The Spritle Blog!UPDATE: I'll be live-blogging while on Oahu from December 17th through December 25th. So, if you're getting sick of unwrapping presents, eating ham and sipping egg nog, pop over to this page to see what a bit of Mele Kalikimaka is all about.
DEC 17 2015 | Music, Hula, and a Great Conversation
While waiting for the Farmers Market to open, I walked down a few blocks to Tiki's for a cocktail. I noticed one of the musicians setting up for the evening's entertainment was carrying a Taylor guitar gig bag, so I went over to ask her about it. What started out as a guitar geeks' conversation about instruments turned into an interesting chat about Arlene Walani's musical life.
Turns out, she had just gotten back from five and a half months in Japan where, working for a touring entertainment agency, she and other Hawaiian performers, were traveling the country, performing traditional Polynesian music and hula. She's also been working for the City and County of Honolulu for more than 25 years and is involved with the Major's Office of Culture and Arts. She's a single mom, works her ass off support her family, travels to play Hawaiian music and educate about Polynesian culture and has a love of Hawaii that's palpable.
When her musical partner, Ben, showed up, they took the stage and had a great time doing it. Lots of traditional songs are in their repertoire along with a Hawaiian spin on some classic and contemporary hits. The hula girls came out to perform for various numbers and were also a big hit.
DEC 17 2015 | Waikiki Farmers Market!
After coming back from parking my rental car, I realized it was Thursday and close to 4pm: time for the Waikiki Farmers Market... the twice-weekly event in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.
I wandered through as the vendors set up and had a chance to talk with Vilivuni, a Tongan who was raised in Australia. He comes from 4 generations of carvers. Many of the pieces he and his uncle were selling here are from a huge collection of pieces carved by his father, grandfather and great grandfather. Some of these include carvings from ivory and fossilized whale bone, but these days Vilivuni carves mostly from bison bone, mango wood, and iron wood.
The rambutan (the red, fuzzy looking ones) was in season and sweet. There's lot of local honey for sale here, but my favorite snack is the baked mochi... wow!
DEC 17 2015 | Can you say UPGRADE?
Many thanks to my dear friend! He kindly volunteered his Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member number for my reservation at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki... which got me this super-sweet, 40th floor view! And, the Toto Washlet is pretty nice, too... LOL!
I'm really impressed with the extensive updates Hyatt has done to this property. As many frequenters of Waikiki may know, many of the hotel buildings are pretty seriously-dated with questionable architecture, to say the least. Still, this city has its charms to those who take the time to get to know her and her buildings, dated, strange, or not, are part of this city. There are many, many cranes and hordes of construction workers clamoring all over the area as lots and lots of money is being spent on long-needed improvements.
DEC 15 2015 | Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Fine, let it snow... I'm outta here! That is, if DIA gets their runways cleared by 6am Thursday morning.
In case you can't tell, I'm sitting on a $2.99 ABC Store floatie. Probably the best $2.99 I've ever spent in Hawaii, too. This simple, little piece of ultrasonically-welded vinyl gave me hours of simple pleasure during my last trip... so much so that I couldn't bear abandoning it when I left. So, even though it took up valuable space in my suitcase, I deflated it and stuffed it in next to my stash of Mauna Loa macadamia nuts, Hawaiian Host chocolates, Mountain Thunder 100% Kona coffee, Kukui jams and jellies and other favorite goodies.
And, it'll be back in my suitcase tomorrow as I pack for Oahu. So, ya'll can have the Christmas snow... I'm going for palm trees, white sand, and warm, blue water!
DEC 10 2015 | Food Hit List!
While chatting with a friend of a friend, I put together the list below of a "few" of my favorite places to eat on Oahu. I'm hoping to hit all of them again starting next week...
Oahu Favorite Restaurant List
3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Probably the best of the best of Hawaiian "plate lunch" drive-ins. Breakfast is basic, fast and yummy! Try the Portuguese sausage!
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
You just can't leave Honolulu without eating at least ONE malasada!
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
307 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815
Japanese spin on Korean BBQ. Their Happy Hours are fantastic deals!
Tiki's Bar & Grill (Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel)
2570 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Probably the best of the Waikiki resort bars. Great food and great Happy Hour prices. A local hang-out with great, local music every night!
