Sunday, August 2, 2009

Philly---Day 5

I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting for the last day of sightseeing on our trip!  

We made it to Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love, after spending the night in Amish country.  I had wanted to stop somewhere and look at quilts and whatnot, but we didn't get the chance. The only Amish we saw were leaving Burger King to get into their minivan.

I don't get that.

Anyway...we arrived in Philly in good time in the morning and found a parking garage, which was quite exciting, what with people exiting through the entrance and valet parking in the garage.  We had to grab our belongings and get the 8 of us out the car in a heartbeat.  And then out of the garage.

What mother likes herding her children through a parking garage where there is only room for cars, not people, and the cars are driving on whichever side of the street they care to?

Not this one.

Off to the visitor's center where we picked up our tickets for the Independence Hall, because we had learned our lesson at the Washington Monument and decided to fork over the $1.50 per ticket to order them in advance.

The Little Princes and I loved sitting and talking with the costumed docents who were embroidering, or quilling, or making dolls.  One of them told us about the storytellers who were stationed all around the colonial area.  If we visited all 13 we could win a prize!  We went to 4, but we didn't have time for all of them.  We had other things on our minds---like lunch!

This guy was our favorite of the ones we saw.  He was a great storyteller and just really fun to talk to.

It's kinda sad we missed the others; I think they were the best way for the young'uns (and myself) to learn about the history.

We saw the Liberty Bell which I thought was pretty anti-climactic. I mean, I would have preferred to see it hanging in a bell tower, even if it can't be used, not a totally modern building.

Then we went over for our appointment at the "steak house" which is what LP called Independence Hall later. She must have been listening to the tour guide explain its proper name and misunderstood. It was funny, but I was really proud that she had been listening!

Now, who do you think our tour guide was?

The ghost of Benjamin Franklin, himself.

He's said he's not related, but I don't believe him. What do you think????

Yeah, me too.

After the "State House" we're all getting a little hungry and cranky, so we have another high carb snack to stave off starvation while we visit the Betsy Ross house.  That was a nice little self-guided tour, reasonably priced, and interesting.  Fun, climbing around the tiny, winding stairs in her little house.  It's hard to believe the way people used to live in such small spaces with big skirts on!

After some discussion and map reading, we decided to drive to our next destination: Philly cheesesteak heaven. Good plan---our feet were already tired and we were hungry and it turned out to be a longer drive than we expected.

We had to go to Pat's and Geno's Two different, famous, cheese steak joints that are across from each other, and that we had seen on Sandwiches You Will Like.. We had given semi-serious thought to doing a sandwich tour for our vacation, but dh's "Emmitsburg, Gettysburg, Sharpsburn" tour won out. And we swapped Sharpsburg for Philly. Whatever.

Anyway, we trekked through South Philly in search of Cheese Steaks. Up 'til now, the Philadelphians had impressed us with their brotherly love. No fewer than 3 people had stopped to ask us at various times if we needed help! We evidently looked a little more clueless than we were.

Once we got in a car on the narrow, busy streets, they lost all sense of brotherly love! We saw lots of really cute, old neighborhoods. Not quite as cute and squeezeable as Gettysburg, but nearly so. There was lots of other charm there, too. Like these cool buildings that had been covered in glass and metal:

Fortunately, we were there well between mealtimes, so Pat's and Geno's were not crowded and there was parking immediately available. I don't know what we would have done if we had to drive down the street and dh had to maneuver our mini-van into one of those tiny, curbside spaces. We might have given up and gone cheesesteakless. Philadelphians must be born with serious parallel parking genes!

The plan was to order 4 sandwiches from each store; each of us eat half of one and compare. KT was the brave soul who volunteered to dare Pat's wrath and ordered from him. He even yelled at her for ordering wrong! (They have a sign that teaches you how to order properly.) He's like the Soup Nazi.  We were so proud.

"I got those two sandwiches: steaks, wit, provolone. And I got a steak, wit-out, provolone. But I have no idea what you're sayin' about the othe' one. I don't know whatcher talkin about!" She finally got it right and we sat down to eat in 5 minutes. They were yummy, let me tell you! But then, we were hungry.

After the busboy kindly took our picture in front of their sign (I think he really wanted to stop me from taking a picture of Geno's across the street), we walked over to Geno's.

Do you know what Geno's stands for?  No, it's not the owner's name.  It stands for "Good English Needs Our Support."  Their signs don't tell you how to order a cheese steak properly, they tell you "This is America.  Order in English."  

I like these people a lot.  

They don't yell at you, either.  And they wrap your sandwiches neatly instead of just slapping them on paper and shoving them out the window at you.  Of course, I didn't try ordering in Spanish, so I can't say what might have happened.

This time we ordered our sandwiches "wit" and "whiz"---that's wit onions and cheeswhiz.  Before we got there, it sounded like the most disgusting thing ever.  I wasn't even planning to eat cheese steaks at all, but these were amazing!  We scarfed those puppies down fast and ordered another one for the road.  Sandwiches at these two places cost as much as our lunch at McDonalds (and we didn't even get fries and drinks with our cheesesteaks), but it was so much more worth it!

And, yes, amazingly enough, cheese steak sandwiches at Pat's and Geno's was the highlight of our trip!  

With full tummies, we hit road and headed south for No. Va and the grandparents house, again.


  1. Sounds like a seriously fun, yummy educational vacation. Those kind are the best, by the way. Too bad the Ben Franklin relative couldn't have been in colonial dress. That would have really been a treat.

  2. Hey - we parallel parked and sent two in to get the food and bring it back to the car. Next time when the kiddos are older and able to walk by themselves we'll park and sit a while! DH makes an incredible cheese steak here at home! No cheese whiz.

  3. I think I'd rather have provolone than cheesewhiz!! BUT. any place that says "This is America...order in English" will have my vote off the bat!!


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