More History and Art amidst the Unexpected

Trip Start Dec 06, 2013
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Trip End Dec 09, 2013


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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, December 8, 2013

Today was another full day, except for the evening after dinner.  We started out a bit later, after breakfast at Davio's, by taking a city bus to the Liberty Bell Center. There we learned about the history of the bell in a newly built structure, plus got to see the icon itself.  It was a very moving experience.
 
Then, we went across the street to Independence Hall. This was the home to the colonial and state government for many years, but during the Revolution and the years leading up to it, it was also the site of the 1st and 2nd Continental Congress, as well as the Constitutional Convention.  Here the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Revolution directed, and the US Constitution created.  It was a hollowed moment I found myself in, walking in the birthplace of the United States.
 
After this, we went to the Bourse, an old marketplace that now has a bunch of shops and food vendors.  We were given a voucher to get food from any of the vendors.  However, when we arrived, we found out that the Bourse had recently changed its schedule, and was not open on Sundays!  There was one restaurant that had an outside entrance that was still open, and we could use our vouchers there, and east at the tables in the marketplace.
 
We had more unexpected events after this.  You see, it had started to snow at about 10 am, and an unexpected amount began to fall fast and furious.  By the time we were done lunch, the storm was pretty crazy outside, and the city bus we were to take to the Barnes Foundation was running late.  So, our group leader Fred spent a 1/2 hour in the blizzard flagging down taxis for us to take.  Eventually, we made it to the Barnes Foundation.

What a remarkable place!  Originally, it was built outside of Philadelphia by a rich eccentric named Dr. Arthur Barnes.  Living at the beginning of the 20th century, he became an avid art collector, but rather than displaying his works by artist or time period, as most museums do, he created ensembles based on the principles of color, form, line, and light.  Each display on a wall could have art of different styles or mediums, but were unified in some way.  You could see a French Impressionist next to a medieval illumination and an African sculpture.  I would show you a picture of this, but we were not allowed to take pictures, though.
 
A few years ago, the Foundation moved locations to within Philadelphia.  The new building that housed the Barnes collections was beautiful!  When we got there, we were given an ipod with pre-programmed information on various works in the galleries, and could walk around listening to art experts explain the stories behind the ensembles' items.  We had a lot of time there, but I confess I probably could have stayed another hour or two.
 
Finally, we were brought by private motor coach back to the hotel, and after a short time to get ready, to dinner in South Philly, to a place called Victor's Cafe.  It is a traditional Italian restaurant, with one extra feature:  The waitstaff are training to be opera singers.  Every 15 minutes or so, one of them breaks out into an aria!  We were given a small menu to select from, and the food was excellent.
 
After such a busy day, and having to travel tomorrow, it is good that tonight is free.  I'll use this time to get ready to leave tomorrow, and rest.  We have a few activities tomorrow, and then it will be time to hit the road!
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