Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Travel Tuesday: My Day Trip to Philadelphia

I took a trip to Philadelphia for the day yesterday and had such a good time! It was my first time I visited in a year and many things have changed. Seriously, so much was under construction. A couple of new things punctuated my rounds of my old favorites.

It was a sunny and the high for the day was about 52 degrees F in the city. I took an aisle seat after I boarded the train, but then hopped over to a window seat at the first stop. Even though I have so much of my winter reading list to go through, I downloaded a couple of books that will be on my spring list onto my Kindle before the trip. Both books were written by amazing bloggers I follow. I enjoyed reading a bit of Thirty Slim Days: Create your slender and healthy life in a fun and enjoyable way by Fiona Ferris (of the blog How to be Chic) and The Life I Imagined: My Personal Renaissance in Florence, Italy by Karen L. Mills (of the blog An American in Italy) on the ride.

I arrived at 30th Street Station and then crossed the street and headed downstairs to the subway in order to travel downtown, a neighborhood called Center City. I bought a paper subway ticket on a touch-screen kiosk rather than a token machine I've been used to. Unfortunately, the paper ticket didn't scan through the turnstile well at all.

I headed for my favorite shopping district first, Chestnut and Walnut Streets. Walking up Chestnut, my first stop was Sephora. Even though I am not too low at the moment, I bought my signature lipstick, Dolce Vita by NARS, nonetheless.

Next, I wanted to try this new Italian cafe on the same block, Gran Caffe L'Aquila. I had walked past it before and since L'Aquila is the capital of the odd Italian region I studied abroad in, vowed to try it on my next visit. In some travel research, I checked them out online and was anticipating my visit. Yesterday, when I walked up to the cashier, she greeted me with a buon giorno. I love that. I ordered a cappuccino and chocolate croissant, taking a seat at the white marble-topped counter to savor. The coffee and pastry were truly delicious. They served the coffee with a small glass of water which is routine in Italy. I also loved seeing the products around the bar area, items like chocolates and drinks that I only tend to see in Italy as well. I instagrammed my (second!) breakfast, hopefully sharing just how happy I was with my followers.

After the cafe, I crossed the street and wandered around a little mall. I browsed Victoria's Secret and my favorite jewelry store Fire & Ice. At each of their locations I come across, I gaze at a stunningly beautiful bracelet of dark pink rubies each cut in a pear shape. I've been stalking it for years now. I have a ruby pendant on a necklace and ruby stud earrings. One day, I will make the lovely bracelet mine too. Maybe even for my birthday next month! Back out in the sunshine, I strolled to my favorite little accessories shop, Tselaine. It was fun to browse, but their selection is more quirky than classic, so I happened to leave empty-handed. I walked down Walnut, and then up past the central City Hall. Again, I browsed Macy's beautiful location for silver bangles, but didn't find what I was looking for. Walking further down Market Street, I also enjoyed browsing the home department at Marshalls but didn't have to have anything. Even though I lived in Philadelphia, I have never been there. I did quickly walk through the similar discount department store Ross, but didn't find the housewares section there, so I left. The mall that it's in is under construction, so maybe that had something to do with it...

I turned around and stopped at one of my favorite places in the city, a large indoor market call the Reading Terminal Market. My first stop was Termini Bros., but unfortunately, they were out of cranberry pistachio biscotti. I decided against picking up a different kind of biscotti. It is easy for me to spend money, but on a budget, it's difficult to spend a lot or on things I haven't been obsessed with. I contemplated going to their South Philly location. (I didn't even look locations up on my phone, but in writing this post, I discovered that they also had a stand at the central Comcast Center.) I turned around and picked up a small mixed bag of 1/4 pound of dark chocolate covered vanilla and chocolate butter creams from the quirky Mueller Chocolate Co. They are good, but not my favorite. I wandered through the market, taking everything in. I tend to take a trip to Philadelphia on either a Sunday or Monday (which are my days off from work). Even though it was lunchtime and busy, it wasn't slammed busy on this particular Monday, with everyone trying not to bump into each other like it is on a weekend day. It was nice. On the way out, I stopped by The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company. I ordered 1/4 pound of chocolate chip cookies (which is two cookies) as usual, but the gentleman behind the counter politely informed me that they sell them by the number of cookies now, another change I encountered. I ordered two cookies and he teased me about two dozen.

Tulips and Hyacinths (and Poppies?) at the Reading Terminal Market.

The vibrant color of the ranunculus caught my eye.

