Sunday, September 28, 2014

Maui: Prisoners in Paradise

We are talking ‘captives’ not ‘captivating’ as we take you on a tour through a bit of history in Maui’s port town of Lahaina.
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Banner over Lahaina's Main street 
MauiLanaiSF2014 029This small town, the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is  now a hub of tourism on this Hawaiian island.

Once a busy whaling port and (sugar cane) plantation settlement, it continues to be a busy port town although it is day-tour boats and cruise ship tenders that ply the Pacific waters these days.

As you know a trademark of our travel lifestyle is to get off the beaten path – away from the tourist bustle – in this case, anywhere near the port.

We set off on foot as Lahaina is an easy walking town and just a few blocks away from this bee hive of commercialism we found ourselves strolling through a laid-back semi-residential neighborhood.

Soon we came to a road called “Prison Street”.  We followed it and found ourselves at . . ., you guessed it. . .a prison. A prison that is now an outdoor museum, that is.

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Hale Pa’Ahao, which loosely translated means ‘stuck in irons’ was built by convict labor. In the late afternoon we found the entryway open – there was no admission charge and no one staffing the historic site. We had the place to ourselves.

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(Note the sign says guardhouse and cells were rebuilt in 1959 – the same year Hawaii became a part of the United States, so one might assume from its worn interior today that it was still in use then.)

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As far as prison grounds go, this one seemed rather comfortable (at least in is present state) with green lawn and trees.  But it was clear that comfort was left on the doorstep of that small building that housed the prisoners:

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It appeared that it wasn’t just a place to ‘sleep off’  too much fun --  prisoners had rules. . .lots of rules, for example:

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It’s unclear how long the place housed prisoners, but the cells and stockade were reconstructed, according to historical records, as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). And then there’s the plaque in the photo above says there was a rebuild in 1959. By 1967 the place was in a state of deterioration and the Lahaina Restoration Foundation developed a plan approved by the Historical Commission to save it.

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Walls of coral border the old prison site
If only those coral walls that surround the prison could talk. . .

A number of airlines have direct flights from the Mainland US to Maui’s Kahului airport and there are several flights daily from Honolulu. You’ll need to hop the local bus or rent a car to get to Lahaina.

Map picture

Stop by the Visitor’s Center (housed in Lahaina’s historic courthouse) footsteps from the harbor and take a tour of the Museum (in the same building) – entry here is also free but donations are welcome. While there pPick up a free copy of the Historic Walking Tour map and take a self-guided tour of the area’s  62 historical sites.  Bronze plaques at the sites give brief overviews of the historic significance.

The old prison, now considered an outdoor museum, is open daily from 10 a.m. – 4  p.m.

As always, we thank you  for spending time with us today. Hope to see you back again soon – bring a friend or two with you!

Linking with Judith's Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage Gardening

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mani ~ The Greek Land of the Towers

From our room in the hotel on the hill in Kardamyli we looked out over the old town’s church and war tower. The two structures are prominent remains of the Troupakis Complex that dates back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
Legend has it that the family known as Troupakis were refugees from  Mystra (ancient inland city) when it fell to the Turks in 1461. The family lived in caves (called ‘troupas’ – thus their name) in the Taygetos Mountains behind Kardamyli before arriving here and building the family complex – now a treasured part of history.
The complex was a mesmerizing sight whether in the early morning sun, the mid-day’s blaze or in the evening shadows. The morning our summer sojourn in Greece came to an end, I took this photo from our deck.

I wanted to remember that tower the way it looked in that July’s morning sun.

I wanted to remember this enchanting history-laden Land of the Towers.

Troupakis Complex - Kardamyli, Greece
The Mani – in the north called the ‘Outer Mani’ and in the south the ‘Deep Mani’ – located in the southern part of the Peloponnese peninsula is the home of ancient towers. (Lovers of Italy’s San Gimignano’s towers in Tuscany would go nuts here!)


DSCF8282A drive through The Mani (the area is only four hours from Athens via freeway) takes one from olive grove-covered hills and gorges to barren, windswept hillsides on a narrow, lightly-traveled roadway.

You don’t travel far before spotting a tower on a far-away hill or in the midst of villages.

Often times the road slices through stone villages, the old stone buildings so close you could reach out and touch the walls.

A road trip here is guaranteed to offer surprises. Sometimes goats or cattle in the middle of the road, or stone tower towns so picture-perfect they simply don’t seem real.

Deep Mani Tower Town - Peloponnese
The towers played an important role in this area’s turbulent history. Some freestanding towers were built as village’s war towers and others served as both homes (in the lower level) and a tower for defense in the upper levels. First used when the Turks invaded; later they were used as local clans fought against each other.

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Even today homes built here are constructed using the area’s stone. And some, (like the middle photo above and to the right below illustrate) are being built incorporating the tower design of old.

