A trip down memory lane and beyond - Philadelphia

(Image courtesy of Elle Summers)

15th May 2021

By Elle Summers

The train to Philadelphia was a long one, with one change at Trenton. Being the inexperienced traveller I was, by this point, the fact that our luggage was taking up two seats to itself was worrying me to no end. Especially as American trains have ticket inspectors – I remember at the time thinking how old fashioned this seemed. In hindsight, it turns out the Southend-on-Sea line into London is the odd one out for not having ticket inspectors, something that came as a bit of a shock the first time I got the train home from Canterbury West!

Upon arriving in Philly, we got a Lyft to our next Airbnb – this one felt like a luxury as we had the whole place to ourselves. As per our entire trip, our itinerary was fully packed and so without much delay (the two of us trying to get my massive suitcase up the tight staircase took long enough), we changed out of our gross travel attire and headed out.

Our evening was spent at an Ice Hockey match The Philadelphia Flyers vs the Montreal Canadiens, where we met up with a couple of my friend’s course mates from his scholarship at Lawrenceville. I must admit, unfortunately the Flyers were not exactly amazing and got thrashed 3-1, but the atmosphere was incredible with everyone cheering along! The match seemed to last forever, unaided by the fact that I still don’t have a clue about the rules of ice hockey, it seemed that every 3 minutes the match was interrupted for an advert break with the chance to win different prizes throughout making the game seem to never end. After the inevitable Flyers’ defeat, we headed back to the apartment on the subway – to our amusement, one passenger was very intrigued by mine and my friend’s competition to see who could last the longest without holding on – that’s too much practise on the London Underground for you!

(Image courtesy of Elle Summers)

Having overcome the weird and wonderful side effects of jet lag, I awoke a little later the next day, back to my usual routine of needing a lie in. Our first location of the day was a food market for breakfast. Apparently, they’re famous in Philly. We took time on this day to explore the more historic part of Philadelphia. We started at the Constitution Center, a museum of American political history, where we took in an exhibition on Alexander Hamilton and a lecture style presentation about the general history of the US. Just like our experience in the One World Trade Center, this presentation lived up to our expectations of the US, being completely over the top. All the information was so interesting, and I definitely found the knowledge helpful in my Declaring Independence module last term!

From here we had the amazing chance to go and visit the Liberty Bell. Despite my friend insisting that he wanted to recreate the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ moment and lick the Liberty Bell, he was thankfully happy that he was just able to touch it before the security guard saw. This was still embarrassing enough for me and so I swiftly moved him on to head towards the river for a while. We hired bikes from along the river’s edge and cycled back towards our apartment. We indulged in a Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and I am not exaggerating when I say it was the most beautiful food I have ever tasted – it’s the simple pleasures! We spent the evening at the cinema, which was practically empty, to see Captain Marvel, it felt like a VIP experience.

The following day, we headed out for a tour of Independence Hall. Despite being in a tour group with two school trips, the information we learned was really interesting and I did manage to lurk over the heads of some of the shorter students to get a few good photos! I would definitely recommend the tour to anyone heading out to Philly. We spent the evening at the theatre to see Miss Saigon which was a great performance and the theatre itself was beautiful. Despite returning back to the apartment to be met with an ant infestation (not the best thing to come home to of an evening), the day was a wonderful experience.

And so, we reach our final day in Philly. We ended our experience with the ultimate Philadelphia treat – cheesesteaks! For those of you who, like me, are completely unaware about the cheesesteak battle in Philly, apparently the two places to go are either Geno’s or Pat’s. My friend had been to Geno’s before and so we opted for Pat’s – my overriding memory, they were decent!

(Image courtesy of Elle Summers)

After concluding that the train would be too expensive for the next leg of our travels, we hung around for a Bolt Bus for over an hour before heading off. Philadelphia was definitely one of my favourite destinations during my time in USA, and I would highly recommend heading that way to anyone interested in a city break with historic sight-seeing opportunities. But for now, our next destination … Baltimore. Stay tuned for many a Hairspray reference.

If you’re enjoying my short articles on my travels around the USA and have any similar stories to share, feel free to get in touch via our socials or in the comments below!