Saturday, March 21 - Downtown Honolulu
A late night last night resulted in our sleeping in a bit late this morning. Our morning plans called for a trip out to Waikele to Borders Books and Music, and a stop at Hilo Hattie's at their main factory store on the Nimitz Highway.
We always find Hilo Hattie's to be one of the most fun stores to shop. While primarily a clothing store specializing in Hawaiian clothing, you can also find other Hawaii related souvenirs. Eileen was able to find a beautiful Hawaiian dress and I picked up two new aloha shirts to add to my collection.
Our afternoon was devoted to a walk through the historic areas of downtown Honolulu.
Our walking tour began in Chinatown, an area featured in our recent feature on The Chinese in Hawaii. Chinatown in Honolulu differs from Chinatown in many other mainland cities in that many of the buildings are relatively new.
This whole area of the city burned just 98 years ago, so you will not find any of the original buildings. A walk through Chinatown is nevertheless a trip through an area so important in the history of Honolulu.
After our walk through Chinatown we headed over to the State Capitol area where we were lucky to arrive just in time for a tour of the 'Iolani Palace, the now restored official residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani, the last monarchs of the Hawai'i from 1882-1893. From 1893 until 1968, 'Iolani Palace was used as the capitol of the Republic, the Territory, and finally the State of Hawai'i. When the new state capitol was completed in 1969, the Palace was vacated and restoration begun.
'Iolani Palace is the only palace located in the United States of America and it is a building steeped in the history of Hawai'i. A tour of the palace costs $ 8.00 but it is well worth the price. Cloth slippers are loaned to each visitor to wear over their shoes so as not to damage the wood flooring of the palace. No food, drink or gum chewing is allowed. No large bags are permitted in the palace and photography is prohibited inside the building. We will be doing a detailed feature on 'Iolani Palace at a future date. Suffice it to say that a visit to 'Iolani Palace is a truly moving experience. The docents at the palace are all volunteers but their knowledge of the history of the building and its royal occupants is very impressive.
We were delighted to hear that in the future a gallery will be opening in the basement where many of the smaller and valuable items will be on display. Fund raising continues to bring that project to completion. Donations are gladly accepted for this worthy cause by The Friends of 'Iolani Palace.
Our walk through the historic area of Honolulu continued with visits to the Statue of Kamehameha I, the Territorial Office Building, the Kawaiaha'o Church and the tomb of King William Charles Lunalilo.
This being a Saturday, most of the buildings and businesses in downtown close between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m.. Before returning to our hotel we decided to stop by the Aloha Tower Marketplace where we ate dinner by the harbor as the sun was setting for the day.
Tomorrow we're off to Maui where my father will be joining us for the next week of our trip. He has not visited Hawai'i since the early 1950's, so we will be very interested in hearing his impressions of how Hawai'i has changed.