Tahiti, Miami, Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe

cocktails at the Sofitel bar!

Despite having prolonged my stay in Tahiti from 10 to 14 days, time flew by and I tearfully left Papeete airport Sunday evening. It is so easy to get used to the Pacific laid-back lifestyle and beautiful surroundings, but even more so when you share it all with someone you love.

I had an unforgettable time in Tahiti, and what I discovered, saw and learnt during my short stay was fantastic. Granted, it was strange not being with family on Christmas day, and weird not being near home for New Year’s… No snow, no fondue, no fireplace, no snowboarding – but instead sunshine, Mahi Mahi, Tahitian sashimi, Marquisian dance shows and snorkeling. We did however get a bottle of Moet Chandon and some foie-gras, for these delicious traditions are difficult to avoid…

We spent quite a lot of time alongside Marie and Flo, who are friends and fellow students at Geneva’s hotel school which Alex goes to – they are also working in Tahitian hotels as part of their internships. On Christmas day we went out in kayaks and snorkeled in the turquoise waters nearest to Alex’s hotel. We had a Christmas dinner together a few days later, as Flo’s parents had sent him some top notch foie-gras and champagne from home, which we shared with a nice home-made meal. Last Saturday we rented a car and circled the island of Tahiti together, discovering all the coast’s treats – great surfing spots, the tallest largest waterfalls I have ever seen, black sand beaches, breathtaking coastal views, and we ate in a very tasty French restaurant.

giant waterfall on Tahiti's east coast

The last days I spent there were surprisingly wet and rainy – it showered from Friday through to Sunday non stop, flooding the streets and cooling the temperatures. However, it added a wintery touch to our Christmas together, and Alex and I especially appreciated it on the Friday evening when it commenced as we were shelter under an enormous parasol facing a lit up pool – the pouring rain was almost torrential, and we were snug under our shelter for two watching it get more and more intense.

I even got to play a concert with a band one night, as one of Alex’s colleagues kindly offered I’d play with the band on that particular evening. A lot of Alex’s fellow interns showed up, with some of their friends, and we had a big table in front of the stage. I was nervous at first about playing with a band, because I am used to playing solo, but the bassist, guitarist and percussionist followed my every move and I didn’t have to worry about anything. It was great fun, and I played two sets, and in total, about 15 songs. It actually went so well that all the drinks ordered on our table were given for free, as the director of the bar was happy with the performance. And I overheard the director of the hotel had come especially to watch, and personally told Alex the following day at work that he had enjoyed the performance. Thumbs up all round!

concert with Acoustic Party band

You can understand why it was so difficult and sad for me to leave Tahiti, but I did and eventually got to Miami where I spent one night in a snazzy/hip/modern hotel slap back in the middle of Miami Beach, called ‘the New Hotel’. It was very comfy, and had a strange yet cool vibe to it – I arrived in the night, and there was lounge-y music playing quite loudly out on a lit up pool, couches, candles, an open cocktail bar, red lights, blue lights, a projector screen just above the pool replaying that night’s American football game. The concierge brought my heavy bags up to my room, and told me I could order a cocktail on the house in order to relax. I had a strawberry mint Mojito which was delicious to say the least. The hotel room was very nice, the bed especially soft and snug – perfect for resting after two long flights: Tahiti-LA, LA-Miami.

strawberry mint Mojito @ The New Hotel, Miami Beach

And yesterday I flew to Puerto Rico, waited there for 3h, and eventually got on to a plane to Guadeloupe. The wait in Puerto Rico was a bit frustrating as I have never visited this country, and being stuck inside the airport with the gift shops selling shirts and souvenirs I felt was a bit of shame. What was amusing was the plane ride to Guadeloupe – one of the oldest, smallest planes took us there. I could see the giant propellers from my tiny window seat revving up, and making an incredible noise. But the cherry on the cake was the fact that all of the chaps at the front of the plane had to relocate to various parts of back and middle of the plane, for balancing reasons! I was the only remaining person at the front, exempt from moving as I was the only lady at the front from the outset. The plane made an absolute racket the whole way from Puerto Rico to Guadeloupe, and thankfully I still had a pair of ear plugs in my bag from my Air Tahiti Nui flight.