Then, I found myself strolling up Chestnut Street again. Not particularly interested in clothing shopping that day and not having started on my spring capsule wardrobe yet, I stopped in H&M on a whim. Why not? It's a cheap store and I could simply browse. Well, I found a sheer black blouse with a pleated front and short flutter sleeves discounted from $24.99 to $10 as well as two short sleeve tees priced at either $5.99 each or 2 for $10. One tee was a black scoop neck and the other was a dark gray v-neck. $20 for three tops, one fancy and two basics, was such a good deal. Plus, in Pennsylvania, there isn't any sales tax on clothing.

I also patronized the new Nordstrom Rack location, selecting round one carat size cubic zirconia stud earrings. Usually, I buy a new pair once a year on or around my birthday and then wear my signature earrings more than all of my other earrings combined. I'll be sparkly for my birthday this year. I kinda like picking up a pair of earrings as my souvenir on a trip.

Signature lipstick and earrings
picked up in Philadelphia.

I quickly browsed a thrift shop called 2nd Time Around that sells clothing and accessories. I wanted to save an Italian food shop called Di Bruno Bros. for last because I was interested in picking up some cheese, charcuterie, and bread for antipasti. Since it is an expensive store, I had to limit myself. They love their cheese here, so I knew that I had to select one and I picked parmigiano reggiano. For salami, I selected spicy soppressata and prosciutto classico. I tasted the prosciutto with my cheese, crackers and red wine ritual after work this evening and its robust flavor actually made me pause. I also picked up a demi baguette. I look forward to putting together antipasti this week! A couple of long cranberry walnut biscotti also ended up in my bag. I ate half of a long biscotti this morning for breakfast and unfortunately, it didn't compare to that of the Termini Bros. It almost tasted like packaged biscotti that I've given up on. 

What I really wanted to do for lunch was to go back to that new Italian cafe. Even though I was traveling alone, I still felt odd asking for a table for one in a fine dining establishment. I waited until about the 2 o'clock hour, after the lunch rush. I remember leaning towards the hostess to softly speak my request. She did ask me if I was here for coffee, but after I replied, "for lunch," she grabbed a menu and graciously showed me a corner table. My waiter was fantastic as well. Seeing that I went for the wine list first, he asked me what I like to drink. After I answered, "Chianti," he recommended the similar red wine of the week, under their special weekly menu currently celebrating the city of Assisi. It was a blend of Umbrian Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot. ...and it was delicious. Medium-bodied, but smooth like I like. The meal came with delicious bread and olive oil garnished with cheese and pepper. Their lunch menu consists of small plates. I ordered two: classic tomato and basil Bruschette and lamb Arrosticini Abruzzese. After my food came, I was wished, buon appetito. Both dishes were well done and delicious ...oh, and messy... As half the topping fell off the crostini with every bite and I managed to spill the sauce trying to remove the meat from the skewers, I was content not having a date this time! I happen to be a rather picky and plain eater, but the accompanying cold chili pepper sauce was pretty good too. I don't think I've had arrosticini since my farewell dinner on one of the old streets in Pescara back in the spring of 2005. In Italy, you have memories of specific legendary meals. Anyway, arrosticini was a special dish there. After all that, the waiter told me that I looked so happy and suggested a coffee to tie it up. I didn't mention my caffeine sensitivity and I also didn't even get up to look at the case of gelati, I simply ordered my favorite flavor, a small portion of baci, which is chocolate with hazelnut. It was delicious and at this point, thankfully not too rich, the perfect blend of decadent flavor and creaminess. I spent on this one meal what I spent on groceries for two weeks during February, but it's completely okay to splurge every once in awhile. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I loved the restaurant with its white marble tabletops and other traditional touches as well as its warm yet airy and happy ambiance. I think I have a new favorite place in Philadelphia!

After my meal, I made my way back to the train station. I lucked out with a window seat again, ideal for daydreamers.

I enjoyed my first chocolate chip cookie for dessert after a late salad dinner last night.

Today, I had my last one for dessert after another salad lunch and a walk. I also ate salad again for dinner tonight. Balance is key in life.

I had such a good trip...

Have you ever been to Philadelphia? If not, I highly recommend it.


  1. I have never been to Philadelphia. That cafe looks wonderful!! I love places like that. Glad you had fun time!

  2. What a fabulous trip you had, Michelle, and I loved reading about every detail :)

    Thank you for downloading my book and I am so glad you are enjoying it!

  3. I've been stalking it for years now. I have a ruby pendant on a necklace and ruby stud earrings.http://www.stockholmfreetour.com

  4. This place is perfect for any kind of night you're looking for. In the downstairs area at Seattle venues, you can enjoy a lounge setting while talking over drinks with a small party. Or, if you're looking to mingle or have a bite to eat, you can head upstairs.

  5. Seriously, so much was under construction. A couple of new things punctuated my rounds of my old favorites.windproof umbrella