12 Hours in Honolulu...

This was a day of true diversity. History lessons on everything from wars and culture to royalty and hospitality. Honolulu really has something for everyone.

We began our day in a very somber way. Few national cemeteries can compete with the dramatic natural setting of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The Punchbowl was formed some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago during the Honolulu period of secondary volcanic activity. Since WWII, it has served as a memorial to honor those men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces, and those who have given their lives in doing so.
At the top of the staircase in the Court of Honor is a statue of Lady Columbia. Here she is reported to represent all grieving mothers. She stands on the bow of a ship holding a laurel branch. The inscription below the statue, taken from Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby (the mother who lost five sons in the Civil War), reads:
Our war lessons continued with a visit to Aliiolani Hale (home to the Hawaii State Supreme Court) to see the King Kamehameha I statue.  A great warrior, diplomat, and leader, King Kamehameha I united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810, after years of conflict.
There probably isn't a better way to get to know Hawaii’s royals than with a tour of 19th-century Iolani Palace.
The majestic residence was completed in 1882 for King David Kalākaua, who helped Kamehameha I unite the Hawaiian archipelago into a cohesive kingdom.
Sally guided us on an hour long tour through the sumptuous chambers and halls which revealed many things: a royal penchant for the latest technology (elevators, phones), a rich taste for all things opulent and sad tales of demise.

Following the king’s death in 1885, Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned here by US authorities concerned that Hawaiian royalists would attempt to restore her to the throne. That was the beginning of the end for this dynasty. Interestingly, the Iolani Palace is the only Royal Palace on US soil. What an incredible history lesson.
Lunch was at Café Julia at the YWCA. The café's name is to honor the architect who designed the building, Julia Morgan. Opened in 1927, Miss Morgan considered this project one of her favorites.

Learning more about the Hawaiian culture was high on our list. One of the activities I was really looking forward to was Lei making.
Lei, strung flower garlands, are synonymous with Hawaiʽi and hoʽokipa (Hawaiian hospitality). Royal Hawaiian Center invites both kamaʽāina (locals) and malihini (guests) to fashion a lei of colorful, fragrant blossoms in the kui (sewing) style to adorn themselves during their stay, or as a gift to a loved one to celebrate a special occasion.
We decided in the spirit of lei we would give each other our own lei. Fun stuff.
Today's highlighted creature is this snail. Having beautiful shells, Hawai'i's tree snails have been described as the “jewels of the forest”. Gorgeous (well as gorgeous as a snail can be).

Happy hour was overlooking Diamond Head at Rum Fire. How could we not pick this place? "Our menu mixes the spicy hot sizzle of the Pacific Rim of Fire with the fresh, cool, tropical touches of Waikiki. Sip on a tropical rum drink, rediscover the art of conversation and enjoy some social comfort food - this is the recipe that ignites Rum Fire Waikiki and makes it the best place to live liquid aloha!" My drink of choice was a SCORCHED STRAWBERRY. Made with Cruzan Strawberry Rum, fresh mint, strawberry puree, pineapple juice and Hawaiian chili pepper water, served with a sugar-cayenne spiced rim, it went down nicely with a little kick.
We then popped into the two oldest hotels on the beach- The Royal Hawaiian (1927)...
...and the Moana (1901). Each hotel has mini museums that showcased their history. What a glorious history it was, too.

On Kuhio Beach, a bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku welcomed us to Waikiki with open arms, one of which received our handmade lei. Duke was a true Hawaiian hero and one of the world's greatest watermen, a master of swimming (an Olympic medalist), surfing and outrigger canoe paddling.

A big shock to us was the NEW International Marketplace. We walked by it twice and didn't even realize what it was. In 2013 it was described as, "... that decaying maze of open-air souvenir stands and faded Polynesian pop-era grandeur in the heart of Waikiki." When it opened in 1957, it was a first-rate Waikiki attraction. In its prime, it was lush, mysterious and enchanting, a faux-Polynesian fantasyland for the Mad Men era. All around there were dangling vines, tikis, cascades, foot bridges crossing dark pools, and kooky surprises, like the clocks. The Market Place ran on “Hawaiian Time,” so every clock on the property was set seven minutes behind. And there were tree houses hanging in the giant banyan. That is the marketplace that I remember, even though I'm certain my memories are tainted by nostalgia (the photo above is our then 13 year old and me in 2005).
The NEW Marketplace just opened last August, at a cost of nearly half-a-billion dollars and having created 2,500 permanent jobs. So I guess new isn't all bad.
We delighted in the nightly Sunset Stories. "From Queen Emma to Don Ho, experience the stories of an icon. Join us just after sundown for the ceremonial lighting of our Lamaku Torch Tower. Then be immersed in an unforgettable storytelling performance told through Hawaiian and Polynesian song and dance. Honoring the beloved Queen Emma, our show highlights the stories, traditions and culture of this special gathering place."

Okay, so there is our 720 minute tour of Honolulu. Tomorrow we return for more. Ua huli me leʻaleʻa!

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Nesbit Library rocks! said...

Wow, you guys cover a lot in one day!

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