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A "Revolutionary" Journey Part II (Washington D.C. & Philadelphia)Author: Host Ciao (More Trip Reviews by Host Ciao)
Date of Trip: December 2008
I was heading toward a few other sights I wanted to see and had about given up on finding any place to find food on Thanksgiving Day when in the midst of some tall Society Hill apartment buildings, I saw a small shopping center with one open store, a small grocery store called Food Garden. They had roasted a whole turkey so I bought a sandwich to take back to the hotel to eat and rest. I did manage to find Welcome Park with a stature of William Penn and then the Irish Memorial. This big sculpture shows starving people in Ireland during the potato famine, but as you walk around it, the scene changes with people first getting and then off the boat in the United States.
Back at the hotel I first enjoyed my very good turkey sandwich and rested a bit. Then the desk clerk checked the bus schedule for me, and I took the bus from almost next to the hotel down to City Hall to take some night pictures. I walked around that area and took pictures of that building, the Masonic Temple, "Your Move" sculptures (checkers, dominoes, chess pieces) in Thomas Paine Plaza and of the well-known Love sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza. A Christmas Fair was set in a large plaza area of City Hall, but it was not open that night. Near by there was an interesting sculpture of a big red clothespin and around another corner one of a boy with his dog and the boy holding a "Parking" sign complete with an arrow.
I took the bus back to the hotel and since I had eaten turkey already I passed up the bar offering turkey dinners and went instead to the Irish pub on Third Street and had Guinness Beef Stew for Thanksgiving dinner--of course accompanied by a glass of Guinness. A very enjoyable Thanksgiving!
On Friday morning I caught the first trolley at 9:30 and rode it to Reading Market, which is near City Hall. Wow! What a place! Either it is a good thing or too bad that I wasn't hungry. I'm not sure how many blocks this covers, but it is huge. And it is full of marvelous looking food--fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, baked goods. There are also stands selling other items too. http://www.readingterminalmarket.org/
I walked back over to City Hall and took some more pictures of the sculptures in the plazas while I waited for a shop in the Christmas Fair that I wanted to visit. The fair definitely had a German theme including the Kathe Wohlfahrt shop and lots of German food. I had visited the Wohlfahrt store in Rothenberg, Germany, mainly a Christmas store. The shop in this fair was strictly Christmas. I had to look a bit, but finally found a small affordable Nativity set made in Germany instead of China! I have been collecting Nativities for probably 20 years.
At the stop near City Hall I did not wait for the trolley but took a double decker bus to continue my tour. The trolley and bus are from the same company and offer an on/off drive around the main parts of Philadelphia. I had investigated it on line and decided to take it to see more of the city. I think I found it by playing around with this website, which has lots of city info. http://www.gophila.com/Go/AboutUs/ I think this is a very good way to tour. I chose not to get off at several of the places I had thought about, but decided to stay on the bus and listen to the excellent guide. It was not too bad on the upper deck except when we crossed the river where the wind really picked up.
I can't resist repeating what I think was the guides most interesting story. For years no building should be built so that it was higher than the statue of William Penn on City Hall. However, then several were built taller so Penn put a curse on Philadelphia athletic teams and for years they never won. Then when the newest building went up a year or so ago one of the union workers put a small statue of Penn somewhere near the top of the building. Hurrah! The curse was lifted and Philadelphia won the World Series.
After the bus tour I went back to the Visitors Center shop and bought a couple of Christmas ornaments. Then I visited Franklin Court, where there is an outline of Ben's home. He moved in in 1785 and his grandchildren tore it down in 1812. Since the Park Service had no plans of the structure, they had an architect design a steel "ghost" outline of the home and the grandson's print shop. There are viewing areas to look down into remains of the underground kitchen and several others parts. The row of houses in front of the court hold a museum shop, a working Post Office, which uses Ben Franklin cancellation and a print shop where you can see a 18th Century press in operation. The underground museum has portraits, replicas of inventions, and displays about his different "careers."
I ate lunch at one of the many restaurants that dot Market Street. Unfortunately I didn't write down the name, but at some places menus are posted, and I think what I had is worth mentioning--grilled chicken and prosciutto sandwich with red peppers and red pepper mayo, a really big sandwich and something new to me fries with a balsamic reduction, excellent so I ate the fries and sandwich filling but not the bread. Interesting how I remember the food but not the restaurant. Sorry about that.
I then went to the Liberty Museum just in back of Franklin Court. This is a theme museum with several galleries, including heroes, tyrants, resolving conflicts, freedom. There is an art collection with several outstanding glass pieces, the most famous probably Dale Chichuly's Flame of Liberty. This is another museum that has much of interest and is well worth a visit. http://www.libertymuseum.org/about/index.html
That evening I took a fun ghost walking tour. Though I found a link for it on the main Philadelphia tourism site, it has its own page. http://www.phillytours.us/tours/tourDetail.cfm?tour_id=9780 We visited several areas that I had already been to but at night and with stories from the guide to go with the places became more interesting. One of his stories told us that Ben Franklin, whose statue is high on the front of the first library, comes down when he is displeased. Another story was that Admiral Berry, the founder of the U.S. Navy is buried in Old St. Mary's cemetery, which we viewed at night, and either he or his wife often walk there. We didn't see anyone that night.
The guide had a rather gruesome story about City Tavern, a famous old restaurant. I knew about this restaurant since I had found information about its Thanksgiving Dinner on line. The dinner was $75 a person; needless to say I didn't partake. Any way the story--a bride was in a room of the tavern preparing for her wedding when the place caught fire. She perished and now haunts the rebuilt restaurant. Supposedly she appears in pictures of new brides. However, the guide said, there are still many couples who celebrate there.
Back at the hotel I packed for my next train journey and whatever I had for supper must have been really boring because I didn't write it down. I will be back before too long to tell you about my marvelous week in New York City but with one photograph mishap.
Next: A "Revolutionary" Journey Part III (New York City)
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