Chibo (In the Royal Hawaiian Center)
2201 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
A bit pricy, but simply excellent example of a real Teppanyaki/Okonomiyaki restaurant.
2427 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
A smaller, cheaper-priced Teppanyaki/Okonomiyaki restaurant a half-block off the beach behind the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. VERY friendly and helpful staff with experience in guiding noobs through the "Teppanyaki/Okonomiyaki" experience.
Mai Tai Bar (In the Ala Moana Center Mall, top floor east)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd #3247, Honolulu, HI 96814
A hidden gem in the mall. FANTASTIC Happy Hour prices on drinks and food and GREAT, local music nightly. Definitely more of a locals hang-out. Covered, but open-air place on the top of the mall, comfy chairs and couches. Fills up quickly after dark!
1585 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814
Hard to describe this place. Hip decor, locals scene, HUGE menu with a mix of Japanese and Pan-Asian/Pan-Pacific Rim cuisine with a fusion flair... and very reasonable prices.
515 Kailua Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
Habachi is VERY easy to miss. It's a tiny place in Kailua that looks like a little convenience store,but makes the BEST, FRESHEST poke daily (sells fresh-caught fish, too). You can grab a poke bowl with rice and a single bottle of cheaply-priced beer and sit out front on their tiny deck.
Kua Aina Sandwich Shop
66-160 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
As KAZBOT™, likes to say, they have "The Best Burgers in the Universe!" and he's right! You'd be hard-pressed to find a better one anywhere, but having it here in Haleiwa makes it taste even better.
Romy's Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp
56-781 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731
There's a LOT of shrimp trucks in the Kahuku area, but Romy's is the best of the best… and the sometimes 45 minutes plus wait tells the tale. Don't fall for the hype of Giovanni's down the road; the story goes that they've been busted selling frozen shrimp imported from Vietnam and Thailand. Can't confirm or deny this rumor, but I prefer to get my super-fresh garlic shrimp at Romy's.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (in the Don Quijote plaza)
801 Kaheka St, Honolulu, HI 96814
This is a new place and a new find for me. If you like ramen, this is the place. Great prices and such excellent quality. It's tiny and sometimes hard to get a table.
Kona Brewing Co.
Koko Marina Center, Koko Marina Shopping Center, 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825
This place is such a great spot for a "Liquid Aloha" lunch or dinner. Right on the marina, the views from the restaurant are simply gorgeous. Best selection of Kona beer you'll find, since many are no longer available on the mainland. Plus, their food is just dynamite! They also have great local music from time to time and the great slack key guitarist, Ledward "Led" Kaapana, plays there regularly.
DEC 9 2015 | More Website Prep and SEO
In preparation for next week's trip, I made small, but important site mods to boost my initial SEO when I start to blog from Waikiki and around Oahu during Christmas. Any friends and family that want to help me out can spend about 15 seconds by clicking on a few links for me.
- If already here, just click any of the social media icons (that you have accounts with) just below this (or any other) post.
- If you see one of my posts pop up on your Facebook wall, click on the "read blog" link, then any of the social media icons (that you have accounts with) just below any blog post.
- If you happen to be following my Facebook page, facebook.com/spritle.net...
- And, if you're feeling especially generous, please enter your email address in the "Newsletter" form below. I PROMISE not to spam you! I don't use MailChimp or any other third-party email campaign services. I write my own email code and personally-control it, protect your data religiously, and won't bombard your inbox!
DEC 4 2015 | Ready? Set? GO!
Anyone that knows me, knows about my seemingly-obsessive passion for Hawaii. Not a year has gone by since my first trip to the Islands that I haven't managed to make at least one trip there... and always too short. I've had a plan to launch this site and blog about my Happy Place for a very long time.
Well, after several years of hemming and hawing, planning and traveling, slaving over hot code for evil corporate empires, and, quite frankly, fantasizing about doing this, I'm finally stepping up and launching Spritle! There's never a perfect time to begin a new chapter in one's life, so I'm jumping in the deep end.
So, rather than putz around the house and shovel snow, I'm heading back to Oahu for Christmas. I'll be live-blogging as I work to add all the missing content this site needs to be of value to any wannabee Islands traveler. I've got a lot of work to do and it'll always be a work-in-progress, but I'm hoping to not only blog, but to capture a bit of video for the VIDEOS section, make more local friends (and steal more local recipes!), and dial in the focus of this website.