Posts Tagged With: travelling Grandma

Hawaiian Luau

In traditional Hawaiian culture, the feast and festivities of a Luau were used to celebrate special occasions. So, while in Hawaii to celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday, a Luau was high on our to-do list.

We chose the Smith Family Garden Luau at Smith’s Tropical Paradise on the island of Kauai. While sorting out my grandma’s slides from her trip to Hawaii in 1991, I found that this is the luau she attended while on the island, so since we were back in Hawaii with her two daughters and two of her granddaughters, it felt like the perfect place to celebrate!

Smith’s Tropical Paradise was created over sixty years ago by Walter Smith Sr. and his wife Emily along the Wailua River. Today, four generations later, the company has grown as the Smith family continues to welcome guests to explore their beautiful gardens, take a boat ride to the Fern Grotto, and enjoy a feast and show at the Garden Luau.

We started with a two-mile boat ride along the Wailua River with Captain Walter Jr. III sharing stories about the island and his family’s company on our way to visit the Fern Grotto.

Once docked, there’s a short walk through the lush rainforest to the Fern Grotto—a geological wonder of Kauai. Here, the ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto, which was formed millions of years ago.

When my grandma visited thirty-one years ago, guests were able to walk right into the grotto and be surrounded by the ferns. Unfortunately, this is no longer an option as rocks have begun to fall from the ceiling and the grotto was deemed unsafe for entry.

So, in order to continue tours here, they built a large platform out front. While here, we were treated to several Hawaiian songs performed by one of the crew on ukulele while another showed us some traditional hula dances. More of these were performed on the boat ride back.

From here, we headed over to explore the gardens at Smith’s Tropical Paradise, where we were greeted with a shell lei before boarding a tram for a tour around the thirty-acre botanical garden.

Since I began sorting through Grandma’s travel slides, I’ve enjoyed seeking out places she’s been on my travels and trying to get a similar photo to the ones she took.

The, entrance may have changed a bit in the past 31 years, but I’d say it still looks pretty similar!

Then you were free to wander around the beautiful, lush grounds including a Hibiscus garden, Japanese Garden, Bamboo Rainforest, multiple ponds, and more. The grounds were gorgeous with all the lush green foliage and brightly coloured flowers, with the mountains creating a lovely backdrop!

At 6 p.m., the Imu ceremony begins where they dig the Kalua pig out of the earthen imu oven.

The host explains about the Hawaiian cooking method called Kalua and what food to expect during dinner before sounding the conch shell and giving the food a blessing.

The Smith family entertains during cocktails and dinner with Hawaiian songs, stories, and hula. So we grabbed a Mai Tai and a Blue Hawaiian and enjoyed the music.

The dinner was delicious and included many traditional Hawaiian dishes like Kalua pig, beef teriyaki, sweet ‘n’ sour mahi mahi, lomi salmon, fresh poi, Hawaiian sweet potato, various salads, and dessert including tropical fruit, coconut cake, and rice pudding.

The Rhythm of Aloha show began at 8 p.m. in the outdoor Lagoon Theatre, complete with an erupting volcano!

The show was great—full of music and dance with some history of the island woven in. There were traditional hula dances from Hawaii and Tahiti, Samoan fire dances, and traditional dances from New Zealand, Japan, and the Philippines.

It was a fun show and made me want to learn to hula! (Pre-Covid, guests were invited up to participate, so hopefully that will open again soon!)

It was a wonderful way to experience some Hawaiian culture with my Ohana, made even more special as we shared the same experience as my grandma!

More info

The entire Fern Grotto tour takes about one hour and twenty minutes. Tickets are best purchased online ahead of time. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children. Tours currently run Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

*If you are going to the luau after the boat tour, select the 3:30 p.m. time.

The Smith’s Family Garden Luau dates vary based on time of year. Check the website for more details. Adult $125.00, Jr. (7-13) $35.00 & Child (3-6) $25.00. The luau includes entrance to the gardens, dinner, drinks, and the show.

