Bell and Cheesesteak

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
Trip End May 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Apple Hostels Philadelphia
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Monday, March 14, 2011

So I made it to Philadelphia, known to me by its two famous children - America and Cheesesteaks.  After a belated start I set of to investigate their births.
Staying mostly within Independence Park, I cannot not help but remark about the state of maintenance of these historic sites. Most of these buildings had stood largely unaltered for over 200 years and the constant upkeep and scores of infinitely helpful staff made the experience not only easy but educational. All my questions were answered, including my curiosity as to why the Americans fell out favour with the French (turns out the new government betrayed the French for the English was concerned regarding the expansion of the French Empire under Napoleon and their own insecurities regarding revolutionary French refugees). The Liberty Bell is now sadly behind a barrier, preventing wayward hands.  But the hallway extending towards it was so filled with its exploits and symbolism I could not help but be little moved. George Washington's House provided an interesting platform from which the great General and First President was examined, particularly with regard to his own attitudes to slavery.  Independence Hall was a nice homage to the process of creation, even the architecture underscored the values of the founding fathers - order and symmetry.  A particular highlight was Larry, our guide with a curious gait and smooth baritone voice.
After this history lesson I walked to the national mint. Expecting a behemoth operation, I was slightly disappointed as the majority of the operations had finished for the day, and notes were obviously made elsewhere. I guess the collection of rare coinage and medals would have made any collectors green, but the experience was more of a challenge for me.  I finished my day with a stroll through the rest of the Park, noting the fine period architecture.  The city certainly benefits from orderly planning from William Penn, its grid of streets and flat ground making for easy navigation and grand views of the buildings.

The day was not complete without a Cheesesteak.  This humble sandwich was originally made from thinly sliced fried beef topped with Cheese Whiz (a disgusting processed goop with cheesy flavouring) and onions and has now gained a somewhat religious following. Having no previous conceptions as to the makings of a great Cheesesteak I found the place with the most respectable patronage (one Barack Obama at Carmen's).  I must say, I can certainly appreciate its following and will be making it a cornerstone of dining in Philadelphia.

Also today I met a young theoretical physicist Baruch from Austin.  He was in town searching through the Philosophical Society for some obscure records to complete the pointy end of his PhD. I found his enthusiasm and dedication to his work quite intoxicating, and wished my own passions could be sustained like his.
So today I covered my two destinations in Philadelphia and more, but found something with much more lasting appeal here in Philadelphia. The charm of this town will stay with me long after I leave, as will, I'm sure some part of those Cheesesteaks. 
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