Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Top 10 Kid-Friendly Things to See and Do - Part 2

This is a little backwards, I realize, but following is the second half of the list of Salome's favorite stops and adventures from our world trip. See the previous post for the first half of the list.

6. Mountain Hut near Schladming, Austria. A short hike up the mountain took us to the "hut," which was actually a small, very charming restaurant run by a friendly family. The food and drink were good, we toasted with shots of a local liqueur with Austrians who spoke little English, and after a while, the owner broke out his accordion and dancing ensued. But all of this doesn't explain why Salome loved it. Not only was there a pen full of rabbits and guinea pigs for her to play with, but she got to spend the afternoon with some kids her age, a rarity on our trip. She also loved to feed the donkeys on a nearby farm, until we ran out of apples and they brayed at us in what she took to be a threatening manner.

7. Estancia, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina. Salome looked like a natural in her bright red serape as she galloped along the trails of the ranch land about an hour outside Buenos Aires. We spent three hours on horseback in the morning, enjoyed a delicious barbecue lunch on the lawn outside the ranch house, followed by three more hours of riding in the afternoon. Salome loved every minute of our estancia visit, and had no thought of missing the afternoon ride in favor of a siesta in one of the hammocks that swayed invitingly in the sunshine. (I thought hard about it, but in the end went along for the ride.)

8. Feeding pigeons in Krakow's main market square. I never would have believed that Salome could spend so much time feeding pigeons. We bought pretzel rings from vendors on the cobbled square, which was surrounded by two- and three-story buildings on all sides, including Krakow's beautiful cathedral at one corner. Us adults drank coffee or beer, and watched the people and horse-drawn carriages pass by, as Salome got to know the pigeons so well she even named some of them.

9. Hyde Park, London. Lots of walking trails through woods, a lake with swans, a children's play area with all kinds of imaginative climbing structures, and even a Peter Pan statue. How can a kid go wrong?

10. Ranthambore National Park, India. There's not much to do in Sawai Madhopur, the small town outside the entrance to one of India's premier national parks, other than ride through the park in either open-topped buses, or jeeps, looking for elusive wild tigers. On our first two safaris, we saw plenty of monkeys, deer and bison, and even a crocodile, but no sign of tigers other than some prints in the soft dust at the side of the road. But on our third foray, Ava alertly spotted a flash of orange in the brush, and our jeep headed cross-country. We followed the tiger for a half hour or so, and at one point got within about 10 feet of her. She walked toward us languidly, yawned, and then turned away. Being in an open jeep, we were a bit nervous, but thrilled at the same time. We also watched from further away as she stalked a bison.

I'd love to hear about your kids' favorite travel spots, either in the U.S. or anywhere in the world.

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