Friday, October 12, 2012

Hilo - I See Land

I will start with stating that the four days crossing the Pacific were not that bad, we had very smooth seas every day, with the last day I would describe as slight.  I have been in calmer seas but I have certainly been in rougher seas too.  The weather was a little cool the first day at sea but every day the weather got hotter and more humid.  I know that the weather gets worst as the season progresses as friends of mine who go to Hawaii in December often complain about how cold it is for the crossings.

Seems odd to see land but there it is.  The weather is overcast (not uncommon for the Big Island) but very humid.  We dock at 7 am and we are off around 8:30 and since we are renting a vehicle we go to the line where the free shuttles for all the agencies are.  We don’t have to wait long for the shuttle for Avis/Budget.  The ride to the airport was about 10 minutes, it isn’t physically far but you have to drive all around the airport to the main drag then back again.

I had found the website where you can pick the island you are visiting, put in your dates, and they come back with a quote for you.  We reserved an economy car for a total of $38.71 (note this does not include insurance which we have as a rider with our credit card).  We are given a Jeep and within a few minutes we are off.

We had decided ahead of time that we really wanted to visit the Volcano National Park, I punch it into our GPS and it stated it was over an hour away but it really only took about 45 minutes to get to the park entrance.  The cost for the vehicle was $10 and we are directed to the Visitor’s Center first to get an overview.  It is a nice center with lots of great information and restrooms.  I should state that the Crater Rim Drive was closed in some areas due to dangerous conditions.

We leave the visitor center and make our way West to the Steam Vents and the Steaming Bluff views of Kilauea Caldera.  Oh my, I had no idea it was so large.  The Halema’uma’u Crater is sending out a large plume.  It is very windy here and a light drizzle but the views are definitely worth it. 

We get back in the car and head further West to the Jaggar Museum which is the furthest West you can go on the Crater Rim Drive currently.  There are quite a few buses stopped here and lots of cars and the site is busy but definitely stop here for some great technical information and some beautiful paintings.  There is also a restroom here.  Outside is another observatory area of the Halema’uma’u Crater and the Kilauea Caldera.  We spend about a half hour here and then we are back in the vehicle heading East again.

We drive past the visitor center and stop at the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku).  Make sure you stop here this was very interesting but you do need to be able to walk without difficulty and the area can be wet and muddy so wear proper footing.  What I loved here is the walk thru the canopy and listening to the birds above.  Can’t seem to see the birds but we certainly can hear them.  And since we are on our own we really can hear them.  I am afraid that if you are with a large group you would not hear as much as the birds would not sing because of the noise from the group.  Note there were restrooms here too.

We head further south/east to the Devastation Trail parking lot and we walk along the trail there, this is a short hike about 1 mile round trip and quite easy terrain.  But remember the temperature went from very warm in the forested area to very cool when we travelled over the lava devastation trail open area.  Again the wildlife is the real star here, the birds welcome us the flowers and greenery astound us as we know the rough conditions they are growing in.  But to see such beauty come out of the destruction makes us really appreciate it. 

It total we spent about two and a half hours at the park and we would of loved to have spent longer if we could of but we want to see a bit more of the island.  We head West on highway 11 to the bird park about 5 minute drive from the volcano park and enjoy a short walk around there.

We start making our way back to Hilo and for those that may be interested; however we did not stop.  The Orchid museum and the Macadamia Nut Factory are on the way back and you could easily stop and visit them if you wished.  Also there was a Glass Blowing Studio called 2400 Fahrenheit right near the park that I would of like to see if we go back.

We need to pick up some more supplies and we stop at Hilo Hatties store (note they have a free shuttle from the pier to this store, and right near the store is a Sears, Wallgreens, Target, Starbucks and others, lots of people take it and it runs often).  I enjoyed the Hilo Hatties store, I had never been.  It is not fancy but very well stocked with everything Hawaii and the prices were not bad.  We are give a lei each upon entry, we buy some macadamias and some chocolates for souvenirs and I get a clip for my hair of an orchid.  But you can buy so much more here.

We pick up a few items at Wallgreens, then get a coffee at Starbucks, and then Bernie buys a bottle of champagne at Safeway to bring back on (with no issue I might add).

