The City of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, October 2014

My first-ever trip to Philadelphia, PA was a short trip filled with a few bus issues, a good hockey game, plenty of US history and some beautiful fall foliage.

I already wrote about my struggles with Megabus over this trip, but to sum it up: the schedule changed, and I was never informed, so we left Buffalo about two hours later than I anticipated. I didn’t sleep at all on the bus ride, which was quite miserable, and we made two stops, arriving in the City of Brotherly Love around 7 a.m.

Our first stop was 30th Street Station, where the bus dropped us off. It’s a truly beautiful station, and I enjoy the restaurants and food stands. Very useful for commuters and travelers alike! We enjoyed breakfast from Au Bon Pain before heading out to walk around the city.

Destination #1 was the LOVE statue, which I wanted to do mainly because we saw the one in NYC and this is the original and well, why not? Surprisingly, it’s actually smaller than the one in NYC, but it’s still cool. There’s a fountain behind it and it’s not too far from City Hall. I do enjoy outdoor art like that; I think it adds something so special to the city and the atmosphere. We also spotted the giant clothespin, and I’ve seen a few similar things in NYC, such as the giant sewing needle and button in the Fashion District.

From there, we walked to Reading Terminal Market, which is like what the Broadway Market could’ve been if it lived up to its potential. So many interesting vendors, foods and crafts and all sorts of fun things. I could go absolutely bonkers in a place like that — I’m lucky I didn’t spend all of my money there. I bought a miniature Liberty Bell (which also doubles as a pencil sharpener), a few postcards and some other souvenirs.

After this, we walked to Independence National Park. I had done my research and knew to go to the Visitors Center first, and grab the free tickets there for the Independence Hall tour. Our timing was pretty good and we were able to get in on a tour fairly quickly. What an incredible experience; how surreal to be able to stand in the very room where the Declaration & Constitution were signed. Wow. We also saw the Liberty Bell (after waiting in a lengthy, but surprisingly quick-moving line) and walked around that area. I visited the portrait gallery in the Second Bank of the US, we visited a few souvenir stores, etc.

Next up, time for the Duck Boat tour. It was neat, and it took us all around the city including many areas we wouldn’t have hit if we were just on foot. My favorite part had to be going on the Delaware River though!! So neat. I certainly recommend those Duck tours to anyone, especially if you have limited time in the area. It’ll get out and around and take you to some of the best sights in the city, and you won’t have to worry about parking anywhere. Sure, they’re just quick stops, but it’s a good way to get an overview of a place.

After that, we made a quick stop at a library nearby (of course — anyone who knows me, knows my love of libraries). Then a short stop at the Shops at Liberty Place, which was not what I expected. It was a not-so-great mall in downtown Philly with a handful of high-end stores and barely any outlets for people to use (aka to charge my phone.) But we sat there for a bit, then took the subway to AT&T station for the Flyers game!

It was Flyers/Red Wings, which was pretty cool. The fans were definitely a certain breed…. rough and booing everything. I watched warmups from low and then our seats were higher up but still a pretty solid view. Regardless of not liking the Flyers, it’s nice to be able to check another NHL arena off my list. Also cool: the outside roof of the arena glows orange at night. The arena is right by the baseball stadium AND the football field, and it was neat to see the whole sports complex area they’ve built. I can’t imagine what it does for traffic if there’s more than one event going at the same time, but thankfully, we didn’t have to worry about it. (Also, the chicken fingers and fries at Wells Fargo Center get a thumbs-up from me.)

Naturally, I picked up a puck, program and a pocket schedule for my collections.

After the game, we took the subway(s) back to the bus station. Overall,  I found the subway system in Philadelphia to be fairly easy to navigate, albeit a little confusing when some of the above-ground entrances to stations appeared to be closed. We took two different lines to Wells Fargo Center and then those same two to get back, but it all went fairly smoothly.

Our bus actually came early, at 11, so we were able to board and just relax until we left at 11:30. Thankfully, I was able to sleep most of the ride home and we arrived back in Buffalo right on time.

Overall, it was a great trip and it’s always nice to add a new city – and new NHL arena – to my list. I’d definitely go back to Philadelphia again.

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