Thursday, August 06, 2015

Back from da 'aina - with a touch of jetlag, an AirBNB rave, and pix from the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market.

Lulu's neighborhood, w/skoshi bit of rainbow (click for better view)

Hello hello! Everybody guessed where I was last week, right? That's right, back on Oahu again! I had some computer access but didn't want to abuse it, so I pretty much stuck to planning activities, looking up addresses and phone numbers, and then just tossing up my favorite picture from each day here so people wouldn't think I quit blogging. 

I'm back now but of course went hurtling into the July month-end close plus cleaning up a few spills that happened while I was away so haven't been doing much writing, but here I am up and wide awake at a ridiculous hour of the morning (had been doing pretty well but didn't sleep well last night, came home pooped after work tonight, crashed for a few hours and now I'm wide awake), so I went ahead and wrote a glowing review of my most recent AirBNB hostess, Lulu. Blithered on for a while but she was really awesome and her place was great. 

BTW this is the same stuff as I posted on Facebook so if you read my review there, scroll on past the section in italics for a batch of pix from the Kapiolani Community College Farmers' Market that I went to on Lulu's recommendation. Crowded, but great stuff! Oh - one other note: I realize the one thing I should have mentioned here is that she only takes solo travellers - but wow (lau lau!) if you are thinking of making a solo trip to Oahu, I can't recommend her enough. 

AirBNB is so far batting a thousand for me; I'd originally hoped to go back and stay with Lynne Wood at "Center Waikiki 1Blk2Sand" again since that worked out so nicely last time, but as an incredibly affordable and well-reviewed place in the heart of Waikiki, she was already halfway booked for the last week in July at the time I went to make reservations at the end of May. I flirted briefly with the idea of staying with her for a few days and then switching to a hotel; that lasted precisely until the moment I hit "add hotel" on my Travelocity flight reservations, I wasn't expecting to be able to afford the Moana or Royal Hawaiian, the two oldest and most beautiful hotels in Waikiki, but...yeeesh. No. Back to AirBNB and quickly found another incredibly affordable and well-reviewed place, this one near Diamond Head, which is a nice residential neighborhood, convenient to Waikiki but peaceful and quiet, with mango trees in everybody's front yard.  
Mangoes in the front yards

This ended up working out great and now there are 2 very nice places I'll be happy to stay next time I go out there - I do have to say that it was really nice to be in a residential neighborhood, much more reminiscent of visits when my folks were still there, but Lynne did have the lanai full of boogie boards and snorkel gear to play with...both good!

Here's the glowing review I wrote tonight for Lulu's Private Room Near Diamond Head. I do blither on but I meant every word. And I didn't even go into too much detail about the apple bananas and mangos. That took restraint. They sell things that resemble Hawaiian apple bananas and mangoes here in NYC, but they just aren't the same!

OK, review already!

I was back on Oahu for my 30th high school reunion and with no family out there anymore, needed a place to stay. I was too late to stay at the AirBNB place I'd stayed for my 25th, which was very nice but already booked by the time I went to make reservations, and Lulu's place ended up being absolutely perfect! Lulu's home is an absolutely classic little 1920's bungalow in the quiet residential neighborhood of Diamond Head, a beautiful taste of real local-style living, yet within an easy stroll of the shiny shops of Waikiki, if you're so inclined. 
Pioneer Plate Lunch

Also just off Kapahulu, where you'll find the famous Rainbow Drive In, Zippy's (local favorite fast food joint, I love their saimin!) Leonard's Malasadas, and lots of other food places, places to get things for beach recreation (Snorkel Bob's for snorkel stuff, Go Bananas for kayaks, Island Paddler for outrigger supplies, etc) and some very cute antique shops. In the Diamond Head direction, you also have Montserrat Avenue, which also has a nice assortment of restaurants. Lulu's got a binder in the guest room that's got that kind of info for when you get there and she also gives great personal advice - I'm from Oahu but I don't know the Diamond Head neighborhood and I was absolutely tickled with her dinner recommendation for my first night there when I got in later than expected (Pioneer Plate Lunch garlic ahi steak, onolicious!), and she also sent me up to the amazing farmers' market they have at Kapiolani Community College, where I got a bunch of island goodies to send back to myself on the mainland. 
KCC Farmers' Market

The guest room is bright and breezy, with a comfy bed, plenty of room in a dresser and a closet for your clothing, and a nice basket full of every toiletry you might have forgotten. I didn't use the kitchen too much but it was well-stocked and clean and I did freely indulge in the fabulous fresh local fruit she offered me, which I enjoyed for breakfast in the breezy shade of the avocado tree in the front yard (aaah). Lulu's description of her place is spot on, she welcomed me personally, walked me through her simple and sensible guest procedures, and made me feel very much at home during a wonderful, wonderful visit. Mahalo nui loa, Lulu! 

And here are more pix from the Kapiolani Community College Farmers' Market. Very popular, but you can see why! I especially enjoyed finding Happy Cakes there - I remember these turning up under our (white plastic!) Christmas tree when I was a kid, at that time they were baked at a restaurant called Kemoo Farms and they were very popular. The building's still there but the restaurant's gone, but the gentleman in the photo just after the Manoa honey (they had kiawe, also exciting, kiawe honey is wonderful!) is Owen O'Callaghan, who took over the Happy Cake business from the founder. I also got some kulolo (a yummy taro-and-coconut dessert, sort of like a dense cake or pudding) from the Hanalei Taro Company. Delicious, I'll be sad when I finish that! Busy busy place, the market, but I'm glad Lulu recommended it, I went on my last morning there, the kulolo came home in my bag and a few other goodies are in the flat-rate goodie box I sent to myself from the Aiea post office. 

Oh, and ps - that's what pineapples are supposed to look like. You never find 'em that color in mainland supermarkets!

Click for a slideshow view. 


pia said...

So beautiful.
I want to hear about the actual reunion!

bonnie said...

I'll get to that, it was fun!

It's a little weird that I started my reporting with photos from the morning of the last day, but it seemed like a good place to put them since going to the market was the direct result of staying with Lulu, and her telling me about it. It made for a nice little morning stroll from her place, perfect way to start off a day where I was scheduled to get on a plane and sit for 9 hours.

LauraEhlers said...

Such beautiful pictures! Can't wait to see more.

bonnie said...

Oh, LOTS more to come!