Category Archives: vacation

Paris: Day Three

Notes from dinner at the Eiffel Tower and day three of our trip to Paris.

1. Probably not the best idea to pair a five course dinner that is complimented by five glasses of wine, including champagne, with a wine and cheese tasting lunch that was made of five different wines, including champagne, and six different types of cheese. Both meals were outstanding but they combined to make for a restless night’s sleep.

2. After minimal sleep we had an early alarm to catch the C train to Versailles. The C runs direct to Versailles, except when the route is closed due to track maintenance. Time to be flexible and become acquainted with the trains of Paris.

3. A friendly, Parisians are so rude, ticket agent helped reroute us. After a connection and a 15 minute walk, we found our way to the palace of Versailles. The palace and the accompanying gardens are amazing, wildly decadent, and reflect a wee bit of madness. The fact that not one but two additional, slightly smaller palaces were built to allow the family to get away from the palace that was originally conceived to help the family escape the trappings of Paris says it all. Each of the rooms are adorned with marble, gold, tapestries and / or paintings. There were no spaces left unadorned.

4. Think today’s celebrities are over the top? Do they have a hall of mirrors that is over two football fields long and is decorated with statues from the era of Roman rule? Louis the 14th loved him some Louis the 14th, and he loved marble statues because Greek and Roman era statues are everywhere at the Versailles Estate. They’re inside, with one in nearly every room open to the public. They’re along the outside of every wall of the palace. They line the walkways of the gardens and the fountains. One of the statues was of a lion biting the helpless rump of a soldier.

5. We left the palace earlier than planned because we were both really tired and didn’t think we’d make it out of the maze of gardens alive if we tried to see everything. On the way back to Paris we were old pros with the trains and didn’t need to stop and ask for directions once.

6. Originally we were going to enjoy the tour of the River Seine this evening but we decided to go early. Our tickets were for any tour during the day and we managed to find our way onto the 3:00 PM tour just in time. We both almost fell asleep as the gentle rocking of the boat combined with the soft, cool breeze lulled us into a couple of head bobbing, weary travelers. Fortunately we were awake to take in the site of Notre Dame as it rose up before us.

6. After a side trip to the Boulanger and patissier (bakery and sandwhich shop) across the street for a light, late lunch we headed back to the flat for some downtime before dinner.

7. Yes, we are staying in a flat instead of a traditional hotel. It’s a furnished one bedroom apartment with a small, but full, kitchen and bath. Plus it has a washer/dryer. It’s actually cheaper than a hotel room and we can do laundry, which means we don’t need to pack as much. But the real plus is we are living in a real apartment in a real neighborhood. We’re actually getting a taste of the day to day life along our little section of Rue de Saint Dominique. We’re planning on using a similar strategy for our next European vacation.

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Adventures By Disney announces new 2014 itineraries

On an Adventures by Disney trip you’re a traveler and an adventurer, not a tourist.  You and your family of all ages become active participants in incredible stories, experiences and cultures through immersive activities only Disney can bring you and new for 2014, Adventures by Disney® will offer a new vacation to Central Europe.

The 9-day, 8-night vacation invites you to uncover the hidden treasures of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, traveling off the beaten path in the enchanting cities of Prague, Salzburg and Vienna and spending three nights at a majestic resort in the Alps. Also new for 2014, Adventures by Disney will enhance its current Italy itinerary and add teen-focused activities to existing journeys.

2014 itineraries are now available to book for those who are Adventure Insiders (those who have traveled with Adventures by Disney in the past). Bookings for all other Guests open on May 23, 2013.

