I have always wanted to visit Philadelphia because I love Philly Cheesesteaks and I grew up watching “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.
Cues up Theme song:
.Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air
In West Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground is where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”
If you are 80’s or 90s baby you have just finished singing along to the song. Now, let’s talk about how I actually spent my day in the city.
Although there are many buses that offer routes to Philly from Washington DC, I used the Megabus. I spent $50 for a round trip bus ticket. The ticket price depends on the time and day of purchase. Amenities on the bus include a bathroom, electrical outlets, and free Wifi. I arrived at Union Station in DC and was dropped off near 30st Metro Train in Philidelphia. The road trip was approximately 3 hrs and 10 minutes.
Reading Terminal Market
After the long bus ride, I was hungry and wanted to find a great restaurant that served breakfast. Philly residents highly recommend Reading Terminal Market for both awesome food and desserts. After walking through the terminal, I decided to eat a small popular restaurant called “Dutch Eating Place”. I ordered pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
After eating, I continued to walk around the market to see what they offered. My sense of sight and smell were on sensory overload from all the items I passed. I saw sandwiches, soul food, seafood, cupcakes, cookies, pastries, fresh food, bbq etc. Although I didn’t purchase anything else, I sampled delicious peanut butter pudding.
After regaining my energy, I was ready to explore Philly. I used the $5 Phlash bus to transport me around the city (you can utilize the Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus but it cost $32 and goes to the same places as the Phlash bus). Follow me as we ride through the streets of Philly.
My first stop was the Liberty Bell Center where the famous cracked Liberty Bell is housed. The inscription on the bell reads Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”. This scripture refers to the time of Jubilee where Israelites were instructed to free slaves every 50 years. It is believed that Quacker Issac Norris used this inscription to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of William Pens 1701Charter of Privileges granting religious freedom to those in Pennsylvania.
After the civil war, the abolitionist started embracing this theme as a way to end slavery. As I was reading the history of the bell, I noticed people from around the world embrace the bell. I wondered how could the most oppressed and discriminated communities could embrace a symbol that did not necessarily embrace them back. I now realize that this bell represented the struggle and the fight between different movements such as women rights and civil rights.
Quacker William Penn named the city Philidelphia. Philos is greek for love and adelphos means brother. This is why they are known as the city of Brotherly Love. Penn was often oppressed due to his religious views and wanted to ensure that people could worship freely.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary is the oldest prison (1829) in Philidelphia and is known for incarcerating Al Capone a Mobster from Chicago. You can purchase tickets in person, if you purchase online you can save $2. I didn’t have time for the guided tour, so I selected for a self-guided Audio Tour. As you walk through the prison, you will be provided with stories about life as a prisoner.
The prison was designed to be a place for criminals to change deviant behavior or repent thus the word penitentiary. When the prison first opened they strongly believed in solitary confinement. Inmates were not allowed to commune with each other and there faces had to be covered when leaving their cell blocks.
They have 5 exhibits that you can explore. The most interesting exhibit was called Prison Today which discussed issues of Mass Incarceration. Black and Brown people of color are incarcerated more than any other population due to unfair policies and discrimination. This reminds me of the Kalief Browder story about a young black man who was incarcerated for over 2 years and never charged with a crime. After being released he had severe mental health issues and eventually committed suicide as a result of his imprisonment. Do you have any personal stories of unfair incarceration?
As human beings, we are designed to have social interaction such as physical touch or conversation via phone or in person. Solitary confinement can cause psychological and emotional trauma when these interactions are not available. Does anybody remember watching Mandella: Long Walk to Freedom movie? I vividly remember a scene when Winnie Mandella began talking to the insects in prison due to a long duration of solitary confinement.
They currently have 13 installations throughout the prison, the most fascinating one to me is called Solitary Watch: Photo Requests from Solitary. Inmates who are in long-term solitary confinement can request real or imaginary photos. The request can range from pictures of Pyramids in Mexico City to a rose growing out of the cracks in a prison. If interested in sending photos go to http://photorequestsfromsolitary.org/
Last stop goes to Philadelphia City Hall. A national landmark that houses the Philly government. Buy tickets and go to the observation deck where you can see a view of the city below and a statue of William Penn above.
It is blasphemous to visit Philly and not eat a cheesesteak. For those who are not familiar with this sandwich, it is thinly sliced beefsteak, cheese, and onions on a hoagie. Pat and Henry Olivier are credited with inventing this Philly staple in the 1930’s.
Although many tourists go to Pats or Geno’s, Philly locals recommended I go to Max or Delassandros. I decided to UBER to Max’s which is located in Germantown. I was not disappointed, the bread was soft, the meat was seasoned well. It is to be noted that my native hometown Los Angeles needs to step up there cheesesteak game because they are small in comparison to the ones they serve in Philly.
There are only 24 hrs in a day
The time seemed to pass very quickly and I was unable to visit all the sites before leaving town. I didn’t stop at the famous Rocky steps located at the Philidelphia Museum of Art, Philidelphia Magic Garden or African American Museum. I suggest making a plan of all the places you would like to see in order to maximize your one-day itinerary.
Facebook is a great way to meet new friends, I have friends from all over the world from social media. The highlight of my trip was meeting up with Philly native, Christina H. She is a friend whom I have interacted with for several years on Facebook but had not met with in person. We headed over to Relish, an establishment known for dinner and live music.
Have you ever wondered what to do with items collected from traveling? I love the way Christina has decorated her living wall with items from all over the world. How do you incorporate your souvenirs into everyday life?