Our Visit to 1950s Kitsch: The Mai-Kai

The Tiki culture (the theme used in Polynesian-style restaurants, clubs and bars) in the United States started in the 1930s, increased after World War II (when solders would return from the South Pacific) and hit its peak in the late 1950s, around the time that MaiKaiStatueSignHawaii became the 50th state. Riding on that wave (do you see what I did there? ☺), the Mai-Kai, a Polynesian-themed restaurant, bar and, a few years later, live Polynesian Islander Revue, opened in Fort Lauderdale in late 1956 and has been feeding and entertaining guests ever since. An OpenTable winner in 2014 and voted Best Tiki Bar in the World by Critiki in 2015 and 2016 (because, let’s face it…they would know, right?), it is, as per Wikipedia, the last restaurant/bar in existence carrying on the traditions of service and serving the original drink recipes of Don the Beachcomber (the very first tiki bar, which opened in Hollywood in 1937), and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And yet I, a lover of all things kitschy, Polynesian/Hawaiian and off-the-beaten-path, somehow had never heard of it, never mind never been to it???
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Our Weekly Recap 5/28/17 – 6/3/17

Hello, friends! In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

How To Not Fry Your Electronics When You Travel Out Of The Country

You’re finally going to do it! You’ve saved enough money, vacation time, frequent flyer miles and/or hotel points to take that once-on-a-lifetime trip to London, Tokyo Disneyland, South Africa, Niagara Falls, Paris or some other place you’ve always dreamed about. Your stuff is all packed and your itinerary is all ready. But here’s a question – are you prepared to charge your electronics there? Your phone, tablet, laptop, curling iron, electric toothbrush? Because not all electrical plugs around the world are the same.

Believe it or not, there are currently FIFTEEN different types of electrical outlets in use around the world and which one is used in the place(s) you’re visiting will vary from
country to country – there’s a list of them all, with photos, if you go to the website on

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What Can You Do When You Might Miss Your Connecting Flight?

It’s everyone’s travel nightmare. After making sure you get to the airport extra early because of the delays at check-in and security, you finally get to your gate and find a seat, preferably near a power plug. You hope there are no yelling children around, or adults talking with their phone on speaker mode. You start reading your book on your Kindle or watch some cute video of cats on your phone to pass the time. When it’s almost boarding time for your flight, there’s one small HUGE problem – there’s no plane at the gate. You think, “There’s no way we’re leaving on time but if we were delayed, wouldn’t the airline tell us?” The dread of knowing you only have 90 minutes to make your connecting flight and who knows how long you’re going to be delayed sets in. You’d stand at the counter to ask one of the employees but you notice the line is already 15 people deep with fellow travelers who already had the same thoughts as you. If you’re waiting for the airline to let you know about a delay, you’re already WAY BEHIND THE CURVE.

Being prepared for a travel delay or cancellation is just like getting ready for a snowstorm or a hurricane. You don’t want to be the person rushing to the store the last minute to stock up on milk, bread, water, toilet paper (and possibly alcohol) and all you find are empty shelves. You need to have your emergency kit prepared ahead of time. This means you need to have several important travel apps ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Here are things you can do when your flight is delayed or cancelled that will, hopefully, help you get to your destination:

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Make Sure To Sign Up For Summer Hotel Promotions For Extra Points!

It’s after Memorial Day! That means it’s now OK to wear white pants (except in Florida where it’s always acceptable), and the hotel chains are out with their summer hotel promotions. These offers give you bonus points for your hotel stays and you need to actively enroll for them, as they’re not automatically activated. You also really should read the fine print to make sure you don’t lose out on points because of a technicality.

I always recommend signing up for these offers even if you don’t expect to stay at any of these hotels. You never know when a last-minute hotel stay will happen. (Note: I’m already signed up for some of these but for those where I’m not, I’m doing so for each offer as I write this post.)

