Hilo, Big Island of Hawai’i

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 15, 2023 – a day in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i, USA

I’m up at 6:30AM to enjoy the beautiful approach to Hilo harbour, with Maunakea lit by the morning sunlight and the observatories clearly visible on top. My stateroom balcony gives me a great view of the shoreline as the ship sails into Hilo Bay and docks at 10AM. I’m ready to go, so leave the ship by 10:30AM – my destination is Reeds Bay, Banyan Drive, Coconut Island and Queen Lili’uokalani Gardens.

Map of my walk along Hilo Bay from Koningsdam - Apple Fitness iOS app.
Map of my walk along Hilo Bay from Koningsdam – Apple Fitness iOS app.

It’s already hot, and it takes 20 minutes to walk along Kalaniana’ole Street to my first stop, Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Park. I need to cool off a bit before walking further to Reeds Bay, walk along Banyan Drive and find a mini-market where I buy a chilled Coca-cola. This revives me nicely as I continue my walk along Banyan Drive to Coconut Island. It is Sunday, so lots of local families are enjoying playing in the shallow water, having picnics, and just hanging out in the shade.

I spot a Common Myna and some Saffron Finches foraging in the grass, and a Pacific Golden Plover perched on a stone pagoda in a pond.

I continue to wander through the beautiful Queen Lili’uokalani Gardens and then walk back to the ship and the welcome air conditioning. My Apple Watch tells me I’ve covered 6.4 kms (4 mi) and taken about 10,000 steps, so it was quite the workout for me today in the tropical heat! Although I walk every day around the Promenade Deck while we’re at sea, land walks provide more meaningful exercise.

A Cannonball Impossible burger with fries and a Heineken beer for lunch after my walk

It’s nice to sit in the shade aboard ship and enjoy my late lunch of a Cannonball Impossible burger with fries and a Heineken beer.

I make use of my Jethro Mobile USA mobile plan to call my friend as the ship is leaving port, to confirm our rendezvous for tomorrow’s port call in Kailua-Kona on the other side of the Big Island. Later in the Main Dining Room, my choices for dinner: Kaua’i Poke appetizer, Mahi mahi for main course (excellent sauce and moist fish), and Cherry crisp for dessert. I have a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai with dinner – a nice drink, but too sweet for me.

I have my usual Tanqueray 10 Gin Martini before the Crow’s Nest Lounge closes at 9PM. My favourite server knows me well, so my nightcap is always made just how I like it. It’s lovely to be spoiled!


Bavarian Castles

September 6, 2014 – Saturday – Castle Day – Bavaria, Germany

Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days tour

We drive back into Germany from our Austrian hotel this morning to see two famous Bavarian castles both near Füssen in Bavaria.

Neuschwanstein Castle from Hohenschwangau town
Neuschwanstein Castle from Hohenschwangau town

King Ludwig II’s Neuschwahstein Castle is probably the most famous, since Disney’s Fantasyland castles are modelled after this spectacular castle located on a hillside overlooking a beautiful green valley and lake.

The crowds here are very bad, especially on Mary’s Bridge, which is above the castle, giving a picture postcard view of the castle with the valley behind. This castle was built in the 1800s, and poor Ludwig only got to enjoy his castle for a few months before he died. When Ludwig was king, his ministers plotted to depose him in 1866 because he was homosexual. He committed suicide in the nearby lake along with his doctor (who had just declared him mad – later disproved).

Heohen-Schwangau Castle is a beautiful castle located beside The Alpsee, a glacial lake. This is where Ludwig’s parents lived, and where he was raised. His father the king loved the night sky, and had his bedroom equipped with stars in the ceiling and a Moon, which could have the phase changed as required.

Jennifer and Sylvain have a picnic lunch all ready for us when we return to the parking lot, so we spread out near the Alpsee lake and enjoy ourselves. After clearing crowded Neuschwahstein Castle, we take a group photo in the nearby valley, posing with the castle behind us on the hill while sipping some schnapps.

Joe, Greta and Paul on the luge
Joe, Greta and Paul on the luge

Next stop is a luge – individual carts run through a metal tube down the hill, slalom-style. Everyone in the group tries it – some go faster, and others take is slowly. The luge is one of the reasons I finally decided to book this Rick Steves tour. I reasoned that any tour operator who includes a ride on a luge as part of the stated itinerary must have something going for them!