Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hawaii & San Diego May 2011

This was a trip borne out of the Australian dollar’s new found strength.  Each year I try to visit my sister’s family in San Diego.  This year I had not worked out a trip when suddenly I discovered that Hawaiian Airlines flies direct from Sydney to Honolulu and then flies direct from Honolulu to San Diego.  Thus we would miss LAX.  When the A$ broke though parity I decided, like nearly every Sydneysider I know, why waste the opportunity to travel?

So I suddenly organised a trip: Kauai (5 nights), San Diego (6) and Maui (3) playing 7 games of golf with Vivienne.

In Kauai we stayed at the St. Regis Princeville overlooking Hanalei Bay, easily one of the best hotels and most spectacular locations I have ever seen.  As you have breakfast on the terrace, you see rainbows on the mountains.  I have put some photos up on Picasa.

My wife and I play stableford against each other and we played Makai, Poipu Bay and Makai again.  Both are terrific courses: Makai has just been renovated and you play Poipu Bay back 9 along the cliffs.  Vivienne won all three games and I will say in passing that her handicap is 25 and mine is 24..  We generally ate at the St. Regis Hotel but had two great meals outside.  First was at The Eastside in Kapaa and is highly recommended.  We also had drinks and a meal at Neide's Salsa and Samba.  This has had far more mixed reviews on Trip Advisor but after a game a golf, and four Happy Hour margaritas at $6 each, any meal would have tasted great.  After its renovations Makai is now a great course and another highlight was seeing a baby albatross.

We then flew to San Diego and spent 6 nights with my sister’s family.  She threw a party on Sunday which was night Bin Laden was shot.  When I said this would guarantee Obama’s election half the party (Republicans) left.  The only restaurant we used was The Prado at Bilboa Park which is part of the Cohn Restaurant Group which I had never heard of but I understand is quite successful in the USA.  It is good pub and recommended.  It was a good week to be in the US  with the Royal wedding of Will & Kate, Trump’s collapse over the birth certificate and then the Bin Laden shooting.

We played two rounds at Torrey Pines which is another PGA course spectacularly set along the California coastline.  Great course, small greens with quite ferocious rough very close to the greens.  You have to use a ‘flop’ shot to lob shot out of the rough and then stay on the green.  Phil Mickelson is the master of this shot and once you have played Torrey Pines and realised this is the course he learned to play golf you understand while he is so good at it.  Vivienne again beat me but even funnier was we were playing with two other golfers on the first day from interstate.  On the back nine Vivienne scored 20 points while the other two both picked up on six holes.  Parting words “we were not just beaten out there by your wife, we were crushed.”

Back in Hawaii, we stayed three nights at Kapulea villas, again on the northeast corner of Maui.  We played the Plantation Course twice which is equally spectacular and another PGA course.  Appleby has won three times here and Ogilvy twice.  The weather, which in Kauii and San Diego had been beautiful, turned turbulent.  It was warm, but windy and showery so carts were restricted to the paths.  Finally I broke through and beat my wife and repeated the win the next day.  So I wasn’t bagelled which after the first 5 rounds was becoming a distinct possibility.
On the food front we ate the first night at the Bay Tree at the Ritz Carlton which was pretty good but the next two nights at the Pineapple Grill which was excellent.  The Pineapple Grill is also run by Cohn group and is a great pub.  The service is exceptional.  I left my credit card in the bill folder and they tracked me back to our villa within 30  minutes to go back and collect it.

Summing up a great trip, made even better by the weather.  Kauii is the wettest place in the USA, with 11.7 metres of rain on Mt. Waialeale.  Sydney gets 1.2 metres per year.  My sister went on her second honeymoon and had 5 days of non-stop torrential rain which is why she lives in San Diego which gets 0.3m annual rain.

Chris Golis Australia's expert on practical emotional intelligence
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