Here are the offers for the major hotel chains this summer:

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#TBT: Japan April 2005: Cherry Blossoms on Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, Travel to Nagoya

We have about 45 minutes on this Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Nagoya, so I can start to write what we’ve done today.

Joe and Steve (Steve is a friends of ours who went on this trip as well) decided that a real, sit-down breakfast was in order today, so they went to our hotel’s breakfast buffet. I’m not a “big breakfast” person (give me a cup of coffee in the morning and I’m good for 3 hours) so I stayed in the room and had a can of iced coffee and the double-chocolate chip marshmallow cookie that I had bought from Starbuck’s yesterday, while I packed.


This is less than half of our luggage, not including Steve’s stuff. And we only brought 8 days’ worth of clothes, allowing time for doing laundry!

After the guys came back from breakfast (choices of scrambled eggs, bacon, Vienna sausages, corn flakes, french fries, grilled fish, beef stew with noodles, coffee, juice, tea and Japanese food), we finished packing, checked out of our hotel and left our bags with the bell check (who gave us a ticket, put our stuff on a cart, threw a net over it all and left it off to the side of the lobby. Hey, it’s Japan and people here are honest – who’s gonna steal it?). We then took a bus to the Philosopher’s Path.

Now, when I went on the Philosopher’s Path in April 1994, it rained. All day. So I was really looking forward to seeing it in sunshine this trip. Buddha must not like that idea though, because it’s been raining today. All day. Sigh.


I’ve discovered that my backpack sticks out so far behind me that when I hold an umbrella, part of the backpack still gets wet. So I went to the “100 yen” store near our hotel and picked up rain ponchos for the 3 of us. I wrapped the sleeves of the poncho around my front and would either hold them or stick them into the pockets of my coat, to make sure the poncho didn’t fly up and let my backpack get wet. I think it made quite a fashion statement, don’t you? Undoing and then re-doing this contraption was a LOT of work!

Anyway, the Philosopher’s Path is a small street along a stream, maybe about 2km long. It’s lined with small shops and restaurants, as well as hundreds of cherry trees. Since it’s spring, the cherry blossoms are blooming, which make for some lovely scenery on the walk on the Path.


Through rain, sleet, snow and hail…Joey can still read guide books and maps (grin). I think he carried about 20 pounds of books in his backpack every day (MODERN-DAY NOTE: Nowadays he has his TripIt all ready, and a bazillion web pages bookmarked LOL! Still a ton of info but at least it’s lighter than in 2005).

We stopped at a tea room and had a short break with some tea and small tea candies and cakes.


Outside of the tea room building.

The snack was served Japanese-style, so we had to leave our shoes in little cubby holes near the door (the employees even helped me take off my poncho and put it in a back room for safekeeping…and to make sure the floor didn’t get too wet), then we sat on small pillows on top of tatami mat flooring.


Window view of the garden that was outside the tea room. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the ceilings in this place were VERY low…Steve is about 6’2″ and when he got up to go to the men’s room, he nearly cracked his head open on a low ceiling beam.


Joe on the floor of the tea room.


The food I ordered…it was all written in Japanese, so I’m not positive what I had, but it looked and tasted like (from left to right) butter cookies, green tea cake and peach-flavored panna cotta.

About an hour later, at the end of the path, we found a small restaurant and had lunch. I had udon noodles with bits of curried beef, Steve had a beef and rice “stew” called donburi and Joe had eel over rice with a side of soup. This was one of the few places that had “serve yourself” ice water. Steve is an avid iced tea drinker and can easily get a half-dozen refills in the US, but with the tiny glasses he was continually getting in Japan without refills, I think he was thrilled to be able to get up and get his own drink. He must’ve gotten up at least 5 times (wink).

