Monday, September 1, 2014

Philly Vacation-Day One

We are taking advantage of Theo's time off from school this week to take a family vacation in the Philadelphia area. Although Philadelphia is just a few hours away, we had never visited before to see where much of the United States early history happened. Philadelphia is host to many other interesting attractions as well.

The day started with a smooth take off from home as well as an uneventful drive to the city. We found our hotel, stowed our luggage, and then set off to find the Liberty Bell. The "10" minute walk, from the hotel to the historic district,  was really 20 minutes, but seemed like 40 in the high heat and humidity of the day. On the way to the Bell, we passed a line of horse and carriages that looked awfully inviting. So, up we hopped onto one for a ride to see the sights with Jess, our tour guide, and Sam, our horse. The traffic was really noisy, so we really couldn't hear much of what Jess was telling us about all of the historic buildings we were passing. (And in this area of Philly, every building is historic.)  However there was a small breeze as we rode along and shade from the carriage top. At that moment it seemed like heaven. They normally do 1 hour tours, but it was hot so they only did 30 minutes tours to give Sam and his buddies a break.

Next, we found that iconic symbol of Philadelphia, The Liberty Bell. And guess what? It looks just like it does in the pictures. Maybe a little smaller. Ward, Theo, and I found the exhibit interesting, but Wally found it very thought provoking. You see, it just wasn't an event of significance, it was a symbol of many events of significance he said. He decided that he needed to stay in the park next door to ponder this while the rest of us went off to visit something else. I wasn't sure what to make of this need for pondering. It was either that he was really paying attention in 7th grade when they did a unit on monuments and symbolism or that he was just really hot and tired and didn't walk any more right then.

The rest of us next found the Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery which was housed in the bank building built almost 200 years ago. There were pictures of everybody who was anybody in the early days. I didn't know if was just me, but I noticed that an awful lot of the men had very thin noses in the portraits. However, later Theodore said he noticed the same thing. I guess skinny noses were considered handsome in the 1700's and 1800's and the subjects asked the artists if he could thin out their a little. Today they would just photoshop it.

Wally eventually joined us as we visited Christ the King Church (the church of everybody who was anybody back in the day) and the grave of Benjamin Franklin and several other signers of the Declaration of Independence. We had a nice walk around the grounds and gardens, but only saw the inside of the church through the windows. It had just closed when we arrived.

By this point, we were all hot and tired, so we decided to have an early dinner at Sonny's for a cheese steak. Philly is almost as famous for cheese steaks as it is for the Liberty Bell and the Declarartion of Independence. And Sonny's is famous for their cheese steaks--at least that's what they say. But Jess told us they were good and they were.

The 20 minute walk back to the hotel took us 30 minutes this time because we were tired, but seemed like 50 minutes because it was hotter and more humid than earlier. When we got back to the hotel, everyone was happy to the see a big fluffy bed and a nice cool shower in their room.

Until tomorrow...

Here are a few pictures from our day.

Sam and Jess who gave us our much appreciated carriage ride.

The Liberty Bell that Wally contemplated.

Thomas Jefferson's picture in the portrait gallery. Maybe he started the thin nose craze. :)

Ward was particularly interested in the brick pattern of the fence surrounding the graveyard with Benjamin Franklin. The black bricks got their color from a fire.

The consensus was that Sonny's cheesesteaks were pretty good.