I took a day trip to Philadelphia, a city I love, on Monday, January 7, 2019. My previous day trip was in August, so I was excited to finally return! I had such a good time! I mainly visited my favorite establishments, but still discovered a few new things. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that many of my indulgences are Italian!
I took the train, which I favor as I dislike driving, not to mention parking in the city! January proved to be a good time to travel as I had no problem finding a seat. I finished reading my book, The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, on the way. It was good! I arrived at the beautiful train station on time at 10:32 AM and then hopped on the subway in order to get into the center of the city.
I walked towards my favorite restaurant called Gran Caffe L'Aquila for a cappuccino. This Italian restaurant celebrates the food and wine of a particular region or place by creating a new special menu each week. It is located on Chestnut Street, one of my favorite shopping streets, so on the way, I made a couple of quick stops. The first was Nordstrom Rack. I purchased a couple pairs of cheap yet chic earrings there. One was my everyday small round cubic zirconia studs in a silver setting that I buy there annually. I am wearing them as I type this blog post. My second pair was sparkly drop cubic zirconia pear earrings in a silver setting by Nadri for evening. With my simple, delicate taste in jewelry, this is like a chandelier earring to me. I wore them Friday night when I went out to dinner. The store occupying the space just before my cafe belongs to Sephora. I restocked my signature lipstick, NARS lipstick in Dolce Vita. I wear this everyday.
Just after 11 at Gran Caffe L'Aquila, I ordered a cappuccino and sipped it while seated on a stool at the marble bar. My coffee was so well done. It was delicious. After my second dose of caffeine that day, I was certainly ready to wander the city all day.
Since it was freezing outside with strong winds, instead of walking to a museum in the next neighborhood, I hopped on over to a nearby nail salon, my favorite, Nail Spa Bar. They serve wine! OPI Red is the color I chose. Even though I had not worn this particular shade in years, a dark yet vibrant reddish pink is very me.
I strolled down Chestnut Street a bit to the H&M. My purchase was two plain v-neck cotton trees, one in black and the other in dark grey. Staples in my wardrobe, I didn't even have to try these on as I remembered my size.
At lunchtime, I arrived at Alice (Ah-lee-chay) on 15th Street for pizza al taglio or pizza cut by the square and how much you want to eat, as the Romans do. I ordered Diavola (spicy sausage), Margherita, and Bruschetta pizza with a small fountain coke. I truly savored this delicious pizza, like that served in Italy, at a table by the window. The ingredients were so fresh and the crust was so good. It made me blissfully happy!
After lunch, I walked past the LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana to The Franklin Institute for the Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibit. Whatever temporary exhibition this science museum runs is truly fantastic. And this one was no exception. Plus, it surprised me. Although there was some information on dramatic raids, it focused on the normal daily life of the Vikings. How people live fascinates me and is something I always wonder of former inhabitants whenever I visit a historic residence. There were many artifacts, weapons and jewelry, often intricately decorated, on display. On my way out of the museum, the groups of schoolchildren were gone and I took in the monumental statue of Ben Franklin. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
Then, I strolled down the scenic Ben Franklin Parkway and around impressive City Hall towards the Reading Terminal Market. I adore this place. This large indoor market is definitely a favorite place of mine in the city. My first stop is always Termini Bros., an Italian pastry stand well known for their cannoli. I purchased their incredible cranberry pistachio biscotti as well as a little bit of the chocolate almond biscotti to try. After the taste test, I prefer the cranberry pistachio. I enjoyed them for many breakfasts. Their display case full of delicious desserts is beautiful.
Around the corner, I also always stop at the Famous 4th Street Cookie Co. Their chocolate chip cookies are amazing!
I also adore the flower stand in the middle of the market. So beautiful!
I returned to my favorite shopping district, basically Chestnut and Walnut Streets. On Walnut Street, I stopped by L'Occitane. Even though I use the elegant Roses et Reines Hand & Nail Cream (that seems to be discontinued, replaced by Rose Hand Cream), I order that online, so I am not used to going into the stores. Walking in, I only planned to browse this luxurious store. The sales associate was lovely and I was charmed by her accent. One of the popular items she pointed out was the Almond Shower Oil. I remembered that a chic francophile I follow on social media called it a favorite. After washing my hands with it in store, I purchased the smaller bottle. I used this gel every day for the month of February. It truly moisturized my dry skin in the middle of winter. Plus, it smells nice. I look forward to using this product again when I show a bit more skin during the spring, summer, and fall. I am now a loyal customer! Signed up for promotional emails and all. For my next trip, I plan to test the new version of that rose hand lotion. Instead of roses on the tube, the packaging seems to have a faint architectural print in pink, which is sophisticated.
At Ulta, a new bottle of Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat was picked up. I love this for at home manicures.
There is a new small bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., on Walnut Street. So charming! I browsed the books and then spontaneously bought a pain aux raisins on the way out. This location gets their pastries from Metropolitan Bakery. I discovered this delicious pastry while traveling in Italy and got my travel partner hooked on them in Paris. The last one I enjoyed was in Philadelphia for my April birthday. I savored this occasional treat for breakfast at home the next morning.
Moving in the direction of the subway in order to go back to the train station, I stopped by another favorite, Di Bruno Bros. This Chestnut Street location is an Italian market, restaurant, and cafe. It is known for their cheese. I picked up a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano in addition to Classico Prosciutto di Parma, a demi baguette (labeled as a ficelle on the receipt), and a bag of Mulino Bianco by Barilla Abbracci cookies (circles of half vanilla and half chocolate that take me back to my study abroad experience in Italy. Abbracci means "hugs" in Italian). At home, I eat the cheese on wheat crackers as part of my aperitivo or happy hour ritual after work and before dinner. I also grate this hard cheese for recipes. My aperitivo may also include a slice of prosciutto and the kinds from this shop are so flavorful that the taste stops you and you take notice. I love these particular cookies with coffee, either espresso or cappuccino. I just ran out of them. In addition to these favorites, I would love to pick up a couple of their spreads to enhance my antipasti boards next time.
Waiting in the train station, I posted a few pictures on Instagram, gushing about my day trip, recounting a few highlights of the previous 6 1/2 hours spent in my happy place. I fit a lot in! My train departed at 5:05 PM. Again, the train wasn't crowded at all. Both ways, I scored a window seat and the seat next to me wasn't taken, which is so nice!
Last weekend, I booked a 48-hour trip to Philadelphia to celebrate my 35th birthday next month and I am looking forward to it! Please stay tuned for my travel diary. Also, definitely follow me on Instagram @theitaliagal where I share highlights first.