We caught a bus back to our hotel, where we JUST made the shuttle to Kyoto Station. Got our reserved seats for the 16:00 Shinkasen and now here we are, on our way to Nagoya. More later…

Okeedoke…it’s later. I was writing the first part of today’s notes around 4:30pm. It’s now close to 9pm. We had to take a subway from the train station to the hotel…which took us up and down 2 flights of stairs…with 3 HUGE suitcases, 3 carry-ons and 3 knapsacks. Now THAT was fun. Not!!! Fortunately, our legs have gotten stronger from 4 or 5 straight days of walking and steps to and from temples, but I don’t think any of us were in shape enough to carry all that crap those kinds of vertical distances. But with lots of rests, we eventually got to where we needed to go.

Our hotel, the Nagoya Tokyu Hotel, is just GORGEOUS and Joe thinks that it’s the first time in all the years we’ve been using it that Expedia actually “did us good” (grin) (MODERN-DAY NOTE: Yeah, Expedia. Joe was already dabbling in “points and miles” during this trip, but not to the extent he does now). I mean, this place has TempurPedic pillows in the rooms! (grin) When we entered from the rain, the hotel staff came with, not only umbrella holders, but towels to wipe ourselves off! Just an incredible place. I think the fanciest place Joe and I have ever stayed was The Plaza in NYC and although I like the decor of The Plaza better, the service here is just amazing.


The outside of the Nagoya Tokyu Hotel.


Front lobby, looking towards the check-in counters.


Front lobby, looking in the other direction.


Japanese people LOVE to shop and this hotel had almost a mini-mall in it!


LOTS of shopping.


And, of course, each storefront was perfect.

Anyway, once we were checked in and had our room keys, the first thing we did was unpack and take pictures of the room:


A view from the doorway.


Triple adult occupancy in Japanese hotel rooms was pretty hard to come by, so we had requested a day bed for all of our hotels, since the best we could get was “2 twin beds,” and we figured we’d take turns sleeping on the cot. We discovered in EVERY hotel that offered “twin beds” that “twin beds” are the equivalent of slight smaller than an American double bed. So although you see 3 beds in this picture, we got rid of the 3rd bed after the 1st night. Joe and I just cuddled close. Such a sacrifice (wink).


Joe getting the computer hooked up. ASAP. By my request. Of course (grin).


The problem with always having the camera is that you’re hardly in any pictures. Thank god for mirrors!


And THIS is why I married someone 6′ tall. To help me take pictures of stuff I’m otherwise too short to take pictures of.


This is what we took a picture of, together. Exciting, huh?


View outside our window.

After taking shots of everything including the bathroom…


We thought this mirror, which had an area that did not fog up, was SO cool. In my humble opinion, it would’ve been even cooler if the non-fog area was about 9″ lower (wink) (MODERN-DAY NOTE: When we re-did our guest bathroom in 2006, we got a mirror with an anti-fog option).

…we went out in search of dinner. I was pushing for the nearby Denny’s, just to see how it compares to Denny’s in the US, but I was outvoted. We finally settled on a British-style pub called “Queen’s Head.”


Not the greatest picture of the Queen’s Head menu.

I had fried chicken and chips (fries), Steve had a pasta and eggplant dish and Joe had fish & chips. My fries were perfect, but I now know why the Japanese are not known for their fried chicken (wink). Joe said his fish and chips were “right”…just that the tartar sauce tasted different from what we’re used to. But hey, it was closer to “home food” than we’d had in days (wink).

After a quick stop at Circle K for dessert, we went back to the room.

The guys are currently watching TV (they think it’s a Japanese version of “Antique Road Show”) and I’m going to contemplate going to sleep pretty soon.

Tomorrow is the World’s Fair….

Southwest & JetBlue Sales – Save Money & Points! (Hurry! Sales End Tomorrow!)

This just in! Both Southwest and JetBlue are having fare sales, so if you are in need of some flights, right now might be the best time to book them! Here are the details…
Continue reading “Southwest & JetBlue Sales – Save Money & Points! (Hurry! Sales End Tomorrow!)”

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