Thursday 20th January 2022

Countries I Have Visited. 32/52, #LifeThisWeek. 2018.70.

Countries I Have Visited. 32/52, #LifeThisWeek. 2018.70.

This is a very short post.

I have visited the United States of America.

One country.

Oh, alright then, some details! But first some background.

My parents got to travel around the world a few times initially thanks to Dad’s work (seeing overseas plants and offices relating to the fertilizer company where he was Company Secretary. That same company sent him, a young Chief Accountant in 1966 on a round-world trip alone to visit cities where his company had affiliations and then to University of Hawaii where he attended a 6 week Summer School from the Harvard Business School. It changed his life, and broadened his interests from that time. He also fell in love with Hawaii and with Mum in latter years visited many 7 times, meeting old friends, playing golf and relaxing.

Why tell my readers this?

Well. I had heard his stories for 40 years when, with the blessing and financial support of my dear husband I got to plan a solo trip to the U.S.of A. and topping and tailing the 15 day trip with Hawaiian experiences.

The Day: 1.1.2006.

The hottest day ever (till then) of 44 degrees celsius both at home in Sydney’s west and at Mascot, that late afternoon. New Year’s Day. Melting at the airport because the electricity was so overloaded the air con stopped.

Our daughter (Happy Birthday TODAY, KT!)

drove a nervous but excited me to the airport early..because..that is ME. My flight with Hawaiian Airlines was due to leave at 10.p.m. She and her youngest got Maccas and went home.

I sweated it out with a brief thought to forget this and go home. I shooshed anxiety and when I got to priority board (I joined Hawaiian Air’s Premier Club & it was so worth it) I sighed with relief from the air-con on the plane, the attendants in Hawaiian garb and their friendly demeanour. I also had a window seat (as requested via the Premier Club and had that seat each time I flew with them. I could not fault Hawaiian Air. Ever!

Hawaii – Oahu and The Big Island.

For the girl who had never travelled OS before but was a hugely skilled planner the trip went well. Originally organised by the local Flight Centre with me adding more ($$) to this trip I fear would be the only one (looking like it 12 years later) so I got to experience as much as possible. The notion of being solo did not faze me at all. I have a presence that does not show fear and I am a confident walker and can talk to most people.

Dad asked me to have a Mai Tai under the Banyan Tree – next door to my hotel. I had a Pina Colada.

My itinerary: loosely!

I stayed at Waikiki Parc hotel, upgraded to an ocean view and loved it so much for its breakfasts (hello, guava juice), the staff who lent me a body board and stored some of my belongings when I went to the Mainland AND for being only one very small walkway from the sand and the water, and a lovely walk either by the road or along the sand to Waikiki Beach. I did a morning tour to the Arizona Memorial. Very sombre and very moving when you see the whole harbour.

Inside the Arizona Memorial

I was there for 3 nights and then flew to The Big Island for 2 nights and hired a car there. I had hoped to visit the now very active volcano after finding out how to get to Hilo early one morning by car. I got lost and ended up back at Kona instead. Loved meeting new people and having new experiences. Took a gazillion photos but only a few are on my computer now.

Loved driving the Mustang

After returning to Oahu, I got an Hawaiian air flight to Los Angeles where, as was organised back in Sydney I was to be met by a driver to take me to my hotel in Beverly Hills. He was a no-show and that saw me on the mobile to his company to find that they had no booking but would see me Sunday to bring me back to LAX. Fortunately, as I am pretty resourceful and unafraid to seek help, I got on a shuttle bus and heard some Aussie accents and didn’t mind the scenic trip via UCLA on the way (very late now) to my hotel. Sorry Ma’m kitchen is closed. It was a snacks dinner.

Made my way to a good breakfast pretty early and readied myself for LA in a Day. It took in all the sights: I went to Venice Beach (so different to my idea of a beach) I loved using the ladies at Beverly Hills Hotel that was in Pretty Woman, did a bit of Hollywood Shopping for young starstruck granddaughters, was disappointed by the Hollywood sign and surprised myself by liking Universal Studios tour. I had a photo with Princes Fiona as Shrek was the “in movie”

What “Hollywood Sign?” Oh there!