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Old Tower on the left, new homes on the right
Towers, towers everywhere and most are well preserved.  Standing in the Troupakis Complex (which is a museum area now) in Kardamyli, I took the photo below back towards our hotel on the hill and yet another the tower just behind it. There was a time this harbor town served as Sparta's port.

Troupakis Complex - Kardamyli

The Mani – a part of the Peloponnese peninsula which is generally thought of as mainland Greece and separated by the narrow width of the Corinth Canal.

There’s a modern divided freeway between the Athens Airport and Kalamata. From Kalamata the state road becomes a two-lane paved roadway. 

There are seasonal flights from various gateways in Europe to the Kalamata Airport and rental cars are available there as well as Athens.

I’ve mentioned ‘that hotel on the hill’ several times in recent posts. It became our home away from home this past summer and soon I’ll introduce you to the people who run it and our travel lifestyle there. Until then, we thank you for the time you spent with us and hope you enjoyed today’s journey. 

Happy – and safe - travels until we are together again ~

Joining in the fun at:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Travelers Sandbox
Weekend Travel Inspiration - Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Travel Photo Monday - Travel Photo Discovery

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kaua'i: Where Memory Lane leads to Louise’s

She was as exotic as any I had person I’d ever seen back then.
(I’d spent my life in an agricultural community in Central Washington State). 

She was enormous.
(from my five-foot-almost-one-inch point-of-view)

And she had a smile that just wouldn’t quit. She made you feel warm and welcomed – prompting that  kind of ‘I-don’t-want-to-leave’ feeling and a desire to return soon when you finally did leave.

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Louise Hauata - Tahiti Nui, photo March 1983
That’s how I remember the woman, Louise Hauata, from the Austral Islands of French Polynesia, just south of Tahiti. We met her back in 1983  in Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore. She was a single mother running the Tahitian style bar and restaurant that she and her American husband, Bruce Marston, a former Lt. Col in the U.S. Air Force, had opened in 1964. They had met and married in Tahiti then moved to Kauai. He had died in the mid 70’s.
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The Scout - reluctantly posing - Princeville, Kauai, March 1983

We were young back then – barely married three years -- and travel was doled out in brief 10-day-per-year-doses by our employers. Hawaii, a mere six-hour flight away from the Seattle airport, was  a favorite destination for us.  Kauai’s North Shore was of particular appeal; in part because of Louise’s Tahiti Nui.

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Tahiti Nui - March 1983
We’d sit in those cushioned rattan chairs on her front porch sipping Mai Tai’s and watch the occasional car go by on the two-lane road that gives way to hiking trails and the rugged NaPali coast a few miles beyond Hanalei.  The bar made such an impression that to this day we have an enlargement of this photo hanging in our den.

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Scenes from the Tahiti Nui luau - March 1983
It was at this little place we attended our first – and only – Hawaiian luau.  The dishes were prepared primarily on site, but we recall some dishes were brought by locals – think potluck style.  We paid some ridiculously small amount and dined on authentic Hawaiian dishes: roasted pork, poi, salads, lomi lomi, lau lau. . .the works.
Before we sat down to eat, Louise had us encircle our tables, join hands and she said grace. Then the feast and entertainment was on. The hula show provided by local talented young ladies.

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Hanalei Valley 1983 left, 2014 right
The Hanalei Valley really hasn’t changed much during the decades that have passed since those youthful visits of ours to paradise. The landscape is still carpeted with agricultural fields– with a fair share of golf courses and visitor accommodations in nearby Princeville, where we stayed. 

The town of Hanalei has a grocery store now, a small (tourist-oriented) shopping development and several restaurants and bars from which to choose. However, prior to our return, we were delighted to read in the Lonely Planet’s guidebook, “Kauai” that the Tahiti Nui is run by Louise’s son, Christian and her nephew, William Marsten.

Although Louise had died in 2003, we were eager to follow memory lane back to her Tahiti Nui.

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Tahiti Nui, Hanalei, 2014
I raced up the stairs after taking this photo to peek inside as it was early Sunday morning and the place -  now twice the size it had been -- was closed. Just as I got to the doorway, a woman inside snapped, “We open at 11!” and shut the door in my face. 

So much for that warm welcome I remembered. . .

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The "Nui" now - 2014

Oh well, not to be deterred, we were pleased to learn they still have a weekly luau. . .not so pleased to learn it was capped off at some hundred guests or so, each paying $75 a person.  Maybe a regular dinner there would work, we reasoned. . .

We stopped by the one evening we were in town and the place -- with its cross between funky Tahitian and dive décor -- didn’t look much different from how we remembered it. It was, however, crammed with diners and drinkers thus making its interior stifling hot and stuffy.

But no smiles like Louise’s greeted us from the bartender or the wait staff.

ManitoKauai2014 120There really seemed no room nor real reason to stay.

