spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Europalooza Trip Report Part 15: lions and tigers and science, oh my

on July 14, 2019

After traveling all day and a good night’s sleep in New Jersey, we were ready for the last day of our vacation- in NYC.  I am unable to have a lazy day at home when away from mine, so I had a whole list of things to do/see.  First, a lovely breakfast at the hotel, included in our rate.  Then, we tried to arrange for the hotel’s “local” shuttle to drop us off at my parent’s home, since it was within the 3-mile operating radius of the shuttle.  Unfortunately, it was booked, so we called a cab instead, and quickly arrived.  Once we were reunited with the kids, who’d slept and breakfasted at my parents’ house, we headed out to what my niece calls, “New Yorkie.” 

We grabbed a bus to Port Authority, which took about 20 minutes, longer than usual for a Sunday.  We walked through the station to the MetroCard machines.  I was in need of a new card, because my old one had expired.  Pass purchased, we started making our way to the Bronx Zoo, only to hit an immediate snag.  The train we needed, the #2, was having work done on part of the track.  We simply followed the instructions posted/announced, and took the 2 until 96th Street, disembarked and mounted a (free transfer) MTA bus up to 149th Street (loved riding through Harlem), then got off the bus and back onto the 2 train for the rest of the journey.  That….added time to our travel.  I’d wanted to arrive at the Zoo by opening (10:00a), but we didn’t arrive at the Pelham Parkway station until about 10:50a.  I felt bad for a family friend who was meeting us there, and waited for us inside a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts because it was COLD.

We exited the station and met him at the Dunkin’.  Both kids love the chain, so were pleased to get a quick treat.  We exited and walked toward the Zoo.  And…got a bit lost.  In my defense: while, yes, I’ve been to this Zoo MANY times, 95% of my visits were in a car, and I have an established record of getting lost in even the simplest of situations.  And it wasn’t only my fault!  Other adults with online Maps were in our group!  Anyway, we finally got to the ticket window of the Zoo at around 11:30a!


An early sign of just how uncrowded our day would be.

We appeared to have the run of the Zoo- it was VERY sparsely attended.  Perfect 🙂  Now, some things were closed for the season, like my beloved Bengali Express monorail (now called the Wild Asia monorail), but lots of animals were out and about.  We walked by the bison, and headed to the sea lions!


This was the new baby sea lion, basking in the sun.

Next stop: the Aquatic Bird House, to say hola to my fellow South Americans, the Inca Terns.


I love their funny white mustaches.

We entered the Zoo Center, home of the komodo dragon!


DS was being a very well-behaved kid, so he got to go on the Bug Carousel.  No pics of that because 1) I only grabbed a video, and 2) you ride on giant version of insects (ew).  Much more palatable: bears, a tiger, a lion, monkeys, AND a jaguar!


We stopped at the Dancing Crane cafe for lunch.  It was tasty, as always.  DS had a moment- he was embarrassed when his soda got jostled and exploded as he opened it.  The spray was pretty spectacular, and several bystanders got hit. They good-naturedly took it in stride, and even helped us clean up.  He was still a little bit down when we left the cafe, poor guy.

And then, we righted a grievous wrong.  After missing out on a helper penguin while skating at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, DS was able to bring home an adorable stuffed penguin from the Zoo store.  He named it “Pingüino.”  That means “penguin” in Spanish.  Points for accuracy, I guess?  Anyway, he totally forgot about the soda incident, and remains enamored of “Pingüino” to this day.  As for me, I OF COURSE already have a magnet from the Bronx Zoo- I purchased it in the 1990s!

We really saw everything the Zoo could offer us on this winter day, and I was pleased with the visit.  It was time to head out!  We exited via the Asia Gate and headed back to the subway.

subway stained glass

If you look carefully, you can make out the Zoo-themed stained glass at the East Tremont Avenue subway station.  That’s a giraffe in the middle.

Now, decisions.  We could take the same disjointed train-bus-train journey back towards Midtown, and be closer to the American Museum of Natural History, or we could take the 5 train the whole way to Manhattan and exit on the other side of Central Park, walking across to the Museum entrance.  We decided a walk through the Park sounded nice.

It turned out to be yet another speed-walk!  We arrived to the Zoo later than I wanted, and left later than I wanted, so it was nearly 4:00p when we arrived at the Museum.  With a closing time of 5:30, we really had to hustle to get everything in. We got the general admission tickets, giving a small donation from our family.  It didn’t make sense to get any of the full-payment choices, since we had such limited time and everything we wanted to see was available with basic tickets.  No lines, since it was so late in the day, bonus!  Must-sees for me at this Museum:  

Whew!  Our Museum “playlist” completed, we made a quick stop at the gift shop.  Again, I have an ancient Museum magnet so saved my money, but DS got some fun astronaut-shaped gummy candy.  We were ushered out the Museum doors at 5:30p on the dot.

Our family friend just followed our lead and kept up with us the whole time, and we had a blast.  We had originally planned for my parents to join us on this day, but with the passing of my aunt, it was decided that my mom especially needed quiet time at home. It was nice to know that we’d spend a lot more time together in March, while on DD’s band trip to play at Carnegie Hall 🙂

Exiting the Museum, I was on an absolute high.  I stopped for a hot dog (I only like the ones sold around Central Park, don’t really eat them otherwise) and a Snapple.  We headed back to the subway and Port Authority.  Our friend split off to spend some time in Times Square before catching his ride back to Philadelphia.  We headed to the busses that would take us to the door of my parents’ building.  After an uneventful ride, we arrived and regaled my parents with tales of our day.

We ate a nice dinner there, then set up plans for the next day’s travel.  The kids would be sleeping at their place again, while DH and I would head back to the hotel.  My dad had careful instructions to bring 3 FROZEN items to the hotel with him in the morning (besides our children, lol): queso (my favorite Tropical-brand cheese that I often bring back to Hawaii), cangrejo (Ecuadorian crabmeat that my aunt had procured for me and was my parents’ freezer by the cheese), and knishes (DH’s Jewish food craving…self-explanatory, I hope?  If not- read this).  We reviewed this several times…queso, cangrejos, knishes…it’s even alliterative.

Coming up…making our way back to Hawaii…did our frozen items make the trip with us?




One response to “Europalooza Trip Report Part 15: lions and tigers and science, oh my

  1. Gina says:

    Always fun to read!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: