Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Philadelphia Freedom!!!!

25 - Spend the day in Philadelphia  DONE 3/5/12

Oh Philly....home of the Cheesesteak, the Flyers, the Phillies, the Pretzel Factory, the stunning buildings, the steps that Rocky ran up, & of course the amazing American history that happened here. 

I love Philly!  For all it's offerings, Philly is truly amazing.  A great city for anyone looking for a great day filled with history, sights & food. 

Oh....the food!!  Seriously, there is no way for you to go hungry when you are in Philly.

So let's start with the food.....

After a two hour bus ride from the Big Apple to Philly, you get hungry. 
So where do you go first? 
That's right...the Philly Pretzel Factory.  And let me tell you, I could have eaten more than one!  But I was thinking about my Biggest Loser team at work & I don't want to see The Electric Mayhem fall in the standings because I was being greedy....so I'll have one & be done.  And let me say, I enjoyed the one!  It truly hit the spot.  Warm & soft with a little salt, this is a perfect way to satisfy my hunger pangs after a two hour bus ride. 




No trip to Philly would be complete without stopping for a Philly Cheesesteak.  You must order it the true Philly way....Whiz & Fried Onions....otherwise, stay home & make it yourself!  I ordered this bad boy at the Reading Market at a stand called Spartans.  Definitely worth the trip!!!!

Raul & I will stop for some tea in the Reading Market.  Granted it took us several minutes of wandering around before we will find that wonderful map of the stands.  'You are here' are wonderful words when you are trying to find where you are versus where you need to be!  So we made our way over to the Tea Leaf tea stand for a cuppa tea.  I enjoyed a delightful cup of Bourbon Vanilla & Raul had a green tea.  Both were really good.  Mine was mighty hot for too long.  I had to let it cool down long before I could drink it.  But I enjoyed the sitting time & the time to chat with my friend.


After tea time, we will walk around the market & I will get a craving for ice cream.  Bassett's Ice Cream....mmmmm....so yummy...so sweet....so perfect!  I must have some!  So I'm going to treat myself to a cone.  Why not?  I've been walking all day....minus the few minutes we sat to drink tea.  I get on line & then it becomes a challenge to pick one flavor....I end up with butterscoth vanilla.  I love vanilla!  It's the best flavor no matter what you add to it.  So I get the waffle cone filled with delicious butterscotch vanilla ice cream.  Delish!


For dinner, we will end up in Chinatown.  My friend the vegetarian will not need to twist my arm on this choice.  We end up at Singapore Vegetarian.  It's a quaint little Asian vegetarian restaurant.  I feel like eating healthy now since I was sorta bad with my earlier choices....but no guilt!  I would gladly eat everything all over again!!  For dinner, I started with the New Year Soup, then I had the spring rolls & my entree was the Pineapple Chicken.  Everything was delicious!!  I would go back again!




My favorite stop on the day...the Betsy Ross House.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this visit.  If you make it to Philly, stop in.  Make sure you take the audio tour.  Stop being cheap...it's $6 for adults & the self-guide tour is only $2 less...so splurge.  Spend the $6 & thank me later. 

If you're lucky, you will meet Betsy in the sewing room.  She will welcome you to her home & offer out any information should you ask.  I did.  And yes, I addressed her as Betsy & she seemed delighted that I was playing along.  She was very informative & answered my questions in great detail.  One word of advice...take a picture with Betsy.  I can kick myself now for not taking one with her!!  It's the only room in the house where photographs are allowed.  The rest of the house is no photographs allowed.  So while I cannot share the inside of the house, I can share these photos from outside.....

The gravemarker of Betsy Ross & her third husband, John Claypoole.
Bet you didn't know Betsy had three husbands?




Independence Hall....another must for anyone spending time in Philly.  A wonderful stop & a great source of American history.  At this stop, you will enter the room where the Constitution was not only written, but signed.  Oh yes....you will feel quite a sense of awe as you stand in the very room that George Washington & our American forefathers stood when making America.  You will see the real chair that President Washington sat in & signed the Constitution.  You will be told that any President or Foreign Dignitary asking to sit in the chair will be given a fake chair to sit in.  You will learn how the Senators were true American rebels during this time period.  And you should feel amazed.  Otherwise...get out of this country!  You don't belong here!

Our tour guide, Mike, was awesome.  I love people passionate about what they want to share with me.  This guy was definitely passionate about his American history.  I love that!

We start off in one room with a painting of the signing of the Constitution....


And then we are brought into the room where the signing took place....can you feel the goosebumps?  I felt like President Washington was there looking down over us....

This is the actual chair that George Washington sat in.......


