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What if unicorns are real? …or in other words Hawaii

If you don’t want to deal with all the reality of a formal – conventional wedding, to see the faces of your judgmental high school colleagues that you haven’t seen for at least 5 years, to hear your mother weeping of joy or sadness (depends on who you are marrying) and your father..well, you don’t see your father anyways because he has been out of the picture for so long that it almost seems inappropriate to invite him to your wedding (not to mention walking you up to the altar, but that’s another story), then what do you do? You elope, of course. You don’t want to give anyone the ‘opportunity’ to talk you out of it.

If you do elope, you want to do it in big style so when your friends and colleagues ask you ‘how did you get married?’, after hearing your answer, they all go ‘Awww…how romantic’ ..so you are right, you choose Hawaii. When I was a child, I thought Hawaii was this mythical space, something like unicorns. To me it was like Mars or Jupiter – I heard of it, knew it was somewhere but never seen it or met anyone who experienced it or had any idea where it is. Yes, I was born in communism, do you think North Koreans know about Hawaii? Or New York? What am I talking about…Communist Romania was nothing like North Korea.

However, I grew up and took geography classes where I learned that this mythical space actually exists. Imagine that you find out tomorrow that unicorns are a real deal. How would you feel?

Mind-blowing, right?

A tip – if your husband thinks that eloping in Las Vegas instead is a good idea, say Elvis Presley is not your thing. Just do not do it. You will never get that ‘Awww..’going from anyone.

I wont bore you any further and I will disclose that yes, I did go to Hawaii and that’s the entire purpose of this piece – to show you pictures. You are welcome.

We took this trip about 2 years ago so if I don’t recall the details quite accurately, you will forgive me. The flight was about 24 hrs. long with 2 layovers – Dublin – London, London – San Francisco, San Francisco – Honolulu. When we arrived in San Francisco, I was almost crying like a baby, I didn’t feel like going anywhere, and I wasn’t the only one. Crying babies in planes, does that ring a bell?

We checked in at Pacific Beach Hotel , and we were given a room with a partial view of the ocean, which we were fairly happy with.

The view from our room

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I didn’t have too many expectations from this hotel, considering I booked Hilton and Marriott for the rest of our stay, however I think it was the nicest staff we encountered and the room itself was very welcoming and comfortable. I would definitely go back here. I think we paid approx.  $235 for 3 nights which is not bad for Hawaii. I recommend this hotel 100%.

20140225_014503Pacific Beach Hotel

We booked Hilton for the following 2 nights for about $220 per night and it was extremely disappointing and so not worth it. The staff was inattentive, unresponsive and they wouldn’t even give you some plates and a knife to cut your cake (because the cake was not purchase in the hotel, it was a wedding gift Hilton). I mean..WOW. I work in hospitality and this is the opposite of what you should be doing Hilton.

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The room was facing  the hotel’s very own Laguna
(no, the room upgrade wasn’t complimentary)

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Waikiki

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We rented a car and took a trip to Waimea Valley, one of last partially intact ahupua‘a on Oahu which consists of 1,875 acres and has been a sacred place for more than 700 years of Native Hawaiian history. Hunger Games, Lost, Jurassic Park – are just a few movies that were shot here.

Car rental

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Hawaii

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USS Arizona

USS Arizona

Pineapple Farm, of course. – ‘when in Rome..’

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Diamond Head – stock up on water, wear a hat and comfortable shoes

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Trips around the island

Mike with nuts

Nuts

bananas

The biggest turtles I have ever seen…you are technically forbidden to touch them (I feel naughty)

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aloha

On the beach..

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The last 3 nights of our trip we spent at Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club, beautiful property with amazing full serviced apartments. Our room was comprised of a fully equipped kitchen , a large, open living room, a king size bedroom, bathroom, a hallway and a beautifully appointed terrace  with chairs and a table, facing the pool. The resort was gorgeous but very quite and uneventful for a young couple.

Marriott

bedroom

Mariott Bath tub

The resort has its own Laguna and beach

beach side

beach

The resort has a pool bar – Nai’a Pool Bar – where you can enjoy a cocktail overlooking the water.  There is also a Fia Fia -Polynesian Dinner Show, but we didn’t look into it, I think it was quite expensive.

Mike enjoying

One of the pools

Pool

And if this is your wedding… order a rainbow.

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Happy eloping!

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West Side Story – Veni, Vidi, Recommendare

Yesterday, a few colleagues of mine and I went to see West Side Story for the first time. I might have judged others for liking musicals in the past, but that has changed. If I had to describe my experience in just one word I would say brilliant.