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Photo provided by Adventures By Disney

New Itinerary: “Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic”
Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Berchtesgaden, Salzburg, Vienna – The journey begins in Prague and Cesky Krumlov, where parents and children alike will make their very own marionettes with local craftsmen and embark on a picturesque walking tour of the city’s most historical landmarks. In Germany, soak in the scenic Bavarian Alps and visit the Ice Cave of Eishole before slipping into a village bakery to make pretzels. Guests take in the sights and sounds of Salzburg with a tour of Hellbrunn Castle and a performance from Duo Mozart Violinists. As the trip concludes in Vienna, families partake in private Quadrille lessons, learning the timeless art of waltzing from those who know it best. Finally, Guests will enjoy a private dinner at an emperor’s pavilion in the Vienna Zoo.

Enhanced Itinerary: “Viva Italia”
Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany – This enhanced itinerary is perfect for families looking to explore the splendor of one of Europe’s most iconic destinations, with newly added VIP experiences. The journey begins in Rome with a private experience at the Colosseum and a rare after-hours visit to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel and a stop in Tuscany to learn the art of pasta in a private cooking class. Become immersed in the city with a step back in time to the wonders of the Renaissance on a special tour of the secret passages of the Palazzo Vecchio. Finally, unmask the mysteries of Venice with Carnevale, a mask-making activity and a detective game at the Doge’s Palace.

Special Teen-Focused Departures in 2014:
• Peru: Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco & Lima – This South American adventure will now include authentic experiences for teens including taking a spin at salsa dancing with the locals and horseback riding through the rugged  landscape. The tales of ancient civilizations will come alive during a bonfire and stargazing.
• Costa Rica: San José, Tortuguero, Arenal National Park, and Guanacaste – An exotic journey through the lush rainforests and thrilling wildlife of Costa Rica are enhanced with a teen-centric beach party on the country’s pristine sands. The jungles, volcanoes and waters of the region will be forever with families as teens partake in photography classes.
• Arizona & Utah: Sedona, Grand Canyon, Arches National Park and Moab – Venture into the heart of the Southwest with a bike ride through Boynton Canyon in Sedona and an exhilarating hike through the Grand Canyon at sunset.

Across six continents, Adventures by Disney takes you on vacations you never dreamed possible, fostering an adventurous environment to build everlasting bonds and heartwarming memories.

For a full list of 2014 itineraries, departure dates and a free, no obligation quote, contact us at kelly@wetravelersthree.com.

Summer Savings at Disney World

With summer right around the corner it is not to late to save on a family vacation to the most magical place on earth… Walt Disney World.  In addition to hotel discounts Disney is now offering a rare discount on theme park tickets of 4-days or longer when booked as part of a vacation package with travel dates between June 13 – August 14.

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Room Discounts available this summer

Offer Details:

Disney Value and Moderate Resorts
For stays most nights Aug. 15 – Sept. 28, 2013:

• Save up to 25% at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins
• Save up to 20% at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort
• Save up to 15% at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites

Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts
For stays most nights Aug. 15 – Sept. 28, 2013:

• Save up to 30% at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney’s Beach Club Resort Villas, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard/pool view rooms), Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort (standard/lake view rooms) and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort (including Villas)
• Save up to 20% at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Just add tickets to take advantage of all the Theme Park fun!

Booking Window:
• Book May 9 – July 31, 2013

Contact us today for your free, no obligation quote and to book your magical Disney vacation.

* The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length of stay requirements may apply. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room.  Additional per adult charges apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required. Excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas and is not valid at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid rooms.

Great American Road Trip

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Whether you already have a destination in mind or need ideas, We Travelers Three is here to help.

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We Travelers Three is an independent agent working under AAA Ohio Auto Club and therefore we have the ability to tap into the overwhelming fountain of knowledge and resources that AAA provides for its members, not to mention the peace of mind that comes with staying at a hotel with a AAA rating.  We Travelers Three can give you all of that plus the personal one-on-one attention that you want for your family vacation.

 
Call us for all of your travel needs from that all-inclusive tropical vacation, family theme park vacation or the great American Road Trip, We Travelers Three is here to help.I can help you plot your road trip, pointing out attractions, mountain ranges, national seashores, lakes and scenic byways.  We Travelers Three takes your vacation personally and plans as if we were planning the trip for ourselves.

We Travelers Three Ultimate Packing List

By:  Kelly Driver

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Let’s admit it.  Nobody likes to pack.  Even if you are taking a once in a lifetime trip to some exotic land or if you are going on a magical vacation to Disney World.  Packing is the worst part of any trip.  Somehow we always get to our destination and realize we’ve forgotten something, from toothbrushes to swimming suits.  Click the link below for the packing list that we use or bookmark this page so you’ll know where to find it.

WT3 UltimatePackingList

If there is anything I’ve forgotten or anything that you have found is a must-take that isn’t on this list, leave a comment and I’ll add it.

Just A Little Bit Further…Contest Winner

Recently I came across a great article in Family Fun Magazine that had some great ideas for road trip activities, including the Instant Lap Desk, Hunt for Fun and Souvenir Ornament.

Instant Lap Desk
Photo:  Mark Mantegna

“Every summer our family makes the 17-hour drive from Ohio to New Hampshire,” says Cincinnati native Amanda Nobbe, mom of a 3-year-old and a toddler.  “We travel with cookie sheets and a plastic tote filled with playthings. Easily held on a lap, a cookie sheet can be used as a surface for coloring, playing with magnets and Bendaroos, or holding a snack. It’s an inexpensive alternative to a car-seat lap desk, and when it’s not in use, it fits in the back pocket of the seat.”



Hunt For Fun

Photo:  Steven Vote
Amy Malaise of Petaluma, California, helps her kids explore their vacation destinations with a scavenger hunt prepared in advance. She glues pictures of the items they’re looking for onto index cards (one apiece), then laminates the cards, punches a hole in one corner, and hooks them on a ring for portability. Items vary with the destination but might include nature finds, landmarks, public art, or eye-catching buildings. “You can use your own photos if you have visited the spot before,” she says, “or look on the Internet for information about the place.”




Photo:  Steven Vote
The Brunicardis of Galloway, Ohio, have found a clever way to savor vacation memories: they preserve small mementos from each trip, such as ticket stubs and nature finds, in an inexpensive, clear plastic ornament ball. Each Christmas, they’re reminded of all the great places they’ve been.






  

Well we tried out some of the ideas on our recent road trip around Southern Ohio and they worked great.  The biggest hit was the Instant Lap Desk.  Sydney loved being able to use the cookie sheet to use as a desk to write “notes” to friends or to just color on.  She also had a lot of fun with some magnets that we made out of a magnet sheet and some stickers.   



We collected a few things along the way to make a Souvenir Ornament.  We are looking forward to making it and hanging it on our tree.  

The only one we didn’t try out was The Big Hunt.  Maybe next time.

As promised, I am awarding the materials to make your own lap desk, scavenger hunt book and souvenir ornament to a follower who left a comment on the post.  We only had one comment so by default the winner is:  Heather KO!  

Thanks for reading and commenting.  You will be receiving your items soon!


New York City, Day 2; part 1

By Tom Driver

As with the other posts about our trip to New York, the following post is taken from a letter I wrote to Sydney after our trip. 

“They don’t have escalators at our grocery store”  

One way we’re saving a little money on our trip to New York City is by having breakfast in our room.  We brought a box of cereal along with some bowls and spoons from home.  Last night we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some milk, grape juice (our favorite!), yogurt and fruit.  The hotel provided a mini-refrigerator, for a nominal fee, and we set up the desk as a table each morning.  To my surprise, it worked out very well and there were only a few minor accidents.  As we were planning the trip, Mom and I compared the cost of renting the mini-fridge plus groceries with the average cost of a fast food breakfast every morning and found this was one way we could save money.  Plus, we had fun on our Manhattan grocery shopping experience last night.  You were surprised to see an escalator in the grocery store; “they don’t have escalators at our grocery store.” 

Lady Liberty 

This morning’s subway ride was a long one and a little crowded since we were part of the morning commute.  You didn’t mind because you like standing up during the ride.  We rode the #1 train all the way from the 50thSt. and Broadway Station to the South Ferry station, the very last stop on the line, but it only cost $5 for a one way pass for your mother and I, since kids 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways.  From the subway it was a short walk to Battery Park where the ferry departs.  I was nervous, the line seemed like it went on forever and I do not like waiting in lines – who does?  Admittedly I’m very impatient, a trait I hope you don’t pick up but one I fear you already possess.  This is another reason your mom and I are such a good match, she reminds me there’s no reason to get irate when we’re traveling because, “there’s nowhere else in the whole world we need to be than right here, right now, on our way to see The Statue of Liberty.”  She’s right; plus this is one of the most popular tourist spots in the entire country so naturally there’s going to be a line. 

As if on cue, the line started to move and our wait wasn’t nearly as long as my first glance at the mass of waiting people caused me to expect. We only waited for about a half an hour.  However, we did need to go through another round of airport style security.  I’m not sure if this is a good thing, or incredibly sad, but you’ve become so accustomed to the security lines they don’t appear to bother you at all.  You know the routine as well as your Mom and me.  I’m still trying to get used to a world where security checkpoints are part of the routine. 



After clearing security we boarded the ferry for Liberty Island.  Like me, I think you enjoyed the boat ride as much as seeing the Statue of Liberty.  I’m glad we brought your heavy jacket, hat and gloves because the ferry ride in late March was very chilly.  I wish I’d had more than my pullover jacket.  We could have taken a seat inside the ferry to avoid the wind, but part of the fun is feeling the wind and taking in the great views.  And what a great view – Liberty is an awesome sight to behold.  We were lucky enough to snag a spot by the rail, which gave us a perfect view as we passed in front of Liberty Island on the way to the dock.  We made our way to the front of the monument for pictures and had a great time; we took some silly shots along with a few standard poses.  Most importantly, I think we captured how much fun we had visiting one of the country’s greatest landmarks. 


Here’s some information on why the Statue of Liberty is so important to our country’s history.  This is from http://www.statueofliberty.org/Statue_History.html:  “The people of France gave the Statue to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty’s symbolism has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as this international friendship.” 


Countless numbers of people would travel across the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life in the United States and their ships would pass by the Statue of Liberty.  To these emigrants, the Statue of Liberty became a symbol of how the United States of America is open to people from all over the world who seek freedom and individual liberty.  I think it’s also important to remember how instrumental the French were in helping us defeat England during the Revolution.  Without the assistance France provided in the form of loans, supplies, equipment, and troops, the war could have had a much different outcome.  As popular as it is to bash the French, we might be singing “God Save the Queen” instead of “The Star Spangled Banner” if not for their help.  But you’ll learn all about that in school, I hope. 

It was a nice, sunshine filled morning so we took our time walking around Liberty Island taking pictures and having fun.  We stopped in the gift shop so Mom could decide if she wanted to purchase the “professional” picture of the three of us in front of the Statue.  While we were there I took a picture of you pretending to be Lady Liberty holding a toy torch.  Mom was waiting in line to buy the pictures so you and I went outside to wait.  While we were sitting outside I commented on how cute you were and you responded, “I’m as beautiful as New York City!”  It was just one of many great Sydney quotes on this trip. 

We hopped back on the boat for the ride back to Battery Park.  The ferry stops at Ellis Island, which is another important part of America’s history, but since you are just four and half years old we didn’t feel the significance of the items on display at the museum would register on this visit.  We’ll take you on a tour of the Ellis Island Museum when you are a little older.  

