A Travellerspoint blog

Philadelphia Independence Day!

overcast 75 °F
View Philadelphia Independence Day 2008! on UGa's travel map.

I totally forgot that I have a vacation last week, and we decided at the last minute that we were going to go to Philadelphia to celebrate Independence Day!!

Turned out that traveling by plane, train or bus cost about the same at that time, so I decided what the heck I will just drive there. It's more comfortable, and faster than train or bus, and I get to decide when and where to stop and take a rest.

Sure was raining hard on the way there, but there were some gaps of sunshine when I drive past those dark clouds.

Oh yea, I was able to get hotel reservations for 3 days at the price of 65$ for Crown Plaza in Center City through bidding, so that was nice. If it was more expensive then that then I would've reconsidered.

Anyways the first day got in around 10pm. Was planning to get some famous Philly Cheesesteaks from Geno's but was too tired and decided to shower and sleep. Wow when we get into the room, WOW......It has a quite dated look. The sink and the shower were separated and with the white light illuminating it looked perfectly aweful. Oh well.....if I had to pay for 150$/night through its own website then I would've cried on the spot...

When we got there at 10, I didn't want to bother with parking and feeding the meter early in the morning. I mean it is supposed to be a vacation right? But wow.....the hotel charges 33$ for parking for one night....holy cow.....I think paying for a parking ticket would be cheaper than that, but I am in a foreign place, so I decided to play by the rules and just parked at the hotel's parking garage.

Day 1

  • Planned to go to Reading Terminal Market but turned out it was closed on 7/4.
  • Everything was so close that's the nice thing about living inside City Center.
  • Walked past City Hall which was quite gorgeous. It was this huge castle-like structure. Really impressive. Too bad it was closed too.

City Hall
City Hall PassagewayIMG_0452.jpg

  • Went to Chinatown.
  • Ate at the famous dim sum place 醉仙樓 (Joy Tsin Lau). It has many varieties, and it's decent, but I don't think it lives up to its fame. GF sure thinks it sucks. Worse than the Golden Palace in Robinson Township Pittsburgh.
  • Chinatown has many pretty nice and small grocery stores with fresh fruits and veges which is really nice. Fresher than Pittsburgh and has more varieties.
  • Went back to hotel to take a shower and rest a little bit.

Some Dim Sum Action!

  • Trying to get some water bottles from my car, but wow, waiting for the attendant to get the car took more than half an hour......I am not going to park at this place anymore...
  • Walked from Market st to the 20th st and watched the parade. One group was doing some kind of Spanish/Mexican dancing, and also 法輪大法 Falun Dafa. Also a couple of gals and one tall dude doing hip hop dancing with a 3-person band hitting drums and stuff truly amazing. We went sort of late to the parade so only watched about 5 different groups while we walked towards the art museum where the concert was supposed to happen.

Spanish Dance Parade
Falun Dafa Parade
Hip Hop Parade

  • Too tired...and it started raining so we headed back to the hotel, but we really wanted to watch the fireworks. Decided to just chill at the hotel and watch it through TV lol. Sigh, the lesson learned here is not to be greedy. We gotta know our own limits and only choose one thing to do since we were walking the whole time.
  • On the way back, I played some darts, wow it was expensive. 5$ for 3 darts and 10$ for 7. I gave 10$ thinking that I'll get a large with just 3 hits, but damn I was wrong. I misread the notice it was 3 small for 1 medium. But the vendor was nice enough to just give me a large one :D
  • We were kind of sad that we were heading back but felt really tired. But hey we saw this crazy dude playing some beats and drums using everyday items such as water bucket, kitchen sink, and some random metal plates and such. VERY COOL! I regretted wasting 10$ on the darts now. Really want to give him money, so I ended up giving him 5$ which is still a lot more than what other people were giving him. Man. I think he succeeded because he was able to connect with people with his crazy beats. I wanna go busking one day, but I gotta make a couple acts where I can connect with people.

Crazy Beats Guy!

  • Went back to the hotel decided to get some take out from this Vietnamese and Thai place 火車頭越泰餐廳 (Pho Xe Kya Viet-Thai Restaurant). Gf thought that they have soft shell crab fried rice that she read some some other blog, but turned out they don't and soft shell crab was quite expensive and we weren't sure if it would be good tasting or not, so just went with the regular grilled pork rice and some fresh spring rolls. Sure is decent.
  • Watching the fireworks form the TV sure sucks. The camera man was probably drunk when he was doing it, cause we were quite confused.
  • Still weren't able to move our ass from the bed, so we ended up watching the whole fireworks through TV. Kind of disappointing but oh well, we get the comfort.

