It’s been.. not awesome.

Not that I really want to bore you with all the details, but we’ve had not the greatest start to 2014.

After losing our oldest cat back at the start of December, our second older cat got quite ill in December, and ended up at the vets for over a week in January. She got a ruptured ear drum and then some of the medication they put her on caused kidney failure. :(

We thought we were going to lose her, and we very nearly did. But she decided otherwise and we are so thankful for that.

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She is home now but is still needing to be syringe fed a few times a day. She is not a big fan of this. We keep telling her to eat on her own and we’ll stop doing it, but she seems to have lost her eating coordination and mostly just licks the food around the plate. She is getting better at it. But there is a small problem.. and it looks like this..

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Bad bad new kitty who can eat an entire plate of food just by glancing in the direction of the plate. She has her own room full of toys and fun things and she gets put in there when we give the older kitty a food plate. The two kitties get along mostly ok, they will even sleep on the same bed with us.

We brought the new kitty home in Mid December and I think if not for her we would have lost our minds during that terrible time of going to the vet twice a day – if we had to come home to a cat-less house it would have been awful. But the new kitty is quite a character and she helped us get through this not great time in so many ways.

Other than that, what has Beedoo747 been up to? A lot of work and chores about the house. Plus, looking at a lot of my Hawaii stuff sitting on the table which I have wanted to blog about but just not had the time or energy to do it. I plan to change this next week, when for the first time in a long time I have 3 days off in a row. I will devote some serious time and energy to blogging. I promise. :)

What has Bigaln2 been up to? He’ll have to answer that one himself.

You can look forward to more posts from me soon, though.

More on the condo…from a different perspective

Beedoo has posted her very comprehensive review of our condo already – Our Holiday Condo – Ilikai 1925, but I did want to take some time to provide some notes on my experience that I had in the condo, since I had the pleasure of being in the other bedroom, and using the other bathroom (the “main” one – not the ensuite).

First off, would I stay at this condo again?

Absolutely! It was a great place to stay, with a good view, well appointed (with proper furniture – not just cane furniture), and since it was a condo, you didn’t feel like you were in a hotel. It was a home away from home that was actually a home…not just a room with a couple of beds and a bathroom, or two if you’re lucky.

What I didn’t like -

The bathroom. More than anything, there were two minor nitpicky things that I wasn’t a fan of. Everything worked fantastically well as one would expect, with these exceptions

  1. Hot water in the shower. Yes, the water pressure was awesome for being on the 19th floor of a hotel/condo complex with well north of 1,000 units. The shower head itself was also fantastic. What was not so awesome was that the water took a good 3-5 minutes to warm up from freezing cold. I do not like cold showers, so I had to choose to do one of two things – either run the shower for a few minutes to let the water warm up, or get in and freeze my nips off waiting for the water to get to temperature..
  2. The Pocket Door. I understand that it’s a space saving measure, but please, for all that is good in this world, come up with a better latching system. I don’t know how many times I had turned the little dial (which is difficult to move since it’s so small) thinking that the door was locked, to move the door and find that it was not locked.

The other nitpicky thing that I think can be improved is providing wayfinding signs in the lobby at the Ilikai, so that when you’re in your swimsuit going to the pool for the first time, you have a clue where you’re going.

Though with as awesome as the pool is, maybe it’s a good thing that it’s not as well signed, otherwise there would be queues of people going to it, knowing as warm as it is! If only the pools on the mainland were that warm even in the middle of summer! The other thing that I loved about the pool is that in addition to the temperature (which, as noted, was just PERFECT), the water was not overly chlorinated, so you didn’t come out smelling like chlorine after your swim.

Anyway, back to the room itself. The air conditioning? It’s a requirement. I do not know how anyone can live indoors in Hawaii without it, and yes, it was mentioned that *ahem* someone would be randomly turning on aircon units…that was me ;)

I come from a place that varies in temperature, on average, from the coldest low at around -12C to the warmest high at approximately 27C. Now of course, there are days that are above or below those normals, but that is what the weather is like on average. Being placed into 27C on a daily basis, with high humidity is a recipe for being uncomfortable, and aircon is a way to combat that ;)

That doesn’t mean that I actually did have the aircon on all of the time, as there were times when I would turn it off because I actually got too cold, mostly when I was sleeping and would wake up just freezing.