New York City Day 1, part 2

By:  Tom Driver
As with the other post about our trip to New York, the following post is taken from a letter I wrote to Sydney in April. 
Cross this one of your bucket list  
While we were planning the trip, we decided to use one of the activity vouchers from our hotel for a carriage ride through Central Park.  This is something your mother has always wanted to do but during all her visits, and even while she lived here, she never took a carriage ride through the park.  Since we were fairly close to one of the pick-up spots we decided to take advantage of the ride now instead of waiting a few days. 
You cuddled up next to Momma on one side of the carriage and I sat on the other side taking pictures.  We had so much fun and your mom was so happy to be riding in a horse drawn carriage in Central Park with us I think I saw a few tears of joy in those beautiful eyes of hers.  After our ride you were allowed to feed our horse.  Sultan was a big, beautiful, black horse and the ride package includes a picture opportunity of the kids feeding carrots to the horses.  You were a little hesitant to get close at first, but after a little encouragement you reached up and let Sultan take the carrot out of your hand. 
“This is where Buddy’s Daddy works”
From the carriage ride, we took the subway to the Empire State Building.  We were going up to the observation deck on the 86thfloor.  That is a long way up but the view is spectacular.  At first you didn’t seem very enthusiastic about going up to the building where Buddy’s dad (from the movie Elf) works.  Who knows, maybe you were wearing down from a very busy, exciting, action packed day.  We had to wait a few minutes before we could go all the way up to observation deck and you were beginning the “I’m tired, boneless body flop”.  When we made it onto the observation deck it was still a little crowded and you seemed to get a little more energized.  I lifted you onto my shoulders so you could have a better view but the security guards informed us that move was against the rules.  But, instead of being jerks, they very kindly walked us over to the areas along the wall that only come up to about three few so little ones can see too.  Each side of the deck had these low points, and people were considerate enough to let you walk up to the front.  “Considerate”, “kindly” yes, I did use those words to describe people in New York City. 
I think you had fun at the Empire State Building, but it definitely wasn’t the most fun you had that day.  You seemed just as excited to be able to chew gum on the elevator to help your ears pop as you were to look out over New York City.  In fact, from that point on during our trip, every time you got on an elevator you asked if it was an elevator that would make your ears pop and if you could have another piece of gum.  That seems to be one of your lasting memories from your visit to the Empire State Building.  I love going up to the 86thfloor.  I like it enough I paid another $15 to go up to the viewing area on the 102nd floor.  Sadly, that observation area is small, hot and fully enclosed, so it wasn’t the thrill I was hoping for.  I wanted to feel the wind in my face and feel the building sway but I felt neither of those sensations so I know to save my money next time. 
Love the singing, but I’d love it even more if someone could manage to bring me my beer! 
After the Empire State it was time for dinner.  Mom found a diner near our hotel where the service staff is comprised of aspiring Broadway performers that sing and dance for everyone when they’re not serving.  It was a fun place and we caught you moving and grooving to the beat during a few of the songs.  The food was average, at best, and we could tell waiting tables was near the bottom of our waiter’s list of priorities.  However, we ordered a slice of chocolate cake and a slice of red velvet cake to take back to our room for dessert. 
A new WT3 tradition…eating cake in bed at the hotel. 
The memories of the three of us sharing cake from the diner are some of my favorites from the trip.  It was the end of a great day and we were having so much fun sitting on the bed in our room laughing and talking about the day while sharing some yummy cake.  At least, your mom and I were sharing, you were joking that the red velvet cake was all yours, and you very nearly ate the whole thing by yourself, but you also shared a few pieces.  You’re such a kind, well mannered kid – another reason mom and I think you’re the best thing ever. 
At last it was time for bed and you were very excited to have a whole big bed to yourself.  This is the first time all three of us shared a hotel room together.  In the past, we booked rooms where there was at least one bedroom set apart from the rest of the room where you could sleep with some privacy and your mom and I could stay up a little longer, if we chose.  Not this time, all three of us were in bed with lights out by 9 PM that night.  Honestly, I didn’t mind because it had been a long day and we all needed the rest. 
Our trip is off to a great start were all having a wonderful time – having big family fun together in the Big Apple. 