And this is a replica of the original chandelier in the room....


The courtroom which is across the hall from the room where the Constitution was signed.
Check out the prisoner's box....


I loved this color of blue in the hallway....


A shot from outside...


Of course no trip to Philly would be complete without a stop to see the Liberty Bell....a free attraction...so stop in! 

It's amazing when you see it.  I was stunned at how amazing it looks after all these years.  Yes, even with the crack...it's still in amazing shape!  Minus the crack & a few chips at the bottom, it looks like it could have been built fairly recently.  You have to appreciate good old fashioned American quality!  Ahhh.....so rare these days!  God bless our forefathers & their crafting abilities. 


Christ Church.....the church that welcomed George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, & Betsy Ross to name a few.  Founded in 1695 this church is still active today.  Open to the public for tours & a history lesson.  Not to mention open for worship for those that enter.

I am often fascinated by churches & their history.  And to know that Washington, Franklin & Ross sat among these pews gives me goosebumps.  I am honored to sit here & ponder some spiritual thoughts.  I wonder what their religous leaders spoke about.  How did they interpret the Bible?  What lessons were they taught? 

While sitting in my pew & giving myself time to rest, I am moved for some reason to open the Bible before me.  No joke....I had to take a picture of the page I opened up to at random.  I opened to Pslams 75.  Not being a religious person, I felt compelled to read it.  For some reason, I really enjoyed one line.....
'Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking,
I will make its pillars fast'
For some reason, that line made me think....it made me think about the buildings I'd seen today & how amazingly strong they clearly are.  For they are still standing.  Even over time & weather damage, they are still standing.  They are still here to be seen.  To be admired.  To be a reminder that Americans can build amazing things.

The Bible page I opened at random....

The outside of the Christ Church....


The inside of the church.....


One of the many gravemarkers in the church.  They were buried long after the church was built.  Odd, but really cool in a sick way.


Since we're looking at gravemarkers....let's move on to the Christ Church Burial Grounds.  Benjamin Franklin is buried here, among others from the Colonial & Revolutionary Wars.

Here lies Benjamin Franklin & his wife, Deborah.....


Random shots around the burial grounds....



This one made me laugh...check it out....this guy was a seaman, a soldier & yup, a safecracker!!!  Come on...that's awesome!!!


And now let's look at some random art around Philly....







And you should make a stop in the LOVE Park.....officially called JFK Plaza, Love Park is nicknamed after Robert Indiana's Love sculpture which overlooks the park.  We have one here in the Big Apple, but seeing another one is simply lovely.



Chinatown...I love Chinese culture.  It's bright colors of red, green & gold & lots of spirituality.  And definitely a great place for shopping & architecture.




This was taken at Shanghai Bazaar.  It was a little store that we stopped into after dinner.  I thought this was just too funny not share it.....


And now for some random gorgeous shots of beautiful architecture around Philly....








I spotted this just walking down some street....thought it was too funny to pass up....


The Hard Rock Cafe....



A really cool bike rack...


Mayor Frank L. Rizzo....from 1972 to 1980....



I thought it said Fine Stud...after doing a double take, I realized my mistake....



The Benjamin Franklin Memorial....



And of course, no trip to Philly is complete until you visit the steps at the Museum of Art...best known as the Rocky steps.  Oh yes....Rocky!  The American icon for best comebacks!  Let's face it....even if you don't like the movie (losers!) you must run the steps.  Or at least venture up them.....




And of course you must see the Rocky statue....goofy pose optional, but it'll make you feel good!!



I had a great time today.  I saw tons of American history come alive.  I was in the very room that our forefathers stood in to sign the Constitution.  I chatted with Betsy Ross.  I went up the same steps that Sylvester Stallone made famous.  I devoured a Philly Cheesesteak.  I drank tea with my friend.  I stood in awe of the Liberty Bell.  I found some strong words in the Bible by chance.  I walked through a graveyard reading markers of famous Americans.  I stood before the Ben Franklin Memorial thinking about his life & legacy.  And I did all of this with a broken toe & smile.

I don't want to talk about the drama on the day....the blister on my heel, the cold killing us as we waited for a bus that would be nearly 30 minutes late, the crazy nonsense of finding no E train to get us home, getting cranky, wishing for death....nope...I'm not going to blog about that.......buy me a drink & I'll explain it!


Instead.....


I'm happy I spent the day in Philly.  I have awesome photos of amazing memories.  I enjoyed my history lessons on the day as well as my great eating experience.  And while we walked non-stop all day, I feel stronger today for having done it.

This makes the 18th celebration done.  22 more to go!


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