Friday, July 08, 2005

Touring Philadelphia

Philadelphia truly is the city of brotherly love. After NECC, my husband and I stuck around for another four days to enjoy the famous sites of our nation’s birth and being there during its birthday was even better!

NECC ended in the early afternoon, so we checked out the Independence Visitor Center to pick up information and timed tickets for Independence Hall. For dinner, we set out to find Johnny Rockets, a 50s inspired diner. It was well worth the long walk, as we had good food and nickels to spend on the table jukebox.

Our first stop again, was Independence Hall, to pick up our timed tickets. Since we had several hours before our tour began, we walked up to the US Mint and took a self-guided tour (no cameras or cell phones allowed, drop them off at Constitutional Center). In the Mint, we saw nickels and pennies being made along with displays of the history of making money and official medals in the US. We had lunch in Constitutional Center, which was fairly inexpensive and actually quite good. Then it was off to security to get into the Liberty Bell and Independence National Park. The Liberty Bell, although such a simple chunk of metal, is such a powerful symbol of freedom. Independence Hall was the place where the Declaration and Constitution was written, and these two documents changed the course of history. Standing in the room, 229 years later, where George Washington, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson thought, argued and wrote was poignant. Congress Hall stands next to Independence Hall and was the site of Washington and Adam’s inauguration and the signing of the Bill of Rights. After a nasty rainstorm, the sun returned and we went to see a Phillies game. Unfortunately, our streak was not broken and the home team lost.

The following day we put on our walking shoes and strolled the streets of Philadelphia to find some of the other historic buildings and places including Ben Franklin’s Court which has a 18th century printing shop. The museum is a bit rundown, but worth a quick look. Elfreth’s Alley is one of the nation’s oldest, continuously inhabited streets and has the look and feel of late 1700s. Nearby is City Tavern, a reconstructed tavern of the 1700s designed as Washington would have seen it. Up the road is Betsy Ross’s house. Being Fourth of July weekend, there were many activities available including a hilarious performance by “Joke and Dagger” a short sword fighting/comedian duo. Live 8 was in Philly, so we had to check that out too.

After a tour of Academy of Natural Sciences which had a great exhibit call “Dogs: Wolf, Myth, Hero, Friend.” Being fairly new dog owners, we had to check it out. A few meters away was the Franklin Institute a museum full of science activities. We played with electricity, walked through the heart, and learned about the science of fireworks. In the evening, we took the “Benjamin Franklin Parkway to see the parade, free concert and fireworks. This is really where Philadelphia shines! A half-million people lined the parkway, and overall, they were friendly, considerate and just there to have a good time. The concert, by Bryan Adams, Patti LaBelle, and Elton John was great and the fireworks were bright, loud and awesome. Our hotel, the TraveLodge, was conveniently located within walking distance. After a quick sleep, we sadly left the city of brotherly love, which had been so friendly to us.

If you can’t make it to Philadelphia yourself, try this virtual tour.

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