Flew out on Sunday to Las Vegas after the promised Chauffeur limo drive I should have also had on Friday night.

Las Vegas. I just laughed out loud when I saw the poker machines at the end of the plane bridge. From then on, after checking in at Excalibur I smiled, observed and just took it all in. Saw Mamamia performed live, went through the Titanic exhibition and had a night Las Vegas tour culminating in taking in the view at the top of a tower. Oh, and met Elvis. Of course. Spent a wonderful day on a small bus excursion out to Hoover Dam and crossed the border. Great experience and saw some of the native American ventures as well.

Thank you very much

San Francisco. Really did steal my heart. I loved it. I felt ‘at home’. I can see why my Aussie expat friend Katherine is calling it home. Here is her blog. I stayed near the water and walked to have a crab lunch as my father insisted I do. I booked a tour of Alcatraz back in Australia and really found that tour amazing and quite sobering. I spent time going on the trolleys and finally finding a decent coffee. Sigh. Loved the bookstores, the music stores. Was not so pleased with the poverty I saw in the streets. Vietnam vets in particular.

Yes that is me with a few cameras (and a tour listening thingy)…

Back to LA. Waiting, waiting, waiting…for Trip Back to Honolulu.

My last days overseas were spent swimming in that warm water, walking to the photo developer near the statue of the Duke getting all of my pics developed before I got home, going to the Hawaiian markets and buying an extra bag to bring STUFF home in, and having a day tour of the North Shore. I had been singing Ride The Wild Surf on the school bus for years as a teenager and could not wait to see this beach. Nothing. Gentle waves. Boo, no wild surf. Still, we had a great tour driver and asking him a few questions found out that his job as a school teacher cannot keep up the mortgage payments on the house (housing was/is very expensive in Oahu) so he supplemented as a tour driver. I also saw a lot of poverty on some of the back streets.

What Wild Surf?

Home on 15 January 2006. Laden with stuff…for the kids. My lesson about that? Buy nothing! Bring back memories!

Now, that is a long story.

However I am going to finish with a wish.

I would like to visit the UK; specifically the areas where my grandparents lived: England and Scotland. I would also like to do a war sites/grave tour of France. This is unlikely to happen: due to my age…and money. BUT, I have decided not to give it away but to consider it.

What countries have you visited?

Joining with Alicia for Open Slather Here.

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Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 33/52.  Famous People I Have Met 13/8/18.



  1. I have my fingers crossed that somehow you find a way to visit the UK too!


  2. Just loved Big Island. The Hawaiian people are really good people. They’ve been dumped with a lot of the mainland homeless and they really just take it on and try to make life better for people. I admire their integrity. I have my fingers crossed that you make the UK. I think you will delight in it all. Competitions? That’s what I do when the bank balance is low. And you know, someone has to win, right?

    • Yes I liked seeing and meeting some of the ‘real people’ if you know what I mean when I was there. The Big Island was so interesting with all the black rock etc. I didn’t get to the other side because I got lost!

      Thanks for the tip. I am probably not that 100% well to travel YET but I have not said “never”.

      Denyse x

  3. Hope you get to visit the UK and France, Denyse. Lots to see in our world.

  4. ‘Buy nothing! Bring back memories!’, so true Denyse and something I will endeavour to do on my future travels.

    SSG xxx

    • I will hold you to that LOL. I wished I had bought stuff for me (I got a pair of sneakers in Macys at the Ala Moana centre as my feet were wrecked from walking in sandals etc. The gifts I bought for others I would never do again. But of course, I am “older AND wiser” now, right!

      Best wishes for the City to Surf on Sunday. I did not know it was your first one. Hope it a terrific experience.

      Denyse x

  5. What an amazing trip! So glad you got to visit San Francisco (my childhood home and the subject of my post). When I first visited Sydney, it reminded me of San Francisco with more sunshine and less fog. My first two OS trips were also solo trips. I met so many great people while traveling solo. Thanks for sharing your trip with us

    • Thank you Kristin. I planned it myself and it did feel like the right pace except in SF where I would have loved to spend more time. How interesting you saw the Sydney similarities too. Solo travel = only you to decide about meals, what to do and no fights!!

