I'll be a history book by the time I come back


Living in California, you tend to live in a bubble where all that historical "stuff" is somewhere, but not really sure where. The history of the United States doesn't thrive in Cali as it does here on the east coast. For example, my mini day trips to Alexandria or to DC monuments have already covered so many years of history and the foundation of this country. If I continue my historical tour at this rate, I could strive to be a walking encyclopedia..though, I doubt it :-)Originally, I was supposed to go to New York with my suite mate Emma, and 2 friends, Nick and Eric. However, it was decided upon at the last minute and as I researched, I realized that most, if not all, hostels were booked. Meanwhile, we were dealing with two guys who lack any kind of organizational/pre-planning skills...so there you have it. After deciding that this was just a no-go, we opted to a cool day trip to compensate. After conversing with the roomies, we decided that a day trip to Philadelphia would be fun. So on Saturday, we headed out on the infamous Chinatown bus to Philly at 10 am. I say "infamous" because this bus is pretty interesting; always an adventure. First off, the Chinese owners yelled at us when we asked where the bus was. They yelled, "At the cornah!!!" After going to the corner, we realize that the bus is already almost full. The only seats left are the ones next to the bathroom. Keep in mind that this bus ride is 3 hours (even though they estimated it to be 2 hours). In addition, they are notorious for overbooking the bus so that many people have to sit on the stairs. Luckily, that didn't happen to us but needless to say, it was smelly. Most of us passed out so it wasn't that bad.We arrived to Philly at 12:45 and our bus home was leaving at 5. So we had a total of 4 hours to see what we wanted in Philadelphia and the first thing on our list was EATING A PHILLY CHEESE STEAK! After getting the 411 from the info center on the best places for a philly cheese steak and monuments, we headed out. We ended up going to Campo's for the sandwiches and to everyone's dismay, it wasn't that good. We were so disappointed, especially since we heard that it was the best in town. Even their sign on the door said, "Zagat rated 'Best Phillies since 2006." Our group of 8 concluded that it wasn't greasy enough, cheesy enough...unhealthy enough.After lunch, we did the quickest tour of Philly that ever existed. First, we went to Christ Church where George Washington attended. Still an active church, we spoke with very informative members who talked about the history of the church, including the book of all the baptisms in that church. With an intricate organ, snow white pews, aged tombs, George Washington's pew, I felt like I walked into heaven.

(Book of ALL baptisms at Christ Church)

(George Washington's pew)
After that, we went to Betsy Ross's home. Honestly, if you didn't know that she made the American flag, you would know by the hundred of flags hanging around her home. It looked a bit gaudy, but it's a great way to stand out. The tour of her home cost 2 bucks but it was so neat to see her actual furniture and possessions. We weren't allowed to take pictures but I really didn't agree with that rule, so I snuck a few in. But just a few.

With 1.5 hours left before having to load the bus, we turbo-speeded our way through the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. There was a long line to see the Liberty Bell but it went quickly. While we were waiting outside, I realized how beautiful Philly truly is. It hit me that this place has so much history in it and the locals have so much pride in their home town that gives its beauty an unfathomable and abstract presence.

(This picture was on the way to Liberty Bell...totally random Ben Franklin head)

The line went by really fast, and once we finally entered the building, it was pure ecstasy--the ice-cold air conditioner was SOO SOOO SOOO refreshing. The building had a trail of displays that talked about the history of the bell and its symbolism to the country. At the end of the trail, there stood the Liberty Bell. I have to be honest: it was very neat to see such a historical symbol in front of my eyes but it was a lot smaller than I expected. Regardless, what an opportunity...

After seeing the Liberty Bell, we thought it was appropriate to make our last stop Independence Hall. By this time, it was 10 times hotter than before with about 45 minutes to spare. After getting there, we realized that it was too late to buy tickets to see the inside, but the outside was just as beautiful. There was so much green all around--trees, lush grass, bushes, etc.--so it was a perfect place to take a breather.

(This is where they drafted the Declaration of Independence; hence, the name "Independence Hall")

(Quite the dramatic stance of "The Signer")

So, that's how you do Philly in 4 hours. With such a short amount of time to spend, I thought we did a wonderful job of utilizing our time. Sure, we didn't go to A LOT of places but we went to the important ones and had the opportunity of spending some good time there. We maintained a positive attitude as the sweltering heat made me release 4 lbs. of sweat. I was proud of our group!

We made our way to the bus pretty early so that we could get some better seats. As soon as we got on the bus, we got a huge whiff of ammonia which was not so pleasant but we secured some good spots in the middle. So our ride back was just the same as our way there--slept the whole time.

Today (Sunday), I went to the Eastern Market which is a farmers/flea market. If it wasn't so hot outside, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more but regardless, I loved all the fresh food that they had. I bought artichoke lemon pesto sauce which I will be using for dinner when I boil some pasta. Yum! For dinner, I went to Adams Morgan and ate some Ethiopian food. It was soooo good but now, I have a food coma so I'm going to go crash...

until next time <3

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