I’ve been living in Cork city for five years now, since I came down as a fresh faced student in September 2009, when it seemed awfully big to me. Nowadays I’m still enamoured with the place, don’t get me wrong, but it is always lovely to get out of the city for a bit and vary up my daily wander with the tiny man. We managed to get a weekday with his Daddy being off work on Tuesday, and the sun was shining properly so off we trekked to Fota early in the morning for a bit of a change.
Getting there was easy enough, which is a definite bonus for people who don’t drive. We hopped on the train from Kent Station and ten minutes later were out in Fota. The one issue we did have with the train and the buggy is that upon our return to Cork, we had two options to get the train – either carry the buggy up and down flights of steps to cross the bridge over the tracks, or hop on the train the whole way out to Cobh and transfer there (the option available to those with mobility issues according to the sign). However, we opted for the carry option which wasn’t too bad, for people who live in an upstairs apartment.
The admission was 14.50 per adult, babies under two are free. Kids and students are a tad cheaper at just over nine euros each, which isn’t too bad if you’re headed in for the day. Given the gorgeous weather(and the school holidays), it was absolutely packed. Everyone seemed to have had the same idea, and seeing how the past few days have been a lot duller than Tuesday, it was definitely the right one!
I’ve been to Fota twice before since moving down here, and a few times as a kid, but even in the year since I’d last been, they’ve done a lot of expansion. Theres still a lot of building going on, but we visited the new Tropical House, which was opened three weeks ago. It contains absolutely gorgeous butterflies, iguanas and a massive boa (I’m not so mad about snakes). It was quite cool, some of the tropical creatures were absolutely tiny and it was like Where’s Wally trying to find one or two (a salamander in particular, also a very cool chameleon who acted just like a leaf!). Tiny Man decided to take a nap as the buggy crossed the threshold of the Tropical House so he didn’t really get to see much, but us grownups found it to be interesting, as well as quite warm.
They’ve also gotten tigers, as part of the new expansion. The tigers are quite a walk away from everything else, when you consider how populated the general track of Fota Wildlife park is with animals – its down a winding lane with metal fencing and building sites on both sides, no animals, and did feel like quite a bit of a trek so I’m not sure how long of a trek it would feel to those with little-er legs. To add to that, there is an ice cream van at the end of the trail, before the bend towards the tigers, so we were surrounded by kids begging parents for an ice-cream, which I found to be marketing genius on one hand and quite manipulative of parents on the other. The tigers themselves had quite a lot of visitors so we only stayed a minute or two as it was difficult to manoeuvre the buggy around the throngs of kids and their ice creams and multiple other buggies. They’re quite a nice addition though, and I’m sure once the rest of the trail is completed and other animals added it will be another interesting section to wander down.
We went back to the main cafe for lunch after the tigers. I ordered the kids lunchbox, which gave me a small orange, a capri sun, an animal bar and a small ham sandwich on white bread for a fiver. Not too bad, but quite sugar-full (I’d never looked at the sugar contents of Capri Sun before – not the healthiest choice)- it would have been nice to have the option of a bottle of water or a carton of milk instead of the juice if you wished. Himself had a wrap which was fairly normal, and apparently was quite nice. Others around us seemed to vary between the open sandwiches or the chip-shop options, of which there were many. For super healthy options, there weren’t many, so you may have to bring a picnic, though theres a lovely designated picnic area for that too.
After lunch, back on the trail. Penguins, numerous types of very loud monkey, a very angry cheetah and lots of giraffes, including a rather petite one. We didn’t stay long enough for the feeding of the Cheetahs, but I’ve seen it before and its pretty cool to watch them go for the “prey”.
I really enjoyed it, spending a very sunny day in a lovely place, very buggy friendly and lots of places to stop for coffee and Diet Coke! I think E is definitely too young but as a day out walking the buggy its not half bad, and as he grows older I’m sure he’ll love it too as its so kid friendly! Definitely a fab family day out with kids, or with friends. We will be back!