Our First Trip to Philly

This past weekend Ron and I visited our daughter, Ciara and her husband, Paul in Philadelphia! They moved to Philly a few months ago and now that they’re finally all settled in, we jumped at the chance to check out their new city and apartment, to meet our new grand-kitty, Sweetie and most importantly to spend some quality time with the kids, who we miss terribly. We had a fun-filled whirlwind of a long weekend and an amazing time experiencing the City of Brotherly Love so I wanted to share some of our adventures with you here!

Ron and I flew in early Friday morning, landing just before 9am. Since the kids were both working and we couldn’t check into our hotel until 4pm, we decided to spend the day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We really enjoy visiting the Art Institute of Chicago so we were excited to take in all of the art and beauty in Philadelphia as well!

The outside of the museum is absolutely gorgeous and since we arrived before the doors opened we had the opportunity to wander around before the crowds swarmed. The iconic stairs that Rocky ran up were larger than life and we watched local Drexel University students running drills up and down them with awed respect. Those stairs are no joke! We made our way up as well and when we reached the top we pulled up the scene from Rocky on Ron’s phone so we could relive the moment from the film. There’s a monument where Sylvester Stallone spun triumphantly and I got Ron to throw his fists up in front of it for the obligatory photo op. (I’m the Queen of taking photos and everyone knows this and gives me crap, but let’s face it….I take the best pics!)

We were the first ones in to the museum for the day and we had a blast walking through all of the different art displays. I’m a huge fan of the older art and I particularly enjoy religious art of all kinds while Ron really likes the Impressionists like Monet.

We took our time exploring everything and had a wonderful time. We stopped for lunch and even worked with our realtor on an incoming offer on our house. (Spoiler alert, the deal didn’t work out.) I have to admit, the only part of the collection that neither of us really “got” was the modern art. I just don’t understand it at all, though we both tried. There were two bright parts to the modern art display, however. The first was one of the museum guides who invited us to play a game and tell him a little known fact. I told him that all koala bears have syphillis and he was absolutely beside himself, said it was the best thing he’d heard in quite a long time! (I was wrong though, they actually have chlamydia not syphillis. Ha!) The second was the Étant donnés by Marcel Duchamp. It’s a large wooden door in a dark room with two small eye holes to look through. What’s seen behind the door is interesting to say the least, but I won’t give the mystery away. Go see it for yourself!

After the museum, we took our very first Lyft to our hotel, the Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square, which is gorgeous. We grabbed a glass of wine and went to our room to relax and wait for Ciara to get off work. Ron had a nap while I unpacked and got cleaned up and before we knew it, she was there! It was so great to see her after several months, the longest we’ve ever been apart. She decided to take us to the Reading Terminal Market for dinner so off we went, walking block after block and taking in the city all around us. Unfortunately the market was closed when we got there so instead we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe, where we had cheesesteaks and listened to live music! After dinner, we made our way back toward the hotel through the throngs of people out on Friday night. The city was bustling, people everywhere. We ducked into Fado Irish Pub for a nightcap and Ciara introduced us to the “city wide”, which is a local drink special at participating bars. In this case, Ron and I had local beer and a shot of Irish whiskey while Ciara had a Mexican beer and a shot of tequila. When in Rome, right?

After she dropped us back at our hotel, Ciara took a Lyft home and we crashed into bed. Having left northern Michigan at 4am, we were completely wiped out.

The following morning, Ron and I walked over to Rittenhouse Square. There was a farmer’s market going on so we wandered around and sampled some of their homemade pickles, then some local wine. The park was beautiful, like what I imagine a miniature Central Park would look like. There were fountains and walkways lined with benches, where we sat and watched squirrels chase each other up the trees. It was tranquil and amazing!

At 10am, Ciara and Paul picked us up at the park and we drove over to the Old City District to explore. We walked down to Elfreth’s Alley, wow what a cool place with so much history!

From there we walked over the bridge to Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River. We made our way to one of Paul and Ciara’s favorite places, Spruce Street Harbor Park. It’s this adorable little outdoor space filled with colorful hammocks, food and drink vendors and of course, the huge red Philly chair. We took totally touristy pictures on the chair and drank some fall beers while we caught up with the kids and it was absolutely perfect.

At that point we were all starving so we walked back over to the car and drove to a parking garage near Independence Hall. We would’ve liked to see the Liberty Bell but it turns out that you have to wait in line for hours just to walk past it…so we passed.

Ciara suggested that we go to The Bourse for lunch and wow, what a cool place! It’s a giant food court with every type of food imaginable and when we arrived there was an Oktoberfest Festival going on. We grabbed some lunch and drinks, then watched the German dancers in their lederhosen dance to traditional music. So much fun!

After lunch, we walked over to Franklin Court for more exploring. Lots of beautiful architecture and underground excavated ruins of what is believed to be Ben Franklin’s house as well as many “privys”. Apparently it’s super important for history to note where our forefathers used the toilet. We encountered a character in full Ben Franklin costume and Paul had a great time making fun of me over a floor tile mosaic that clearly said “Honor God”, not “Honor Cod” as I had thought. Many jokes were made about Honoring thy Cod!