One other thing I will like to note is that the kitchen bench did make a great alternative workspace, as I used that for my computer desk since I was arriving after Beedoo and her other half, the computer desk was already spoken for, and I have to say that I did like the convenience of being able to stand or sit to use my computer, though again it was not something that I did that often, seeing that I was in Hawaii and had better things to do than sit on my computer ;)

Street noise

Being on the “city” side of the building did mean that you were exposed to the street noise from below. As was mentioned, it was not that big of a deal for either her or her other half. Since I was in the other bedroom, I actually was on the other side of the lanai which looks out over Ala Moana Blvd, 19 storeys down, and the street noise was very tolerable for me, especially considering that I am not usually exposed to that much street noise.

Now train noise is a different thing, as I do have a train track about 20-30m from where I am sitting right now, and they can be *very* noisy, so some busses almost twice the distance away and below is not much of a bother. I’d find it hard to think that some busses passing and stopping (and lowering themselves for accessibility purposes with the necessary safety beeps) would be much of a consideration for me either ;)

View

The view from the lanai on the city end was just stunning for me. I love looking out over a city to view the goings on, and to watch people from a high vantage point, so this was very fun to do. Not only that, I was able to get some great shots of the city waking up on a Saturday morning.

Panorama of the west end of Waikiki

Panorama of the west end of Waikiki

From the other lanai, there was a view towards the ocean and a great view down Ala Moana (to the right in the photo above); somehow we never managed to get any pictures off of that lanai during the daytime – mostly because we were always out of the condo doing stuff…I mean, why would you want to vacation in Hawaii just to stay in your condo or hotel room all of the time??? :)

The only reason I got the shots off of my lanai was because I got up so early on the first morning, thanks to my body clock still being 5 hours ahead and thinking that it was almost 10:30 AM, despite the clocks all saying 5:30! ;)

Below are a couple more shots that I took off of the lanais – the first is from the east/south facing lanai (Makai – ocean facing), and the other is from the north facing lanai (Mauka – inland)

Looking towards the stage at HHV

Looking towards the stage at HHV

View down Ala Moana Blvd.

View down Ala Moana Blvd.

Mele Kalikimaka

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Mr. Claus knows the Shaka ;)

As I was strolling through Waikiki on my day on my own on the island, I had the opportunity to see this lovely sand sculpture being finished in the Sheraton Waikiki

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Tree TIme

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Across the road from the fruit stands on the North Shore, there is a little path which leads to this tree. I cannot look at this photo without tasting the Banana Lumpia I was eating while here.

We’re coming up to Christmas which is a really busy time of year for everyone, so don’t be surprised to see less posts from us over the next 2 weeks.

On top of that, we – that is Beedoo747 and her other half – decided to give another kitty a forever home for Christmas and we are struggling a bit with the introduction to our older cat.

I did get a lovely invitation from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to fill in a visitor satisfaction survey after filling in a visitor questionnaire at the airport, and I will take some photos of this to share with you sometime this week.

Our Holiday Condo – Ilikai 1925

We rented our condo via VRBO and you can find it here – Beautifully Remodelled Ilikai Gem. This will be a photo intensive post – we did take a lot of pictures of the condo and the items supplied. I will put the text at the top and try to save photos for the end, unless the photo relates to the text.

About the unit

This is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit. Each bedroom has a queen sized bed with a memory foam topper. One bathroom is an ensuite with a shower over the bath, the other bathroom is a separate bathroom with a separate shower and no bathtub. There is a full size kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher.

Also a note – When you contact the owner via VRBO she will put you in touch with Marina Hawaii Vacations who manage this unit.

Why we chose this unit

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Dining and lounge area – somehow I forgot to take a closeup of the lounge area!

