Saturday, November 01, 2008

Philadelphia, Trip 2

So a few weeks ago I made my second jaunt to Philadelphia, this time not to see ESP, but for a history conference that I ended up not being registered for. Which was fine, because I got to see more of the city. I bring to you now, as a result, "Sightseeing Philadelphia the Miriam and Sarah Way:" (Sarah is Miriam's mom, by the way)

1. Whilst driving through Westchester County (on the way there, and the scenic route) get lost in beautiful Hudson River Valley locale, and then again in Yonkers, and then again in the Bronx. Especially in the Bronx. Circle around the zoo a couple of times, and then take a crosstown street back to 95 and cross the GW Bridge.

2. Get off at the wrong Philadelphia exit, too far north (to 73?) and then travel southward through northeast Philadelphia, taking note first of the odd, squat rowhouses, and then take Frankford south, a road that is reminiscent of South Wabash and either 55th or 59th Streets south in Chicago. Note the lack of Register to Vote volunteers in a neighborhood that might want a few. Hooray for the number of Obama t-shirts, however.

3. Keep looking for Penn's Landing. Seriously, it is there. Just keep driving.

4. Check into hotel. Note freakish and disturbing and large lobby painting. Look out at the Gazela, a sleek little boat moored nearby. Roll eyes re: conferencegoers with nametags.

5. Step out for a walk. If you cross the road there and veer left, you find lower Society Hill, a neighborhood that's a lot richer than it looks, and it looks rich already. Tight, neat, skinny townhouses, many renovated post 1966, but retaining, in many cases, the original colonial look. Since the neighborhood was skids in the 60s, the areas that were torn down now have recently-built townhomes, mostly in the modern style, so as not to detract from the real thing. Check out two modern sets--the ones with the gates that are different on every one, and give the looker a sense of the interior style... and also see if you can spot the house with the cats and dogs and birds gate, and the cat and mouse weathervane. Sweet.

6. Obama placards 4, McCain placards 1. Obama wins!

7. Keep walking along Pine until you hit the antiques district. Then walk up a few block toward convention center area, but not to CC. Count number of synagogues. Walk past Broad, to 16th and Spruce and have dinner at little Warsaw Cafe. Very atmospheric, cute youngish waiter and cute middle-aged owner (?), red glow, subtlely good food, and no rush. Bring 'em some business.

8. Walk up Broad and catch a glimpse of the City Hall which looks astonishingly like Gotham City at night, what with the fog around the top, the huge cast iron eagles and the weird yellow clock. I could not see the statue of William Penn that night, for the fog. Walk on through the courtyard if they haven't closed the gates. Turn right, back towards Penn's Landing, and come across the Reading Terminal Market, and if it's still open, you could pick up something chocolate and pastry-like to take back to the hotel.

9. In the morning, cross the road and veer right, looking for breakfast. Walk past the cryptic Zahav (Gold in Hebrew) and a movie theater. There is a nearby diner, and a couple of other promising breakfast spots. Avoid the man who makes really slow bagel sandwiches. Take a glance at a few dinner spots and nightclubs if so inclined.

10. Preview Independence Park. Nix the Liberty Bell, you need (free) tickets. Carpenter's Hall sells carpenter's pencils. Thanks mom! Take a look at the $20,000 model building. Read the signs, and note Philadelphia's seeming elitism when they deign to talk about tradesmen.

11. Walk far west to Rittenhouse square and visit the Mutter museum. Think it odd, interesting, and kind of educational, but not particularly. Take in the shrunken heads, wax models, siamese twins, presidential illnesses, trepanned skulls and other weirdness. Bring back souvenier for boss's kid.

12. Look at real estate listings. Go back to the Reading Terminal Market and pick up lunch. I did not have the time or energy to go up to the museum district and do a Rocky on the steps of the art museum, but I would if I went again.

13. Dinner at Cebu, with dipping menu. Tasty. Good service. Doesn't deserve the dis it gets online. Sleep. Begin grueling drive back to VT.

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