*cues Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s theme song* ……… I went to Philly y’all!
Who goes to a whole other state just to have lunch?!? Okay, we didn’t go solely for lunch, but our time spent here was short compared to NYC. If you caught my last post, 8 hours in NYC you’d also realize that this was my third state on this trip lol. Road tripping is so easy when you have a good form of public transportation (trains) which are reasonably priced (it was less than US $20 round trip).
This trip could have included more but we really had no set agenda (kind of bummed about that). We got to Philly around 3:30 p.m. The station (30th Street) we arrived at was far more different from the one in NYC; fewer people, cleaner, great architecture, and FEWER people. The train ride was a bit longer but it was great to observe all the passing towns etc. As soon as we got there, the first thing we had to do was EAT.
Reading Terminal Market
With food on our minds we headed to the Reading Terminal Market which is basically food heaven. It has different themed restaurants from Asian to Mexican and of course American. There are also stalls selling groceries from local produce to meat. Don’t get me started on the amount of bakeries; there were sweets for dayssss. When I see that many options, I totally shut down and become indecisive. After walking around for a bit, we decided we didn’t want anything there. We decided to pop into this restaurant right across the street – Maggiano’s.
Maggiano’s – Little Italy
Funny that we’re in Philly and eating Italian food, huh? I totally forgot that I should’ve probably had a Philly cheesesteak. Maybe next time. My choice of meal was pasta (duh) and they had quite a few options listed making it difficult to choose. Most were without meat, however I didn’t realize you had the option of adding in what you wanted.
After several different options, I decided to go with the Famous Rigatoni “D” which comprises of herb-roasted chicken, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and Marsala cream sauce. I felt a little disappointed after realizing that I came all the way to Philly for Chicken Pasta! Everything was good besides the mushrooms though, they tasted a bit sour (not sure if that has to do with the type).
After enjoying our meals, at least what we could (the bowls were deep), we headed out to “explore”. Not knowing much about the area, I went on Google to search for nearby attractions. The first thing that came up was the Liberty Bell so we went for it. While walking to view the bell we passed a couple of places notably the entrance for what is known as Chinatown.
Even though we didn’t venture inside, it can still get a little mention. Chinatown is a neighborhood packed end-to-end with restaurants and stores that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and American hipster thrown in for good measure (visitphilly.com).
Pictured above is The Friendship Gate which is 40ft and underwent renovation in 2008. It follows a traditional Qing Dynasty style and was created by Chinese engineers and artisans using tiles from Tianjin. Chinatowns can also be found in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and even Toronto, Canada.
Liberty Bell & Independence Hall
Not paying much attention to American History in university, I had no idea what the significance of this bell was, but since it was #1 on the must visit site I said why not. Upon visiting and further research I learnt that the Liberty Bell is “The internationally known symbol of freedom“. The bell’s inscription reads “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof“ (Leviticus 25:10).
Liberty Bell is currently housed in a building known as The Liberty Bell Center which is in front of Independence Hall. Initially I was expecting a massive bell outdoors, but that’s definitely not the case. We got to the center after 5p.m. so they already closed however the bell could be seen from the outside through a glass window. There’s a plaque on the outside giving information on the history of the bell as well as a recording in which you can listen to in different languages.
Only realizing what the building was until after the fact, I simply observed from where I was positioned while looking at the Liberty Bell. There were also security men located near the building, so I didn’t really think to go any further.
However, Independence Hall is “the birthplace of the United States” where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed. The hall also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site, 1 of 1092 sites in the world. (Fun Fact: The U.S. has 23 sites in total; 10 cultural, 12 natural and 1 mixed.)
Walk Around the City
After visiting the Independence National Historic Park we continued to walk around the city and ended up in a few stores. Within the City Center, there are different districts such as, Museum City, University, Fashion, Historic etc. It was a pretty cool day and by 7:00 p.m. we were already on our way back to the train station.
Reading up on Philly, it definitely looks like I missed out on a great adventure. There are numerous museums of traditional and modern art, statues, street murals, historical sites, countless food places, and so much more that this city has to offer. Next time I revisit the east coast I hope to have a detailed plan of activities, both for NYC and Philly.
Have you ever been to Philly? What did you do while there?