New York City Day 1, part 1

By:  Tom Driver

The following post is taken from a letter I wrote to Sydney in April.  I started writing her letters as a way to keep a journal for our family.  I haven’t been as diligent with the project as I’d like but I plan to use We Travelers Three as a way to make it a habit. 
NYC, March 2012
As I mentioned in yesterday’s letter, our family went to New York City last week to celebrate your mother’s 40thbirthday.  Since this is one of our family’s “big events” in 2012, I thought I’d spend some time recounting the trip for you while it’s fresh in my mind. 
Let me start off by answering the question, “Why did we choose to visit New York City?”  New York City (NYC) is one of your mother’s favorite places in the whole world.  It’s easily her absolute favorite city.  A few months ago, she and I talked about how to celebrate her milestone birthday.  I was planning on throwing her a big party and inviting everyone she knew.  She didn’t like that idea very much, however, and here’s why; 1) she wouldn’t be able to spend any real time with anybody because she would feel obligated to talk with everyone at the party, 2) a party that size would likely cost as much, or more, than a trip, and 3) she couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than spending time with her two favorite people.  “Who would that be?” I asked.  Since I know you are her favorite person I was more curious about whom the second person would be.  For a moment, I thought I’d be paying for you and Aunt Jan to go with Momma on her birthday trip, but luckily she said it was me.  There may be another reason your mom wanted to take you to NYC for her birthday, I need to confirm this with her, but this was actually your second trip to New York.  I don’t want to you to get all “Eww, gross Daddy!” or anything, but you were conceived in a Times Square hotel room after your mother and I saw a Broadway show entitled “Monty Python’s The Holy Grail” about five years and five months before this trip.  For your mother and me, it’s just one more reason the city is so special. 
One fortunate coincidence was that Momma’s birthday was the same week your preschool was on Spring Break.  The best part of the timing of the trip, at least for me, is that I was able to miss some very boring and usually pointless meetings at work that happen twice a year.  I was so happy to see those meetings scheduled for the same week as our trip.  Plus, I didn’t miss any games from the college basketball tournament – first time since I decided to marry a woman whose birthday is March 29th
New York City, Here I Come!
We decided to leave for NYC Tuesday morning, March 27th.  I can’t believe you are not yet five years old but this was your fourth round trip flight; I was in my late twenties before I’d flown four times.  Quote of the trip so far came out of your mouth when we started walking towards the jet way to board the plane, “New York City, here I come!”.  You made everyone in earshot smile with that one; it was pretty damn cute.  After landing at La Guardia airport and taking a marathon shuttle ride into the city, we arrived at our hotel early Tuesday afternoon, The Manhattan at Times Square; located at 52ndStreet and 7th Avenue.  The hotel was pretty nice and you were especially excited by two things; 1) there were two double beds and we let you jump/dive from one to the other (you must have done that 1,000 times), 2) our room was on the 17thfloor so you would look at the window onto 7th Avenue and say a quote from the movie A Bug’s Life, “from way up here you all look like little ants”.  Momma reminded you of that quote, but you quickly made it your own.  It seemed like you would alternate between jumping from bed to bed and “you all look like little ants” again and again and again.  Your mother and I didn’t mind because you were having so much fun; well, I should be honest and say we didn’t mind enough to make you stop.
We got settled in the room and then we headed down to the streets of Manhattan for a quick little lunch and then a subway ride to the Central Park Zoo.  You ate your first NYC hotdog from a street vendor and had your first subway ride in the span of about twenty minutes.  Your mother was excited by both events, and you were too.  Not once during the whole trip do you ever seem to be bothered by the noise or commotion of the city.  In fact, I think it got your adrenaline flowing.  But that’s not too surprising since it does the same thing to your mom and me.  Most importantly, you were a great listener the whole trip.  I don’t remember having to ask you twice to either hold my hand, or hold onto the rail in the subway – you insisted on standing up during nearly every ride – or to stay close by. 
First Visit to the Central Park Zoo 