The main reason we chose this unit over other units available was the lounge furniture. We most wanted a comfortable lounge setting which was solid enough to handle my good friend who as you may already be aware is a person of magnitude at just over 300 pounds when we travelled. So we ruled out all units with cane lounges – and there are a lot of those with this being Hawaii!

Out of the units left once we narrowed down the choices and ruled out the cane stuff, this unit had availability for our dates plus had the advantage of 2 bedrooms and 2 *separate* bathrooms.

Would we stay here again?

Absofreakinglutely, in a heartbeat. This unit was everything we thought it would be, and more. Plus we loved the Ilikai – more about that later though.

Just one negative for us

As I always like to do, lets get the negative out of the way first. Unit wise, I felt there was only one negative to this unit and some people will actually find it a positive – the curtains in the bedrooms are not block out curtains. This is the only thing I would change if this unit belonged to me.

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The bedroom of bigaln2

For me, because I do work night shift, my bedroom is usually a bat cave – very dark. So I find it a bit harder to be able to sleep when there is light. Then again, you are in Hawaii, who wants to sleep, right?

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Our bed in our bedroom – very comfortable when it was time to sleep

Some street noise

There was some street noise because this unit – although it is on level 19 – does look out over Ala Moana Boulevard. However for me this was not noisy enough to be considered a negative. The one thing I did notice most noise wise was theBus – when it stops it makes a beeping noise. From our bedroom we did have a view over the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon and we could see the ocean too.

There was also some noise when the Hilton were holding their Luau, however this was such a great thing not a bad thing, we usually went out onto the balcony and enjoyed it.

If you want a totally silent dark bat cave to sleep in, this is not the right unit for you to rent.

What we did love

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Living and dining area.

I honestly loved everything else about this unit including the amount of light that comes in during the day when you are awake and not wanting to sleep. The decor is very neutral and isn’t going to disturb anyones peace of mind, which is great when you are on holiday. There is nothing there which seems old and certainly nothing ugly.

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The glasses cupboard.

I loved that there were large plastic tumblers – glass and me never works out well in the kitchen. However there were also glass options if you did want to go that way – the best of both worlds.

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Desk Area

There were plenty of coat hangers in the cupboards, plenty of drawer space, a lovely little desk for your laptop, some beautiful art on the walls, and there was even a night light in the ensuite. Towels and linen were provided and I have to say were excellent, the bed sheets and quilt provided were extremely comfortable. The memory foam topper was *awesome* and the beds were extremely comfortable.

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Kitchen Drawer Contents

I could tell that the owner of this unit has spent some time thinking about what people are going to need to use cookery wise, the cupboards were full of useful kitchen items.

Air Conditioning

The unit had you covered 100% air-conditioning wise – there is a split system air-conditioner head unit in each bedroom *plus* a split system air-conditioner in the main living area directly across from the couches. The owner has not done this on the cheap either – they have put in reliable units which provide only white noise and the occasional water pump sound. I cannot tell you if each head unit has their own outside unit or not, I did not investigate that further.

I often found the air-conditioning too cool and would turn the unit(s) off until one of the *ahem* men (That would be the one from the cold climate!) noticed it was off and would turn it back on. I would usually only leave the main living room unit on when we went out and would go around turning the bedroom ones off as we left. Hey – I am in Hawaii, I like it warm.

Marina Hawaii Vacations

Our experience with this company was fantastic – with one tiny exception and that was that they moved from Level 2 down to the lobby right before we visited and so we had some trouble finding them to begin with – the maps said level 2, my paperwork said level 2, we got to level 2 and found the original office which had a note on the door that they had moved to the lobby and we had to walk around a bit to find them. Nobody we asked was sure where the new office was.

With that said, the new office is absolutely gorgeous and the staff were welcoming and helpful. We were not there for very long because we had already paid the full balance a week in advance (to test out my new credit card) and so we were given the key cards, some paperwork with instructions, and told the most important rule which is not to hang towels or other items from the lanai – this is not something we would ever do anyway. :)

The Ilikai Experience 

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The Ilikai Lobby

We loved The Ilikai overall. The lobby is beautiful, there are plenty of places to sit and chill if you wanted to do that, there is a lovely chair outside where you can wait for your car to be returned to you by the valet, the lifts were responsive and generally fast, the location is spot on for we Aussies who shop.