Of course we need to get gas for the car and fill up right on highway 11 just before dropping the car off at the airport.  We catch the shuttle back to the ship and we are back on board around 4 pm.  Note we had to show picture id upon entering the port area and they did check our bags.

It is important to note you are not allowed to bring any meat products ashore.  The Princess Patter states the following:  The US Agricultural Depts. Remind you that heavy fines can be imposed for bringing any fruit, vegetables, flowers, plants, meats or dairy products into our ports of call.  No meat, poultry, fruit, foodstuff or any other agricultural items may be taken ashore from this vessel in any port.  Spot checks will be carried out.  Of course this is to stop the spreading of any diseases or bugs.

We try to have a nap once on board but I keep getting woken up by the chairs being dragged above us.  It is getting to me.  I have spoken with the Purser’s staff over eight times now, but the problem is that you often speak to someone different, not all of them log what was done or said each time.  The problem still is that even though they have put a rug down the rug only covers the table not the two chairs.  I actually head upstairs take a picture with my iphone and go down to the purser’s desk and show them.  Please just move the rug I ask and show them the picture.  The two women there (one of which is Paola who I have been dealing with from the beginning) just stare like a deer caught in the headlights.  She says there is nothing more we can do.  I am frustrated and say just move the rug over…. Then I say I will deal with someone else then, and I go above them.  I hate doing this but I did try to have it dealt with the first day, it has now been six days I have been dealing with it and now 9 discussions.  I will report back how it turns out. 

I am tired, and I refuse to let this problem get to me so I say to Bernie tonight we need the champagne at dinner for a special treat.  We head down to the Wheelhouse Bar for a pre dinner drink and some nice music.  The bar staff here are so sweet and we catch up with them and their day.  I get to enjoy another Sicilian Kiss and Bernie has his regular (Russian Standard Vodka, with soda and a splash of Lime Cordial). 

Head Waiter Marcin

Dinner is in Portifino again tonight around 8 pm, Marcin the Head Waiter seats us at a lovely table with Lito as our waiter again, and his assistant Kevin from Chile.  What a great pair and so professional and attentive.  Lito tells us he has more tricks for us later and we can’t wait.

We open the champagne which is J’s from California – so good.  Rui the Maitre D comes by and we pour him a glass and he shares some very funny stories with us.  We also share some with some of the head waiters (they work so hard and they deserve it plus they are so helpful with us when it comes to wine choices and meal choices we love getting their opinion of the champagne too).  We actually finish off that bottle and order a bottle of Dazanti as well (well priced we think and similarly priced as most restaurants we have visited).  We don’t finish it all and will save it for another night.

Princess has these short commercial ads on the in cabin tv and they are a minute long and they share a peaceful moment on board and the tag line says “this minute of relaxation has been brought to you by Princess”.  As I see the champagne being poured and I raise the glass and sip I say “this minute of relaxation has been brought to you by Princess” and smile.

For dinner I start with the crab and artichoke dip, then the corn and potato chowder which was very good.  But the best part was the raspberry spring roll served with a chocolate dipping sauce – again out of this world.  If I could justify it I would have had two but I need to control myself.  We leave the dining room around 10 pm…. Pietro the head waiter sings as we leave and we leave on a happy note and feeling so blessed.

The ship is QUIET, again the demographics are older and there is only a show by Dan Horn in the Princess Theater that seems to be drawing a crowd but we have seen him many times.  Orphea Quartet play in the Atrium and their music seems to get a lot of people moving including us.  Leandro is the piano player in Crooners but we don’t enjoy him and he is no Maritizo or David from other ships where you can’t find a seat or a place to stand to listen. 

We meet up with a friend Ann at the bar and we have a drink with her and some good laughs, but the place is deserted.  The most traffic is coming from the shops where the crew are getting a chance to shop tonight in all the stores.

We head to bed and get ready for our next port Honolulu.

1 comment:

  1. We have been on the Aloha deck twice now. The first time, I swore they were holding piano races above us every night. My husband could sleep through anything but not me. I heard them all the time. Just made me angry!!!! I hope you find some relief soon!

    The second time, we were under the part that was under cover and had wooden chaises so they didn't move very often.