         The play started with a few lads dancing very gayish which made me feel embarrassed as I had to hide my smirking while rolling my eyes. They started speaking ‘American’ when I exclaimed ‘I already love it’ (I live in Dublin). Then it developed into a beautiful piece of art as they conjoined the dancing with the music and the story, being one of the most successful stage shows of all time.

         On the opening night of West Side Story in 1957, US Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter collared the composer Leonard Bernstein. “The history of America is now changed,” he told him, weeping with emotion. I am not sure if it was changed by it but it definitely changed my perception about musicals. The production is directed and choreographed by Joey McKneely using the full original Jerome Robbins choreography as Joey is the former assistant of Jerome Robbins. The play is very authentic making you shiver and projecting you in the 1957  Manhattan’s Upper West Side and explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs; one white(The Jets) , the other Puerto Rican(The Sharks). The singers are brilliant, especially Djalenga Scott (my favorite), who delivers a magnificent Anita (Puerto Rican) full of charisma, talent and humor. The play is inspired by the Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the most famous love story of all time and consequently love is naturally the play’s dominant and most important theme. The enmity between their families, coupled with the emphasis placed on loyalty and honor to kin, combine to create a profound conflict for Maria and Tony, who must rebel against their heritages/gangs. The symbols used by Shakespeare like poison are replaced by guns, the nurse used to explore the relationship between the comedy and the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet is replaced by Anita, Bernardo’s lover, in her comic role serving as a foil for Maria and Tony highlighting the couple’s youth and innocence as well as the pure and vulnerable quality of their love.

The Shakespearean motifs are beautifully combined with the contemporary ones that mark the history of America like racism and immigration, despite being the land of opportunities (“Everything is free in America” – Anita).

Continue reading West Side Story – Veni, Vidi, Recommendare

Countries

Did you know there are 195 countries in the world? Taiwan is not officially recognized as a country even though it operates like an independent one. The People’s Republic of China considers Taiwan as a breakaway province from China.

192 countries are UN members, with the exception of People’s Republic of China, Vatican City and Kosovo.

The largest country in the world is Russia (I know, shocking!), followed by Canada, USA, China, Brazil, Australia, India, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Algeria.

The smallest country is Vatican City( 0.17 square miles), followed by Monaco, Nauru, Tuvalu, San Marino, Lichtenstein.

Best countries for business, as per Forbes, are :

countries

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Romania is the 60th in top 100, Hungary’s the 42nd, Bulgaria’s the 49th, Moldova’s the 92nd and the the worst choice for starting a business would be Liberia.

All economic data for 2011. Stock market performance based on return for 12 months through October 15.
Sources: Heritage Foundation; World Economic Forum; Transparency International; Freedom House; World Bank; Central Intelligence Agency; Property Rights Alliance.

Bibliografy

1. World & News: Geography, maps, statistics, disasters, news, countries

2. World Stats and Facts

Are you hungry? …think again.

1 in 8 people were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012, according to The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

You’d think they all are from Africa and 3rd world countries? Well, almost all the hungry people in the world (852 million out from 870), live in developing countries, representing 15% of the population of developing countries (FAO 2012).

According to the most recent estimate that Hunger Notes could find, malnutrition, as measured by stunting, affects 32.5 percent of children in developing countries–one of three (de Onis 2000). Geographically, more than 70 percent of malnourished children live in Asia, 26 percent in Africa and 4 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean

But the world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2.720 kcal/pers/day (FAO 2002, p.9).

Did you know that in 2008 there were 1,345 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25/day or less? This figure has improved from 1900 million people in 1981 by 29%. While this has improved in Asia (especially East Asia and China), in Sub-Saharan Africa the number of people in extreme poverty has increased.

The good news is that we all can help the least fortunate. I’ve been researching online and among the only great nonprofit organizations I found were based in the States, where you can actually go and volunteer and be a part of a helping community (http://greatnonprofits.org/nonprofitnews/feeding-the-hungry/). I came across a few people who would like to donate but don’t thrust the big companies and don’t believe their donations will go to the people who need them. I must admit I share the same fear.

 

Bibliography

Cafiero, Carlo and Pietro Gennari. 2011. The FAO indicator of the prevalence of undernourishment FAO

Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion.  June 2004. “How have the world’s poorest fared since the early 1980s?” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3341 Washington: World Bank.

de Onis, Mercedes, Edward A. Frongillo and Monika Blossner. 2000. “Is malnutrition declining? An analysis of changes in levels of child malnutrition since 1980.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2000, : 1222–1233.

Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Food Program. 2002 “Reducing Poverty and Hunger, the Critical Role of Financing for Food, Agriculture, and Rural Development.”

nternational Food Policy Research Institute. 2010. 2010 Global Hunger Index