Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 4 - Philadelphia, PA

When we were planning our trip, we originally had a hard time finding a hotel in Philadelphia, mostly because the reviews weren't that great or the prices were outrageous. We knew we wanted to stay downtown because we were only going to be touring the downtown sites, and we didn't want to have to figure out parking. We found a hotel called The Independent, and the reviews were pretty good. It was a stylish 24-room residential boutique hotel located in Philadelphia’s Midtown Village. I was nervous when we arrived because I had chosen it, but I need not have worried. It was definitely one of the most unique rooms we had ever stayed in and definitely one of the best. Emilee's favorite part was the zebra throw rug on the floor! The only negative was the bar on the first level, and the noise from the partying kept me awake for a good part of the night on the first night. The second night, however, I was so exhausted from the heat and all the walking we did that I crashed hard and didn't hear a thing.

Downtown Philly

Amazing downtown art

Really want some flower boxes like these!

Our hotel room
Our touristy stops in Philly included touring Independence Hall and, of course, seeing the Liberty Bell. We had reserved a specific time for touring Independence Hall, so we started at the visitor's center where we had to pick up our tickets for our tour.  Even though it was still morning, it was already really hot, and after our walk to the square, we took our time in the air-conditioned visitor's center before heading to see the Liberty Bell.

And we're off to see the city.
Ben Franklin was at the Visitor's Center!

"Let's pretend we're looking at the pictures so we don't
have to go back outside in the heat!"
We finished up at the visitor center and worked our way in the direction of the bell taking some snapshots along the way as we strolled around town.

Shift Change!
The line to see the bell was incredibly long and wound outside of the building. And did I mention it was sweltering hot? We waited in line for about an hour before we made it inside to the bell. We took our time inside because it was nice and cool! Did I mention it was incredibly hot? There was no structured line for a photo opp in front of the bell, so we kind of jumped in where we could and asked someone to take our pic. 

Loooooong line waiting to see the Liberty Bell

Scott pretending to be interested in looking at the bell so
we wouldn't have to go back out in the heat any time soon! :-)
We still had a bit of time before our scheduled tour, so we strolled around town looking for other touristy sites before heading back to Independence Hall.

This sign does not make me want to park here.

Once we got to Independence Hall for our tour we had to go through a security checkpoint, and then we walked into the square where we strolled around outside before they called our group's tour time...where we stood in line again before getting to go inside. And did I mention it was really hot outside? Once inside, our tour guide led us through the hall, detailing each room along the way.

Emilee: "I think I'm melting."
One of the things I found to be a really cool coincidence, and which was totally unplanned on my part, is that the Declaration of Independence had been first signed on the exact day we were there, August 2nd, (in 1776). Yes, I'm easily amused! 

We finished up our tour and headed out to find some lunch. In my research I found some great reviews for Jim's Steaks so we could get a traditional Philly Cheesesteak. We found the restaurant, which was definitely a little hole in the wall, and the line was almost out the door. Once we got inside, we could see that there was a roped line (kind of like what you see at the fair) and not much seating. And the ordering process reminded me of the Soup Nazi episode in "Seinfeld" where you must know what you want when you reach the cook or no food!  :-)  We got the girls orders and left them in charge of grabbing a seat. There was only a line of stools with a bar-like shelf on the main level, and then there were some tables/chairs upstairs, which were all taken. The place was packed, but by the time we got our food, the girls had managed to snatch four stools along the wall. I will have to say, the sandwiches were well worth the wait! YUM!

Once we finished with a late lunch, we did a bit more walking around exploring the city.  We decided to turn in early though because we were heading to the Big Apple tomorrow, Emilee's choice for our vacation.  Since we were taking Amtrak from Philly to NYC, we didn't want to take all of our luggage and try to carry it around the city from the train to the hotel, so I had brought along four backpacks.  We each packed our necessities and three day's worth of clothing in our packs, and then we spent the evening resting up for our big adventure in the big city. New York City, here we come!

I spotted this dog school on our way back to the hotel. The dogs
sitting in the window were real... they were people-watching!
Something about this just cracked me up!

Good night, Philly!

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