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History and Cheesesteak in Philly

My husband and I took a trip to Philadelphia over the weekend. It has been rainy for what seems like weeks and last Saturday was the one day that the forecasters said would be rain free although cloudy. With the temperatures in the low 60’s we decided that it would be perfect weather to play tourist. Of course my husband booked us on the Big Bus tour where you can hop on and off and various locations around the city so that meant it would be windy and chilly.

I was surprised by how easy it was to get around the city on the weekend. Parking was no problem and once again, Pennsylvania is really clean. We arrived at the Independence Hall visitor’s center, which is a good starting off point if you are visiting the city. We wanted to do the tour of Independence Hall, so we purchased our tickets and made sure that we arrived 30 minutes prior so that we can go through the security checkpoint. Once on the grounds, the tours were scheduled for every 15 minutes and if there were seats available on the tour before yours, the park rangers would allow people waiting in line for the next tour to go in until all the seats were filled, which was nice. The rangers conducting the tour give little back stories which make the tour interesting. For me, a history major, it was cool to see where our Founding Fathers met to put together the plans for our country. And seeing a chair that George Washington actually sat in was pretty neat.

After touring the actual hall, there are other buildings on the property that you can tour independently. One of them has photographs of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There are signs clearly asking that flash photography not be used, but of course, there is always the one person that thinks that rule doesn’t apply to them. The park ranger continually asked one kid that had his parent’s expensive camera to stop taking pictures with the flash and he continued to ignore him. After about the fifth time, one elderly gentleman asked him where his parents were and he pointed to the people behind him. The elderly man looked at them and said, “Thank you for letting your kid ruin the documents so that future visitors won’t be able to enjoy them.” The parents thought the gentleman was rude. He replied, “What’s rude is you and your kid thinking that the park ranger asking 5 times for him to stop taking pictures with the flash didn’t really mean you couldn’t do it. What’s rude is you thinking it is okay to harm a National Treasure because your precious son fancies himself a photographer.” People around him cheered and of course the parents were oblivious.

We then decided to get lunch before taking the bus tour and we wanted a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, which every tourist needs to try. While there are two legendary eatery’s that tourists flock to, those people from Philly will tell you about the little place off the beaten track that serves a great cheesesteak, and there are many, so we chose one of those to go to and were not disappointed. It was delicious and I wish I could make them as good at home.

Ben Franklin Made From Pennies

Ben Franklin made from Pennies

Next was the bus tour. Of course my husband had to sit on top and in the back in order to see everything. Our tour guide was wonderful and filled the tour with little known facts that you don’t find out from the history books. One was the fact the sculpture of Ben Franklin’s head was made from pennies that the school children of Philadelphia collected. Another was that tourists leave pennies on Mr. Franklin’s grave and those pennies total over $3,000 annually. The tour lasted about 2 hours, included a detour and trees that weren’t groomed for the tour buses, so we had to duck to avoid being hit by a rogue branch.  But it gave us a great view of the city’s attractions and ideas of places that we want to visit the next time we go back.

Once back at the starting point, my husband wanted to see the Liberty Bell up close. I had seen in from the outside, but he wanted to go inside, so while he lined up to go through security, I stayed outside and soaked up the sun that was starting to break through the clouds. Of course, that little bit of sun was enough to give me sun burn, which I was feeling the next day. We had a very nice time visiting Philadelphia and are planning a return trip. I want to visit Constitution Hall and maybe stop in at the Reading Terminal Market. That alone would fill up an entire day.

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