Not too long ago, the husband and I visited the Belle Isle Conservatory, and everything was coated in a thick sheet of ice. It was like a scene from Frozen, all white and snowy. We decided to return, almost four weeks from the last time we were there, to find a whole new story. The snow is gone and spring is beginning!
This time however, we went to the Belle Isle Aquarium, right next door. The aquarium was first opened in 1904; it remained open for over one hundred years, closing its doors in 2005. It recently re-opened in 2012, and is run by volunteers. I am not sure if this will change, now that the state has taken over though. One cool fact: the basement of the aquarium was a speakeasy for a while!!
Inside it is otherworldly. The green glass tiles reflect light, and make you feel like you are underwater. The center area ahead used to house an alligator!
This little guy is there now.
We also saw these fellows!
The aquarium and Belle Isle itself have been through hard times. During the Great Depression, the saltwater exhibits were shut down due to the costs, and tragically a favorite mammoth sea turtle was sold off and made into soup!! It started to make a comeback in the '70s, but in the '80s and '90s attendance declined, and finally the aquarium and Belle Isle could not make it past Detroit's bankruptcy and corrupt politicians. Now that Kilpartick is out of office, and things are looking up for the city, I believe the aquarium will return to it's former state as a destination, full of exotic fish and sea life. It is already making a huge comeback; on the day that we went, the aquarium was bustling with families and couples, who were excitedly checking out the fish and electric eels on display.
If you want to read more, check this site out.
After walking around the grounds and visiting the aquarium we were starving, and popped into Great Lakes Coffee for a bite to eat.
It was packed! Luckily, we only had to wait five minutes before a spot opened up at the bar. After being presented with many food and beverage options, I settled on a mocha, and Billy got a regular old black coffee, although it was made fancy. They do offer a huge selection of craft beer on tap and in the bottle, as well as a huge wall of liquors, but we were good with our coffee for the afternoon. Our waiter was Jason, and he was a great waiter!
As for food, I ordered the vegetarian Bahn-Mi, while Billy ordered a flatbread with chorizo. I didn't get a picture of Billy's but I did get one of mine.
My Bahn-Mi was delicious!! My only complaint is that it was freezing cold, but it was super spicy and yummy.
It was the perfect ending to a fun day, relaxing and bumping around the city.