Before an afternoon of beach and cocktails, the serious business of a visit to Pearl Harbor. First, breakfast at a nearby bakery, Kona Coffee, where I buy the cheesiest cheese stuffed cheese topped cheese croissant. Then we catch the bus to Pearl Harbor.
We take a wander round the harbour and museum, which tells the story of the attack, which took place 5 days short of 80 years ago. The Americans had moved dozens of ships and hundreds of aircraft from the mainland to Hawaii (so basically half way to Japan) yet were totally unprepared when the Japanese turned up and attacked. In just 2 hours, most of the boats were sunk and most of the aircraft destroyed with the loss of 2400 lives. 900 men died on board the USS Arizona, which exploded and sank. It still sits in the harbour, together with its crew.
One of the most poignant exhibits is a postcard of the Arizona sent by a crew member the day before the attack. He drew an arrow to his position and wrote ‘Dear family, this is where I am stationed’. By the time the card arrived, it marked the spot where he would be stationed eternally.
A floating memorial platform has been built over the sunken ship, and and fleet of boats ferry tourists across the harbour to the memorial. We board one of these boats, operated by the US Navy. The boat is driven by a marine who looks like he’s auditioning for a Village People tribute act. Daughter no 1 prevents me from taking a photo of said Village People wannabe. At the platform we disembark and walk over the sunken ship which lies amidst dozens of colourful fish. At the end is a wall which lists the names of the victims. Not many crew survived the attack, but many chose, upon their own deaths, to be laid to rest with their colleagues.
After our tour, and the obligatory fridge magnet purchase, we exit the memorial site and turn right to wait for the bus back to Waikiki, which is unfortunate as the bus stop is actually out of the memorial site and left. We realise our mistake when the first bus hurtles past without stopping, so have to cross the road and wait a further 30 minutes for another bus.
We manage to catch a bus at the second attempt, then the remainder of the day is similar to yesterday; stop at the food court to purchase teriyaki, swim and wander along Waikiki beach. Only this time we manage to stay out a little later. We almost make it until sunset, only daughter no 1, who isn’t blessed with a huge amount of patience, gets bored before the sun actually sets.
So we walk through the Royal Hawaiin Center, stopping to watch the Christmas hula show. This features some old Hawaiian classics like Jingle Bells and White Christmas, plus a cute number called Island Christmas, about hanging your decorations on your coconut tree and waiting for Santa to bring you presents in a canoe. Then it’s back to the store to buy dinner (and maybe some more cocktails) for another balcony picnic.
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