Thursday, September 15, 2011

Philadelphia Day 5: From Cheesesteaks to Salad Bowls.

We woke with a feeling of that intense exhaustion that most people feel at the end of their know, the reason why people say they need a vacation from their vacation. We tidied ourselves up enough to enjoy one last so-so breakfast at the glorious Alexander Inn. 

While semi enjoying our continental breakfast, the inn keeper asked us where we were headed back to. We explained as most Riponians/Mantecans do that we were about an hour south of Sacramento. The inn keeper, which by the way is his official title, exclaimed, "Oh goodness! The salad bowl of America!"  While I think Salinas Valley is actually the official, "Salad bowl of America," I assume he meant that we were from agriculturally rich territory, in which case he would be correct: We were headed home to the salad bowl of America. 

Before our flight we had a couple hours to spare so we stopped by Liberty Center for a few last minute souvenirs. We then sauntered over to the last of William Penn's squares, that we had yet to visit. 

Of all 5 squares, Franklin Square is the most kid friendly. There's a pretty water feature in the middle, a mini golf course, and a merry go round for one's enjoyment.

Franklin Square

Everyone loves a water fountain

Perhaps the best part of Franklin Square was also the most upsetting. It turns out that the mini golf course is a mini replica of the Philadelphia. All of the city's most famous landmarks are mapped out in a minature fashion of fun and golf. You can hit a hole in one through Elfreth's Alley or make par at City Hall. (Notice how I threw in all the golf lingo I know...) The most upsetting part is that we discovered the mini Philadelphia golf course after we had already explored every single one of these landmarks. It would of been nice to get a lay of the land prior to our adventures. 

Liberty Bell/Independence Hall

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Lehr's on our 6th wedding anniversary

Elfreth's Alley

After contemplating actually playing some mini golf, then deciding  it would be better to make our flight (much to Danny's disappointment), we went in search of Philadelphia's China Town.  I don't know what I was expecting, but Philadelphia's China Town is not a bustling Asian city within a city. I suppose I was expecting a San Francisco-esque China Town. I must admit, the Chinese Friendship Gate was pretty.

Chinese Frienship Gate

Our last stop on our hustling and bustling tour of Cheesesteak town, was the Reading Terminal Market.  In 1892 the Reading Railroad opened the Reading Terminal Market underneath the storage area for its trains.  I have not confirmed this with research of the least bit (not even Wikipedia research) but I think the Reading Railroad is the same railroad that you can, "Hitch a ride on," in Monopoly.  The Reading Terminal Market has survived the Super Walmarts and Winco's of our crazy country and is still considered one of the greatest food markets in the world. 

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market
The market is overwhelming in an extremely awesome way. Seeing, smelling, and tasting so many amazing things at once, may just send you into sensory overload. From Pennsylvania Dutch merchants to fresh cut flowers the Reading Terminal Market has everything a Foodie/Indie/Uppity soul could ever dream of. 

As sort of a last ode to all things Philadelphia (think hearty, greasy, deliciousness) we ordered some pulled pork sandwiches from Dinic's. It turns out Dinic's has been featured on the Food Network and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

 We somehow made it out of the Reading Market without falling into a deep yet delightful food coma. At the Alexander Inn we waited in the lobby for our taxi ride, which I am happy to report was much less terrifying than our taxi ride there.

Philadelphia is like most cities in that it is a mixture of art, history, food, and fun. It is unlike any city in that it grabs these common city themes, chews them up, spits them out, and makes them uniquely it's own. Philadelphia's intensity is something you can only experience if you go there. So I suggest you do that. Just be prepared for when you leave you too, will have been chewed up, spit out, somehow encased in brotherly love then left in a state of historical, artistic, and culinary disarray:

Time to head back to the Salad Bowl

To read all my Philadelphia blogs in order start here: 

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