Monday, November 18, 2019

September 2019 Trip to Philadelphia: Day 1

I took a trip to one of my favorite cities, Philadelphia, and spent 24 hours there from Sunday, September 29, 2019 to Monday, September 30, 2019. This was my fourth trip there this calendar year and I am so grateful. I plan to share my latest getaway with you over two blog posts.



As always, I took Amtrak. The train arrived on time at both stations. Exiting 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, I hopped on the subway for one stop (from 30th Street to 15th Street). 

A bit too early to check in to my hotel, I stopped into the nearby Sephora real quick. They were out of my signature NARS lipstick in Dolce Vita, but they had the blush, so I purchased that. I browsed the first floor of Nordstrom Rack, but didn't buy anything.

On this trip, I chose my favorite hotel, the beautiful BellevueThis is one of their crystal chandeliers. I was always looking up whenever I walked by!



This is the view looking out of the door of my room.


An upgrade for me, I selected a room with a city view. 



You can see one of the city's many murals.



I checked into my lovely room and unpacked a little. 




There was a mini fridge in the space in between the two windows..



I do not watch TV at home, but it nice to catch a bit of the Today show in the morning while away.





Next, I shopped at nearby L'Occitane. I purchased an almond shower oil refill and a new product, Shea Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Oil.

After that, two cards, a thank you one for my parents and a birthday card for my sister, were picked up at Paper Source.

I walked to Macy's and browsed the Anne Klein clothing. Then, I crossed Market Street and grabbed a chocolate chip cookie for $1 at Famous 4th Street Cookie Co. in the Reading Terminal Market. I crossed Market Street again and quickly browsed the home department of TJMaxx just before the store closed at 6.

I strolled over to the nearby Zavino, a wine bar and pizzeria that I have been to a couple of times before. 



I sat at the bar and ordered a half glass of Sangiovese and the Diavolo pizza. Having loved their Margherita pizza once before, the Diavolo was delicious as well. I also ordered a half glass of Barbera Blend.






The large windows of the place were open and tables and chairs lined the sidewalk. Just like the other restaurants on two other street corners. Since I love the idea of dining alfresco, I adored this setup.

Then, I stopped at Gran Caffe L'Aquila and ordered a small fondente gelato. I strolled the streets towards my hotel, savoring the decadent dessert.



I stood on the median of Broad Street and snapped these photos of City Hall and the Avenue of the Arts.



Back in the room, I took pictures of my view at night.



I also savored my chocolate chip cookie and it was delicious.



Stores close earlier on Sunday, so I did get back in early. The thing is that I truly do like staying overnight in order to start the next day early. Without a two-hour train ride first, I get to have breakfast at breakfast time in the city. That is so worth it.

Stay tuned for my Day 2!



Thursday, September 26, 2019

July 2019 Trip to Philadelphia

I took a 24-hour trip to my favorite city, Philadelphia from Sunday, July 21, 2019 to Monday, July 22, 2019. It was hot, with feel like temperatures around 100°F, so I did not do as much as usual, but I still managed to have a fantastic time.



Due to renovations, I entered the temporary waiting room at my local train station. Since it was hot in there too, I found a seat closest to an A/C unit, but a few minutes after I arrived, a guy used packaging tape to reconnect and secure a hose, as it was blowing hot air. I think it was cooler outside with the breeze! Plus, the train was delayed too. 

I was so thankful when the train finally arrived! I boarded the train, found a seat and... discovered that the air conditioning was not working. At the first stop, there was a delay for maintenance to work on it, but that attempt failed and a conductor assured that it would be repaired in Philadelphia. It was so hot. I had author Jamie Cat Callan's words stuck in my head, "French women love fans." I made a mental note to buy a cheap one in Philadelphia's Chinatown.

I arrived in Philadelphia a bit later than expected, which is unfortunate on a Sunday when stores close earlier than they do on other days of the week. First, I checked into my hotel, Club Quarters. What I love most about this hotel is its amazing location, close to my favorite places in the city. How about a quick hotel room tour? This is the view of my room from the front door...



This is the artwork that hangs above the bed. It celebrates the city, both old and new.



This is the bathroom...



The shower is on the left.

My first stop was Fine Wine & Good Spirits, where I picked up a bottle of my favorite wine, Banfi Chianti Classico. Their selection and prices are truly amazing, in a different league when compared to the ones back in my suburban hometown. A few doors down, I ordered some diavola and margherita pizza from Alice to go. On the way back to the hotel, I also grabbed two chocolate chunk cookies from Insomnia Cookies.


