Our final day in Philadelphia started with the usual crazy packing, last minute laundry and cleaning up before we jumped in the car and headed to Adventure Aquarium just over the bridge in New Jersey. Having visited the National Aquarium a few days earlier, this is one of those places we would probably have skipped but for its inclusion on the CityPASS and the fact that it was kind of on our way to New York. In addition, Hurricane Joachin was marching towards us with ferocious winds and sheet rain so there was no chance of any outdoor activities today.
It gave Nick the chance to try the famous Philly Cheesesteak – thinly sliced steak loaded with cheese in a long roll. Despite our apartment being situated between two highly recommended purveyors of Cheesesteak we ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to try them fresh, the way they really ought to be eaten. Thus the pre-packed Cheesesteak at the Aquarium probably wasn’t the best first experience of the local delicacy although Nick gave it a generous 7 out of 10. It didn’t look wildly appetising but, given the state of some of the meals I’ve dished up, I know that he isn’t worried about presentation! Nick would be the first to admit that he couldn’t boil an egg, let alone cook a Cheesesteak, so I think he was happy enough.
Adventure Aquarium is most famous for two things; the Great Hammerhead Shark and their two Nile hippos, Button and Genny (both are beautiful 3000lb girls who made me wonder what I was worried about, passing on the Cheesesteak!) I’m not sure how I feel about either species being in captivity and, for me, neither were the highlight of our visit.
The best part was feeding the rays at Stingray Beach Club. The kids and I were given small, decapitated fish to feed the stingrays with and, since their mouths are on their underside, the way to do that was to hold our hands on the bottom of the pool with fish poking up between our fingers and wait for the rays to swim across. Sounds easy enough.
Full credit to John who managed to stay calm and get through both punnets of fish (originally bought for the whole family) without flinching or shrieking, unlike the poor example set by his mother, even when the huge Leopard Whipray passed by with its wing almost to John’s shoulder. All three boys loved it and as we moved through the aquarium they had the chance to touch sharks, horseshoe crab and various shrimps and starfish.
All in all, it was an excellent couple of hours but we needed to keep moving to stay ahead of the hurricane and to stand a chance of reaching New York before rush hour. We made good time and even with a quick stop at Costco in Staten Island for groceries we arrived by 5 and couldn’t believe our luck when we found a parking space right outside our apartment….yeah…so it turns out: You can’t park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant in NYC.
Live and learn.