It’s been a long time coming, two and half years exactly, since our last big overseas trip. And while we didn’t head to France as originally planned, Hawaii made for a very good replacement during the pandemic.
However, cause of said pandemic, our travel day was made that much longer due to having to take a covid test within 24 hours of travel to the USA. And with us living in Wollongong and having an evening flight, the only real option was to arrive at the airport the advised 3-4 hours BEFORE check in to ensure we’d get our results back in time.
Thankfully my Dad was available to drive us to the airport and after saying our goodbyes to the pups (and my Mum) we left home just after 12.30pm.
After Dad dropped us off at the very quiet airport (still seems so weird seeing it so quiet and empty of people) we eventually found our way to the testing clinic (which was just across from and outside of the terminal building). There was no wait here and we were in and out in less than 5 mins (having prebooked online). Then it was time to wait for an e-mail with our results. We’d been extra careful in the last week so weren’t worried about getting a positive result.
We headed back into the terminal and decided to go get some lunch from the food court. Not all places have reopened but I was excited to see I could get some rice paper rolls and Kevin was craving a burger.
Just as we finished eating we received our texts (not even 30mins after we’d had them) to say we were negative :-). So we headed back to the Qantas area and completed our self check in and bag drop.
While it’s really odd not having the energy of excited people heading off on vacation, the advantage to a quiet airport is zero lines for immigration and security. We were through both so quickly, which then left us with about 4 hours to spend before boarding !!
Thankfully we are Qantas club members so were able to hang out in the (yep, you guessed it) very quiet lounge. We even headed to the far end were there weren’t many people since we were settling in for a few hours and wanted to take our masks off. I used the time to reply to some YouTube comments and sort out some things on my channel, including downloading music for the upcoming Hawaii vlogs.
About 20mins before boarding we decided to take a bit of a walk around the airport to stretch our legs before we’d be sitting once again for many hours. Most of the designer shops are still closed but Kevin wanted to have a little look through the Duty Free store (not that we were looking to buy anything).
We were surprised to see that boarding had not yet started when we arrived at the gate and not long after there was an announcement saying that boarding was delayed due to the late arrival of the plane and the cleaning crew awaiting on pillows and blankets for our flight. To everyones disappointment the delay was 30-40mins. So we, and many others, decided to take another stroll. Realizing that dinner was going to be very late Kevin & I decided to share a falafel wrap (which turned out to be a very good move). Kevin also got himself an iced chia latte to take onboard. We headed back to our gate where we continued to wait for boarding.
Eventually it was time and we took our seats. The configuration of the plane is two, four, two, which meant Kevin & I could sit together and have the seats we wanted (window for Kevin and an aisle for me). There we plenty of free seats around the plane so I’d guess economy was about half full.
We took off about an hour late at 8.30pm so by the time dinner was delivered Kevin & I were already very sleepy. Kevin opted not to have any dinner but since mine is a special (vegan) order it comes out first. I did try to eat some but it was a little spicy and quite a lot late so I didn’t eat very much. Though I did enjoy the vegan brownie that came with it :-).
Needless to say I was fast asleep by the time they cleared dinner away. And I have to say, though I looked pretty crazy with all my “gear” I slept the best I have on a plane for quite some time (especially considering I was in quite a bit of pain due to my fibromyalgia). Kevin slept somewhat and definitely better than he often does. I was kind enough NOT to take a photo of him !!
I woke up just minutes before breakfast was served and with only one and half hours until our arrival into Honolulu. Those of you who know me know I don’t like to eat too early in the morning but when travelling you always have to take advantage of food offerings as you never know when your next meal will be. Plus it was like midday in Australia. Thankfully I’ve had this breakfast before and really enjoyed it – baked beans, mushrooms and a tortilla.
An odd thing about a pretty empty flight was never having to wait for the toilet. I was actually quite glad to get stuck getting back to my seat when the crew was delivering breakfast to everyone else, as it gave me a chance to stand and stretch for a bit before I could return to my seat. The seats did give me a sore back but otherwise I think the worst part of this flight was dealing with all the stuff that you want with you – like the head pillow, headphones, blanket, etc. There is nowhere to keep everything when you aren’t using it, so it just gets dumped on the floor and then you have to try and retrieve it – not the easiest when seats are reclined !!
Finally after a 9 hour flight we arrived in Honolulu an hour late – which definitely cut into our two hour gap before our flight to Kauai. Not the nicest day as you can see. It was a pretty easy and quick departure from the plane (again not many passengers) then a bit of wait for immigration – though it was a breeze to get through. I could hear one of the other officers?? questioning the passengers but ours just did my fingerprints (not Kevins – no idea why) and we were through. Easy peasy.
