Monday, October 13, 2014

Lost 2014: Day 1

It must have been back in 2013 when I first heard that there would be a gathering of  LOST fans in Oahu to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LOST.   Although I had to be cajoled into travelling to Oahu back in 2011, this time I knew immediately that I had to go back.  Once further details were communicated in early 2014 I eagerly booked a flight, hotel, and registered for the event along with a couple of LOST-themed tours.

As the months ticked by anticipation grew, particularly as I received news from some of my closest LOST pals that they too would be heading to the island in September.  It would be the first time I met many of them in person since our wonderful stay in the San Diego Barracks during SDCC 2011.

On September 17th I awoke bright and early to catch a 7:45AM flight to Vancouver.  All went well on this leg of the journey, and upon arrival I set off to the Maple Leaf Lounge to pass the time during my 4-hour layover. (This is Air Canada's airport lounge, which features free food and alcohol.)  I managed to grab a quick breakfast just as it was being taken away, then a few minutes later lunch was brought out.  Good thing I was hungry after the flight which (as seems to be the norm these days) didn't offer anything in the way of free meals or snacks.  The hours went by fairly quickly, and soon enough I was queueing up for the second and final leg of my journey.  Things were about to get interesting.

My neighbour on the flight was a young guy from Quebec, maybe mid-twenties, who had recently started a new job just north of Vancouver.  His contract allowed one paid flight back home to Quebec per month; however, he also had the option of using the money to travel elsewhere, and for this first flight he more or less randomly decided to travel to Oahu.  In fact, he told me, this was to be the first time he had travelled outside of Canada.  He had booked a room at a hostel in Honolulu, and planned to rent a motorcycle to tour the island.  I mentioned that I had been to Oahu once before and we discussed some of his plans, what to see, etc.  Over the course of several hours and of 3 or 4 drinks ordered on the flight (and a few extras that emerged from his backpack) we talked and talked, and talked some more.

When he asked me why I was heading to the island I vaguely mentioned that I was meeting up with some friends.  I didn't really want to bring up the LOST gathering, for fear that he either would have seen the show but either not liked it or not understood it. (They were dead the whole time!) Or that he simply wouldn't have heard of it and then I would have needed to explain the entire history of the show.  Eventually, though, he wore me down with persistent interrogation and I admitted that several hundred fans of the show LOST were coming together in Hawaii to celebrate its 10th anniversary, to visit filming locations on the island, and to enjoy a Q&A with Jorge Garcia who played Hurley.  And this was the moment that a look of what I can only describe as confused elation crossed his face.  Somewhat like the look in John Locke's eyes when he first saw the Smoke Monster up close.  For not only had he seen the show (the first few seasons, anyway), but he loved it.  He hadn't realized that they shot most of the series on Oahu.  This opened up a whole new dimension to his vacation.  He literally shouted out "Hurley!  Hurley!" when I reaffirmed that we would indeed be meeting, in person, with Jorge in a few days.  (A short time later, when he had gotten up to use the washroom, one of the flight attendants dropped by to ask if he was OK.)  Around 4 hours in to the flight the excitement of this discovery (and the seven or eight drinks) finally took their toll and my neighbour nodded off for the remainder of the trip.  We split a cab to my hotel (he was staying close by), and before saying good-bye I mentioned that there would be a meet up at O'Toole's and he was welcome to drop by.  However, I never did see him again.  Hopefully he had fun and was able to soak up some of the island's magic.

I stayed at the Park Shore Hotel, where I had also stayed back in 2011.  Although the rooms are average, the hotel has good air conditioning and strong, hot showers. (Two of my measure for hotel excellence.)  It is located on the east side of Waikiki, right beside the Honolulu zoo, and across from Queen's Surf beach.  On the plus side, being slightly out-of-the-way it isn't completely flooded with tourists; conversely, it is a little further to walk to many of the restaurants and bars located in central and western Waikiki.  The Park Shore's ace-in-the-hole is Lulu's, a fantastic bar/restaurant with great views of the beach and very tasty, reasonably priced lunch and breakfast.  Happy hour, from 3PM to 5PM daily, features $4 daiquiris and a small selection of other low-priced drinks.  Lulu's also hosts bands most evenings, though this time around I didn't catch any of the shows.

Love this place!

When I booked the hotel I made two requests -- to be on the 8th floor or higher, and to be away from the elevator.  On arrival I was offered room #819 (good), directly across from the elevator (d'oh!).  Luckily, elevator noise was undetectable from my location, and on only a few occasions did I hear guests making noise as they made their way to and from their rooms.

Arrived!  Park Shore Hotel, room #819

By now it was a little after 7PM, and I had to be at Allan Wong's restaurant at 8:30 for dinner, so I quickly showered and changed, then had the hotel call a taxi given that it was a little far to walk.  I arrived a few minutes early and took the elevator up to the restaurant to see if anyone was there yet; they weren't so I took the elevator back down to street level to wait.  As the doors opened my eyes fell upon my good pal Alice, her wife Terri, their friends Kiana and Allison, and Paul, my favourite Scotsman in the world. (Sorry, Desmond.)  We were soon joined by fellow LOSTie Dave Rambo. (I'll refer to Dave as "Rambo" from hereon in, just because it's more fun.)  So great to see Alice, Paul, and Terri again, and to meet Kiana, Allison, and Rambo for the first time!

Friends old and new.  (Photos: Alice)
Super-tasty snapper at Alan Wong's Restaurant
We had a lovely (and expensive!) meal at Allan Wong's, and afterwards decided to go out for drinks at the Mai Tai bar next to the Royal Hawaiian Waikiki.  (The "pink hotel".)  Instead of a cab (which is fairly expensive in Honolulu) Alice had hired a car though Uber (I think); half the fun that night involved fitting the seven of us into his vehicle!

Royal Hawaiian Waikiki, on the way to the bar.

Mai Tai bar, right on the beach. (Photo: Alice)

After a few drinks, some fantastically entertaining conversation and a massage or two, we called it a night.  (Strictly speaking it may be more accurate to say that we were gently encouraged to leave by the staff as they tried to close shop!)

Fun times at Mai Tai bar.  (Photos: Alice)

Paul enjoys a massage.  (Photo: Alice)

It was a stellar start to my weeklong stay in Oahu, not only celebrating LOST but, more importantly, celebrating with LOSTies.

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