We were looking for somewhere fairly close for Thanksgiving this year, so we settled on Philadelphia, as it’s only three hours by car away from where we live. We left the DC area on Wednesday morning, and arrived in Philly a little after noon. First on our list was to see the Ben Franklin museum, and the printing office next door, and the first post office. After finding parking (a bit of a challenge in that city), we hopped out of the car and visited the site of Franklin’s old home, and learned a lot about him in the museum dedicated to his personal belongings and his writings. Next door at the printing press, two National Parks workers demonstrated the use of the movable printing press, and showed us copies of the Constitution printed on cotton paper.
Later, we drove to the other side of town and located our hotel, the Club Quarters. A very nice place and -bonus- m&ms and espressos on check in. Always appreciated. After using our Yelp app to see what was around, we centered in on a dinner of Philly cheesesteaks at Steve’s Prince of Steaks, which were certainly delicious. We walked around a bit and looked at the neighborhood, including the German Christmasmart and the ice rink at the Town Hall nearby. We watched Rocky (the first one!) that night to get a feel for Philadelphia, 1976 style.
The next morning was Thanksgiving, so we got up to see the parade- the oldest in the nation! On the way, we stopped by the train depot to see the really beautiful statue inside dedicated to all the train workers who fought in WWII. Then we walked over the the Museum of Art and watched the parade. We made sure to get snaps of the “Rocky steps” and the Rocky statue (paid for by Sylvester Stallone).
As the parade was wrapping up, we headed back over to the historic part of town, passing by the Rodin museum on the way, unfortunately closed for Thanksgiving. Chinatown was open, with lots of people and families of all ethnicities enjoying shopping and eating in that area. We kept walking (we walked 11 miles that day! Glad I had my Fitbit on!), and wound up back at the Constitution Center, and lined up to see the Liberty Bell. Next up was Independence Hall, open for tours, and then the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the American Revolution. Chris, being Chris, made us walk over the bridge from Philadelphia to where we were technically in New Jersey. Then we walked back to Philadelphia and visited the Betsy Ross house.
Our hotel gave us some ideas for Thanksgiving dinner that night, and we wound up visiting Devil’s Alley, where we had an amazing three-course meal with drinks. It was all fantastic. I had turkey, he had ham, and the sides were delicious. We were so stuffed we had to save our dessert for the next day.
On Friday we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary. A true use of the word “penitence”, the E.S.P. was a model for the isolationary model of prisons that came into prominence around the world in the 1800s. Prisoners never came into contact with another prisoner the entire time they were in there. They were given one small cell with a bed, a table, a toilet, and a Bible, and one small exercise yard they could use one hour a day. That’s it. Luckily, sentences tended to be a bit shorter then. The audio tour was narrated by Steve Buscemi and was really good, and free with admission.
At noon we left to drive back to DC, as I had to catch a quick flight to Texas. I had two surprise birthday parties to attend for friends turning 40 this week. They were both surprised to see me and I’m so glad I got to spend some time with each.