Sunday, January 17, 2016

4th day of our vacation - 12-19-15

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

We didn't leave the hotel as early as we thought, and started out at 9.00 a.m.  I like our hotel and I enjoyed looking at all the decorations.

I also enjoy sitting in their comfortable easy chairs and people watching.  There is always something going on.  The foyer is open to the fresh air, a ceiling over our heads but no doors to the outside.  

I watch people arrive with their suitcases and see others leave every day.  I'm very glad that we still have another week before we have to move on.  These poinsettias were part of the landscaping, in the ground.  I have only seen them at the supermarket for sale in pots.  Others living in hotter climes are no doubt used to seeing them as part of the landscaping, but I am not and I never got tired of seeing them.

We are doing a trial run to The Willows Restaurant.  Gregg said it is a good job we are doing this.

9.20 a.m.  Found it!  Only a hop, skip and a jump away.

9.33 a.m. we hear roosters crowing in downtown Honolulu.  That is such a neat sound to hear in the middle of the city.

11.00 a.m. we are leaving Fosters Botanical Garden.  

This garden is described as a serene oasis.  It is well described and as soon as you walk through the entrance you feel at peace.  

(Author unknown)

It has 14 acres of one of the nation's largest collection of tropical plants, about 10,000 species in all, which include rare and endangered varieties.  

There are rare and endangered trees (some of which are extinct in the wild), an herb garden, prehistoric garden (spotlighting primitive plants from around the world), and an impressive "economic garden", which features plants that are used for food, medicine, fabrics and dyes. 

Lots of beautiful trees and a heavenly orchid green house. 

The garden originated in 1853 when Queen Kalama leased a small patch of land to a young German doctor named William Hillebrand.  He was a keen botanist as well as a physician.  Hillebrand and his wife built a home in the upper terrace area of the present garden.  After about 20 years in Hawaii he returned to Germany and produced a lengthy dissertation titled Flora of the Hawaiian Islands.

Later the property was sold to Thomas and Mary Foster, who added to the garden.  When Mrs. Foster's passed away in 1930, the 5.5 acre site was bequeathed to the City and County of Honolulu as a public garden.  Foster Botanical Garden opened to the public in November 1931, with Dr. Harold Lyon as its first director.  Dr. Lyon introduced 10,000 new types of trees and plants to the islands over a span of 27 years.

It is smaller than other gardens we have visited, but we have decided that Fosters is very much a favorite.  This is the third time we have been here and we leave hoping that there will be a forth visit sometime in the future.

There are other botanical gardens on Oahu.  Another favorite is Ho'omaluhia and I'll have a post on that sometime.  We went to one other on this list but the name escapes me right now.  I will have other posts on Foster Botanical Garden.  To tell you the truth, because of the problem I had with losing my photos, I have to reorganize all of them again from my memory cards and phone, but I will get there eventually.

12.37 p.m. and leaving Aloha Towers.  It is so quiet compared to the last time we visited.  We learned it had been bought by a private university.  All the neat little shops have moved out, and the students hadn't yet arrived as they were home for the holidays.

The statues of the keiki hula dancers were still there and welcomed us with open arms.....

and one sweet little dancer asked us to sit down for a spell and rest our, by this time, weary feet.

To us it seemed like a ghost town. When we were leaving we saw a young man, who looked like a student.  We thought the lady was his mum helping him to settle in.  They were carrying his bags to one of the dorms, presumably.  I wondered if they were from Hawaii or from the mainland.  It won't be long before the place is full of life again. 

We also popped into a Barnes and Noble affiliated with the university, and that was it for shops.  Every other empty space had paper at the windows ready to be turned into dorms, as we were told later.  

We went looking for a restaurant we remembered, but that was nowhere to be found.  There was a Hooters (no thank you, not to be disrespectful but not my cup of tea).  The only other restaurant there was Gordon Biersch and this is where we decided to have our lunch.  

It was a fun lunch and our waiter was a very nice young fellow.  I was having one of my indecisive days, and having a hard time choosing from the menu.  I asked him what was his favorite dish, and he pointed to one that I happily ordered.  

Bit of a shock as it turned out to be cubes of raw tuna marinated in a mixture of soy.  The dish was called poke (pronounced poh-kay) and another new one to me.  Now, there are many places in the world where raw fish is a delicacy but I have never eaten it, unlike our adventurous son and daughter-in-law who are quite fond of sushi.   I like vegetarian sushi but that is the only kind I have tried.  Did I see Gregg smile under his napkin when it arrived?  He had ordered fish tacos.

