Waking up at six in the morning and nervously applying my own makeup. Forgetting my bouquet at the salon and panicking in the Uber. A short but incredibly sweet ceremony in a beautiful marble city hall, surrounded by our loved ones. An intimate reception at a restaurant by the bay with champagne, ribs, and happy tears. An afternoon of prancing along the beach and by the Golden Gate Bridge while still dressed in our wedding outfits. Hopping in an Uber after a whirlwind of a day and holding hands as we head home as husband and wife.
It was a magical day.
Day 1: Waikiki Beach + Fort Derussy Beach park
It wouldn't be a proper trip to Hawaii if it didn't involve a trip to the beach so we decided it would be the first thing on our list of things to see and do. We were staying at the Wyndham on Olahana St. and heading to Fort Derussy Beach Park was a nice walk. We rented a beach chair, picked a spot, and made ourselves comfortable. Joe braved the chilly water and took a dip while I read my new book and enjoyed watching all the different people on the beach.
At one point, I wanted Joe to take a few photos of me in my new bathing suit but I didn't have the courage yet to take off my cover-up. There was a beautiful, curvy lady in a sexy one-piece suit with two friends who cheered her on as she posed on the beach for photos. She was so confident and seemed so comfortable in her own skin so I decided to do the same. Joe happily took my photos and the curvy lady smiled at me and cheered me on. It made my day!
Before heading to the beach, we had breakfast at Goofy Cafe and Dine. It's a bit of a hidden gem along Ala Moana Boulevard and was recommended to us by the concierge at our hotel. Joe ordered the Eggs Benedict that came with taro muffins and a salad. I ordered the Hawaiian classic omelette with brown rice and salad. We loved it! It was light but filling and everything tasted very fresh.
Day 2: Luau!
Another must-do that we wanted to cross off our list was a luau so we booked our tickets to the Chief's Luau at Wet N Wild Hawaii. It included a quick bus ride with an enthusiastic and entertaining guide, tasting of Lomi lomi salmon and poi, Mai Tais, beautiful handmade crafts for sale, and some talented people opening coconuts, singing, and teaching guests to weave.
After about half an hour or mingling and sipping on Mai Tais, we took our seats and got ready for the buffet. It included taro rolls, purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, vegetarian chow mein, Kalua pork, poi, and sauteed Asian-style fish among other things. After dinner came the dance performances, song numbers, and lovely tribute to newly weds and couples celebrating anniversaries.
Day 3: Cromwell's Beach + Iolani Palace
On our last full day in Honolulu, we decided to check out a beach that on our friends recommended, Cromwell Beach. It's a short drive from downtown Honolulu and hidden away within a quiet residential area. Our Uber driver dropped us off at a dead end facing the sea and we walked down. The beach was quiet with only a few others there to sunbathe and enjoy a quick dip. If you need a beautiful, quiet place to write, read a novel, or just sunbathe in peace, this is the beach for you!
If there's one thing we enjoyed thoroughly in Hawaii, it's the food! From malasadas and poke bowls to fresh sashimi and Kalua pork, we tried to eat as much of the local food as we could. I particularly loved how Spam musubis could be found everywhere and huge platters of sashimi were only $30.
- Malasadas from Leonard's Bakery. Get the original and cinnamon ones! 10/10
- Kyung's Seafood. It's a bit of a hole in the wall kind of restaurant but the poke and sashimi platters are so good and so affordable. We went there twice!
- Eggs N Things. It's a popular restaurant that has an all-day breakfast menu. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not fond of pancakes but Eggs N Things changed that with their fluffy pancakes with macadami bits, shaved coconut, and dried pineapple.
When we settled all the arrangements for our honeymoon, I did a Google search for all things we need to see and do while in Honolulu. Iolani Palace was on almost every list so we made sure to make that stop! The Palace Grounds are lovely and great for a little picnic on a warm day. The palace itself has been perfectly restored. Unfortunately, we were not able to tour the inside because we arrived as the tours were ending but we enjoy walking around and exploring the different historic sites.
The first time I went to Camiguin, I didn't know what to expect. All I really knew about it was that it was a tiny island off the coast of Northern Mindanao known for its beaches. When my mom brought my fiance and I to the island, we were blown away by how lovely it was. I fell in love with the quiet, relaxing pace of life, the lush natural resources, and the delicious food. So when my sister came home for a visit in July, my mom and I agreed that we had to go back to Camiguin. We didn't go to as many places as we did with my boyfriend but it was no less enjoyable and relaxing. Here are a few photos from our girl's trip!
I've visited La Union about four times and each time, I find something new that I like. The first trip was pure tourist spots and I fell in love the Ma-Cho Temple and botanical gardens. The second trip was about surfing and beach trips. The third trip was about family, churches, fireworks, and great seafood. This fourth trip was a staycation and about enjoying the slow, steady life of the province. Here are few photos I took when I wasn't too lazy to whip out my camera. Enjoy!
What are your favorite places to go in La Union?
"Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
There's something magical about touching a bible from nearly 100 years ago or smelling perfume made in the 1920s. There's an appreciation for all that was but also a longing to return to it, to escape to a time before selfies and social influencers and Donald Trump as president. But looking back at what was makes me appreciate what is and what will be.
Wake up, shower, dress up, commute, work, commute, relax, sleep. Rinse and repeat. By September of 2016, I was sick and tired of Chicago's buildings, trains, erratic weather, and often frigid people. It was the kind of toxic repetitiveness that blended days together and left me exhausted. I was terribly homesick and it was beginning to weigh me down. So with my fiancé's encouragement and assistance, I booked my ticket to the Philippines. Thank goodness I did.
My friend once told me that when I'm in doubt, I should go back to being thankful. It's so easy for me to rant and whine about work, the bitter cold of Chicago, my daily commute, and how life just isn't going exactly as I want but this trip reminded me that I am incredibly fortunate and blessed. It also reminded me that while I am fortunate to have the life I do, I am allowed to want more. Listening to the stories, successes, failures, and adventures of my friends made me realize me how different we, our journeys, and our goals are. It was a lovely reminder that I cannot compare where I am in my life to where they are in theirs.
My trip recharged me. As hard as it was to board the plane flying back to Chicago, I feel more determined, more prepared to keep going. This is going to be my year.