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Kauai Trip!

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Happy Holidays Everyone! I really hope you all had a great, restful end of December. I was lucky enough to actually get to go on vacation, first one since I started The Guild over 2 1/2 years ago, SERIOUSLY! I’d been saving up all year for a trip, dangling the carrot of “relaxation” in front of myself as motivation to get through the 24/7 workload that’s plagued me this year. Not complaining, it’s just being constantly online definitely strains the psyche, I’ve decided constantly multi-tasking has degraded my concentration, and will make an effort to single-task more in 2010. Better for creativity perhaps? Sanity, definitely. 🙂

Usually I love to go to a place where I can research obsessively, learn a new language and plan excursions scheduled down to the minute. Alas, the last few months have been so exhausting I didn’t even think I had the energy to GO on vacation! But, on the spur of the moment, I decided to follow through, and I am SO glad I did. Kauai is gorgeous, and I definitely would recommend visiting for a relaxing, beautiful time. Many people inquired where I went on my trip, so I’ll briefly outline some of the highlights!

First, I started looking for hotels, and they were either too $$ (Four Seasons), sold out, or one of those bohemoth resorts with hundreds of rooms, the kind I hate. Finally I searched “Boutique Hotel Kauai” and came up with the Koa Kea Hotel.

Koa Kea Hotel

I had no context for the location, it was a bit pricey (although I found a deal on the website), but all I knew was that the pictures were GORGEOUS! They’d just renovated everything, and the decor was sleek and simple. When we arrived everything was what it looked like in the pictures and more. Small, quiet, GREAT rooms, lovely beach and boardwalk down to a pretty public beach, and a spectacular view to wake up to every day. The pillow and sheets were high quality too, I know that’s weird to say, but it’s the thing that’s most important to me at a hotel, that I sleep good! And they have REALLY strong Mai Tais, hehe.

It was a great location on Poipu, the southernmost tip of the island, close to walk to several good restaurants and a general store, and convenient by car to most of the island. I honestly couldn’t have picked a better place. The only complaint I had was breakfast was pricey, so we went elsewhere most the time. The restaurant, Red Salt, was expensive, but the best food we had for dinner on the island, so I don’t regret it at all, a lovely Christmas dinner! I would definitely recommend this hotel again, so peaceful and intimate!

FOOD! I have to say the island doesn’t have SPECTACULAR food (like Oahu), but we found many a good meal there. Red Salt at our hotel, was very nice for DINNER (pricey though, def a splurge).

Red Salt

Breakfast is too pricey though, so go only as a treat for the view (which is BEAUTIFUL).

We had Christmas Eve dinner at Roy’s, an institution that is very well reviewed but SO disappointing. I can’t tell you how blah this food was, and at the price, ugh. Get a hot dog at Puka Dog next door instead, much better price and YUMMY! I had no idea that Hawaiian hot dogs were ENCASED in bread, it was weird and cool! We did eat at Gaylord’s the last night, and that was wonderful for a fancy dinner. I would try it for lunch/brunch as well, the service was excellent and the food was great. Cool location too.

The idea of going to Starbucks was AWFUL, so we went to the Kauai Coffee Company, where they actually grow the beans, which was quite cool to see. You can sample all varieties of coffee and get a great latte for the road. A nice side trip. We had brunch at a small place called Grinds which was nice, they make their own bread, so their egg sandwich with Portuguese Sausage was awesome.

Two of my favorite places: A little cafe called Kalaheo Cafe, which was wonderful for breakfast and lunch and had great coffee. We went there several times. And my Achilles Heel was definitely Papalani Gelato. Oh boy you guys, this stuff is AMAZING! Waffle Cone + Papalani Sorbetto (Guava, Blood Orange and Lilikoi mixed) + Pineapple Sorbetto = JOY JOY! The only thing that topped it was a shaved ice from a place called JoJo’s. I got the island specialty called a “Halo Halo”, it had coconut syrup, azuki beans, macadamia nut ice cream, candied pineapple pieces, gelatin and azuki beans. I ate ever bite of a HUGE portion, but didn’t regret anything after! Now that I think of it, I guess I was on a sugar high the whole trip. OH WELL!

As far as sights went, we Weimeia Canyon is a MUST SEE. Its breathtaking to be driving up the mountain and, through the trees, glimpse a canyon that equals the Grand Canyon in majesty. Here’s a pic:

Weimea Canyon

Also went hiking, but it was muddy and slippery. Definitely didn’t do as much as we could, I guess more for next time!

We also drove to the northernmost part of the island, and I’m just sorry we didn’t go back there once again, it’s a MUCH different climate than the south of the island, greener and more tropical. I see now why people stay several days on the north, then several days on the south. I didn’t understand that from afar, it’s such a small island! But I definitely will remember the helicopter trip around the island forever. We flew around the whole island, most parts you can never see from the car. The sheer scope of the cliffs and secluded beachs is so breathtaking, and we saw whales in the ocean, which was a huge thrill for me!

Another highlight of the trip was an accident, stumbling on the National Tropical Botanical Garden on the last day. We did the McBride tour, and it was raining, which could have been a drag but it was WONDERFUL. Seeing all the different tropical plants, and all the effort this organization goes through to save endangered species, it was very spiritual and inspiring as well as educational. I would definitely recommend doing one of the tours, and meeting the very educated tour guides who will open a new world of plants to you (if you’re not already familiar with them like I was)!

Orchid

MANY more pictures in my Flickr account if you like flowers!

Didn’t shop much, but I did impulse buy a pricey ukele (the musician in me had to get a Koa one 🙁 ). I can’t play guitar, although I’ve tried, but the size of a guitar has always held me back. I definitely had more fun with the small violinish-sized uke, and learned a lot of bizarre public domain songs from the turn of the century (only book I could get, haha). Thx to the guy at Larry’s Ukele’s, I definitely enriched my trip musically.

Lastly I’m linking a picture of me, not to be cheesecake, just to show my tan off. My fake tan.

FAKE TAN!

That’s right, for the first time ever I got one of those fake spray on tans everyone in Hollywood uses. I have to say I felt REALLY WEIRD with it on, but kinda confident, because usually I’m hiding my pale legs from the world, haha. I can say confidently though, that I’m probably the only person to get PALER during a week in Hawaii. I guess that’s something to brag about. 🙂 Oh, and yes, that bikini was on sale for $1.99 a piece at Target, and it shows. Guess I learned a lesson, don’t be cheap with swimsuits.

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