I have now arrived safely in Guadeloupe. I haven’t had much time to explore yet, as I have just come back from breakfast, which I ate on the beach front. There are interesting Caribbean treats such as coconut jam, banana jam, fresh guava juice… And I’m sure so many more exciting Guadeloupian discoveries are on the horizon for the coming next weeks!

Advertisements

Boat trips and big hotels

another sunset view from Waikiki beach

A few weeks have gone by now since my arrival on Oahu, and I’m getting used to things here in the city of Waikiki. Although the contrast between the laid back atmosphere on the beach and the non stop liveliness of the city’s streets can be difficult to adapt to. One minute you could be sipping a tropical ice tea, facing the calm waves of the ocean rocking back and forth on the beach, listening to hula, the next you could be in a large crowd of people impatiently waiting to cross the street to desperately get into Macy’s or Starbucks.

I’ve been cruising around the shoreline and around Diamond Head mountain in a boat this past week. Once on Thursday at 3Pm, where the boat sailed around at quite high speed and played some reggae music on board – it was a great way to unwind, and the glass of champagne certainly helped. The next trip I took was on Sunday evening, at 5PM, a ”sunset booze cruise” – same boat, same route, but slower and all-inclusive drinks. This was also good fun, and seeing the sun set, the skies turn to orange, pink, purple, and then watching Waikiki’s city lights brighten as the day turned to night was delightful.

the Sheraton's infinity pool

I have been doing a lot of walking around the city, discovering the right, left and center of it. I go and visit the farmer’s markets on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (it changes location each day), and have become friendly with one of the market stands which now gives me free gifts such as coconut mochi bread or oatmeal cookies. I ate my very first malasada last Thursday: a Hawaiian treat consisting of two small yet thick doughnut-like buns with creamy custard in the middle – not the healthiest of snacks, but certainly worth a taste.

I’ve met some very interesting people on my little walks and explorations here and there – a very talented barman at Jimmy Buffet’s, who can do all sorts of swinging and juggling tricks with bottles, and makes some mean cocktails too. I also got talking to the captains of both boat trips, who recommend I come on their trips in the mornings to snorkel with the sea turtles.

From time to time, I will hang out in the big hotels: The Sheraton, The Royal Hawaiian, The Hilton Hawaiian Village, etc.. sit on a sun bed, drink a little something, have a dip. No one notices that I’m out of place – it must be because I’m here quietly and discreetly by myself and obviously don’t look too inconspicuous. I also recently came across a Sheraton towel card in my wallet which I picked up at the airport when I transited through Honolulu in October on my way to Maui – I will try and see if I can use it, if so, I will be able to have a dip in the infamous Sheraton infinity pool, which looks rather chic.

Kimo, the bartender from Jimmy Buffet's

The music scene is certainly overwhelming – there is so much to listen to, it is difficult to choose. There is generally a good selection of Hawaiian, jazz and rock music every night in a lot of different bars and venues. It depends on what you’re up for – a laid back background sound to go with a classy cocktail, an energetic dance in a club, a more traditional island setting, etc. But nothing caters for anything else, I was told to experience the up and coming creative musicians who ”aren’t allowed to play in Waikiki” (i.e. not tourist-y enough) play in downtown, also known as Chinatown. However, I have also been advised not to venture in this part of town alone, so I’m a bit apprehensive about checking it all out. Plus, there is so much to hear here in Waikiki, I am afraid I may musically OD if I hit downtown (if there is such a thing).

I have found an equivalent to Mana Foods, a natural health food store in Maui, called ‘Down to Earth’, which is very pleasant and makes excellent food you can eat out on a terrace. This place is in Kailua, which is the nearest smaller town to me. It is student friendly town: cheaper prices, health food stores, internet cafés, small convenience stores, massage therapist places that are considerably less expensive than in the center of Waikiki.

