So as my friend Alex guessed from the Florida post, we’ve made it to Philadelphia!

Many of us would know the blog post-titled hit of Bruce Springsteen if it came on the radio but the video had always eluded me. Having now literally walked the streets of Philadelphia for a couple of days, naturally, I was incentivised to watch it and I’m glad I did as it centres around Philly itself and its people and I was transported back to a time nearly 30 years prior!

So we’re excited to be here but goodness me it’s cold. Just a two-hour flight north of Orlando and the temperature has plummeted to near-freezing temperature. Now I appreciate that I might get a few scoffs when I describe near-freezing as 13 degrees but you have to remember we’ve averaged 30 degrees for the last 5 months so this temp drop really did hit us. In fact, we soon after resorted to jogging bottoms and a fleece! That felt weird.

You guys aren’t gonna believe how significant Philadelphia is in American history and not in a dull way. More on that later, first a quick tale of human kindness at its purest.

When traveling, weird and wonderful experiences occur. Today we experienced one within 15 minutes of leaving our hotel to begin exploring the streets of Philly.

What are you looking for?’, asks one of two ladies.

Anything and everything, I say. ‘We’re fresh into the city so we’re off to explore ’.

Fast forward no more than five minutes later of conversation, the following dialogue takes place. I honestly mean no more than five minutes later.

Do you have any plans tonight? Do you wanna come over for dinner?

Viv and I turn to look at each other…

Umm, yeah, ok. If you’re sure? Thanks ’.

Anything you don’t like? Here’s my address. Let’s say 6pm. I’m Susie by the way, my husband who you’ll meet tonight is Ed ’.

Great. We’re Sami and Vivian’.

 

And behold, it actually happened.

 

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This lovely older couple (who have been vaccinated we later found out) put together a chili hot-pot and salad for us along with strawberries and chocolate for dessert. We enjoyed a glass of white, too.

She was 78 and he 88; both super sharp, she a little more so with ten years of youth on her side. We had some great chats largely involving travel and learning cultural differences. He has a law background and now consults in mediation but in case that didn’t sink in the first time round…. Yes, he still actively works as a private mediator. Incredible.

We stayed for a couple of hours and left entirely satisfied in both a belly and mind. It was a wonderful experience for Vivian too as she now joins the club of having dinner with absolute strangers that had no ulterior motive, instead favouring kindness and curiosity.

Three nights in Philly gave us two full days to do nothing other than explore and explore we most certainly did. We were tempted for the hop-on, hop-off bus option especially as we would hear some history on route but before we knew it, we were off exploring. We’re confident we’d actually have covered similar ground than the bus would as you’ll see from the number of steps we did.

 

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First impressions of Philly were really good and this vibe only strengthened for the duration of our stay.

There’s so much to show and tell you about this place so let’s get started with Philly’s City Hall. The largest municipal building in not just Philly but in the entire United States, including the US Capitol building. It claims a mind-blowing 14.5 acres of floor space.

Here are the great views leading up to it, surrounded by tall and relatively pretty buildings.

 

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Next up, the real big ones but not in size, in stature: Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

The birthplace of modern-day America!

This building is where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated signed!

 

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Regretfully we didn’t actually get to go into the building because of Covid there were procedures in place, including “timed sessions” for mornings only and we missed our opportunity. I’m not sure how much we’ll have seen inside but still, a bit gutting.

As for the Liberty Bell, originally housed in Independence Hall, (now across the road in a different building) the first chime in July 1776, was to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

 

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We went about finding some of the many other famous (free) buildings digesting as much as we could. There’s so much history here we couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface but it was a great introduction to it all the same.

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Back to the modern world, here’s a small handful of photos starting with a couple of street art murals of which the city has a reported 3600 of them! My goodness, they’re impressive.

 

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There was Reading Terminal Market: an alleged ‘must do’ – so we did. An indoor farmer’s market that has been around since 1892 that has many quality fast-food eateries. We tucked into a popular Philly dish – a steak roll. I mean, we didn’t need too much convincing with that one! Nor the lobster sauce pasta pot.

 

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The two shots below are from Elfreth’s Alley – the USA’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street. There was a funny moment here because we stumbled upon this road by chance. Instantly we were taken by it you can imagine but then at one point said to ourselves: ‘I wonder if people really live here?’.

Literally, just moments later we saw a sign that covered our question on the very first line. Hopefully, you can see it to read but if not, it says: ‘Yes, people really do live here’.

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Pretty sure Philly became famous for something else too in the 80s and 90s….

Oh yeah, that’s right – The Italian Stallion himself.

I cannot wait for old friends to see these images; never did any of us ever think we’d make it to the land of Rocky Balboa.

 

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The building we see above and in the movie is actually an art museum and preceding it are the famous steps that Rocky runs up – I’m sure most of us can remember that scene. The statue itself, gifted by Silvester Stallone many years later, is at the bottom of the steps and to the right so it does not impede the small climb to the top.

Check out the weather differences from the sky itself. That change was probably just half an hour or so between the two pictures. That said, it didn’t rain so we were very thankful for that.

 

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Nearly done, folks 🙂

The Delaware River separates several states including Delaware, Pennsylvania (Philly), and New Jersey. This means there are a lot of bridges and one of the main toll bridges is the Benjamin Franklin bridge separating Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In fact, here’s some trivia for you: The late great Chadwick Boseman’s penultimate movie named 21 Bridges is filmed all over Philadelphia. I found this excerpt online between him and Ellen DeGeneres a couple of years back.

DeGeneres: It’s called “21 Bridges” because there are 21 bridges that you had to shut down.

Boseman: Well, at first we – it was called “17 Bridges.”. I’m serious. The name of the movie at first, when I got it, was “17 Bridges”. And we were about to shoot the speech, and they were like, ‘We’re not actually sure if it’s 17.’ I was like, ‘Well, how many is it? I’m gonna say this in about 20 minutes.’ So it turns out it’s 21.

 

Here’s Vivian ‘weighing up’ whether we should cross into New Jersey.

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We didn’t cross the bridge and here’s why: the town that would greet us in New Jersey is Camden; a city that I’ve seen listed in the top 10 dangerous cities in all of the USA! Unsurprisingly we chose to walk just half of the bridge and then return! 🙂

Here’s the view from the halfway point. You can probably guess which city is Camden and which is Philadelphia.

 

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Philadelphia turned out to be a real gem of a visit for us. I hope it has surprised and interested you too. We came here knowing so little and are leaving here knowing so much more.

So where’s next? Well, if you’re looking at a map the next logical point is north to that very well-known and popular city/state but we’re pretty sure there’s another very well known city that is illogically south of here by just a couple of hours and certainly not one we were going to miss!

If you don’t know where I mean, pop open a map, folks. Digitally, of course 🙂

4 Responses

  1. I knew most of that. I’m a dad and its my job to know things and be grumpy!

    • Ha, I thought you might know most of that. Who’d have thought America is actually interesting!!!

      You not fancy coming out here and doing a an East Coast 13 colony history vacation? You can’t blame being old, that couple we met are travelling to France this year!

  2. Wow the rocky statue and the steps! Finally the real Italian stallion does the rocky photo. Geat pics. Very jealous. 💪

    • Hey JP. I did think of you as I sat on the steps. Thanks for your words although I sit on podium position 3 behind you and Uncle Pete. In fact, I’ve just had an Insta-story idea… 🙂

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