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Redemption is not spelt P-H-I-L-L-Y

First, let me just apologize for my delay in posting – super busy week!  So, last weekend was our trip to Philly.  We got a little bit of a late start on Friday because I had to finish some things up at work.  Still, we got packed up rapid-fire and hit the road.  Ryan had just updated his Garmin and was feeling like we could maybe trust it so it was leading the way.  However, instead of keeping us on 95, it took us onto a random highway-the Pulaski Highway-for a little while.  Talk about sketchy.  In addition to ramshackle buildings and sketchy motels, we passed a place called Russian Love and even a seedy adult video store complete with viewing rooms.  Ryan made the executive decision to get back onto 95 – good choice!  We figured out later that the Garmin was on shortest distance instead of fastest route.  Anyways, we stopped for a quick bite at Burger King (mmm…Whopper Jr. with cheese!) and were getting settled in our hotel in no time.

Our timing was perfect as the rehearsal dinner was just finishing up.  Adam, Dre, Mike and Ashley met up with us at the hotel and we walked over to Fado to meet up with everyone else.  We had our own section of the bar with our own waitress who was FANTASTIC!

Adam and our server

She served all of us thirsty clowns very quickly, was really friendly and didn’t spill one drink despite having a very packed space.  I was impressed.  But, perhaps I should back up and explain who all these guys are before I start mentioning them.  When Ryan first moved to Virginia he was really into BMX and started hanging out with a group of guys that to this day remain his best friends – the Capital Crew.  Mike, the groom, is part of this group, as well as Adam, Mike, Paul and Lance.

Paul, Adam, Mike, Mike, Ryan and Lance

And they all brought their girlfriends – Dre, Ashley, Christina and Kristen respectively.  We all had a great time out at Fado and stumbled back to the hotel full of merriment and wanting to continue our celebration.  So, we went to the hotel bar, Elephant and Castle, and partied there until bar close.

Next step was to take it up to our rooms.  Unfortunately for us, the Crowne Plaza and a panty-doning old hag had other ideas…

I will readily recognize that we were all a little buzzed up from our night out and I will say that I’m sure we were a little loud when we came in.  However, within 15 minutes of our arrival the disgusting lady across the hall opened her door in her underwear to tell us that we were too loud and needed to be quiet.  I apologized and told her that we would try to keep it down.  Her reply, “you’ll trrrryyy?!”  I said yes, I will go inside and tell everyone and we will try to keep it down.  She told me I was being rude to which I countered that she was being very rude.  I explained that we were there for a wedding, we had just gotten in and that we would try to be quiet.  I couldn’t really get all of this across to her because she slammed her door shut.  Within a few minutes of that, security came up, said they had 3 complaints about us and if there was one more the police would be called.  I’m sorry, but this is absolutely ABSURD!  Three calls in that little of a time span says nothing.  Give us a chance to get settled in for crying out loud!  Also, what kind of unhappy selfish person calls the front desk over 15 minutes of noise, knowing full well people are there for a wedding?!  Unreal.

Adam went down to smooth things out and explained the situation again.  He also was sure to tell them that he would never stay there again.  I agree!  In their defense, they did say that the people who called were regular customers – flight attendants that stay there all the time.  Still, come on!  Additionally, the parking at the Crowne Plaza (for hotel guests) is $36/day.  DO NOT STAY AT THE CROWNE PLAZA in downtown Philadelphia!  Yes, it is convenient and it is slightly cheaper than the surrounding hotels, but don’t do it!!!

The next morning we woke up with a serious mission – Cheesesteaks!  We all piled into two taxis and headed over to Pat’s.  Both Pat’s and Geno’s (which are across the street from each other) are set up the same way – a carry out place with outdoor seating.  When you step up to the window, you better be ready – this is the one place in Philly that is fast, very fast.  A giant wooden sign next to the window explains how you should order.  First is “wit” or “wit out” which refers to the onions.  You also have your choice of cheese.  I went with provolone while others went with cheese whiz.  By the time you are done paying, your sandwich is ready, in all of its drippy, greasy goodness.  Make sure you grab LOTS of napkins.

One of Philly's very few redeeming qualities

After breakfast, we wandered the streets of Philly to digest and take in the sights.

After a little exploring, Adam, Dre, Ryan and I went to Love Park to see the LOVE sculpture.

Congrats on your engagement! (They got engaged a few days after this photo was taken)

Then Ryan and I grabbed some Starbucks and wandered over to Rittenhouse Square to people watch.  We found an open park bench and took a seat.  Some street musicians were playing and tons of people were out and about.  Ryan nudged me and I looked over to see an old lady on the park bench across the walk from us.  She smiled at us as she poured a little vodka into her cup.  At first, Ryan and I laughed because we thought it was funny that an older lady was spiking her coffee.  Then we slowly started to piece together that it was not a case of a hilarious elderly lady getting it in, but instead a likely homeless lady just getting plowed.  Pretty sure there was no coffee in her cup – just the vodka.  She also had old, crusted vomit on her shirt and pulled out a partially-rotting tomato to snack on.  Ryan was about to throw up his cheesesteak looking at her so we moved and sat on a rock wall to take in some less disgusting people.  The one positive thing was the red bull girls came around and gave us free red bull.

By then, it was time for us to get back to our room and get all gussied up for the wedding!  The wedding was at the Hotel Palomar and it was short, laid-back and personal.  While the room was being switched over for the reception, there was an open bar and hors d’oeuvres downstairs.  We also occupied ourselves with the Polaroid guestbook.  And of course, took some group photos.

Christina, Dre, Me, Kristen and Ashley

The reception followed in the same vein as the wedding – beautiful, laid-back and personal.  Although I just met both Mike and Christine, I can tell that all that mattered to them was celebrating their marriage with friends and family.  Seems so simple and what any wedding should obviously be about.  But, too often people get wrapped up in things that don’t really matter in the end.  Mike and Christine didn’t seem to at all.  They even embraced the fact that our table was going to be rowdy and perhaps a little unruly.

Our own handmade table placement card

Overall, my opinion on Philly remains the same – dirty, slow, smelly.  Not my favorite east coast city for sure.  However, like so many things in life, it’s more about who you are with then where you are or what you are doing.  Despite all the shenanigans and antics, or maybe because of them, you won’t find a better group of guys then those in the Capital Crew.  Us ladies aren’t so bad ourselves I might add.  Plus, the happiness and excitement surrounding Mike and Christine was incredible.  All the best to both of them!!!  So Philly, while you and I still have our differences, you did provide us with a really great weekend with some very good people.

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Posted by on November 21, 2010 in Food and Drink, Travel

 

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Friday Escape – Philadelphia?

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:

800px-Genos_Steaks.jpg geno's philly image by TIPT544 

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!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2010 in Friday Escape, Travel

 

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