We took a final look around.

Then tucked those sweet memories away. . .

. . .and ate pub grub at Kalypso a bar/restaurant down the street where we were greeted with a warm welcome.

If You Go:

Tahiti Nui
5-5134 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kaua'i

5-5156 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kaua'i

Linking up:
Foodie Tuesday – Inside Journeys

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Greece: Finding ourselves in “Pigi” Heaven

KARDAMYLI - We headed south one morning during our summer adventure in the Greek Peloponnese on the winding two-lane highway that lead us back from our coastal setting and up into the Messinian hillsides.

We were off to find, and then explore, Pigi.

Pigi, Greece
We’d been told the place was home to a restaurant that came highly recommended. Then The Scout found a house listed for sale there. . .a combination we couldn't resist.

After making a sharp exit onto a narrow road that appeared to get smaller, we parked the car and decided to proceed on foot. We’ve learned that some villages in Greece -- built long before cars arrived -- are so small that driving into them isn’t the best idea. We made a wise call on this one as the road into town quickly narrowed to what appeared to be a wide pathway.


So narrow was the road that we squeezed up against a building when much to our amazement a car approached us from the opposite direction! But aside from that car and its two occupants, it was as if we had the small village to ourselves. We didn’t see another person as we explored the small settlement with a population of 67.

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Our footsteps echoed on the roadway and we spoke in stage whispers as we didn’t know who might be behind those magnificent doorways. . .


Or up those ancient stairways.  . .and we certainly didn’t want to disturb their morning’s silence. . .

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So we walked to the church. . .as with most villages, it was the centerpiece of the town.


And then walked a bit further and admired the views. . .

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. . .from the café, that hadn't yet opened for the day. And we never did find that house for sale.  But to our way of thinking, we had just had a great introduction to  “Pigi Heaven”.

A home's sitting area built into the cliff behind the house

We know this is a place we will certainly return to one day . . . its charm is too hard to resist. And who knows? Next time we might see another human being?!


That’s it for today’s outing in Greece’s Peloponnese. Thanks so much for joining us! And welcome to our new followers and subscribers~

Linking up:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Travelers Sandbox
Travel Inspiration – Reflections en Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kauai: Luxury for Less, Part II

“You own here?” a fellow guest sitting next to us at the Marriott Waiohai Ocean Villas beach bar asked.

“No, we rented a week,” The Scout answered, adding, “I think we got a deal. . .two-bedroom, two bath unit for $109 a night.”

“You bet you did!,” he exclaimed, “I am paying $495 a night!”

Beach at Marriott Waiohai - Kauai
And so began our second week of Luxury-for-Less on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

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Our condo was the one far right top floor, with its deck nestled between two palm trees and overlooking this fabulous lagoon.

In Part I of our Kauai Luxury-for-Less series, I told you about our plush digs at the Westin and its steal-of-a-deal price in Princeville. This Marriott Vacation Club (these are also timeshare condos) is on the sunnier south side of the island at Poipu.

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Top left clockwise: Living room, guest bedroom, guest bath, master and bath, kitchen
The two-bedroom, two-bath unit with fully furnished kitchen, a table to seat eight and full living room had been available for rent from an owner for $109 a night – the only additional cost was a $50 booking fee and nightly room tax which brought the price up to $116 a night.  Wi-fi, athletic facilities and pool use – all included; no extra charges.

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Our deck, and gardens between buildings
Admittedly, we had a garden view but with gardens like this, it wasn’t tough to sit on our deck (a table with seating for four and a lounge chair) and then walk the garden path to the beach.

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Sunset from the Marriott's Honu Beach Bar - Poipu, Kauai
If You Go:

Map picture

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and is considered the chain’s Garden Island (translated that means it does get rain, however, the showers came and went quickly during our two-week stay).

KauiSm2014 056A number of airlines fly directly from the U.S. west coast to its airport, Lihue.  Inter island flights connect in Honolulu (but they can add a couple hundred dollars more to the cost of the trip).

Another money-saving tip:  There are a number of U.S. ‘big box’ stores on the island, including Costco (where food and beverages prices were definitely less and the selection greater than at local markets.)

Finding The Deal:

The Scout booked this rental through which he found when searching the site,

Our stay was the first week of September and a quick check for September rates for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, island view at the Waiohai:

Marriott:  $412 a night
Expedia:  $412 a night
Our rate, $116 (including tax) compared most favorably!

As always, we thank you for the time you spent with us. Hope our tips come in handy on your future travels. If you’ve got some tips for ‘deals’ do let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email.  Hope to see you back again later this week~ when we'll take you to "Pigi Heaven"! Happy travels~

Monday, September 8, 2014

Travel IS a Lifestyle

This summer we missed the Sardine Festival in Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas), a delightful coastal town in the Greek Peloponnese by two weeks because we’d returned to Kirkland,our Pacific Northwest home.

