Vía Hawaiian Airlines
San Diego Airport
So after nearly 4 weeks, today we left the USA mainland. We had an early start in order to have breakfast and drop our car off at Avis rental before making our way to the terminal. San Diego return car drop off is the smoothest I have ever seen. A bespoke multi story car Park with the different car hire companies clearly signposted on every floor. As we pulled into the Avis lane we were met by staff who quickly checked the car over and we were ‘good to go’. A shuttle bus runs frequently to the terminal building and the bus driver helped us load our baggage on board. We arrive at the terminal building where I went to get a trolley. I was amazed though that it cost $5 and you could pay by credit card.
Having checked in online, we checked our baggage in and made our way through security with minimal fuss.
Off we went to get a coffee and surprisingly this wasn’t as easy to find. Many ‘eateries’ offered food, but non provided a latte. I really do not like the strong coffee that is served in most places over here.
We found a coffee bar which offered an ‘escape the queue’ service where you could order online and then just grab your coffee from the desk as it would be ready waiting for you. Another example of this modern style of customer service we have seen – some would call it efficient, profitable and productive, I would call it impersonal and not conducive to building customer relationships. However, I get that speed of service is important to so many and with digital marketing systems in place, no doubt these firms will build a positive customer relationship and experience for many, it is just not my preferred style – there is nothing like a person with a happy, smiling face to serve and interact with you when making a purchase.
On board the Hawaiian flight HAL15 to Honolulu we had taken the option of extra comfort seating with priority boarding. This section of the plane only had 12 seats (2 rows of 4 and 2 rows of 2). It felt like we had almost a private booth which was more peaceful than a lot of cabin areas.
Leaving the morning grey Californian misty sky behind we did not expect much of a view on take off. Most mornings along the Pacific Coast have been very grey, before the sun usually came through around lunchtime for the rest of the day.
We had a good flight although a lot of the films on offer were chargeable. I decided to watch some episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and get into the mood. I remember the original series, this was the modern one!!
We were served with a light lunch (beef steak panini and crisps) with courtesy soft drinks. Later we were offered a local Hawaiian rum punch – it was lovely!
As we came over Oahu island we saw the gorgeous blue Pacific Ocean and some lovely sandy beaches. As we got close to the airport we flew over what we assumed was Pearl Harbour, there appeared to be some older style navy ships. We will visit Pearl Harbour later on this week.
On arrival, at Honolulu airport because it was an internal USA flight, there is no passport control. However there is a long walk to the baggage claim area. We could have taken a shuttle bus, but after being seated for a 6.5 hour flight, we didn’t mind ‘stretching our legs’.
Our cases took ages to come through and just before they did we were greeted with a traditional Hawaiian welcome and given a garland of beautiful fresh flowers each. Think Chris may have preferred the traditional dancing ladies in their grass skirts!
Whilst we were waiting for the cases surprise number two was being hatched! Our adult children Jo and Ash had arrived on the island the previous day. They had picked the car hire up and were going to collect us at the airport.
Jo and Ash were watching us from the car waiting for our cases.
Chris thought we were getting an Uber taxi. I confirmed the make and then number of the car and there they were. Again, Chris was surprised, although he had ‘cottoned’ on a few months earlier when I was booking flights he overheard a conversation about Hawaii and their names were mentioned. He had put it out of his mind when he saw them in San Francisco. (From Chris: can’t believe the number of very accomplished fibbers there are among my friends and family! Great surprise again though, of course!)
We had booked a cottage on the front at a beautiful sandy cove, but before we could explore that we needed to go shopping! Staying at Waimea, we visited the Foodland supermarket, not the cheapest we have been to on this trip, but I guess that is island prices for you. After shopping (Chris didn’t mind as he and Ash sorted out the beer) we made our way to our beach, literally about 2 minutes walk. Then the rain came, but being a tropical island it was warm and wasn’t for too long. A few minutes later we were all in the sea.
Later that night I offered to cook a BBQ and we had a relaxing evening on the terrace of our cottage. Big problem for Chris though is within minutes of arriving he was bitten by loads of mosquitoes. Fortunately, being organised I had packed some repellent and anti bite stuff, so hoping he will be ok from now on.
Forecast is changeable on this island, it is so green and doesn’t get that green without rain!
First sights of the island away from the built up areas, it looks beautiful. We are in a quieter side of the island over on the North Shore. Tomorrow we will do a little bit of touring, but won’t wander far from a beach wherever we are!