Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Monday, July 21, 2008

Philadelphia - Home of the American Constitution
Gee it ain't half hot mum! We have arrived in Philadelphia with the city in the middle of a heat warning the mercury is nudging 100f and very humid, not ideal for walking miles! But we have lots to see, we can't let the heat beat us! 
We boarded the Amtrak Train at Union Station in Washington and in less than 2 hours we were pulling into 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The Train was on time and had seats which resembled a business class flight, very comfortable and fully air-conditioned.
Having successfully negotiated the underground we arrived at our hotel for the next couple of days. We had opted to stay in the historic district, our hotel was certainly historic, if a little small and noisy and probably way over due for a refurb' but on the plus side the sheets were clean and it was in a great central location
Sitting mid way between Washington and New York, Philadelphia is very compact and the old town can easily be discovered on foot. There is certainly plenty of history to the place. Back in 1682 Philadelphia was the second largest city in the British Empire, second only to London. The city has been planned on a grid, a layout copied by many other American cities. 
We visited the main sites such as the Liberty Bell, this 2080lb brass bell was made in 1751 by the Whitechapel bell foundry in the east end of London. The bell sat atop of Independence Hall and was used to inform of important occasions until the 19th century when a crack appeared. It now sits in its own impressive building and is the most visited attraction in Philadelphia.
Independence Hall - We joined the interesting hour long tour of this important building. It was here in on July 4th 1776 that 13 colonies met to approve the declaration of America's independence from the British. Thus this was the birth place of the American government and as they say the rest is history!
There are many more historical buildings in Philadelphia most of which are easy to reach and offer informative tours. Of particular enjoyment was the Society Hill district which sits in the east of the city centre. This area has heaps of 18th and 19th century town houses which have shutters at the windows and look very colonial and well cared for. Often set on narrow cobbled streets.
 We were lucky enough to experience a couple of outdoor concerts. One was based in the park in front of Independence Hall, an amazing back drop for the stage.  This featured a young lad of just eleven years with the most amazing voice; he sang some great Frank Sinatra songs. The other band were a group called The Accords who were more mature but equally impressive 1950's songs such as "Under the Boardwalk" and Teenager in love. The second concert was R & B and held at Penn's Landing which is based on the Delaware River and had an impressive backdrop of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge all lit up. 
On the Saturday afternoon before we left, we met up with some friends from the UK, now living and working in New Jersey. We had a fabulous afternoon, lunching and eating large amounts of old fashioned Ice Cream! Believe me there is an art to trying to eat the ice cream in extreme heat. Our tip would be to have it in a tub and not a cone; otherwise you end up getting more melting down your front than in your mouth! 
Janet who probably knows more about Philly than the locals! kindly took us around a few more sights which are not in the guide book! Macy's, no we didn't go shopping! We went to admire the amazing architecture in the store which includes a huge organ with massive organ pipes situated on the balconies of the one of the upper floors, as well as a big sculptured Bald Eagle. 
Just to finish off we went to view the Museum of Art which is in a redeveloped area of Philly, a bit too far to walk even for us! This building has the impressive steps which were used as the film setting for the Rocky movies, there is even a statue of him out front too! Most people apparently run up these steps just like in the movie, with the Mercury climbing into the high 90's I gave this one a miss! A special thank you to Mark and Janet for your kind hospitality, we'll try to get back to do the "Red Neck" next year!   
Right where's that train? NYC here we come............
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