And that is one down factor, Waikiki is extremely expensive. If only money grew on palm trees!

Bahama Mama

Yesterday morning I awoke to a symphony of men and women all chanting ‘OMMMMM’ in harmony and in several sequences during a yoga/meditation class next door. It wasn’t a bad way to wake up!

Moose's

The previous night I had gone out to Lahaina, about an hour drive from here, with a francophone group of buddies to a bar called Moose’s. The attraction were the 1$ drinks served from 10PM onwards. I have never been one to want to drink excessively, but I made the most of the deal in my own way by ordering some elaborate cocktails, namely some ‘Bahama Mamas’, which were 3$ instead of 8$. The bar  was situated on the second floor of the building, so our table gave on to a balcony view of Front Street, Lahaina’s main road – an entertaining people watching spot.

It was quite an international setting – I was sitting with three French boys, a German guy, a Spanish girl and a Canadian dude. The bar, which I would best describe as a USA sporty type of a place, had its charms but was a bit tacky. Lots of TV screens, framed photos of people drinking beer, road signs, burgers and nachos… It eventually turned into a night club, and out of nowhere it seemed, a lot of very under dressed women, loud men and wet sticky floors seemed to take over the night’s festivities! The music was your average club music – 50 cent, Katy Perry, House of Pain, etc.. I watched the dance floor for a while, thinking I may bust my moves for a bit, but the whole floor was jammed full of not-so-sober bumpers and grinders!

Maoli

Friday night’s festivities were a bit more up my street (and literally too!) – a reggae dub group called Maoli played live at Charley’s. They were amazing, and I’m glad I took some film of them. They had a fresh young style and made the atmosphere in Charley’s the best I’ve seen it since I’ve been here. I very happily danced to them!

Today I went to the kitesurfing spot of Kahului, and watched the impressive amounts of surfers out there. It is pretty cool to watch as you can see all the different kites and their colors dancing in the sky just above the waters. Closer kitesurfers are entertaining to watch because they will occasionally do a trick or two, leaping into the air, twist and turn into all sorts of shapes and land back down onto the water, only to be whisked away again by the kite into another direction. I went up and down the beach, which had lovely sand. Today was super sunny, and I may even have got a bit of a sun burnt nose.

Yesterday I had gone to Paia Bay Café to wait for the bus, I tried their chocolate chip banana bread which was yummy. I had it in mind to go to Kihei, one of the funnest spots I have come across. Whilst I sat there waiting for the bus, another regular of the café, a man in his 50s perhaps, introduced himself to me. A theater teacher, who also practices spiritual healing, and said that he could align my Chakras if I so wished some time. I have no idea what it means, but it was certainly very nice of him to offer! He said that next time he sees me at the caf, we should have tea and discuss this particular topic – so it looks like I’m in for an interesting discussion next time I go for coffee in town.

Wailea

I hopped on to the bus, and having arrived at Kihei, I decided I would stick it out a bit more on the bus and wait until I got to Wailea. Wailea is, I have come to learn, the richest most chic area of Maui – the grass every where is very well trimmed, it has a Beverly Hills air to it, sports cars can be spotted a lot, and everything looks perfect. When I finally got off the bus, I mooched around a bit, and came across an outdoor shopping center. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Guess, art galleries, real estate agents, a very expensive steak restaurant, and some very pricey coffee/ice cream joints. I walked around the high-end shops and boutiques, and found the place really charming – it had impressive water pieces, palm trees and fancy escalators too. I caved in and bought myself a scoop of ice cream at one of these little cafés – coconut, caramel and macadamia nut, and ate it in the sun by a water fountain.

I lent a hand to Ryan this morning by helping him move a big mattress out of his old house up in Haiku. The drive up is nice, and seeing as it was such a sunny day, the views were amazing from up there. Only a week left though until I leave to another island – and I am feeling like I need to make the most of Maui before I leave by really soaking up all the views, the atmosphere, the good feeling as much as possible!