Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philadelphia Day 1: Killadelphia

For our annual pick-an-interesting-city-in-the-US vacation, we chose Philadelphia. Why Philly you may ask? To eat authentic Philly cheese steaks, to join the millions of tourists who run up the Philadelphia Museum of Art's numerous steps like Rocky did, and to see the Liberty Bell.

Our flight to Philadelphia left at the ungodly time of 6:00 am. I am not a morning person, but somehow I managed to wake myself up at 3:00 am in time to leave for Sacramento. Apparently we should remember to check traffic reports when flying, because we almost missed our flight due to a single lane open on I-5 and an airport shuttle driver who moved herself and the shuttle, at a molasses like speed.

The flight to Houston International was a bit bumpy which left me and my sensitive stomach in knots. Our layover was about 18 seconds too long....that's how long we had until the plane to Philadelphia was going to leave without us. More turbulence and an empty stomach did not make my weary soul feel any better.

We arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport to be greeted by an airport that was falling apart. I immediately used the restroom and noticed that the restroom's ceilings had extensive water damage with peeling paint and mold. There were other disturbing things going on like moisture in between the window panes and various trash from Dunken Donuts and the like, laying around.

Luckily airports are just a temporary stop on a traveler's journey. We quickly found a cab and were on our way to the City of Brotherly Love.  Unfortunately along with getting nauseous on airplanes, I get car sick as well. In fact I am a paranoid passenger in general. I often use my imaginary brake when riding with drivers whom I deem unsafe.  Because of my paranoia, cab rides are pretty much the worst for me. This cab ride was no exception.

Everything that could possibly be wrong with a cab ride was wrong. The driver feathered the gas like no one's business. The car was a mess...a hot mess. The driver drove 80 mph in a 35 mph zone. He also blasted Lady Gaga's newest song, Edge of Glory and Katy Perry's ET. While I don't mind these songs, the mixture of questionable smells, gas feathering at atrocious speeds, humidity, and blaring female hip hop music, made me want to vomit even more.

Trying to occupy my mind, I gazed out the dirty window. When arriving in Philadelphia from the airport you are first greeted with a skyline of smoke stacks and a haze of smog looming above. If it weren't for the Lady Gaga blasting in my ears, I would of thought I had been transported back in time to the industrial revolution.

After the smoke stacks, you drive through the projects. Projects or not, I needed to get out of the cab with the quickness. Even Danny was uncomfortable with the cab ride. We finally arrived at The Alexander Inn which is located in the Center City area, to find a lovely historic building with air conditioning and a friendly inn keeper greeting us. 

Our room was small but tidy and cool, which was all that I needed at that point. The bathroom had been renovated nicely. I appreciated the sign above the single ply toilet paper, explaining why such a lovely hotel would not use double ply.

Alexander Inn

Interesting indeed
Having eaten nothing but a Paleo Kit all day, Danny and I decided the first order of business would be to eat. We decided a gluten filled pizza would satisfy our empty bellies. We used Yelp and found a highly rated pizza place called Little Italy Pizza.

On our walk to Little Italy Pizza I saw a girl wearing a shirt with the Liberty Bell on it. Underneath the cracked bell it said, "Philadelphia, people come here for the crack." I get the joke, however I thought to myself could this be true? I did just glance at a local newspaper that said something about how Philadelphia's well known nickname is Killadelphia....

Pushing my initial impression of Philadelphia out of my mind, I concentrated on something I am really good at: Eating. We arrived at Little Italy Pizza (which is on the edge of Philly's Little Italy) to be greeted by a cool blast of air conditioning. Score one for Little Italy Pizza. Danny asked the pimply faced teenager what the best pizza they had was and he said the margarita pizza. Another man jumped in our conversation and said the best seller was the BBQ chicken ranch pizza. It didn't sound very authentic to me, but we decided to get half margarita, half BBQ chicken ranch and let our taste buds decide.

Half Margarita/ Half BBQ Chicken Ranch...
with a ridiculous amount of Ranch
 My instincts were right. The margarita pizza with its fresh mozzarella and basil was perfect. The BBQ chicken ranch was drenched in ranch. It was edible (perhaps because I was starving). Danny and I both agree, the 16 year old knew what he was talking about.

After dinner we decided that since we were vacationing and it felt like we were in the middle of the Amazon jungle, we deserved some ice cream.

No loud radios in Little Italy.
 After roaming about for a while, we came across Golosa, a small little chocolate shop that also serves gelato. Gelato is close enough to ice cream, so we went in. We were greeted by a mousy looking girl, who was about my age, wearing cat glasses. Perhaps she was trying to deter people from thinking she was mousy by wearing the cat glasses. She did not fool me.

Hers  were more extreme.

When entering Golosa the air conditioner was also on full blast, which I appreciated. The shop seemed kind of, as my mother would say, "hoity toity" but it was just us and the mousy cat lady, so we were kind of committed. There were pictures of zebra's butts on the walls which Danny later named, "Zebras on acid."

Zebras On Acid
 We went with a sample order of 4 fancy chocolates and two scoops of gelato each. We ordered a lavender chocolate, aged balsamic vinegar chocolate (per mousy cat lady's recommendation), a hazelnut, and a creamy coffee chocolate. The first two flavor's while unconventional, were quite lovely. Mousy cat lady described them as savory chocolates. The hazelnut and coffee chocolates were more traditionally sweet and very tasty as well. We both got the dark chocolate gelato. For our second scoops, Danny ordered the Dulce de Leche and I tried the Creme Brulee. We both agreed that they were all amazing. For being so hoity toity, Golosa was easy on the pocket book and a nice sweet/savory/cooling destination of yumminess.

Chocolate Heaven

While walking back to our hotel, we happened upon some beautiful neighborhoods. All the streets were lined with trees and all the homes are built with brick. This is what I had imagined Philadelphia to be like. Philadelphians were out running and walking their dogs enjoying the City of Brotherly Love not cowering in their air conditioned apartments, hiding from the city. I decided to give Killadelphia a second chance to impress me....and it did.

She's a brick....house

Some of my favorite homes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lacking Excitement


I haven't participated in anything exciting in weeks...hence the lack of blog posts.

I did have a recent run in with a 24 hour stomach flu that shook things up a bit.... I will spare you the details.

My dog, Butch, killed my neighbor's bunny. It was the bunny's fault. This riled things up in our household for a few hours. As I was sitting at the computer contemplating the circle of life and preparing to write about Butch v. Bunny, I couldn't stop hearing the rabbit's death squeal of panic, echoing in my head... which is why I will not be reminiscing about the event via world wide web.

My brother graduated from Fuller University, with his Master's in Theology this past weekend. It was nice to see my family and to see my brother in all his pomp and circumstance.

One thing I have been doing that I find exciting and slightly addicting, is attending group classes at Crossfit Excel. I could write multiple blogs about Crossfit and my love/hate relationship with it, but I don't know if people really care how much weight I back squatted the other day, how desperate I am to do a pull up, and how my sternum tried to rip itself in two one day.

In a few days we are going to Philadelphia. I have 3 goals while in the city of brotherly love: Eat as many Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches as possible, run up the same steps that Rocky did, and see the Liberty Bell.

While we are there, I know that many exciting things will occur. Don't you worry, I will blog about them.