Day 2

  • Ok, Reading Terminal Market finally is opened today. Went there, wow very awesome place. Really like it. Has a feel of the night market with so many things going on: food, plants, books, snacks, breakfasts, etc.
  • Saw many Amish girls working there, and I saw this Hot Apple Dumpling and decided to get one. It's quite delicious but too big. Has a taste of cinnamon apple which is very tasty.
  • We were planning to eat in Chinatown today, but also need to rush to the Art Museum, so we decided to get something quick to eat which the market has plenty of.
  • Well, ended up getting some sushi combo from this stand called Tokyo something. Man it tasted bad. I was eating it and wasn't sure what was missing, but pretty sure that the taste was lacking somehow. Like the sauce didn't sink into the nigiri. Gf noticed that it's because they didn't mix vinegar with their rice. Yuck. It wasn't cheap either. 14 or 16$ for that combo.....Will never eat there again.
  • Ok, done eating sushi. Oh yea actually we were going to see Independence Hall first.

Reading Terminal Market Neon Sign
Amish People Selling Delicious Hot Apple Dumpling

  • Took a bus there cause we were advised not to take metro. Sure is much faster than walking and it was quite nice. 2$ flat fee a trip is kind of expensive.
  • Went to Independence Hall's visitor center and took a dump. Whew.
  • It has some information explaining the history of Ben Franklin.
  • Turned out the tour tickets were out....damn...and the open house wasn't until 5pm.
  • Ok, no problem, we just go check out Liberty Bell. Holy cow! The line was so long and they have security check in there....so....no it's ok.
  • Change of plan, we decided to just go to the Art Museum, and I was a little bit frustruated so we went for a cab.
  • Got to the Art Museum feeling excited only to get slapped in the face with a 10$ charge for a ticket per person. No, I am not going to pay 20$ total for us to see the museum......A lot of other people had the same feeling too. So again change of plans and we decided to come back tomorrow on Sunday when it's donation based.

Stairs in front of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Obligatory Rocky Picture

  • Ok, now feeling very frustrated thinking that we didn't get to see anything today, we decided to keep on walking and get to the Fairmount Park, but by that time both of us were pretty tired and kind of pissy too, so didn't want to walk any further.
  • The view was pretty nice, we sat down on a bench in Azalea Garden in Fairmount Park. It was hot out, but after sitting down for a while the breeze made it tolerable and nice.
  • Saw a father with 3 kids there playing throw and catch with a football. The youngest little dude was running around trying to catch with his big brothers around. Quite fun :) I think observing how people interact and seeing stuff that you don't normally see in an office is good stuff to see. We don't always have to see the most famous buildings or exhibitions. Noticing the little things in everyday life is also fun.
  • Oh yea, I remember the Franklin Institute museum has some real pirates stuff going on, and I really wanted to go check it out.
  • After sitting in the garden for a while, we decided to walk back to the hotel. Sigh. Felt like a day wasted.
  • Whipped out my iPhone to check whether Franklin Institute museum requires ticket or not. Oh crap, yes it does....Why am I so cheap.
  • Anyways, at that time I wished we had some scooters or rollerblades.....it would make the trip much more pleasant.
  • Gf wants to pee, so I was looking for place with a nice restroom. Can't find, but I see this nice place: Rodin Museum.
  • Ok I said let me go scout out the place. Then I went in, wow.....very nice the outside is very nice. Besides the door, it has a nice rectangular pond. Very pretty and relaxing place.
  • I ran inside the museum and damn, AC....very cool....I was sweating pretty badly at the time already. I came out and waved at gf to signal her to come in.
  • She came, and we started looking at the works from Rodin. Very very impressive!! Turned out he's this very famous dude doing sculptures kind of things. Gf knows him, we are happy.
  • I keep on taking pictures haha, probably I shouldn't do that, because I became very concentrated on taking pictures and sometimes forget to enjoy the artwork itself.

