Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Impressions of Honolulu

I had no idea what to expect from Honolulu.
I knew it was a city, a tourist destination, on the water and the capitol of Hawaii.
I found that those four things pretty well describe a city that tries to hold onto its past while moving toward a future, a city that hosts millions of visitors each year, but is home to diverse population. It is a place where historic buildings and palm trees
are right down the block from high rises and traffic.
Like any major city there was a significant difference between the quality of neighborhoods. Poverty and homelessness sat right next to conspicuous wealth. Beautiful parks and age old banyan trees try to preserve a bit of nature in a place mostly made of concrete.
I really enjoyed that there was a lot of public art throughout
  the downtown area.
Most of the time i was in Honolulu it didn't feel any different from any other city, though i will admit that the parrots took me by surprise.
Being a major port meant that quite a bit of Honolulu reminded me of home
though of course there are no royal palaces in Baltimore.
[Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. cool]
We do have a football stadium in common, though theirs is at the edge of town instead of in the city center. I was intrigued by the use of land in Honolulu (and all over the island, actually); on an island there is no where to expand to, so buildings got taller and neighborhoods crept up the sides of the mountains.
As i wrote before, i was supposed to spend part of my last day capturing more of the essence of the city on film (hmmmmm... what is the equivalent of that sentiment with a digital camera?), but alas, i was thwarted. The only touristy thing that i could NOT leave Honolulu without seeing was the statue of King Kamehameha; it would be like going to St Louis and not seeing the Arch for pity's sake. Besides, i have this childhood memory of an episode of I Dream of Jeanie where somehow the statue comes alive; i have no idea why that matters to me, but it does and i had, had, had to find the statue before i left. I found a parking place near the Royal Palace and set off on foot. The statue is actually not at the Royal Palace, but across the street from it, in front of the Hawaii State Supreme Court. When i saw this mob of people standing about taking pictures i figured i had to be close and indeed there was a handy Visitors Bureau Marker indicating that i was in the correct location:
I was not disappointed. I don't think i realized that he was gold-leafed and really quite large. There is a reason that this statue is location #1 in the Visitor's Bureau signs.
Impressive, though one would think that outfit a bit nippy at night.

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