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Hawaii Vacations: 7 Great 4-Star Hotels

Here's several 4-Star Hawaiian hotels that offer first-class accommodations and beach front views.

Sheraton Moana Surfrider - This historic hotel has been lovingly restored and maintains it's circa 1901 charm. Located on Waikiki beach, it offers high tea and sunset buffets.

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Learning To Drive In Italy

There is an urban myth that we learn to drive only after we have passed our driving test.The truth is that most of us never do learn.I have been driving for over thirty years without realising that I couldn't drive until last year when I went to Italy to spend a fortnight driving around the Sicily soaking up the atmosphere and spending time with my god daughter.We met in the capital, Palermo where I was taken straight to the car hire office by the docks.

We were faced with a showroom filled exclusively with Italian cars and my gaze was almost immediately captured by a fine silver Alfa Romeo.I could feel my god daughter tugging at my sleeve saying something that sounded like Fiat but it was really too late and the deed was done.We left the showroom heading for the street and the nightmare began.It was a one way street for two lanes of traffic that not only had three lanes of cars, there were also two lanes of motor bikes flying about between the cars.I was suddenly feeling very vulnerable in my large Alfa that felt like a huge silver island in a sea buzzing with little red fiats and Moto's.

The road was packed and I could see no possibility of forcing the Alfa into the tiny gaps that occasionally presented themselves.I was seriously considering spending the next two weeks sitting outside the hire shop, staring at the traffic.My god daughter, who had been watching my expression of mounting despair, took charge.She told me to drive out, I said no, there was too much traffic. She said that when the other road users knew that I wanted to come out they would make room for me.

Faced with the alternative of two weeks in the same spot I let out the clutch and began to edge forward into the melee.Slowly we moved forward and inexorably the traffic closed behind us cutting off any thought of retreat.Once in the stream it was simply a matter of keeping up with the flow and hoping that we wanted to keep going straight ahead.I could feel the rising panic but I was made of sterner stuff, after all it was only a hire car, what was the worst that could happen?.We started to edge over to turn right and the same thing started to happen.The traffic gently parted for us then simply joined up behind as we gently edged our way across the stream until we arrived at our turning.

I was too grateful to have arrived in one piece to think about why we had escaped unscathed from the traffic and following more instructions from my god daughter, continued the same performance through gritted teeth until we were out of the city onto the relatively empty autostrada.The relief lasted until we decided to pull over for lunch. The nightmare began again except that this time we were in the hills and the village where we decided to stop had a very narrow main street that everybody had decided to try to get through at the same time.For the next two days every time we approached a built up area there was the same quickening of the pulse the inevitable perspiration and the tightening of the throat that suggested panic was not to far away.The culmination was in a place called Cefalu.

A beautiful old port where we decided to look for a hotel, dump the car and indulge in a seafood frenzy with a bottle of the delightfully fresh pink Sicilian wine.We descended the hill towards the harbour. The lower we got the narrower became the street until we discovered why Italian cars have retractable wing mirrors when we reached the old town.

We couldn't stop or turn round, we were part of the tide of traffic that was washing us inevitably towards the harbour, the end of the line.Suddenly the buildings fell away and there was open space, a glorious feeling of freedom that lasted only briefly until we realised why we were on our own, we had found our way onto the top of the harbour wall.There was no way forward and back was the same maze of narrow streets that we had just come from.We were going to have to turn around.

I had never found the three point turn particularly challenging while there were curbs to halt your progress and hedges and walls by which you could determine your position in the road.The manoeuvre on the top of that harbour wall with nothing to stop a sudden desperate plunge into the water was nerve wracking.My god daughter had to get out of the car and was trying to guide me closer to the edge but I was petrified and it took nearly twenty minutes of backing and filling before we were finally around.

Now we were facing the same narrow streets that we had just come through but after the manoeuvre on the harbour wall they suddenly did not seem so threatening.On the way in it had seemed as if everything was gradually closing in and we were continually having our space threatened by the encroaching walls.On the way out it was as if our personal space had been shrunk as far as it would go and now as we travelled back through those same narrow streets we ourselves seemed to have shrunk down to a size that meant we were now comfortable driving through the same streets that had proved so traumatic on the way in.We managed to get out of the old town without too much drama and were heading for the main road to book into a modern hotel that had sufficient parking for the guests when we turned a corner and ran straight into a road full of stationary cars.