If you just want to tour Smith’s Tropical Paradise gardens, you can Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 8:30–4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be bought at the entrance.

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Travels with my Grandma

Today is my Travelling Grandma’s birthday and to celebrate I’m continuing to work my way through her massive collection of slides from her travels.

As as kid, I always loved seeing all the photos from her latest travels and hoping one day I would be able to see all the same places that she had.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to go through her slides and pick out photos of her in iconic and interesting places around the world with the hopes of being able to take photos of myself in those same places as I continue my travels.

I didn’t know at the time, what a huge undertaking this little project of mine would become. When I received boxes of her slides from my uncle, some were sorted into slide carousels…but many were just left in boxes with elastics that have long since rotted away, leaving thousands of slides in unmarked piles and turning this project into a huge game of ‘Where in the World is Grandma?’

What I’ve found as I’ve been sorting through the thousands of slides, is that we have a very similar way of taking photos on our trips. We are always marking where we are by taking photos of airports, ‘Welcome’ signs, destination markers, hotels we stay at, info plaques at places we visit etc. As most of the slides aren’t labeled, besides perhaps a country and date on the box, this has made this scavenger hunt a little easier to figure out where she is in the world.

I’ve also realized that we already have some very similar photos of us on our travels. It’s been interesting to see how places have changed over the years and fun to think of us visiting the same spots.

While I was never able to go on a big trip with my grandma, seeing photos of us in the same places almost makes it feel like we were travelling together!

Happy Birthday Grandma! xo

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Missing you

It’s been 9 years since my ‘Travelling Grandma’ left us. 
Over the past year, I’ve been slowly working my way through the thousands and thousands of slides she took on her trips.
I never got the chance to travel with her…but during this year of no travel, her and I have been around the world together.  ❤

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Travelling Grandma’s Slides

Some of the earliest memories I have of my “travelling Grandma” are of sitting in her living room, watching slides of her latest travels and listening to her tell us stories from around the world. Seeing the Taj Mahal, animals in the African savanna, the Pyramids, penguins in Antarctica and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and landscapes started my quest to follow in her footsteps and see the world for myself at a very young age.

By the time she passed in her mid 90’s, she had been to over 120 countries, taking thousands of photos along the way and turning most of them into slides to share her travels with others.

Grandma at dinner in Arizona

These slides have now made their way to me and as I’ve been home from my job as a flight attendant and not able to take off on any travels of my own during the current Covid-19 pandemic, I have finally begun the task of going through and organizing her slides, reliving her travels as I go.

Today, she would have turned 104 and I can’t think of a better way to honour her birthday then by diving into another set of slides and heading out on an adventure with her…. and of course having an ice cream cone to go with it!

These photos are a small selection of today’s slides from my grandma’s travels to Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands, Iceland and Arizona.

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Best classroom

‘Travel is the best education you can give yourself.’
Growing up, I heard this a lot from my Grandmam, often as she was showing us photos and telling us all about her latest trip.
She saw the world and inspired me to do the same.
Grandma was teacher her whole life and knew the importance of education. However, she also knew that the world had so much more to offer than you could ever find within the four walls of a classroom.

Thank you for filling my veins with a thirst for travel and a need to always keep educating myself on this amazing world we live in.

Happy birthday my travelling Grandma! I hope everyone up there enjoys your travel stories as much as I always did! Xo

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Travel is the best education 

Growing up, I was always excited to go to Grandma’s house and see  photos and hear about her latest trip.  She saw the world and inspired me to do the same. A lifelong teacher,  she always told me that travel was the best education you could give yourself and encouraged me to go explore and learn about different cultures and appreciate the similarities and differences found along the way. Only while immersing yourself in someone else’s way of life do you realize how alike we truly are.  Thank you for instilling this love of travel and need to constantly be educating myself and Happy birthday!  I hope everyone up there enjoys your travel stories as much as I always did! Xo

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