Visiting Pearl Harbor is one of those things that you pretty much have to do when you’re in Honolulu. The only thing about visiting Pearl Harbor is that you have to make sure you reserve a spot before you go! Well, there are a certain number of spots available the day of if you show up early, but it’s possible that they would run out! In the end, my mom and I were able to get spots the day before because a certain number come out way early, a certain number the day before, and then a certain number the morning of on site.

Since we didn’t rent a car while on Oahu, we rode the city bus there. You are not allowed to bring anything essentially into the memorial site so you have to rent a lock box outside the gates. Once we were inside, there are areas to look around and museum-like exhibits and displays that we perused before watching the mandatory video with the rest of the people in our time slot. Then we boarded a boat to get to the memorial site where we were let off to explore for half an hour before being corralled back onto the boat. It was a very interesting experience. It’s also crazy to be at the memorial site, which is built right on top of the sunken ship that you can see under the water.

Read about our other Hawaii adventures here:
MAUI • southern shore beachingroad to hana, part 1road to hana, part 2ohe’o gulch’s papaw trailparadise in a florohe’o gulch’s lower poolsother road to hanavolcano sunrisevolcano crater hikingpaia’s market for fishbig beachsurfing goatsali’i kula lavender • tropical eats
OAHUdowntown capital sitesart museum of the statesunset shadow

A Oahu-style photo adventure:

{birkenau} more haunting

January 10, 2017

After visiting the haunting Auschwitz (or Oświęcim) concentration camp, we were reloaded onto the shuttle van and taken over to Birkenau. Birkenau is well known for the train tracks that lead into this camp and photographers often take haunting photos of these tracks. While Auschwitz was scary to walk around, it was even more difficult to visit this second locations were where conditions were even worse and prisoners kept in even less sanitary conditions (though that seems impossible). What a scary and sad place to visit though I’m glad I did because it makes these places that I’ve heard about since I was little become real.

Read about our other Polish adventures: sunriserenaissance-style, day 1renaissance-style, day 2renaissance-style, day 3renaissance-style eatsin a day highlightsgnome highlights 1gnome highlights 2reflectionin a day eatsformer royal capital, day 1 • former royal capital, day 2former, royal capital, day 3god’s handformer royal capital eats • haunting

A more haunting photo adventure:

birkenau-haunting1

birkenau-haunting2

birkenau-haunting3

birkenau-haunting4

birkenau-haunting5

birkenau-haunting6

birkenau-haunting7

{auschwitz} haunting

January 9, 2017

While in Krakow, the touristy and historically appropriate thing to do is take a side trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau, former Nazi concentration camps. Having learned about this concentration camps in school and being so close, it would have made no sense to not go even if it is draining for both the soul and wallet. In any case, I joined a mini day tour group (because you can’t go in alone). First we visited Auschwitz, officially Oświęcim (its Polish name). The only thing that isn’t great about this experience is that when you visit during tourist season, there are so many people being herded through the site that you don’t get the full sense of doom that seeps out of every nook and cranny. Even still, it’s scary to think about what happened right where you are as you’re walking around and taking this place in.

Read about our other Polish adventures: sunriserenaissance-style, day 1renaissance-style, day 2renaissance-style, day 3renaissance-style eatsin a day highlightsgnome highlights 1gnome highlights 2reflectionin a day eatsformer royal capital, day 1 • former royal capital, day 2former, royal capital, day 3god’s handformer royal capital eats

A haunting photo adventure:

auschwitz-haunting1

auschwitz-haunting2

auschwitz-haunting3

auschwitz-haunting4

auschwitz-haunting5

auschwitz-haunting6

auschwitz-haunting7

auschwitz-haunting8

auschwitz-haunting9

goodreads-header

goodreads-readinglolitaI’ve recently been reading a book that I bought at the San Francisco Friends of the Library book sale called Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. This book is interesting in that it is actually a memoir, but many of the individuals have been changed/intertwined/combined in order to protect their identities. This book shares about how professor Azar Nafisi gathered seven of her most devoted women students in her living every Thursday morning in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These seven women and their professor delve into the worlds of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Jane Austen, but sometimes it’s hard to know if the fiction or the real stories reflect each other more.

While reading this memoir, I learned a whole lot more about Iran than I had expected. Really, I didn’t know that much about the country before now. I didn’t realize how open the state had been before the fundamentalists had reigned tyranny over the people. When the author Nafisi was growing up, she didn’t have to wear the veil. Women walked around in jeans and attended universities as they chose. It was only after the raids and such started that the veil became mandatory, universities were no longer a symbol of freedom, and professors who were too liberal, like Nafisi, were asked to leave. While this book is a bit difficult to understand at first, I really think it provides such great insight into two worlds: literature and Iran.

At the top of Elizabeth Avenue just off of Shirley Street pretty hidden behind foliage you’ll find a stone staircase carved by slaves long ago. This 66-step staircase was originally carved out so that British troops would have an escape route if the French ever attacked. Since the French never attacked the island, these steps were never used for that purpose, but are now famous for what they could have been.

These days Queen’s Staircase is a historical landmark and one that many tourists use to get to Fort Fincastle and the Water Tower, other historical landmarks in the area. I especially love how even though these stone steps are right in the city and just south of the bustling hospital, the trees and high stone walls surrounding the immediate area really help create a quiet sanctuary if only there weren’t tourists (like us) bustling around all the time!

A fit-for-a-queen photo adventure:

bahamas-staircase1

bahamas-staircase2

bahamas-staircase3

bahamas-staircase4