Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summer at the Piazza

Summer Sunday Afternoon...sleep in, go to church, some on demand, some laundry, catch up on reading, look out a window, procrastinate, pick at your fingernails, pet a cat, take stupid pictures of yourself, creep on facebook, contemplate your existence, sing in a high pitch, stare at the floor, cry, fry ants with a magnifying glass, or listen to Quest Love DJ at the Piazza under a thirty foot LED screen for free. No brainer I hope, try standing a few feet from Quest Love spinning tracks on a Sunday afternoon. There was lots of dancing, lots of girls with hoola hoops, lots of dogs, and lots of kids sporting afros that could dance better than me. Look for more DJs on their turntables at the Piazza on future Sunday afternoons. It's the biggest bumpin outdoor dance party you will find.

Of course, regardless of the list of events scheduled for the piazza, it's a nice outdoor space just to visit. Surrounded by so many art galleries and restaurants, there is a lot to see and eat. And to drink...we stopped at the Foodery located on 2nd and Poplar a few blocks away to make our own six pack. Customize your sixer from a very large selection and receive 10% off the single price of each beer. Jeff was pretty excited over all the belgian beers while I stuck to what I knew with Trogues and Road House Row. Carry the six pack to the piazza, find a table or a plot of grass, and relax!

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Across the street is another plaza with more shops, galleries, and restaurants. We stepped inside the candy shop since Emery swore ice cream would remedy his ruthless hangover from the night before. I'm not sure it worked, but anyways, back to the piazza for more fun! Oh yea, and free parking, and if you can't ride by car, I found that the Septa blue line runs north past second street so get off at either Spring Garden or Girard. Also, a great place to watch the phillies on the enormous LED screen. Make something of your summer afternoons!

dog watching near the Schuykill

If you're willing to go a little further past rittenhouse square to find a more secluded park, you have to see Schuykill Banks. Okay, so maybe it's a bit of a hike past Rittenhouse located on 25th and locust, but it's worth the long walk on a nice day. Surrounding the park are a lot of new condos renovated from old factories, up-scale quaint little neighborhoods, and an old railroad that boarders the stretch of green in front of the river. Across the river in the distance are all the campuses of University City stretching into West Philadelphia. It is an interesting location for a park to say the least.

We came in on the south side passing the small community center littered with little kids climbing up the tube slides, running around swing sets and screaming in their high pitched voices. Just past the playground are others dribbling cross court in small pick up games of basketball. We continued past the courts and decided to enter the dog track. Yes, there is a specific fenced in area for you to liberate your dog from the tug of a leash and allow him to roam free. The park is separated into two territories, one area for your small dogs and another for your bigger dogs. There is even a free water dispenser for your dog to rehydrate after he is exhausted from chasing that little pain in the ass chiwawa that keeps messing with him. And if you don't have a dog, relax on one of the benches and watch them wrestle each other , then mount each other, then run after each other, repeat.

Next to dog world is the schuykill garden which is basically some fish in a pond, roses, and vegetable patches. Past the magical garden and across the railroad tracks is the real Schuykill Banks. It's really not much more than a few park benches and a stretch of grass, but I's a park. The guy in the white Atlantic City baseball cap knows what to do. Juggling between two rigs that he rests against the railing, he stops to show me a catch from earlier grabbing the catfish lying on the grass behind him. For those of you who are cautious about eating fish from the radioactive schuykill, this man doesn't seem alarmed. His small and large catches bake in the sun in a small pile on the grass. Before he leaves, he grabs them two at a time and tosses them into a plastic bag to take home. Interesting guy, good adventure for an afternoon.

penguins walk funny

Getting There...
The Philadelphia zoo is located in west Philly bordering fairmount park on 34th and Girard. And unless you want to pay twelve dollars for parking, you want to use public transportation. Unfortunately, this means the trolley. Emery shook his head "I like to be known as that guy who doesn't use the trolley," he said. I agreed with him, but I said something like "Dude, you can't be known for not doing something". We rode the electric trolley on Girard from Broad to 34th street while Emery and I argued how old the car was. Anyway, I realized the trolley is not all that bad. Don't let it intimidate you even though it looks like an old train car from the 1920s that septa constructed into an ugly green bus. Needless to say, it's the only way the zoo without a car.

The Zoo...
Even though everyone else seemed to believe it was basic common knowledge, I was surprised to learn that the Philadelphia zoo is the oldest zoo in the US, celebrating 150 years. Showcasing a lot of exhibits from the tortoise trail to the African plains to Monkey Junction, Bear Country, Big Cat Falls, Carnivore Kingdom, Bird Valley and much much more, you could spend at least six hours in this animal paradise. I forgot how cool giraffes were and how ugly naked mole rats looked. I realized Ardvarks looking like some kind of hybrid between bunnies and pigs are really cute. There is a lot to see here and for those of you taking pictures like myself, there are a lot of exhibits without the viewing obstruction of a fence. And if you get bored watching animals, ride a camel. Mount a pony or paddle around in a swan boat. For only fifteen dollars you can also soar four hundred feet in the air in the Zooballoon and catch views of the entire city. For eighteen dollars, the zoo is worth the trolley trip.