A Trip to Philadelphia – Part 4

If you must know, I stayed at the Loews Philadelphia in Center City. Centrally located, in easy walking distance of pretty much everything. Pricey, but worth it. Especially given the size of my bathroom! The service was excellent. I was pleasantly surprised to find that whenever I called Room Service for something, their phone system evidently brought up my name since it was always used in greeting. I did not dine at Bank and Bourbon, their in-house restaurant, but I did have a “rye flight” at their bar. I recommend Rough Rider Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye. I’ll have to track it down here at home.

Philadelphia’s City Hall is worth a look. It was built back when Second Empire was all the rage in architecture for civic buildings. These days, the style sort of serves as a visual analogy to government itself: overly complicated, outdated, and badly in need of repair. As befits its city, it’s a pretty impressive structure. It occupies the square at the intersection of Market and Broad Streets. What’s interesting is that each side has an archway that allows for pedestrian access to the courtyard in the center. That’s pretty cool. On the west side is Dilworth Park, which is more of a plaza than a green space. During my visit, it was occupied by ground level fountains – more like jets of water, actually – that kids played around in. A nice way to cool off. Didn’t see any adults taking advantage of them.

City Hall is also the hub of Philly’s mass transit. There are two main subway lines, one running north and south under Broad Street and one running east to west under Market Street. What befuddled me is that there are also trolley routes heading out to the suburbs. This is a Good Thing, especially since there are connections to the subway lines. What isn’t good is that the maps of the system DON’T give you the details of where those connected routes go!

Seriously, what the heck? Where do the trolley lines go??

They’ve got plenty of bus routes, too, but I didn’t see any route maps at their stops.

It is my firm opinion that there need to be more German restaurants. To see why, visit the Brauhaus Schmitz. Their beer list puts many restaurant wine lists to shame! Here, you pick the beer you want first, then decide which entrée will accompany it the best.

In New York City, there’s this thing called “Manhattanhenge”. The street grid in Manhattan aligns just right with sunrise and sunset on certain days, which results in tourists standing in the middle of busy streets trying to photograph the event. Philadelphia, like many cities, has streets on a grid pattern. I wonder if there’s a Philadelphiahenge….

The Reading Terminal Market can be a place to kill time, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s like a farmer’s market that became permanent, and developed a food court. Cramped, busy, vendors selling probably overpriced “gourmet” food…. If it weren’t undergoing massive renovation, The Bourse would also be worth a visit. Well, the Mexican Consulate there is open.

There’s a modest casino on the Delaware River; the Sugarland Casino. I didn’t spend enough time there to get a real sense for the place. But my taxi driver did mention that their parking garage is seriously underused. I wonder what they charge for parking. The casino has free shuttles to the middle of the city; perhaps one could park at the casino, pretend to spend a few minutes there, then get a ride into town. Something to consider next time.

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