Not wanting to be rude I smiled to our young waiter and said, "Why thank you, that looks delicious", though by this time I had a suspicion of what I was getting.  When I took a bite, suspicions confirmed, but much to my surprise it was actually very good (not to mention healthy as all get out of town), and I used the chopsticks provided. It was a very pretty dish served with Wasabi mustard, very thin slices of pickled ginger and cucumber, green onions (for garnish), with a few slices of regular onion and another ingredient that may have been seaweed(?) and also soy sauce

So, there you go, be adventurous, try poke the next time you see it on the menu.  Did I order it again at any time during our holiday?  No, couldn't really get past the fact that it was raw fish (I'm still very new at this).  Yes as good as it was, but I was very glad that I had at least tried it. Who knows, I might get it again one day.  Maybe I'll even go out and have sushi with our son and daughter-in-law.  Our young man seemed pleased I had enjoyed his recommendation, and also complimented me on the way I used my chop sticks, followed by a lovely smile.  He got a big tip.  No, not because of the chop sticks remarks but because he truly was a nice young man and we liked him.  

After lunch we took a walk along the water's edge, and noticed that Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen had his super yacht docked nearby, again.  It was being overhauled.  Our young waiter told us he parks it here every year, and we told him we remembered it from our last trip in 2008.  It still had its helicopter on the back but it was wrapped up like a Christmas present, protected against the dust no doubt.  Last time I am sure there wasn't a line that you weren't allowed to cross.   Maybe they are taking precautions in preparation for all those students who will be arriving soon.  Anyhow, we crossed the line until I pointed out a sign to Gregg saying "Don't Cross the Line", or something like that.  After taking a few photos we moved on like good, law abiding citizens.

3.14 p.m.  We are at our hotel. Gregg filled the car with gas and we are now having a break before we meet up with Gigi (blogging friend and host of Gigi-HI) and her husband David at 6.30 p.m. at The Willows.  We also stopped in the little shop on the ground floor and stocked the fridge with water, and also treated ourselves to an ice-cream in a cornet.

5.30 p.m. we decided to go to the restaurant early.  In the elevator we met two young men who were fun to talk to for the 12 floors down.  They were already talking football and good naturedly teasing each other as they were both fans of opposing teams.  Later Gregg said it was the first time in 40 years he had ever heard me get into a conversation about football.  Sad isn't it?  Turned out that one of the guys was from Montross, Virginia.  We were in Montross a couple of months ago on one of our road trips, much to his surprise when we told him.  He was a Dallas Cowboys fan but I can't remember who his friend rooted for.  He told us he was from Florida.  This is what started the good natured teasing, which caused Gregg to join in.  We were asked which team did we root for and without a breath I said the Redskins and they both groaned.  Okay, so I may not be 'into' football but I'm sticking up for the Redskins.  We parted on the ground floor with them still teasing me about my choice of team, and then kind of apologized for dissing them. I told them I would get over it, and that's when Gregg said it was the first time he had heard me get into a conversation about football.  It was a fun little interlude, the kind one enjoys in the elevator between the 12th and ground floor while on vacation.  I'd have been in trouble if we had been staying on the 23rd floor.  The extent of my knowledge about football does not extend past 12 floors.  Anything that has a ball involved I do tend to glaze over, unless it's golf.  I do enjoy watching golf.

We got to The Willows in about ten minutes.  The valet parking was maxed out but they directed us to an overflow parking area, so no valets were available to park our car and it was a tight fit.  No worries, Gregg is very good at parking the car in any situation.  

We were delighted with this restaurant.  The seating areas were out in the open in a beautiful garden under gazebos,  The surroundings are the most lush tropical greenery, with waterfalls and ponds filled with koi.  It looked beautiful in the daylight, but as it grew dark and with the tastefully placed lighting, it was magical.  

We were early for our reservation and were told we could sit at our table, but we elected to sit at the bar while we waited for Gigi and David.  Gregg ordered a Blue Hawaiian for me and he had a Mai Tai.  

We didn't have to sit for long as Gigi and David arrived minutes later.  This is our second meeting. The last was in Washington DC a couple of years ago.  You can see that meeting here. We went to their hotel and also met Dianne (from Schmidleysscribblings) and her husband David at the same dinner, another very enjoyable get-together.

It was as if no time had passed. They are the nicest couple and are very easy and comfortable to be with.  As soon as they arrived we fell into conversation, and I forgot to take any more photos.  Thanks to Gigi, who asked one of the staff to take our photograph, I will once again post her photo.  Thank you Gigi!

No photos of the meal. It was a buffet which had a large assortment of Hawaiian foods and more; Korean, Chinese, Japanese, a Carvery, and there were also different curries.  I remember an oxtail soup and seafood.  Gregg loved the King Crab Legs.  There was also a large dessert table, names I can't remember. I had a piece of the bread pudding and a couple of different petit-four type cakes I can't remember the names of, and a frozen dessert that was very refreshing and vegan friendly. Our eating area was in the open in a Pagoda-style setting, lovely!

