I love writing postcards when travelling. If you look well, you always find some with pretty photos that perfectly render your experience in that place. I take my pen down, write about 10 of them, empty my wallet buying stamps and put them in the post. So far so good. But then comes the more annoying bit : praying my card made it to my family and friends’ mailbox. I come home and ask everyone around. As I write to people all across the world, I understand it doesn’t take the same time for my card to get to Oxford as it does to get to Texas. Sometimes it doesn’t make it at all… (and there’s nothing I hate more than lost mail </3). And it’s sometimes taken up to 2 months ! In those cases you can’t imagine my joy when someone calls to tell me they’ve finally received my postcard.
Back when I was visiting Julien in DC this Spring, we took a day trip to Philly to visit a new place, try some new food of course and visit my friends Maya and Thomas who were just finishing there time at Penn. It goes without saying, lots of food was eaten, lots of pictures were taken. However, remember that roll with the pictures of Georgetown that decided to hide in a shoe for almost 4 months ? Most of my photos from Philly were on there too !!
Consider this post my lost postcard from Philly ! Or “How to do Philly in one day” ;D
The Megabus is always a reliable service and that’s what Julien and I used to make our way from Washington DC Union Station to Philadelphia. I kept singing “Phillyyyyyy” the whole journey.
We arrived and passed by the pretty installations of Market Street on our way to the center of town.
Stop #1 was “breakfast” at Federal Donuts where Julien and I got classic glaze and cinnamon sugar donuts. Made with a cakey batter, they’re not the typical fluffy donuts you get from a yeasted dough, but nonetheless they were rich and sweet, just the sugar spike we needed to kick off the morning.
Stop #2 was Philadelphia’s Comcast Center, aka the USB stick building. Possibly the most fascinating building I have ever stepped in with its 190 square meter LED screen with hours and hours of incredible footage of characters walking along and stories stepping outside of the wall.
Stop #3 : a foodie like me can’t make it all the way to Philly without checking out Reading Terminal Market. Not just another touristy spot but a wonderland of sweet things, produce and street food. We weren’t going to have lunch there because we had other things in mind, but I got myself a dessert (number 1) for later.
Stop #4 : you may think that after getting donuts for breakfast we wouldn’t be hungry by lunchtime, but my stomach is a black hole and walking down the long roads of the city definitely woke it up. Now, let’s talk about why we went to Philly for real : what we know Philadephia most for, back in Europe, is the cream cheese we all use to make sumptuous cheesecake and silky cream cheese frosting. However, there’s another iconic food which is more rare on the other side of the Atlantic and that my friends is the famous Philly Cheesesteak !!! I know there’s a lot of debate about where to get the best cheesesteak in Philly but I had done my fair bit of research to make sure I could get one with real cheese and not cheese whiz… (I didn’t want to try the Cheesesteak that badly…). We headed to Sonny’s Famous Cheesesteaks which had good reviews, good price, and offered alternatives to that yellow processed and industrial gloopy liquid. (no offence). The long (but fast) queue indicated I had made the right choice, and we even found a table to wait for our fries and meat sandwich while listening to the coolest playlist. Julien and I very much enjoyed popping our Philly Cheesesteak cherry but I have to say that the crowd of children on their lunch break alarmed me more than a little… This is not food you should eat on a daily basis.
Stop #5 : Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest street in Philadelphia, and one of the oldest in America ! We just avoided the guide tour which was a win win as we got to hear a little bit more of the history behind these old bricked houses, and had the street just to ourselves for a bit.
Stop #6 : You’re right. How did I go by that trip to Philly without a cup of coffee ? It’s because I didn’t. I knew Parisian blogger Lindsey is originally from Philly and that she’d be the best person to ask for a cool coffee shop (with an upcoming book on the evolution of the coffee scene in Paris !). I turned to her and she recommended we check out Menagerie Coffee. So we did. It was a nice little wifi break for Julien to get some work done, and for me to get Insta-craking.
Stop #7 : Fully embracing the tourists in us that day, we also paid a visit to Independence Square and the Liberty Bell (which I called the “Liberty Belt” for so long, thinking it was an actual belt…).
Stop #8 : It got really hot in the afternoon so Julien and I walked into Capogiro on our way back to the other side of the river. Pricey ice cream, but so soft and creamy it didn’t matter. Thanks again to Lindsey for recommending that place !
Stop #9 : We kept walking down Walnut Street (I mean, my favourite bit about Philly has to be all the streets named after trees !) to the famous campus of University of Pennsylvania. This was the first time I was visiting a proper American college campus, as seen in the movies… Massive alleys, fraternity and sororities, with thousands of students walking around. An incredible amount of very fat squirrels too. Being reunited with my school friends Maya and Thomas at the college they had left us in Europe for, was the best and most memorable bit of that day trip. It’s always great knowing that no matter the distance in space and time, we can still meet up and catch up on our new exciting plans. <3
And that’s a wrap… ! Julien and I had planned the day perfectly, and managed to see and eat everything we wanted without being rushed at all. We headed back to DC completely satisfied with our short trip and a bit knackered from all the walking and eating.
Let me know if you check out any of these places when you decide to visit Philaldelphia, and if you know about other places I should discover next time I visit :)
I would like to thank Lindsey again for her top tips. Make sure you check out her blog (click), it’s one of my favourites :)