      Denyse x

  6. What an amazing trip that would have been for you!

    I’ve been lucky enough to travel overseas twice, first with family to the UK, France and America when I was 12, and then to the UK and America in 1991 on an exchange with a sister school. Even though the many photos are lost in the ether of divorce, both trips live on in my memories (for now)

    • The best part is the memories so I am glad you still have them.

      What an experience to go somewhere as an exchange student too.

      My daughter boarded with a NZ family when their HS band did a trip to NZ and she and the girl she was matched with ended up being bridesmaids at each other’s weddings!

      Denyse x

  7. I visited the US 2-3 times as a kid/young teen/whatever you call it when you live at home still.

    Canada once. Vancouver felt like home when we touched down. Probably because quite a few TV shows I like are filmed there 🙂

    I’ve lived in the UK twice, once in grade 3/4 (as I’m sure you know the teaching years don’t match up so I basically did grade 3 twice and little of grade 4), and once right after high school.

    I’ve also been to: The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.

    I’ve transited through Hawaii, NZ, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore but never left the airports!

    I *think* that covers it…

    • Good grief THAT is quite a travel list.

      I hope that some positive and good memories form part of your travel stories.

      So pleased to see you are now “moved in” to the next house!

      Happy and more relaxed times ahead for you, right!

      Denyse x

  8. I haven’t travelled nearly as much as I had planned to when I was younger, life kind of got in the way and the lack of money. And divorce. But I grew up in Poland, visited Chechoslovakia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Hungary, Austria and Italy. I don’t know if plane and train stop overs count, but if they do, then I’ve also been to Sri Lanka, Singapore (or was it Thailand?) United Arab Emirates and Germany. I would love to travel so much more.

    • Yes that “life and money” thing sure does kill travel.

      My daughter did not get to do anything like the travel she might have wished for later as she married and had 3 kids, then divorced. I am hopeful for her, even though she had another relationship and a 4th child, that travel will happen. One day. She is particularly interested in Europe I think.

      You have done some travel of course and coming here to settle was one BIG move!

      Denyse x

  9. Ooooh! I’ve been to all those places. SNAP! We’re twins. Big Island, Oahu, Vegas, LA, San Fran. Love them fall. Great memories Denyse.

    • Snap indeed. They were good and interesting places to visit and I did get to sample a culture and country that is not my own.

      Denyse x

  10. What an amazing trip. I’m such an introvert yet never considered solo travel. We’d love to do a family trip to the U.S. but of course that’s big $$. I guess you never know. So I’ve only been to Holland as a child.

    Hope you make it to the UK & France one day. ‘They’ say experiences over things, but why do some experiences have to be so pricey?!

    • Thanks Ness, I so agree! Experiences are better than things…but every thing costs! I know I would have to fly premium economy for some level of comfort so that is one add-on. I am not going to give up on it, but seeing my health is a relative unknown in the future and we still have to buy somewhere to live, the trip comes low on the list

      Denyse x

  11. I can’t imagine doing my first trip abroad solo. Good on you Denyse! I’d never really thought of flying Hawaiian Air, but a good review of an airline is difficult to come by so I’ll definitely consider them the next time we head over to Maui.
    I’m so glad that you loved San Francisco as much as you did! I totally agree, it does feel so much like home that it’s easy to live here 🙂 Thanks for linking to my blog as well! xx

    • Thank you and of course it is a pleasure to link up to your blog.
      I flew American Airlines within US mainland and found them officious. They determined “I” needed security checks at each stage.

      Hawaiian? Like a family airline…I joined their premier club (did not cost much) for a few reasons:
      – access to their lounge at LAX and others in none of theirs available (meant I did not feel any worry about waiting in the public spaces as a solo traveller…and their snacks were great
      – priority boarding
      – choose my seat and keep it on all the flights
      – extra luggage allowance
      – in flight snacks and meals.

      Would go with them again in a heartbeat. The crew were just lovely AND they played Hawaiian music once I got on board in Sydney and I breathed out!

      Denyse x