With only one full day in Philadelphia, we knew we would have to cram a lot into one day. Even after a cup of coffee, I’m almost too lazy to get started on this write up. Perhaps that’s proof of just how much we did yesterday.
We split our to-do lists into the history parts of the city and the Christmas activities we wanted to do and tackled the historical sites first. A friend of Jay’s recommended THE place to get Philly cheese steaks, which is just around the corner from all the historical sites.
We got a bit of a late start to the day, leaving our Air B&B in the 10 o’clock hour, and Jay wanted to get his food straight away. Like the day before, we got on the subway just a couple blocks from where we are staying and rode it into town. As we walked towards Sonny’s for a cheese steak, we passed Franklin Square and Jay forgot all about his hunger.
We walked around in the courtyard, then talked to park rangers at the Franklin Museum. I left my National Park Passport stamp book at home – to me National Parks are wide open spaces with wildlife.
The ladies behind the counter laughed as they started telling me about the groundhog which had to be relocated because tourists wanted to pet it. They also let me know that I’m not the only one to forget my book, and they have stamp stickers for such an occasion.
Like a kid in a candy story, Jay had to read all the informational stories about Franklin. He solved the soduku-like number puzzle fairly quick. I worked my way through the museum, then found the movie – portions of Franklin’s autobiography read by a voice actor, with some animation as if he were sitting at a desk writing. I found the parts about writing about life experiences the most interesting, for obvious reasons.
Then it was time for food! And the cheese steak did not disappoint. Jay ordered the fully loaded, and I got the bacon topped sandwich, thinking we could each eat half and get the full experience. We both took the girl behind the counter’s suggestion and got cheese whiz as our type of cheese. Jay’s was so delicious, he gave up only a few obligatory bites, but my sandwich was great too.
The park ranger had told us that Independence Hall required a (free) ticket from the visitors center, so after stuffing our bellies we headed on over. We had planned on killing time in the square taking photos of the building exterior, but our ticket time did not require any waiting.
By the time we got threw security (put in place shortly after 9/11), we only had a few moments to walk in the court yard before being given the tour of the building. Jay geeked out when it came to all the history which surrounded us. I must say, its a lot to take in.
I snapped this photo, standing in the same spot as Lincoln. Crazy to know that the major historical events which took place here happened almost a century before good ole Honest Abe paid it a visit.
Our park ranger/guide did an excellent job setting the stage. If you’re an American, you have the events which took place in this room to thank for it. Once again, on a recommendation from his friend Chad, we hung back after the tour had moved on. Being alone in the room, joined only by silence and the memories of those who came before us. And, at least for this photo, the guy who had the same idea as us.
I wait on Jay all the time. (If that doesn’t get a comment on the ole blog from him, he’s not paying attention. :P) Jay waits on clients. We’re old pros. The stray guy in this picture never had a shot!
I cannot overstate how knowledgeable the rangers and volunteers are who helped us out. But also humorous! Our Independence Hall guide informed us that the replica chairs were circa date back to the 1950s, “as do I” he slipped in before going on.
One building over houses one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence. This is the only place flash photography isn’t allowed, but even still we were encouraged to take as many non-flash photos as we wanted.
Just one more building over held Congress Hall – where they met while Washington DC constructed the official chambers. As recommended by a park employee, we left here and went to Washington Square. They have a tree planted from seeds which went up on one of the Apollo missions, as well as a tomb of the unknown solider. The memorial is dedicated to the unnamed men buried there after battling in the American Revolution.
This trip is a surreal experience. So much to see, its hard to really fathom that each of these pieces of history are within blocks of one another. The Liberty Bell is just up the street from Washington Square, and across the road from Independence Hall.
Once again, Jay and I went through security to enter the building where the bell is housed. We glanced at the information on the walk, and even checked voicemail while we strolled. Expecting the Liberty Bell to be…words fail me, but I didn’t expect to round the corner and it just be right here.
Another park employee is stationed by the bell, to temper those of use who’d be tempted to crawl under the barrier. Not that I thought of that or anything.
We returned to the Independence Visitor’s Center for information on the Constitution and American Revolution Museums. The former had a Hamilton exhibit and a $14 price tag. Jay was impressed with neither so we skipped it.
