Stop 5: Philadelphia
We made our grand arrival into Philadelphia by....... Greyhound bus - for a grand sum of $8 each! the experience was relatively painless with leather seats, free wifi and even plugs for our ever-needy mobiles.
We decided it was an EXCELLENT idea to continue our money-saving travels by walking the 1.5 miles from the station to our accommodation.... a few hundred yards in, our combined luggage weight of 75kg began to take its toll and we decided to take a break in the Reading Terminal Food Market, to address the rumbling of our bellies (it being at least 2 hours since our last feed).
This place was our Mecca - row upon row of delicious street food all under one roof. Following the guidance of many a guidebook, we opted to try the local delicacy - philly cheese steak hoagies - steak and cheese baguettes! Helen had a fleeting concern upon seating herself next to a morbidly obese woman that her obesity might be a result of the hoagies, but by then was too ravenous to care. Naturally we had room for pudding and sniffed out a cake stall where Nat fell in love with a s'mores bake (Californian BBQ delicacy with biscuit, chocolate and marshmallow) while Helen convinced herself that a vegan 'whoopie' was like eating air and therefore calorie-free.....
Finding ourselves laden with a further 20kg of food weight, we dragged our bulk across Philadelphia City centre to find our home for the night. We spent the evening panic-booking our NYC accommodation - more on that later... We took a quick break to nip to a local shop for (shock horror) more food supplies. Finding ourselves a little lost in a not-so-savoury neighbourhood, we decided to ask a policeman for directions. Having been identified as British, we were somewhat tickled to be asked if we'd "ever heard of pizza...." as he recommended a local pizzeria- some new delicacy for us to try perhaps?!
Post-feast guilt hit us the next morning, and we set out to fulfil the Philadelphia challenge set by Nat's so-called friends and personal trainer - to replicate the Rocky Balboa run. Please see uploaded film (in video section) to witness Nat's full humiliation, expertly filmed and directed by Miss Pickerill at the Museum of Art.
So it turns out Philadelphia's TOP tourist attraction is... A bell. And one that can't even toll at that.... Despite our misgivings we decided to visit the bell, confident from reading our guidebooks and several websites that it must be the best bell ever. The queue was lengthy, which reassured us that this was something worth seeing. Upon entering the sizeable tourist centre dedicated to this one bell, we patiently inspected a seemingly endless stream of information, videos, and artefacts dedicated to the Liberty Bell. We won't spoil the end result but Helen's photo with this famed item sums up our reaction nicely.
After the rip roaring ride which was the Liberty Bell tour, we ticked off other key Philadelphia sights such as Constitution Hall, Chinese Friendship Gate, China Town, and Independence Hall/Square. Following the combined guidance of our Lonely Planets and our bottomless bellies, we decided to visit the apparently excellent Italian Food Market - a lengthy trek away but assuredly worth the effort. Forty-five minutes later we took in a measly gathering of sad-looking stalls offering fruit, vegetables and raw fish. Not quite the antipasti extravaganza we'd been fantasising about! Demoralised, we hopped on a bus and returned to our old friend, the Reading Terminal Food Market.
We finished our Philadelphia sightseeing with a trip to Penn's Landing by the water (concrete grimness) and a brief glimpse of the U.S Mint, before heading to the greyhound station - onwards and upwards to NYC BABY!!