At first glance they appeared to be parked and then we realised that they were in fact simply stopped and from the looks on the faces of the occupants, they had been there some time.Decision time, we were being followed by this time by about a half a dozen other cars so after a quick glance in the mirror I hauled the wheel round and managed a fine three pointer that left us heading back towards the old town, now reasonably confident that we would be able to find a road that would take us around the jam.After a mile we were dangerously close to the old town without finding an alternate route.The line of cars following us had grown and now the other side of the road was full of cars coming out of the old town.

We seemed to have no choice other than to carry on into the old town to repeat the manoeuvre on the harbour wall, or find another way out.Except that we had lost our feeling of size.We had stopped feeling that the other traffic was conspiring against us and had to be actively fought in order to maintain our own personal space.

Now we belonged to the traffic and were part of its flow, it no longer felt as if it was some thing to fight, we had become part of the whole.Without even thinking about it I slowed down and indicated to turn in the middle of the narrow road.It was clear to the other road users that we wanted to turn around so in the same way that the traffic had parted in Palermo, the stream parted in Cefalu and gave us the space we needed to turn the car.We finally found a hotel, with parking, and although not actually next to the harbour we still enjoyed that sea food frenzy we had promised ourselves.

That was the last time that I experienced stress when driving.The rest of our holiday was spent going with the flow and enjoying our relaxing fortnight driving around an island full of what had been argued by visitors from the UK as the worst drivers in the world.After our experience in Cefalu we were curious about what had changed that had made such a different to the way I drove.

In the UK we drive as if we own the road.We have a very selfish idea that the road in front of the car belongs to us and that nobody else has a right to be where we want to go.If a pedestrian steps off the pavement and is hit by a car the drivers excuse is, "he came out of nowhere, I did not stand a chance", with the clear implication that it was the pedestrians fault for materialising so stupidly right in front of a car.This view is even supported by our legislature, if you step into the road without looking the resultant collision will be your fault.

It may even be that this attitude encourages the excessive speed in our towns that makes the consequences of a collision with a pedestrian so often lethal.The view that we came to understand in Sicily was that the individual driver did not own the road.The driver shares the road equally with anybody else who wants to use it.That includes pedestrians, animals, motor cycles, scooters, bikes, in fact anyone.This causes people to drive at a speed that allows them to give way to anyone else who wants to use the road.

There is no stress because you can't get angry with someone who respects your right to do what you want to do.The difference between the two countries, and the two different driving styles seems to be the way that we regard the road.In the UK the road is treated as if it was our possession, to be defended against all comers who would try to steal from us the piece of road immediately around us that is rightfully ours.That means driving really close to the car in front when one of the lanes is coned off to stop anybody getting in.

It means travelling too fast in town because we have a right to the road and the old lady trying to get home with her shopping does not.It means shouting at cyclists because they have no right to clutter our piece of road and they have not paid for the right to use it.It means blaming everybody else for the confusion and carnage on our roads because we take no responsibility for ourselves.In Italy everybody accepts responsibility for their own piece of road in an unselfish way. This means that they drive always looking out for the other person who also wants to use the road.

The Italian drivers are equally patient with the young lad on the scooter trying to get to school as they are with the pizza delivery man who is trying to turn left across the traffic or the old lady trying to get home with the shopping.This is where the feel of the two countries differs, from the barely controlled anarchy in the UK that leads to cutting up, speeding and road rage, to the chaotic friendliness of Italy where you respect the desires of other road users and they respect yours.The UK anarchy leaves us stressed and irritable with an unsatisfactory experience while the Italian experience slips on like a comfortable pair of shoes.

Having learned to drive the Italian way, it is now an uncomfortable experience returning to drive in the UK.Maybe it is time to stop telling jokes about Italian drivers, before the real truth emerges.Peter A Hunter
Breaking the Mould.


If you have ever experienced or learnt something which you then knew was instinctively right - you will never have forgotten it. Peter Hunter leant something years ago which, regrettably, most of us have still yet to learn. When we do - once we have understood the simplicity of his book 'Breaking the Mould' - it will transform our lives forever! Vic Baxter ? Business Workout.http://www.breakingthemould.


By: Peter Hunter

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