The visitor’s center volunteer said the American Revolution Museum required more than just a couple of hours to enjoy. Already in the 3 o’clock hour, time did not allow for our visit. Unfortunate, given this was top on Jay’s to-do list for the day.
In search of a Liberty Bell stamp for our park passport, we walked in search of the Old City Hall building. On the way, we saw the U.S. Mint building. Both a museum and present day manufacturing facility for U.S. coins, photos are not allowed inside. The walk was kinda cool, but the nerd with me spent a bit more time there than held my interest.
After leaving, we passed the burial place of Benjamin Franklin. We had noticed the cemetery going in, but didn’t know if it was open for tourists. Thankfully they have a break the wall where he is buried, so that it can be viewed from the sidewalk.
While we walked towards Old City Hall, I told Jay I was starting to get tired. While neither of us were hungry for dinner just yet, I needed a place to sit down and chill for a bit. We still had a full list of things to do for the evening, I couldn’t afford to be winding down already!!
I can’t remember the historical significant of the Old City Hall. The Supreme Court maybe? I dunno. I got my Liberty Bell stamp there, and pretty much was on overload.
Done with all the historical stops, we headed to the riverfront to begin the holiday portion of the day. Penn’s Landing, home of the RiverRink Winterfest was just a couple blocks walk away.
I had visions of a hoping place, full of people ice skating and chatting by the fire. When we got there (in the 4 o’clock hour) the place was dead. The fires hadn’t yet been lit and only a couple of people were on the rink. We purchased hot beverages – Jay got a hot chocolate float and I got hot cider – and we headed to one of the cozy “cabin” scenes.
We kicked back and just relaxed for a bit. This was the exact respite I needed to recharge for the evening.
While I’m sure its a fun place to be when people are there enjoying the cornhole games, ice rink, and enjoying congregating in large groups, the peaceful (empty) atmosphere was exactly what I needed. (I fear I’m becoming an introvert in my old age. Is it contagious? Is it treatable?)
As darkness fell, (in the 4 o’clock hour – I would hate living on this side of the time zone), an employee lit a fire. Jay went inside to score us adult beverages, he got a beer and purchased a cup of mulled wine for me, and we enjoyed them by the fire.
I made the executive decision to spend $5 taking the subway back into the heart of the city for the rest of our holiday excursions. We’re funny about what we’re willing to spend money on and where we get stingy. I decided because I wouldn’t blink at a $5 beer, I was willing to spend the money so I wouldn’t be too tired to enjoy the free holiday lights.
On the walk to the subway, we encountered this gorgeous building. We knew from the previous night that we only had until the 8 o’clock hour before the holiday streets rolled up, we didn’t go inside.
The subway let us out right below the Dilworth Holiday park, but the timing was off for their light show. We walked over to Christmas Village and enjoyed some mulled wine while walking around the vendors set up.
The previous night, we had just barely missed Dilworth light show. The security guard I talked to assured me it was worth coming back for, and he was absolutely right. Photos, videos don’t do the show justice, but here is my lame attempt.
When the show was over, we had 15 minutes to walk to the Comcast Building to see their show. A friend of mine, who is not easily impressed, insisted we see it. They “just” do a video presentation but, once again its hard for my words or pictures to describe it.
While watching the presentation, I forgot that it was on the wall of their building. When the presentation is over, the wall returns to the standard beige blocks of the other walls which can be seen in the hallways of the photos. I embarrassed Jay by singing along when the video prompted. But as Buddy the Elf said, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!!
We took a wrong turn leaving the Comcast Building and were treated to this street. We quickly discovered our “mistake” but I’m learning on this trip to enjoy these unexpected moments.
One Liberty Tower also topped the list of things to do, but the $14 ticket price scared us away. Monday Night Football was in Philadelphia, and I told Jay I’d rather spend that $30 hanging out at a sports bar with the locals.
While the atmosphere of the bar we chose disappointed in that regard, the food and beverages did not. Jay discovered later, once we were back at our Air B&B room that the location was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
I had to contain myself when Adrian Peterson had a 90 yard run for a touchdown. While I’m not a Redskins fan, I had Peterson starting in both of my fantasy leagues. The 15 points he earned on that run were not only enough win my matchups, they were only points he scored for my team all night.
And that’s a wrap on day 3. I hate to press publish without so much as a read through, but we’re checking out in 45 minutes and heading to New York City. You’ll have to forgive any typos, omissions, or any grievous errors.