little hawaiian tomato caprese, prosciutto wrapped papaya and a grapefruit and shrimp salad, followed by a main course of spaghetti al nero di seppia - which translates to spaghetti with black of squid, or less literally - squid ink pasta. While it looks a bit terrifying (a black mass of noodles and calamari rings) it is really spectacularly good. Sean had another pasta, this one made with sea urchin roe, which was also stellar. We finished off the meal sharing a pana cotta with fresh fruit and each had a shot of frozen lemoncello.
Afterward we walked back home and spent the rest of the evening watching Captain America: Winter Soldier. Fun movie, made no sense at all, but who cares.
Tomorrow we're going to breakfast at a place called Hula Grill, and then hopefully snorkeling at a famous nature preserve on the island. Until then!

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