Yes, I brought my cork screw. I definitely needed wine after dealing with the heat. I keep a cork screw with my travel stuff.



Everything was delicious.

I walked a block up to Gran Caffe L'Aquila and selected a small cup of fondente gelato. This is dark chocolate. It was Gelato Day or National Ice Cream Day that day and I was certainly going to celebrate.


I strolled towards Rittenhouse Square, a lovely park, and finished the last bit of it there. 


Seated on a park bench, there was a juggler in front of me.



It was nice to people watch. In fact, there were so many people out! Since I enjoy walking, I would like to move back to a city. 

I strolled back, going out of the way whenever something caught my eye, taking pictures.


Since the trees had lights, I found myself near City Hall.




I love these fountains and that kids were playing in them.



When I was editing the photo above, I noticed that there is a bride in a white wedding dress and veil in the middle of that hallway of City Hall.



Since stores mostly closed at 6, I returned to my hotel before sunset. I enjoyed simply being out in the city. Hanging out in the park like a local...



This is the floor of the hotel entrance.



Upon my return, I took a quick cool shower and drank plenty of water. Despite the high temperatures, I still considered my first day fantastic.

First thing the next morning, I walked to Di Bruno Bros. for a pain au chocolat and cappuccino.



They were delicious. A coffee and croissant breakfast is one my signature simple pleasures. I absolutely adore it.

In this heat, there were dog water bowls everywhere.



I picked up a book and a pain aux raisins from Shakespeare & Co. which was actually open. The book is a novel called How To Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry. I savored the delicious pastry on the way to the Reading Terminal Market.


I picked up cranberry pistachio biscotti from Termini Bros. The usual.



Turning around, I bought these milk chocolate kidneys (molds) and edible kidney stones at Mueller Chocolate Co. for my parents. My dad smiled when I gave them to him. My mom unfortunately gets kidney stones all the time including recently and has a sense of humor.

I also purchased chocolate-covered raisins from Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe across this indoor market. So early, it was nice that the popular market wasn't busy yet.

Walking past the hotel a bit, I shopped at Di Bruno Bros. I picked up parmigiano reggiano, a jar of the store brand Strawberry & Prosecco Jam (for antipasti), prosciutto classico, and a demi baguette. 

I packed and then checked out of my hotel. The front desk kindly stowed my bag. It was bigger than before...

Next, I bought two items on my list at the nearby Sephora. That was close to Nordstrom Rack where I purchased two sets of earrings. I browsed at H&M, Ann Taylor, and Talbot's, but I actually didn't purchase any clothing. I also picked up the eco-friendly refill bag of my Almond Shower Oil at L'Occitane



After some shopping, I had my nails done at my favorite salon, Nail Spa Bar.


The color I chose is Lacquered Up by Essie.


After my gel manicure, I headed over to West Elm and bought this polished nickel frame with a white mat for my Paris photograph by Rebecca Plotnick.

In that neighborhood, I tried a new place for lunch, BareBurger. I ordered the grass-fed beef burger on brioche with organic ketchup and dill pickles as well as a side of fries. The sodas were real sugar and I am still picky, so I just stuck with water. It was delicious. 




The decor uses a lot of wood and is quirky overall. This wall decor was behind my table.



The white frame holds a mirror to show the eclectic decor of a booth on the other side. 

After lunch, I tried a nearby Mexican restaurant called El Vez for their frozen blood orange margarita with salt. After seeing a photo online, I wasn't expecting it to be small. It was delicious though. And refreshing.




I ordered chips and salsa. For four, apparently... Oops! That was a mistake.



This was above the bar.



I walked across town to try a pastry place called The Bakeshop on Twentieth. This is the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.




It was delicious and ice cream was much needed. 

This bakery was a small place. Cute. I adore the sign and black and white striped awning.



I also grabbed this brookie to go. 



This brownie and chocolate chip cookie combination was enjoyed back at home as a dessert following dinner Tuesday evening. 



I picked up my bag from the hotel, hopped on the subway and arrived at the train station. It was so hot and the heat was getting to me so much that I had to sit down on a bench before I could go sit down with a (medium, read: bucket of) coke in Wendy's. Then, and only then, could I visit the ladies' room to pull myself together. I did read my book, which was so good. A novel was a nice change. I read more on the trip home.



I had such a great time! I hit my favorites first and then tried a few new things. Thank you so much for coming along with me! I have another 24-hour getaway coming up soon, so please follow me on Instagram @theitaliagal to join me again!