Under normal circumstances, never would my mind escape to the idea of traveling to Philly. Ever. That may seem a little harsh, but I do believe I am semi-justified. I interned in Philly for a summer and it was not one of my favorite places. Overall, I found Philly to be dirty and smelly with a large swath of the people being slow and unfriendly. Even the downtown Starbucks workers moved at a mindbogglingly-slow pace. So, why on earth would I choose Philly as my Friday Escape? Because, I am off to Philly tonight! C’mon whaaaaaat?! Well, one of my boyfriend’s friends is getting married there and despite my reservations on Philly as a city, I’m super pumped for the weekend and I know it will be a fantastic time (because of the people who will be at the wedding). Adam and Dre, from the Oregon posts, flew in from California last night and will be up in Philly too. Dre has never been and is super excited. I hope for her sake that my memories on Philly are either tainted or else that maybe Philly has changed…
Philadelphia the Nasty
One of my more ridiculous memories of Philly is from when I was trying to experience a Philadelphia staple – the cheesesteak! If you look into where to get a good cheesesteak, either on the internet or by asking natives, you will definitely discover that there are strict loyalties to either Geno’s or Pat’s. For no particular reason, I chose to go to Geno’s:
If you look on Geno’s website, tons of celebrities have eaten here ranging from daytime stars like Oprah and Kelly Ripa, pop icons Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, athletes like Shaq, gameshow favorite Vanna White and even Sylvester Stallone, just to name a few. However, when I was there, it was devoid of any celebrities or anyone that felt the need to have a shirt on in public. Seriously, there were two tables of shirtless men.
While I am certainly patriotic and am very proud to be an American, Geno’s takes patriotism to an uncomfortable level. The fries are listed as “freedom fries” and signs are up everywhere instructing patrons to order in English. This is hilarious to me because I find that most foreign travelers and immigrants make a strong effort to learn English and to use it while here. In stark contrast, I would say that many Americans who travel abroad do not extend the same courtesy to the countries they are visiting. While living in France, I saw countless Americans go up to a counter or sit down at a restaurant and just start speaking in English, without so much as a “bonjour” first to at least show the slightest effort. I’m sure that is because the US is the best and everyone should just know English so that us superior Americans can just go about our ignorant ways not learning even a few words of any other language.
Anyways, back to Geno’s. So, I order my cheesteak (in English) and take a seat at one of the outdoor tables. In front of me is one of the shirtless men tables I mentioned earlier. To clarify, these men are not pillars of physical perfection. In fact, they had giant, hairy potbellys. It was also summer, as I said, so they were sweaty too. Now, this next part is just class in its highest form. The one guy bites into his cheesesteak, causing a cheesy strand to ooze out the back of his sandwich and plop onto his hairy chest, where it proceeded to seep down like molten lava until it reached the potbelly and pooled, lacking the momentum to make it across the jutting fat mound. The hungry man glanced around his sandwich, looked down at the cheese flow, and went right back to eating his sandwich! The cheese was to remain there, hardening into his chest hairs and cooling into a cheese pool on his disgusting belly, until he was finished with his sandwich.
Despite this disgusting and absurd sight, I was still psyched on my sandwich. It was FANTASTIC. I will give Geno’s credit for that. For all of the disagreeable signage and incredible lack of not just etiquette, but decency, on the part of my fellow patrons, it was still one tasty cheesesteak! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who visits Philly and really if you find yourself in the company of unique cheesesteak-eaters (either celebs or more of the type I encountered) it just adds to the experience.
Philadelphia the Good
Beyond cheesesteaks, Philly is also known for the Liberty Bell, the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art which are featured in a triumphant moment in Rocky and LOVE park. All of these things are worth visiting and seeing. Downtown Philadelphia, like most big cities, also has its share of good bars and restaurants. One great thing about many of the restaurants is that it is BYOB and you just pay a corkerage fee. I also remember having a tasty mojito at Alma de Cuba.
Overall, I did enjoy my summer in Philly and there are some good places to see and good food to be eaten. Still, the people were not that friendly and the city just seemed dirty and smelly to me. Of course these are generalizations and perhaps a lot has changed. I was living there in 2006, so who knows. Nevertheless, I am excited for my weekend and will be thinking about it all day! I’ll let you know how Philadelphia treats me this time around!