The Gates of Hell
From Inferno in Dante's Divine Comedy

  • Oops no restroom in there. After looking at all the sculptures of men and hands and such, we felt pleased. Went outside the door and look at the most important piece again: The Gates to Hell. Turned out it was from the book that I read in high school the Divine Comedy by Dante. The door was the Gates to Hell in the first book Inferno. I have already forgotten most of the book, but I still remember that the first level was Limbo :) Whipped out iPhone once again to look up the story. Very cool! Feel connected with the door.
  • Very tired, walked back to the hotel now.
  • I took shower and relaxed.
  • Ok it was late and we decided to go eat dinner in Chinatown 蘭州麵店 (Lanzou Noodle?). I went to get my car because we couldn't walk anymore and I didn't want to park at this shitty place anymore.
  • It was pretty quick cause my car was still down here. They didn't drive it back up after I get my water.
  • WOW, it was sooooo nice to travel inside the car. Went to china town very very quickly. Finally found a parking space after maybe 10 or so minutes.
  • Felt good very good, and went to that noodle place. Ok it's not bad, didn't feel that there were that many customers. I got a 刀削麵 beef sliced noodle soup and some vegetables. I mean it's not expensive but not the best tasting. It's decent, but I don't feel much aroma coming from the soup. Kinda flat. Sat there and enjoyed my noodle.
  • It felt quite nice after walking all day feeling frustrated. It was really nice to just sit down and enjoy a bowl of noodle soup.
  • Decided to drive around and check out the surrounding. Went to U Penn, and I wanted a revenge from the park since we couldn't walk earlier in the day, we decided to drive there. Oops, got lost made the wrong turn, and went back to Drexel University again. Now I tried again and this time made the right turn and went to WaterWorks where people park their cars and take a walk and stuff.
  • Gf was scared cause it was dark and didn't see too many people there, even though with all the cars parked there.
  • The Boathouse Row was right there, we were right next to the house. The river was kind of scary and good I didn't fall in there.
  • After walking for just a little bit, gf felt not safe so we went back to the car.
  • I feel that we didn't see fireworks and today in Penn's Landing there is concert and fireworks. But I felt we might be too late. Still went anyways.
  • Started feeling the traffic, then decided to ditch and just left. Sigh....what a day of doing nothing and achieving nothing.
  • Still not satisfied with the day, we decided to went to Geno's to get its famous cheesesteak.
  • Ok ordered, the bread was kind of cold. It tasted ok. Actually the flavor and aroma is really really good from the meat and the bread, but we didn't feel it was anything special.
  • When I was about to leave, this black dude came knocking on my window. It was raining. Man, I knew what he was gonna do this mthefker. He was gonna get money from me. Was he? No, after being cheated so many times by these kind of men, I decided I wasn't going to give out free money anymore. This other guy from yesterday during the parade when I was playing darts came and asked for 34c. WTF!
  • Anyways, I kept on driving out of my parking space and just left. Whew, glad he didn't pick up a gun and shoot.

Geno's Steak

Day 3

  • Last day, today is the day of revenge and the day that we finally gonna see some real stuff.
  • I made the mistake of going to the museum first and then eat lunch because I didn't want to feel rushed when eating.
  • Turned out it was bad because the museum was so big that we couldn't finish it. Only saw a small section: the American Arts.
  • I keep taking pictures as usual :)
  • We started with some prints, which gf doesn't like.
  • Has this one focused on inter-racial marriage. The people looked kind of like skulls for some reason.
  • Then we went to the parts with furniture and then some nice oil paintings. Turned out iPhone is really good at taking pictures of the paintings. It sucked outdoors due to some stupid auto-exposure control.

Print of Interracial Marriage

  • Ok, we sure were hungry and decided to leave. But how?! Didn't want to drive because the parking lot was full and was afraid that we weren't gonna be able to park there when we come back. Saw this purple car outside, and it's Phlash! This nice Macy's lady recommended to us. So we hopped on and went to Market & 12th which is the closest stop to Chinatown.
  • Took a dump in some department store, and saw this very interesting wheel attachment thing in this weird store in the Mall called 5 below or something. It's called wheel blazer which I couldn't find anywhere on the net and it was only selling for 5$. I was super tempted, and I saw this other kid got excited as well. Anyways, I was able to resist the temptation and move on after some serious struggle.
  • Didn't know what to eat, saw this roasted duck place (旺旺飯店 Wong Wong Restaurant) and decided to give it a chance
  • OMG, very very delicious. I was so pleased that it has a good amount of vegetable comes with the rice. We had 2 orders of rice with 2 types of meat. The portion was very very good, and the taste was superb.
  • I was rushing because the museum was going to be closed at 5pm. Did I mention I paid 1$ for 2 tickets? Anyways, I was rushing and chewing finally finished the whole plate.
  • The waitress didn't come rush me for check which was good. But then took me a while to get someone to come give me a check.
  • Overall the restaurant is awesome. We left tried to get a purple car again and got to the museum. Crap, I think we only had 30 minutes left to explore :'( so sad!
  • By that time the parking lot was half empty!!!! Wrong decision again!
  • Ok we were rushing in the museum trying to catch some nice oil paintings.
  • Took several pictures of the paintings with Van Gogh and Monet and misc. Very nice paintings but I believe they were really slacking.

