In a rather short time, I will be making my first trip to Europe in over 20 years. Those of you who have been following this blog know that I do travel; but this is the first time in a long time that I have left the country. There’s so many things I have to pay attention to now.
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.
As a baseball fan, I’ve been planning my vacations around the schedule so I can take in a game while I’m away. This time, I deliberately chose to go to Philadelphia so I could see the Phillies host the Mets. I hadn’t been to Citizens Bank Ballpark yet, so there was an extra reason for going.
All of Philadelphia’s sporting venues are clustered together at the southern end of the city. Mass transit is pretty good; the Broad Street subway line ends nearby. It’s a couple of minutes to walk to the stadium past acres of parking lots; it seems that’s the best they could do with all the new stadia construction coming after the subway was finished.
In case you’re wondering why I don’t post photos from my trips here, the answer is simple. I have a cheap cell phone camera, and you can find much better photos than I could possibly take simply by using your favorite image search device. And why do you need to see photos of my hotel room anyway? (grin)
In Philadelphia, all the historical sites and museums seem to be on the east side of town. The main art and science museums are on the west, clustered around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the city’s “grand boulevard”. In this post, let’s take a look at some of those.
This year’s vacation had me wanting to save money on travel so I could stay in a nicer hotel and have more to spend on entertainment and activities. But I still wanted to be far enough away from home to feel like I was really on vacation, and not just day-tripping.
Philadelphia fit that bill quite nicely.
Being the place where the United States was born (both times, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the creation and signing of the Constitution), it’s loaded with history. However, I decided to avoid the obvious. I deliberately avoided Independence Hall and the national icon of the Liberty Bell. I’d visited them on a family trip in my childhood. Instead, I went to museums in that neighborhood that hadn’t existed back then.
Some years ago I was summoned to perform a civic duty at the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan. As it turned out, my judgment was not needed on a jury that day. So around lunchtime, I found myself in the oldest part of New York City on a lovely summer day. What else could I do but stroll around and explore? There’s quite a bit of interest there, if you know where to look.
Should you find yourself in Manhattan with half a day to kill….
Of course, there are other reasons to visit New Orleans than museums and Halloween. Food, drink, and music, for example.
I didn’t visit any jazz clubs. In a way, it’s not really necessary. At least in the French Quarter, street musicians are allowed to play without licenses/permits as long as they don’t interfere with traffic – either vehicular or pedestrian. And more than a few of the bars and restaurants there have live music anyway.
If you have any interest at all in anything that can possibly be related to military history, then you want to go to the National World War 2 Museum. It’s huge (with tons of exhibits and artifacts), it’s new (using all the latest in interactive display techniques and exhibit design), and it’s conveniently located near the Superdome, interstate highways, and one of the trolley lines. It’s very highly rated by the travel sites. Mostly, I suspect, because WW2 is in that historical “sweet spot” of being far back enough that there are very few people around with any first-hand experience of the era, but not so far back that there *aren’t* ant of those people, the era isn’t completely alien to us, and there are still a buttload of artifacts around.
As I mentioned, my intent in going to New Orleans was to experience Halloween in the land of Mardi Gras and “Laissez les bons temps rouler”. Whenever one travels a significant distance, for either business or pleasure, it behooves one to inspect the weather prognostication for one’s destination. Things didn’t look good for me. The morning of my departure, the forecast was for rain all weekend. I brought my umbrella with me, of course. Friday before Halloween, the local newscasters were noting that a large number of planned Trick-or-Treat activities had been moved up to that night, since heavy rains were predicted for Saturday night.
It started raining around 5 pm. By dusk, the rain was heavy and blowing. After Game 4 of the World Series ended, I resolved to at least take a stroll along Bourbon Street to see what was what.
I saw a lot of people in costume who looked decidedly uncomfortable as they hurried along their way to wherever they were going. Not much partying in sight. And then I stepped in an ankle-deep puddle. I had already had to change clothes after venturing out for dinner; this was too much. I went back to my hotel and called it a night.
Fortunately, there’s enough to see and do in the Big Easy so that if one of your planned activities gets washed out, you can still have fun.
Having been advised at work that I really should start using more vacation days (they don’t carry over from year to year, and not using them messes up the accounting), I looked over the calendar to see when would be a good time to use some of them. I noted that this year (2015), Halloween fell on a Saturday. “So,” I said to myself. “Where would be a cool place to spend Halloween? Especially when you can take the Monday after it off, too, and because the next day after that is Election Day and your office is closed, so you won’t have to leave first thing Sunday morning?”
A few moments of pondering, and the answer came to me. “New Orleans! They do a great Halloween! Home of Mardi Gras, parades, costumes, and Bourbon Street! It will be a blast!”
But before I can get to New Orleans, I must get to New Orleans…