Waterfront Agios Nikolaos -Messinian Mani, Greece
We also missed Kirkland’s Fourth of July celebrations by two weeks – because we were in Greece.

“We travel not to escape life,
but for life to not escape us.”
          -- Unknown
A return from the grocery store in Kardamyli meant a walk through the olive grove
Approaching Athens
. . .While in Greece we missed a friend’s wedding in Kirkland. . .

. . .But back in Kirkland, Washington I missed the opportunity to go with a new friend ‘on a dig’ in archaeology-rich Greece. . .

We’ve come to accept these bits of mistimed happenstance because we’ve made travel our lifestyle.

It is no longer an isolated activity with defined start and stop dates – occurring once or twice a year as it did back in our ‘8 to 5’ workaday lives.

We’ve found that what we’ve missed in one place or another is more than compensated by what we have gained in terms of everyday life experiences elsewhere.  For example, had I not missed that Kirkland wedding, I wouldn’t have made a new friend in Kardamyli who wanted me to go on a dig with her.

Istanbul, Turkey street scene

“To travel is to live.”
                        -- Hans Christian Andersen
If you can dream it, you can do it. . .
The travel lifestyle is flexible:

The travel lifestyle isn’t always a well-thought out, predictable one. It is difficult to commit to events or activities too far distant. Our calendars are built around upcoming trips ~ always with enough wiggle room to take advantage of unplanned outings. . .those that blindside our brains with their utter spontaneity.

My friend Tina - hotelier in Pylos, Greece

Some friends wistfully ask, “Can you tell us how? We want to be like you.”

Others prefer to scold us, “You are never home!
Yet others have asked, “Where do you live now?”

In fact, our travel lifestyle provides us many ‘homes’ - each with a sense of community and circle of friends. We are at ‘home’ in any number of places these days.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a change that goes on,
deep and permanent in the ideas of living.”
-- Miriam Beard (1876 – 1958)
Adopting a travel lifestyle is really no different than taking up some other hobby – playing golf, gardening, joining a musical group, or creating handicrafts --  except it is a bit more encompassing and less of a single focus. From fashion to food, travel has an impact on our lifestyle. . .
Laundry day at 'home' in Loutro, Crete
Travel Lifestyles focus on fashion.

We have a different approach these days to clothing and fashion. Our wardrobe is selected in terms of how many places in the world could we wear the item, will it fit into the smallest of bags possible – and will we be able to carry the bag up or down a flight of stairs.

We think about:

* the weight and bulk a garment (or shoes!) will add to the suitcase,
*whether the decorative metal buttons and zippers will set off security alarms at airports (as have some of my Chico’s garments).
*the ease of cleaning (and drying time).

Bags are packed - leaving Nafpaktos, Greece
“One’s destination is never a place,
but a new way of seeing things.”
                   -- Henry Miller
Food and feasts. . .but, of course they are part of a Travel Lifestyle!

Restaurant window in Istanbul, Turkey
What traveler doesn’t look forward to the new foods awaiting in some new locale? (And in reality, what traveler doesn’t need to ‘go on the wagon’ after a trip to shed the pounds brought back like souvenirs?)

When travel becomes a lifestyle and any number of locations could be ‘home’ then it becomes necessary to watch the diet and exercise – we make exercise (the formal ‘go-to-the-gym’ kind) as routine as possible where ever we find ourselves.

We also eat ‘local’ which often means discovering new and wonderful tastes  -- poke, the marinated raw fish dishes in Hawaii, barbequed ribs in Arizona, fish and chips in London and moussaka in Greece – then looking forward to a return so that we can enjoy the flavors again.

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Sushi in Maui, breakfast Porto Cayo, wine in Galaxidi, fruit in Ag. Roumeli, Greece, sushi, Hawaii
While our travel lifestyle keeps us living out of a suitcase for several months a year, we still maintain a ‘home base’ in the Pacific Northwest.  Unlike us there are some Americans (non military) who have packed up and chosen to live  – either full or part-time – in some country outside the United States. While there are no hard and fast figures, estimates range from 2.2 – 6.8 million such vagabonds.
  Where do you fall in the travel lifestyle spectrum?  Or, is travel a lifestyle for you?
 Travel is most rewarding when it ceases to be about your reaching a destination
and becomes indistinguishable from living your life.
                           --Paul Theroux
Again thanks for spending time with us. Welcome to our new subscribers and followers! And a big shout out to those of you who’ve shared our posts on Facebook and Twitter – or recommend us to others; we are always flattered when you think a post is worthy of sharing!

Linking up with and hope you'll stop by:
Budget Travelers Sandbox - Travel Photo Thursday
Reflections En Route - Weekend Travel Inspirations
Lavender Cottage Gardening - Mosaic Monday


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