Our evening flew by and I was sad to see it end.  As we were saying our goodbyes we told Gigi and David that we would be back one day, and looked forward to seeing them again.

When we got back to the car it had rained.  I actually saw a torrential downpour at the restaurant but honestly thought it was one of the water features, part of the waterfall displays.  Truth be told we were talking and I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention,  It was also such a warm evening but it had rained hard and the passenger side window had been left open.  I sat down and realized immediately how wet I was getting, because the seat was drenched.  After the initial shock, "What the.....", I really did not mind walking through a hotel with a huge wet spot on my sitting area.  I actually thought it was kind of funny but was thankful on the return journey, that we did not have any company in the elevator. That's what reaching 65 does for you I guess, and that's what purses are for.  Thankfully mine was a pretty big one - maybe too much information and one of those what the heck was she thinking of putting that in there - but what the hey.  My bag was a gift from two of my dearest friends.  They really saved the day as my gift made a great camouflage barrier.  (And the seat of the car had dried out by morning.)  I could see the funny side of it all up to the 12th floor.

And so ends another lovely day in Hawaii, even though a little damp but a hot shower took care of that and I slept like a log.

If you missed the previous posts and would like to read them, you can click on the links below.


  1. I've been so out of it that I didn't even know you'd moved to another blog. I'm so glad you were able to meet up again with Glenda and David. I'm sorry we missed you. It's been a heck of a winter season for us with one thing happening after another.

  2. It looks and sounds a truly wonderful experience. Thank you for taking us along.

  3. amazing place to visit and amazing photos today. all of them. i think my favorites are the little girl hula dancers...

  4. Hello Denise, what a great day. I love the images, the Christmas decorations are pretty, the cute sculptures of the hula dancing girls and the garden tour is beautiful. I would have ordered the fish tacos and mai tai, YUM! It was so nice you were able to meet up with your blogging friend. Great post. Have a happy day!

  5. I enjoyed reading your account of this day of your vacation. I remember the openness of another hotel lobby, a hotel that we visited while on the Big Island. I thought it unique to be both inside and outside. How great that you were able to get together with your blogging friends again.

  6. Well it looks like you guys had a great time. We were on a cruise last summer and although we had a good time I feel we missed out on a lot of what Hawaii had to offer.

  7. I have a weakness for botanical gardens and arboretums.

  8. Sounds fantastic, Denise. (And looks that way, too!)

    I was last in Hawaii in 1997. I love it, but the plane flight is so long and is expensive.

  9. Absolutely amazing and gorgeous series, Denise! Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Oh, I can just feel the sitting down in a wet seat...I used to do that on the tractor at work. LOL This sounds like such a fun day...and I would love to visit the botanical gardens.

  11. That garden really stands out to me among these shots!

  12. So happy you got to meet up with Gigi, and DID get in at least one Blue Hawaii.

  13. What a wonderful garden to visit and a fun restaurant to explore....I would probably try the raw tuna....i don't like raw fish either but tuna is made to be eaten rare anyway and I like it.

  14. It is so wonderful to see all of these photos, Denise. You described the day perfectly. Hope to see you and Gregg again in the near future.
    Aloha from Hawaii.

  15. A full day and beautiful scenery abounds! I love raw tuna - glad you liked it, too. In fact, when Bob makes it on the grill he only sears it so it's rare inside. That's how a good quality tuna is meant to be eaten! Love the botanic garden shots and the outside-growing poinsettias.

  16. Wonderful photos! Thank you for the posts. So glad that you are having such a delightful time. Such a beautiful place.

  17. The decorations are really pretty. It would be sad to rush by and miss the beauty. I'm trying to soak some of the warmth from your photos through my computer. Brrrr! It got cold here in a hurry.

  18. I feel the Christmas spirit back. :)

  19. Very nice holiday decorations and I also enjoy people-watching when we travel, Denise. The photo of you all at dinner was lovely and will be a nice remembrance for everyone.

  20. I am enjoying this immensely, a bit wistfully too

  21. Yes Limu is seaweed and a healthy delicacy

  22. The botanical garden is fabulous and I'm not surprised that you returned to it as there's obviously so many different areas to see. I would love to see tropical plants and rare trees growing out of doors as well as the orchid house as, of course, all the tropical plants that are cultivated here are under glass. You had an enjoyable and varied day that day, including meeting up with friends - always a joy and makes a holiday away even more special.


Thank you so for taking the time to leave a comment. I enjoy reading them very much and always try to return a visit. As I do monitor comments it may take a while for them to appear, even quite late depending on what is going on and how much time I am able to spend on the computer.

I appreciate all who look at my blog, but I won't be publishing any businesses. If you are only able to publish anonymously, would you sign your name please, and leave an addy so I can return your visit where possible? Thank you!