We all decided we were exhausted from walking all over town so we went back to the car and drove toward Fishtown, where Paul and Ciara live. We stopped at their favorite wine store before heading to their apartment and on our way there, the most amazing thing happened.

You see, all summer long Jason Segel has been filming in the Philly area and Ciara is a HUGE fan of his so she’s been on the lookout for him for months. While we were driving to their place Ron looked over and what do you know, Jason was right there, walking toward us on the sidewalk. He poked Ciara and said, “there’s Jason Segel right there!” Ciara didn’t realize that Ron had his window down in the backseat, so when she had a total fangirl freakout and screamed “OHMYGOD, JASON SEGEL!!!!!!”, Jason heard her clear as day and gave a little embarassed smile and wave. Poor Paul was driving and nearly crashed when she started screaming. In the chaos of the moment, we did not get any pictures but let me tell you, the whole thing was absolutely hilarious!

We toured the kids’ new place and spent some time playing with their new kitty, Sweetie. She definitely lives up to her name! The apartment is super cute and we’re thrilled that they’re happy in their new home.

Ciara mentioned a place down the road that she’s been wanting to check out so we meandered a couple of blocks over to an old abandoned warehouse that has been converted into an axe-throwing facility called Urban Axes. We signed our release forms, met our teacher and began working on our techniques, chucking axes over our heads at wooden bullseyes. In between our turns, we drank red wine out of red solo cups (cause we’re classy, obviously) and cheered each other on. I thought I’d never get the hang of it, but finally I managed to get my axe to stick in the wood and even got a bullseye! Our hour flew by and we had a total blast. Our teacher was awesome and I would totally do it again, no question!

After axes, Ciara marched us through her neighborhood to see the sights. They pointed out their favorite places and all the neat little areas they’ve discovered, which were charming. We ended up at their favorite brewery and beer garden called Evil Genius, where we sampled some beers and enjoyed the sunset. The train rumbling by every few minutes and the twinkle lights strung over the garden added a nice urban ambiance to the quaint little neighborhood pub. Ciara and Ron video-called favorite cousin, Toby in Texas while Paul and I caught up on recent happenings and we all just relaxed in each others’ company. It was wonderful.

We trekked back to the apartment where we ordered some chinese food delivery and watched ghost hunting TV shows until about 11pm. Then Ron and I caught another Lyft back to our hotel so the kids could get some sleep before Paul’s early morning flight to Chicago.

Sunday morning we slept in a bit so that Ciara could as well. About 11am, she picked us up and drove us over to Eastern State Penitentiary, where she recently started working. She gave us the VIP tour of the entire place, including the stuff usually not open to the pubic. We saw every cellblock, the medical wing, Al Capone’s cell, the punishment cells and the warden’s office. I took about a million pictures because it was so unbelievably fascinating. Deal with it!

We even got to go up into the center guard tower which was so cool, offering gorgeous panoramic views of the whole city. Ciara was a wonderful guide, giving us all of the history and important information about all that we saw. I’m so excited and proud of her that she gets to work in such a hauntingly beautiful, historic and impressive place!

We were starving again after our tour so we drove back over to her neighborhood to Memphis Taproom, which she’d heard had great burgers. The rumors were true, our burgers were phenomenal! The Detroit Lions were in town that day playing the Philadelphia Eagles, and since we’re all diehard Lions fans we went back to Ciara’s place to watch the game together. The Lions spanked the Eagles, hooray! I gave Sweetie all of the new toys I’d brought her and played with her while we all hung out together just like old times. We were all pretty beat after two solid days of running nonstop so Ciara took us back to the hotel around 8pm. Ron and I packed up our suitcases to leave the next day, then ordered dessert from room service and ate it on our bed while we watched tv.

On our last day, Ciara picked us up after we checked out at 10am and we drove to South Philly to check out the Italian Market. Unfortunately it was closed so we weren’t able to see too much, but we did sample some delicious cheese and check out the original old school Philly Cheesesteak stands. We also came across a totally hilarious sticker on a light pole, one that only people from Philly will understand. (Ciara explained what the word “jawn” was!)

We still had a few hours before our flight, so we headed over to the Reading Terminal Market that we tried to go to Friday night and it was open this time! What a cool place, a huge indoor market that’s been around since 1893. We walked all around and saw everything, we had beignets at the cajun cafe then had lunch at Pearl’s Oyster Bar. Ciara was so excited to try Snapping Turtle Soup! I tried a bite, but I’m not a fan. It tasted like sweet beef stew… After lunch, we grabbed a drink at Molly Malloy’s and just chatted before it was time to head to the airport and back to reality.

On the way to the airport, we saw a few more sights and Ciara drove us past the Philadelphia Eagles stadium.

Far too quickly, we arrived at our terminal and it was time to say goodbye. Despite how much we did in our short time there, it went by far too fast. It always does, doesn’t it? We hugged and kissed and said goodbye and then hugged again. We watched our baby girl pull away from the curb and back into the big city traffic and the world that she lives in now before we sighed and headed toward security and our 6 hours of travel time back home. Eyes shining with tears, we smiled at each other and then started planning for the next time we’d see each other again.

Copyright 2019, all rights reserved.  All images taken by me unless otherwise stated. Image of Jason Segel taken from IMDB.

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