I am reassured to find Chinatown and vicinity hasn't really changed in almost 50 years. It's a long ride to Waikiki, but I have my maps, and we get off the bus at the correct place, despite Waikiki looking NOTHING like what I remember. The Ohana Islander is fairly nice, though a trifle musty and next to a construction zone (but so is the Royal Hawaiian, a block over). For a budget hotel, I can deal easily.
We stroll through some shops, after parking our bags. Then, because I'm covering old territory, we go over to the Royal Hawaiian. For a moment, I can't find it! It seems they have built a shopping center in front of it, so you can no longer see it from the street. So we wander through the (under contruction) shopping center, and come out on the gardens. There it is! The Pink Palace! Just as I remember. We pass through the gardens and into the former front entrance (there is now a taxi entrance on the side, reached up a narrow alley). It's full of dark woods with a big map of the Islands on the wall to our left. Below it is a small sign announcing a "historical walking tour" of the hotel at 2 pm. 2 pm??? That's in 5 minutes! Of course I want to go.
So we join the tour. We learn about how Waikiki means bubbling waters (artesian springs from the lava tubes) and learn the RH is actually built on leased Hawaiian Trust land (who also leased the land for the shopping center, sigh). Apparently there are a lot of 99-year leases in Hawaii. Touring the gardens, we meet a *real* tiki that was given to the RH in the 1930's, recently re-found when they were clearing undergrowth. Cool! We get to see lots of rooms not open to the general public, or at least not any more. One of these is the former main dining room, now used for special banquets and fundraisers. They are busy landscaping with hay bales and cowboy boots for a fundraiser. Hokay... We even get to see a guest room! The carved doors on all the rooms are original, and magnificent, but I admit I find the $1000-a-night ocean-view room disappointing. You are obviously paying for the view, not even the (pink) marble bathroom, which is tiny. But what a view!
After the end of the tour, Chris and I hit the lounge terrace on the beach for drinks and a veggie appetizer plate. I have something called a "pink palace" (of course), which seems to involve cocoanut milk and creme de cacao, and is very good.
(to be continued...)