Visiting the Central Park Zoo was one of the things you definitely wanted to do on this trip.  You learned about this zoo from the Madagascar animated movies that star a lion, hippopotamus, giraffe, and zebra.  These animals were the stars of the Central Park Zoo until, through a series of zany movie mishaps; they found themselves in the actual African island country of Madagascar.  We started to remind you the real Central Park Zoo doesn’t actually have a lion, hippopotamus, giraffe, or zebra.  You responded with something like, “of course they don’t, they’re in Madagascar”.  I should have seen that one coming.  
A pool with five sea lions is in the middle of a seating area at the opening of the zoo.  We spent some time there getting our bearings and enjoying the graceful movement of the sea lions.  I haven’t seen many things in nature that seem more effortless and, well, natural than a sea lion swimming through the water.  From there we moved on to the penguin and sea bird building.  The penguins were being fed while we were there and they were so much fun to watch.  We laughed as they swiftly dove under the water to catch their fish, and we were amazed when one seemed to jump right out of the water onto the shore.  Penguins always seem to be having a great time.  Have you ever seen an angry penguin? 
After saying goodbye to the playful penguins we began our search for the polar bear and the snow leopard.  The big cats are some of your favorite animals so we were really hoping to catch a glimpse of this notoriously elusive animal.  Unfortunately, both the polar bear and snow leopard were not prepared for visitors at the moment.  The polar bear was sleeping behind rock and the leopard was completely out of sight.  Both animals had spacious, multi-level living areas and they were making use of the spaces away from the public’s prying eyes. 
We moved onto the crane and antelope exhibits, but neither animal held your attention long so we walked over to the red panda enclosure.  You were very excited to see these animals since the red pandas at the Columbus Zoo are always hiding.  The red pandas at the Central Park Zoo are very easy to see and Momma was able to get some great pictures.  Next up was the turtle pond and then we observed snow monkeys grooming one another. 
Is this an escaped peacock? 
Upon entering the Tropic Zone, a building that houses reptiles, exotic birds and monkeys, we were greeted by a wandering green and blue peacock.  The beautiful bird allowed you to get very close before another group of visitors walked in and the peacock decided it was time to move on.  The Tropic Zone had many wonderfully odd animals.  I remember a very large toad, a great display of bats where visitors could see them in motion instead of just hanging from the ceiling, and some cotton-headed tamarins.  Apparently, these monkeys were on an episode of Wild Krattsand I was so impressed you remembered their actual name without any help. 
Mission Accomplished! 
After exploring all the displays in the Tropic Zone we headed back to try our luck with the snow leopard and the polar bear.  As we approached the viewing area for the leopard I caught a glimpse of the pacing animal at the very top of its enclosure.  The area was sloped and the leopard was at the very top and back of the enclosure along the fence line.  We were patient, hoping for a better view, and our patience paid off because after several minutes the leopard finally decided to show itself.  The animal made its way down the small hill, moving very slowly and deliberately.  You were so excited to see a real, live snow leopard!  I hoisted you up on my shoulders so that you could see above the other guests that were steadily walking into the viewing area.  I guess word spreads fast when the leopard comes out of hiding.  I’m so happy we were lucky enough to observe the beautiful snow leopard, the animal at the top of your day’s wish list. 
We said goodbye to the snow leopard and decided to see if our luck would carry over to the polar bear.  As we walked around the corner to the first viewing area the giant was sitting right in front of the window.  My goodness, the adult polar bear is a huge animal.  Since the bear was lying down and somewhat curled up, we couldn’t determine just how big it was, but its head and paws were enormous.  Next time we visit our zoo, we’ll have to look at the exhibit with the cardboard cutouts of the different bears standing on their hind legs.  I know the polar bear is the biggest of all the bears, but I can’t remember how tall it actually measures standing on its hind legs. 

We had a great time at the Central Park Zoo and I’m so glad we were lucky enough to see the snow leopard and polar bear.  It would have been fun regardless, but seeing those two animals was awesome.