Waikiki, first impression is Vegas minus the casinos and plus a beach. The hotel we stayed in was right on the main road that follows along the beach, a four lane, one way, constant stream of traffic. All along the sidewalks were shops ranging from Cartier and Ferrari to the cheapest tourist junk you can imagine. The street is lined with sky scrapers and people stream along the sidewalks all day and night. There are people trying to push flyers for all kinds of stuff into your hand and booths for tours and shows everywhere. At night the street performers come out, the caricature artists, the guys who make amazing pictures with spray paint, the balloon twisters, the lady who will let you take a picture with her parrots for $10., and my favorite…….the street mimes. The first night we saw a guy who looked sort of Michael Jacksonish, the second night we saw a guy all dressed in a suit made from newsprint. He had cool sunglasses that were made from the crossword puzzles. Our hotel was nice, we were on the 25th floor, with a wonderful view of the beach and Diamond head. We faced east so could see the sky change color as the sun rose and as the sun went down the lights of the houses going up the hillside were beautiful. Wednesday we had a tour of the city and Pearl Harbor. On our way to Pearl Harbor the guide pointed out the hospital where the President was born, several places where he lived and went to school, and the Baskin Robbins where he had his first job. We learned that Obama’s tuti (grandmother) was the first woman in Hawaii to become a vice president of a bank. Pearl Harbor is very impressive. The grounds are well kept up, there are still military ships as well as commercial ships in various areas. They show a film of what lead up to the bombing which includes a lot of actual footage, it was interesting to see events progress from the Japanese viewpoint and to learn that the radar operators detected the Japanese planes coming in but were expecting US forces from California that day so did not sound the alarm until it was too late. Someone in charge had decided that the safest way to dock the battleships was stem to stern in rows of 2. This made the torpedoing of ships very easy. There were monuments listing the names of the men who died, it makes what happened very real. We also learned that all but 3 of the battleships were eventually repaired and returned to service during the war. We boarded a small ferry to go out to the place where the Arizona was sunk. There is a platform with windows over the site and many features of the ship’s deck are visible. A very touching experience. Back on land at the visitor’s center are 4 men who were at Pearl Harbor that day and survived the air raid. They talk to folks and sign souvenirs. On the way back our tour took us through the city, we saw a couple of the old palaces and some other historic areas. We also saw a protest at a church that is exhuming remains from an old cemetery to make room for construction of a new facility. I asked about the men in skirts I had seen and found out that it is traditional attire for men from Tonga and a few other islands. They wear these black wrap around skirts, usually knee length or a little longer. I wonder if they don’t wear what the Scotsmen don’t wear under their kilts. Hang loose??? After the tour we ate at “Dukes” a restaurant founded by a famous surfer, it is open air, facing the beach and was very pleasant except for the pigeons. Pigeons are a nuisance everywhere but having them run over your feet while you eat is a little disconcerting. After lunch I convinced my mom to walk out to the beach and go toward our hotel by walking at the water’s edge. When we came back out to the street, I couldn’t see the hotel and was not sure which direction we should go. I hailed a cab, and it turned out we were only about a block and a half away, but who knew? I tipped the driver well and we were all happy. After a bit of a lie down and clean up we headed out to dinner. We had seen an Italian bistro on our afternoon stroll and were able to get back there. I had roasted beets, red and golden, and an eggplant and zucchini soufflé. YUMMMMM. We strolled just a little after that, back to the hotel to get ready for our flight to Kauai in the morning.