By Ernest Barteldes
PART 1 – GETTING THERE
Early this year Renata and I were planning our late spring vacation. The plan was to go to Poland (a visit that is way overdue), so we were both searching for good flight deals on different websites and also via travel agencies. But then Renata found a sale that had nothing to do with Europe – Hawaiian Airlines was having a blowout sale to the islands, and we began pondering on the idea of visiting Hawaii – a place we’d always talked about visiting – instead of Poland.
We searched various other airlines during that week, and finally settled with a nonstop deal with United Airlines that was cheaper than what Hawaiian offered (also, there was no layover in LA or Seattle). I recall having the screen in front of me and calling Renata at work to make sure she was really going to skip Poland and learn about the Aloha spirit instead (more on that one later). She seemed to take a deep breath and then that was that – we were going to Hawaii.
The next step was lodging, of course. We were planning to use our time-share points with RCI, but since they only give us one-week blocks, we had to find further accommodations elsewhere. The solution came through Hotwire, and we found a very affordable place on Waikiki Beach just a few blocks from where our main place would be.
The next step was figuring out transportation and other details about eating and such. We were aware that Hawaii is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world, and after a bad experience in Florida in which we overspent during a Thanksgiving trip, we knew that we would have to keep a keen eye on the purse strings.
Fortunately, the city of Honolulu has great public transportation. Their bus system (simply called “The Bus”) takes you everywhere within city limits, and that includes Pearl Harbor and the island’s North Shore. We also did a lot of research on Groupon and found great discounts for tours and restaurants (there will probably be a whole post on actually getting to these places).
We did tons of searches on inexpensive places to eat, and Renata read up about attractions we could visit without having to pay an arm and a leg to do so.
The day finally came and we woke up early and finished packing. I included two bottles of wine from Trader Joe’s (for a BYOB cruise we’d booked) in case Honolulu prices were too steep (turns out they weren’t), and of course made sure we had all batteries, E-readers and phones charged for the trip.
When we reached Penn Station we were dismayed to find that AirTrain fare for Newark airport was $ 25 for a round trip (It’s $ 11 for JFK), but that was not the worst – we had no idea that United Airlines charges for everything you consume on the plane (except for non-alcoholic beverages), so we found ourselves shelling out as much as $ 15 for two crappy sandwiches – you’d think that a long-haul flight like that would include a meal, but since Hawaii is seen as a domestic flight, that is simply not the case (I did check their website, but didn’t see any info on that matter).
After a tiring ten-hour flight, we found ourselves at Honolulu airport. Contrary to what people say, there are no hula girls welcoming you with leis (there were some shuttle representatives holding them, though, but none for us). What I later found out is that you have to purchase the service, unless you fly with Hawaiian Airlines.
Within a few minutes, we took our shuttle to the airport (we were told you couldn’t take luggage on the bus, but that turned out not to be true) and were driven to our hotel in Waikiki – thus began our ten days in paradise.
Hawaiian Chicken Recipe
6 large chicken breasts, cut in half
o 1/2 cup butter
o 1 (15 ounce) cans pineapple chunks
o 1/2 cup pressed brown sugar
o 4 tablespoons cornstarch
o 1/4 cup very hot water
o 2 teaspoons salt
o 1/2 cup vinegar
o 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
o 2 teaspoons chili powder
o 2/3 cup ketchup
o 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1. Set oven to 350°F.
2. Place chicken in baking dish.
3. Melt butter in large skillet on low heat.
4. Mix corn starch and hot water in glass or small bowl until well blended; set aside.
5. Add excess pineapple juice from can of pineapple chunks.
6. Sprinkle pineapple chunks over chicken.
7. Mix brown sugar, salt, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and chili powder in skillet until well blended.
8. Turn skillet to medium heat and let simmer for 2 minutes.
9. Stir in ketchup and soy sauce.
10. Stir in corn starch mixture and blend well, sauce will become very thick.
11. Let simmer 2-3 more minutes.
12. Pour sauce over chicken and pineapple chunks.
13. Bake chicken for 50-60 minutes, or until chicken is cooked completely through.
14. Remove with caution, pan may be heavy and it will be hot