The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny by Monet

  • Saw some more Rodin's sculptures, very nice work!
  • Ok, time to leave
  • Forgot to mention that wearing a sling pack made both of my traps very very sore. I think they are slightly overused/injured. Went to CVS when I was filling up gas before we leave and got some Bengay Ultra Strength patches. Turned out to be very effective for keeping me awake when driving long distance.
  • On the way back, we saw Lancaster and thought we pay those Amish people a visit.
  • Kept on driving and felt kind of lost, decided to find a place to pee, and saw this big M sign
  • Ok we got to the M sign and it was a sign to let us know that there's McDonald's 7 miles away...OK, I drove for about 7 miles and didn't see anything.....
  • Gave up and went to this gas station to pee, and bought 2 very very nice hotdogs!!! I love a place with huge amount of sauerkraut and relish.
  • Ate my share of the hotdog and started driving back.....It was a long journey.......we thought we were almost there when we took the Lancaster exit, plus I got lost a little bit and got on 279 or something.
  • When I was going to get off 279 and turn back there was this toll booth. Hey, I am not going to pay nothing.....I came here by mistake. Saw a gap, and just made a turn right there and saved myself couple dollars....LOL
  • Long journey......and HOME!

Post Mortem

  • Bid for hotel through priceline.
  • Brought our own water. 5$ for a whole pack of 24 bottles.
  • Drank a lot of Mango Smoothie with Bubble. It was delicious!
  • Spend some time enjoying the unexpected street performers.
  • Took a chance and went into the unknown museum for free.
  • Parked on the street for free on the last night.
  • Took a chance and ate at the roasted duck place.
  • Made a risky turn to avoid paying extra bucks at the toll.


  • Wearing a sling pack caused some trap injuries. Too much crap in the bag.
  • Had to park at hotel's parking garage costing us 33$ the first night. Moved to a cheaper parking garage that's only 25$ the second night, and then parked on the street Saturday night + Sunday for free. Average parking fee was around 19$/night.
  • Wasted time traveling between Independence Hall and Museum of Art and didn't visit either. Should've called beforehand to figure out the time and price for tickets.
  • Too much walking for the first two days. We are usually out after a full day of walking.
  • Should've chosen whether to watch the whole parade, or concert, or just fireworks. We should only choose one when we plan to walk the whole day.
  • Planned to buy a lot of fresh fruits on the last day which didn't happen. Planning stuff to do on the last day is bad. It most definitely never happens.
  • Bought sushi from Reading Terminal Market.
  • Wasted some Vietnamese sandwich cause we bought it and didn't eat it.
  • Did not allocate a big enough chunk of time for Museum of Art and planned eating in between in Chinatown which was not very close without driving ourselves.
  • GF listened to what other people said on their blogs regarding the dim sum place, noodle place, and cheesesteak place.
  • Gas cost maybe a little bit more than 100$.
  • Tried to make a mini-trip to visit the Amish on the way home when we already left pretty late. Ended up getting lost and didn't get there.

Lessons learned for next time

  • Get a REAL backpack with 2 straps and a hip belt.
  • Plan first night parking beforehand if possible.
  • Buy a scooter for GF, and Heelys for me so we can travel the same distance in less time using less energy.
  • When it comes to dim sum, don't order way too much. Don't order more than 2-3 plates at a time until we finish.
  • Choose only one thing to do for one day. Don't plan anything else. When traveling for 3 days 2 nights, don't walk/travel the whole first day. Maybe drive a little.
  • Buy it when you see it.
  • If going to arrive home around 10pm already don't make extra mini-trips.

Posted by UGa 19:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 1) Page [1]