Previously, on ‘Vanessa in the US’:
“There are no words that can describe how I was feeling when it was time to say goodbye. I had never felt like that ever before. I had left my own family last year – and it was hard. But I knew that I would come back to my old life eventually. This time around, things were the same, but different. I was going to leave my second family, knowing that I would never return to this life ever again. The next day, I left early in the morning for Charleston, before heading all the way over to the other side of the country – Hawaii. My travel month had officially begun!”
Before you get too excited about Hawaii: As mentioned in my last blog post, the first thing my friend Nele and I did was fly out to Charleston to stay with my host grandma for a couple days. On our second day, we headed downtown. Our first stop was Charleston’s iconic symbol, the pineapple fountain. We took some pictures and splashed ourselves with plenty of water; even though we had only been outside for a couple of minutes, we were already melting. Fun fact: Charleston’s average temperature usually hovers around 100 degrees, so we could call ourselves lucky that it was ‘only’ about 85 degrees that day… Still too hot though, if you ask me!
We were on our merry way to a farmer’s market when we found Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is a street in Charleston with a lot of differently painted houses – and it looks awesome! After we took some more pictures, we made our way to the farmer’s market. We proceeded to look at souvenirs, food, clothes and a lot of other stuff while enjoying their air con.
We decided to go to a cute coffee shop, simply because we could not stand the heat anymore. We spent some time there, and once we had left we headed straight to another coffee shop. You can probably tell that we are not used to heat, and the humid air just added to it.
On our last day it was raining. And so we decided to go to Boone Hall, one of America’s oldest working farms. The property is also home to nine of the original slave cabins, dating back to 1790-1810, and are nowadays used to display information on slave life. Also: That’s where they filmed the movie “The Notebook”.
SAYING GOODBYE TO MY HOST FAMILY
We flew back to D.C. the next day, where I was going to spent four more days with my host family before I was off to Hawaii. These last four days are hard to describe. On the one hand it did not feel like my last days, while on the other hand I was constantly breaking into tears. I did not even want to start packing for Hawaii nor Germany, because I did not want to come to terms with the fact that it was almost time to go back home.
My host family was so sweet and threw a goodbye-party for me and Franzi, who was going to Hawaii with me. It was an amazing and emotional evening for everyone. I tried to enjoy every moment with my host family, especially my host kids.
But eventually, the day I had feared most came. I could not even sleep the night before, because I was literally scared of saying goodbye. I woke up super early in the morning, trying to pack the last few things for Hawaii. Then I went upstairs, my host family came downstairs, and together we all waited for my friends to come pick me up.
AND… WE’RE OFF!
When they arrived, my heart started beating faster than normal, and all of sudden I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. Naturally, I could not help but crying. I gave my host kids a super big hug, kissed them goodbye and said goodbye to my host parents. I hopped in my friends car and both, me and Franzi, who had just said goodbye to her host family as well, were crying the whole car ride to the airport. After all, we were desperately trying to comprehend that we are not going to see our host families for the next couple of months or years.
Once we arrived at the airport, we also had to say goodbye to Nele and Hannah because they were off to their travel month. Franzi and I were both a mess, but we tried to get at least a little bit excited for Hawaii. Like my host had dad said: “Vanessa, you are going to be the only person crying on a plane to Hawaii!”
HAWAII | MAUI
We finally made it to Maui – our first stop after what felt like travelling back in time on 3 different flights, through 4 different time zones and a 13 hours flight in total. All we did that night was check into our hostel and head straight to bed. Just so you know: I’ll try to keep this part really short, because otherwise I will end up rambling on and on and on…
We saw so many different beaches, went snorkeling and afterwards hiking on a vulcano (!), and explored the island of Maui with one of the guided tours our hostel “Banana Bungalow” offered. I swear I’m not exaggerating when I’m saying that almost everyone who stayed at that hostel was an au pairs in their travel month. And there you have it, even in your travel month you will make new friends – and I absolutely loved that! We even met a girl, Lina, who ended up travelling to all three islands together with us.
Anyway, Maui was so beautiful! But I honestly think that we would not have known what to do without the guided tour, since we did not have a car in Hawaii.
HAWAII | O’AHU
Our second stop was Honolulu. This island was definitely nothing compared to Maui, as it is way more touristy. We checked into our hostel “Seaside Hawaiin Hostel”, which happened to be located only two blocks down the road from Waikiki Beach. And so the exploring began! We found so many shops, hotels and boardwalks close to the beach! Also ice blue water, sand, palm trees… literal PARADISE!
One thing on our to do list, besides hanging out on the beach all day long, was hiking up the Diamond Head Trail. We headed off at 8 AM because unsurprisingly. it gets really hot in Hawaii throughout the day. There was no shade on the trail whatsoever, so I highly recommend going early in the morning. It was an about 45 min hike but that view over Honolulu was incredible. Totally worth it!
If you want to find out if we’ve ever made it back down, make sure to tune back in for the 2nd part of my travel month blog!