Sunday, February 28, 2016

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Planning a Trip(s) to Philadelphia

I'm going to Philadelphia! Over a week ago, I booked a round trip train ticket to my beloved city in the near future. I do not believe that I've been there since December 2014, meaning almost 15 months in between visits! I miss it so much that I knew that I didn't want to wait for my April birthday, when I'll likely return. Even planning the trips is a pleasure! If I'm on Pinterest for awhile, I will search for things to do ...and eat! I have also been visiting regularly for the latest events.

City Hall in Center City

Due to budget, it will actually be a quick day trip. I paid Amtrak with one paycheck and my next will give me some spending money. If the train arrives on time, I will only be in the city just over four hours. I simply cannot afford to be tempted to paint the town red this time. This is just a little appetizer, antipasti, to hold me over until the main meal is served. If I'm making travel happen on my meager winter commission, then anyone can travel. Please, just go. Anyway, even though I wouldn't mind staying all day, I plan to leave my apartment early in the 9 o'clock hour and get picked up from the train station at 5 PM, so it simply won't be an utterly exhausting day, which is a good thing. I'll see the hour and a half-long train ride each way as part of the trip. Maybe I'll purchase a magazine for the ride and/or read a book.

I daydream of my day trip. Primarily, I plan to eat my way through my favorite place in the city, the Reading Terminal Market. (Check out their amazing Instagram account @rdgterminalmkt.) I was really craving cranberry pistachio biscotti from Termini Bros. back in December and will finally have the opportunity to pick up a box for breakfasts. At Christmas, my sister gave me chocolate truffles from Mueller Chocolate Co. at the next stall over and I also look forward to taking home a box of these too. (Even though I love chocolate, I never really paid this stall much attention as they hilariously promote their anatomically correct chocolate body parts! Chocolate kidney, anyone?) My sister said that there was a new burger place so I might go with a burger, fries and shake for lunch... Or I might go with a good ol' favorite, the delicious cheesesteak from Tommy DiNic's, really a roast beef sub with an Italian twist though. For dessert, I have to have cookies from the Famous 4th Street Cookie Company. I will likely savor a chocolate chip one, all warm and gooey since straight from the oven, right away. If something looks good at another of the many bakeries, then I might also take that item home! Perhaps I'll save ice cream from Bassetts for a visit in warmer weather... I really love exploring the market! Although heavy, the liquor store on the way to the market offers a decent selection of wine (as you can imagine when many restaurants are BYOB). And then there are those squashed-together pretzels sold throughout the city!

Reading Terminal Market

Roast Beef Sandwich and a coke from Tommy DiNic's

There is Old City Coffee if I happen to make a beeline to the market after I arrive in town and want a cappuccino. But I also like the coffee and pastry at Di Bruno Bros. and La Colombe Coffee Roasters, both not too far away, in the same general area. I certainly never mind walking! Plus, the weather forecast is mostly sunny and 53 degrees F, which is the best you can probably do for early March! Both establishments are great for people watching. Di Bruno Bros. is a wonderful Italian grocery store/cafe/restaurant/"House of Cheese." It is expensive, but even if I don't buy anything, this is a place I love to browse. I subscribe to their emails and even they're fun! If I hit their Rittenhouse location or the aforementioned La Colombe, I would be on Walnut and Chestnut Streets, which makes a nice shopping district. Since I don't own a car and strive to be as independent as possible in not relying on rides from others, I don't even enter stores other than a grocery store, liquor store (can't wait to move and say 'wine shop') and Target often, so if I needed and/or wanted an item for my spring capsule wardrobe or just something special, I could easily pick it up. My favorite store in Philly would be a small accessories shop called Tselaine. Even though their finds are a bit more quirky than my taste, I still enjoy perusing it. My favorite jewelry shop is Fire & Ice and they have a location on Chestnut in a little mall called The Shops at Liberty Place. The city is always changing, so it's fun to see what's new. In fact, on a future visit, I wouldn't mind rediscovering East Passyunk, known for its dining (including, yes, Geno's and Pat's cheesesteaks), a few blocks behind where I used to live in South Philly.

Believe it or not, I love Philadelphia for more than eating and shopping. It is an amazing city for art, culture and history. There is always something fantastic going on. I feel that this city is highly underrated. The big 'to do' when I'll be in town is the Philadelphia Flower Show. I've never been. I love flowers enough to go and think it would be amazing for my Instagram feed! Alas, at $27, I simply cannot afford the ticket on top of what I already have planned this visit. I will attend the annual event one day. This will make the nearby market incredibly busy; oh well, I'll be in a very happy place! Over in the western part of Philadelphia, the Penn Museum's current exhibition is The Golden Age of King Midas (as in the guy with the golden touch). At $20 a ticket, I may also skip it this time too. Luckily, the show runs well into November, so I'll catch it later. My favorite museum is not the Penn, not even the Philadelphia Museum of Art, nor the wonderful Rodin Museum, but the Franklin Institute, which is not even art but science! (I always skip the science side.) Whatever their special exhibition is, it's fantastic. The current one that piques my interest is Lost Egypt, complete with a mummy. The price is again in the 20s, $24.95. Again, maybe next time. The PMA is hosting the traveling show, International Pop, on Pop Art. Even though I did focus on Warhol back in AP Art History during high school, I would rather visit the other exhibits I mentioned. When I was in grad school in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation was located out of town. Now that it has moved to the city, I should go. The collection specializes in Impressionist art (like Renoir), which is not my favorite, but might stir up some Paris memories! Their current exhibition is on Picasso. Admission is actually free one day of the month, the day of my visit, so I might squeeze a visit in... I have a lot to think about for my future trips! I didn't even mention the Liberty Bell in Old City! See, there are so many distinct and dynamic neighborhoods. I barely scratched the surface with this post! I urge you to consider booking your own trip to Philadelphia sometime this year!

Chinatown, another awesome neighborhood.

I am so excited to go to this city I love! Not only do I enjoy visiting, I have lived there in the past and can imagine myself residing there again in the future. Any time there is good. I only have days left to wait for my next visit.

Definitely follow me @theitaliagal on both Instagram and Facebook so you can travel with me vicariously! Keep me company with likes and comments! Of course, I will post all about it on the blog after the fact.

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