Our bags were already going around the conveyer when we reached the pick up area and then we walked right through (no checks at all !!) customs. There were people working and some passengers having their bags checked so no idea what the procedure here is. Anyway, it was super good for us since we were in hurry to get checked in to our next flight. We found our way to the Hawaiian airlines check in area – we had to pay $25 for each checked bag so it was good we had just two of them. We then dropped them off at a seperate area (you have to be careful here to go to the inter-islands bag drop as the mainland and international areas are elsewhere). They weigh your bags then they are off and we have to get through though security. At this stage we had half an hour before DEPARTURE and had to wait in a line so we weren’t sure we’d make it. Our boarding pass had been marked priority but we couldn’t find where or what that would do for us. As always getting through US security is time consuming but the staff here were super nice and friendly (much like we find in Australia).
Finally through, there was one more long walk to what was possibly the furthest gate away. As we drew near the lady on check in asked if it was Kevin (so we were obviously the last ones onboard !!). We were seated in the second economy row so it was good we didn’t have to move all the way through the plane, though again, it was not full.
We took off, saying goodbye to Oahu for now and settled in for the very short flight to Kauai. I had the window seat this time so got to enjoy the view as we were flew out past Waikiki. We were served a juice onboard, which was very nice and refreshing, especially since we had no time to pick up drinks as we raced through Honolulu airport. We drank, they collected rubbish, I read a chapter of my book, then it was time for our decent.
Kauai looks incredible even with a grey, cloudy sky. The airport here at Lihue is thankfully much smaller than Honolulu. We were off the plane super quick then had a bit of wait for our luggage to come out. But was an indoor/outdoor area so we able to take off our masks (though they are not required here any longer) and get some fresh air. Even on that flight we didn’t have to wear them, though we and about 50% of passengers did. Seems so odd to us seeing people in an airport/airplane not wearing them now as they are still essential in Australia.
Finally with our bags collected we had a little walk over to the car shuttle location, where we were able to get straight onto the Thrifty bus that had just turned up. We were dropped off and Kevin went into to finalize our car hire and get the keys. I booked though economy car rental (who we always use in Orlando) as they include everything in the quote including insurance, so there are no extras to be paid at the counter. There was quite the line here so I sat down and enjoyed the view
while sharing a snack with my new friend.
After about an hour Kevin finally appeared with the car keys and we went to find our car for the next 8 days. Not sure how we ended up with a black car for a hot climate but oh, well…
Of course, there was more delay when we couldn’t get the boot (trunk) to open so got the help of a worker who was walking around the car lot. He then went off to get some more keys and Kevin discovered that the car wasn’t in park and once he did that he could open the boot. So we had to wait for the guy to return with the car keys. Then, finally we were able to leave and head off to our first stop of this holiday – lunch at Verde (Mexican) Restuarant. I have done lots of planning in the lead up to this trip and had a list of places with vegan offerings and good reviews. Verde was one such place that was close to the airport.
Kevin decided he was happy to partake in the vegan offerings so we got both types of vegan tacos and shared them.
Both were delicious but we both prefered the one with crumbles & avocado. We really enjoyed our meals here and I’m sure we will be back.
Next up was Target. Mainly for groceries but also to have a look around. It was smaller than the Super Targets we are used to on the Mainland and there was quite a bit of missing stock, but we managed to get some essential groceries and something to eat for breakfast and dinner for a couple of days.
After checking out we stopped in at the Starbucks (love how these are instore) and got a drink for the car. I loved the look of the cake pops – esp. the Target dog one – how cute !!
I was daring (for me) and chose the dragon drink. Kevin went with another iced chia latte. My drink was so good. So refreshing. It didn’t have the coconut mlik mentioned on the poster but I’m not sure that was bad thing as I really enjoyed it as was. Next time I will get a larger one :-).
We were both well and truly ready to relax and put our feet up. But first, we had to get our luggage and groceries up two flights of stairs.
I’m sure this won’t normally be a problem but we were both very tired after such a long day (even though the flight time was much shorter than normal for us). Thankfully Kevin was more up to the task than I was and he made a couple of trips while I filmed a tour and took photos of the apartment.
The apartment is just stunning and seems to have everything you could possibly want while on vacation on the island. We are both super happy. And the view from the room and balcony is wonderful, even on this cloudy day.
Kevin sat to recover from the stair trips while I unpacked the food. Then while he was getting all the technology set up (it’s important for Kevin to get his done ASAP) I unpacked my suitcase and put all our clothes away into the walk-in-wardrobe.
Then it was time for cup of tea (or two) while downloading all my footage so far and trying to work out the order they should all be in – since with the time change, living through 2 Fridays and only my phone updating to Hawaiian time – it was all in a big mess. Took me a good hour or so but I think I got it all sorted. Now, no more recording on anything but my phone until I get all the cameras (there are 4) onto the right time.
While I was finishing Kevin prepared (ie heated) dinner. We both had an Amy’s frozen dinner. And while they may not look amazing they taste just like something you’d make yourself at home. Kevin had a tortilla bowl and I had this plant based bowl. It was so good.
We then watched a little TV before retiring to bed about 7pm. Kevin went straight to sleep but I tried to finish up the video sorting before succumbing to sleep myself in this super comfy bed.