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The laundry – two washers, two dryers on each floor.

There are laundry facilities which we did make use of on a couple of occasions.

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Internal Corridor.

The one small downside is that the internal corridors are like saunas. It gets very warm in there and there seemed to be no air-conditioning there.

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View of The Ilikai from the Discovery Bay Center across the road.

There is a bus stop very close by and this also happens to be the stop where a lot of pickups tend to happen e.g. PG Plover out to Waikele – you are usually the first picked up and the first dropped back to your hotel on any tours which is a bonus. This is also one of the better theBus stops for people wanting to go to KCC Farmers Market and get a seat on the bus.

We already mentioned the awesome KiMOBEAN for coffee, breakfast, and free wifi nearby in the Discovery Centre – there is also the great ABC Superette a short walk away on the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Hobron Lane for all your snacks, treats, and general ABC shopping type needs. If the Superette doesn’t have all of the items you’re looking for, there is another ABC store located just up Ala Moana Blvd. by Magokoro.

The Ilikai Pool

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The Ilikai Pool Area

If you read the reviews for the Ilikai from time to time you will hear about the people who live in the condos being extremely possessive and somewhat territorial when it comes to the pool. Having been in the pool, I now get why they might be like that – this pool is heated to a temperature of such perfection rarely encountered in the world. I have been to many hotel pools as well as regular swimming pools during my time on this planet and I have to say – this pool is my most favourite, ever. That is saying something huge.

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The Ilikai Pool Area

We did not experience the territorial stuff because we always went to the pool right before dinner, about 6:30pm, the pool was not used a lot at that time, it closed at 7:30, and I think the most people we ever encountered there were 4 kids plus 2 adults.

There is a staff member at the pool who gives out towels, who would often tell kids not to run – the staff member would also assist the kids when they needed help with things and kept a very close eye on the happenings at the pool making sure rules like no diving were obeyed which if I were a parent I would be pretty happy about – but please note there is no lifeguard on duty here.

So Much Space 

I don’t think it would be very easy to go back to staying in a standard hotel room after this condo experience. We had so much space to spread out – the living room area was where we spent a lot of time chatting and planning our plots of action. In a regular hotel room you wouldn’t have that couch area and extra space. I’m definitely sold on condos from now on, and I do have quite a long list of favourites for future trips.

Some more photos

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The entrance area with shoe rack

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Main Bathroom

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Main Bathroom 2

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Ensuite

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Ensuite 2

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The art above the desk

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The kitchen and dining area

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TV, Aircon, Honu wall art

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Lift area at the lobby

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Excellent fridge space, plenty of room!

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Plates and bowls plus martini glasses

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Rice cooker, blender, and more glasses

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Dishwasher

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Pots & pans

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Tea towels and pot holders

Large Feet..

You know what they say about people with large feet.. they have large.. shoes.

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Christian Siriano Violetta Shoe – $29.99

Payless Shoesource are fortunate to often have fashion designers create shoes exclusively for them – Christian Siriano is a regular designer for Payless, in past years (2011) (2012) I have seen shoes by designers like Isabel Toledo and Lela Rose.

Me personally I wear size 10 or 11 depending on the shoe.

Unfortunately in Australia it is a bit difficult to find these large shoes, especially in pretty styles. But on Oahu? You will be spoiled for choice. Usually the section for size 11 is tiny – have a look at this size 11 section at Payless just behind the International Marketplace!

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Here are some size 10 shoes at the same Payless -

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These are not all of the size 10 shoes in the store – the boys were rushing me through here and I did not get to take all the photos I wanted to..

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They have a pretty decent range of boots for a warm climate state!

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This is just one store. You will find most of the shoe stores stock most styles in size 10-11.

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The shoes on Oahu are very reasonably priced and there is a large range to choose from.

You can get a preview before your trip of the available shoes at Payless Shoesource by visiting their website – they sadly do not ship to Australia.

Happy Shoe Shopping!