Thursday, June 19, 2014

½ Sauer ½ Kraut - Philadelphia, Days 1-2

I spent the past weekend in Philadelphia, and yes, it is the greatest place on earth. I visited with Roger and a few friends from high school in 2008, and we did a whole bunch of touristy things, and I loved it then. But now that I've had plenty of time to explore New York and a few other cities, and I've gotten to see a little bit more of the Philly where real people live, it's a lot easier for me to say with confidence: Philadelphia is the best. Plus, it's only a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride away from New York. I hope to be back very soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My bus got into 30th Street Station about 15 minutes later than planned. For those of you planning a trip from New York, note that Megabus has two stops, not just the one they say on the website. It stops first at Market Street and 6th Street. If you're staying at my friend Laura's, this is a lot closer to her apartment. Unfortunately, I'd already told Laura that I would meet her at 30th Street Station, so I ended up going further out of our way than I should have. Lesson learned.

I met Laura and Molly at 30th Street Station, which was lovely, and reminded me of the station in New Haven. We went on a long, rainy walk back to her apartment, stopping at a friend's place to pick up an air mattress, and at Fountain Porter for some delicious pickles, burgers, and beer for dinner. We chatted back at Laura's apartment for a while, and then tucked ourselves in pretty early.

Friday, June 13, 2014

We were very lucky that Laura's a teacher and that her summer vacation had already begun, so she was able to give us a really lovely walking tour of Philadelphia on Friday. We didn't walk quite as much as we could have, because we had the half-marathon the next day, but we did walk a good amount and we saw some fantastic things. She lives in South Philadelphia, which is just adorable.

We started our morning at Termini Brothers, which had some incredible old school Italian pastries. We walked in, and first thing, we were offered a free sample of their blueberry cake. Expecting just a cube, the woman handed Laura a full-size slice, and then went to get one each for Molly and I! We demurred and all split the one piece, which was rich and moist, and had the thickest, sweetest cream cheese icing you can imagine.  Of course we each bought a few cookies, which were all perfect.

Molly and me in front of Termini Brothers

We continued our walk up 9th Street, through the Italian Market, stopping at different shops and booths along the way. One of my favorites was Fante's, a little kitchen shop where it seemed like you could find anything you wanted. Laura picked up a pasta maker for our pasta dinner that night. We also stopped in the Spice Corner, where I bought some Russian tea and some crystalized ginger. I was really impressed, all over the market, at how affordable these small businesses were. In New York, I never even stop in these places because of how prohibitively expensive they are, but we wandered in and out of shops and boutiques, and I never felt uncomfortable or like I couldn't afford to even be in them. I wish I could remember the names of all the little shops we stopped in on East Passayunk Street. Liz suggested Occasionette, Home, and Nice Things Handmade, and I know all three are lovely.

We picked up delicious cheese sandwiches at DiBruno Brothers. It was a gorgeous little shop, and the sandwiches were incredible. We continued wandering around, looking for a park to picnic in, but ended up eating in front of Whole Foods instead. It was sunny and beautiful, and the perfect spot.

We also stopped at the Fleischer Art Memorial, an incredible arts center that offers affordable classes to adults and children. Laura had taken a few classes there, and is volunteering there this summer. I really want to look into similar places in New York. It would be so much fun to take a ceramics or painting course, I think. They had a lovely little gallery, and part of the building is an old church, so it was really cool to wander around the center for a bit.

We also passed a bunch of beautiful mosaics by Isaiah Zagar in our walk, and saw the mother of all of them at the Philadelphia Magic Garden. We didn't go inside, but the view from outside was really cool. Laura says that they offer drink nights and other events, so if you're interested, that could be a great time to check it out. It was so different and lovely, even just to peek into.

We grabbed a John's Water Ice - tasty, but I'm being honest, not Ice King of Corona tasty - and then headed a bit further north to the Liberty Bell Center to meet up with Shelby and Mike, who had just seen the bell. The area was really crowded and touristy, so very different from where we'd just been, but it's still gorgeous to see all the manicured lawns. Plus, I'm a big sucker for living history exhibits, so any time someone is dressed up like they're in colonial America is fine by me.

We stopped in at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, an absolutely gorgeous library. They were having a book sale, so we perused that (I bought The Namesake for fifty cents!), and generally enjoyed the beautiful architecture and the air conditioning before continuing on our way.

All over the city, we passed beautiful architecture and incredibly sweet townhouses. One that looked just like the one on the right below was being rented - the entire thing - for just $2,500 a month. I just about passed out. I think Philly is a place I could really live. Not survive, but live.

We picked up Shelby and Mike's car, and headed to the Cannstatter Volksfest Verein German Club to pick up our bibs for the next morning's race. We hit some traffic, so it took longer than we expected, but I'm still really glad we did it because it made the next morning much easier.

After that, we headed back to Laura's apartment for a delicious, homemade pasta dinner. Laura and Molly are such good cooks! We ate our fill and then called it an early night in anticipation of the race the next morning.

Next up: the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut race!

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