Monday, 27 January 2020

Back To The Beginning... Philadelphia, USA!

Several years have past since that first Philadelphia moment, being back on the USA's Northeastern  coast I headed down from New York City see what was going on! Taking the Megabus wasn't planned, I wasn't stunting so needed to get to Pennsylvania's Center City within good time. Going back to the beginning was the medicine that I needed, sure I had rushed things in 2012!

Stepping down from my Megabus from New York City onto the pavements of Philadelphia's Center City streets, a sense of correctness washed over me. Snatching views of Newark Liberty International Airport on the way from NYC was magic, those memories will remain. Returning back to Philly had to be done, I had rushed around like a crazy fool during my first visit back in 2012. I gave Philadelphia's Old City the respect it deserved, taking time to appreciate the 18th Century architecture. My Starbucks Coffee that I had opposite the Megabus stop within NYC's Hudson Yards didn't satisfy my hunger pangs, I was going to revisit the Old City and Penn's Landing within good time, adding the quickness to my pace. Being back in Philadelphia felt great, I knew where I needed to go and with my hostel reservations made I didn't need to think about getting the train back like the first time. B, Philadelphia had me paying my dues!

Taking my time I headed for the Delaware River to find Penn's Landing, I had literally walked past this Philadelphia gem during my explorations within the Old City streets. Getting down to that accessible Philly waterfront area didn't take me hardly any time, acquainted with the waters that William Penn arrived in 1862. I wasn't interested by the origins of that Philadelphia landmark but after researching things, I stood in the same place that gave the state of Pennsylvania its name, but nothing else should be mentioned because that time period was questionable to say the very least. Leaving the crazy of New York City felt good, I would return the very next day. The crisp cold air that morning gave me life, the waters of the Delaware River glistening in the winters sunshine. Making plans for my then imminent UK arrival, me and my brother coordinated those airport pick up details whilst Penn's Landing served views for days! My third U.S state and city in one week! Yes, Philadelphia!

费城 knew that I needed to pay more attention with my culinary choices, I wasn't going to be endorsing any chain restaurants during that overnight visit! Nick's Bar & Grille caught my attention, serving Philly with an unassuming vibe I headed in for my first drink of the day. Taking my seat at the bar allowed to fulfil that 'All American' bar experience during that lunchtime. Going for a pint of craft cider had to be done, paying attention to the lunch time menu was the right choice to make! Cheese is no joke, I live in China right now and that dairy staple isn't cheap! Embracing my stateside location I ordered the meatballs and the mozzarella sticks, on the side I had a healthy serving of parmesan cheese for those meatballs! Soaking in the environment, I enjoyed my lunchtime treats, the cider went down nicely and the food tasted so fine! I knew that I was going to miss all that cheese! Nick's Grill & Bar served it right!

Rewinding back to my first visit to Philadelphia, I hadn't done my research nor did I completely trust those streets. Taking some years of experience and with Newark recently revisited I had no issue feeling the true vibes during my Philadelphia comeback! Letitia Street within the Old City served everything, interesting eateries fronted the period features along that clean Philadelphia street scene. My morning with Penn's Landing had felt right, the lunchtime time finds from Nick's Bar & Grille were bang on the mark! Philadelphia during that 2019 moment stood as the right decision for me to have returned in the first place. My next moves were on the way, saying no to public transportation was the order of the day. Heading towards the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall gave me another first-time flashback! It was mad, I had the feeling that I wasn't going to get lost during my Philadelphia wanderings, I remembered a lot! I was ready for the night, the afternoon had even arrived!

After stopping for one cheeky pint of cider near City Hall, my next Philadelphia endeavour was to find the heart of Philly's Center City! Embodying every inch of my Samantha James personality, I found myself in the heart of Downtown Philadelphia. I had briefly seen that part town during my 2012 visit, as with the other elements I didn't spend enough time to pay full attention. Being dealt with a second chance gave me life, it gave me an appreciation for that moment as I stood in the heart of the city with the main government buildings and courthouse as my immediate location. I had forgotten my little black bag, make no mistake I needed that because I hadn't lost my phone since it stayed safe in that bag, scouring the shops along Chestnut Street didn't prove fruitful. I didn't find a replacement, but I was acquainted with such a sweet lady in passing, her gentle manner reminded me of my friend, Chanel. So sweet!

Let me recount my random act of kindness. Ever since I returned to Newark, NJ, I had been faced with full frontal scenes of homelessness. In China it's so rare to see those kind of sights, things are so different compared with the United States. The majority of the homeless people that I saw near Newark Penn Station basically pleaded with me to give them some money, my heartstrings were pulled at but somehow for two people they still found the resources to smoke rather than to spend the money on food, choices? Very that! In Philly, as I made my way towards City Hall I saw a man sitting on the pavement looking incredible down on his luck, something told me that I needed to do act upon my thoughts. Putting a one hundred dollar bill into his cup, I wished him a happy holidays. For once I didn't pass judgement, whatever he decided to spend the money on was his choice, the fact he never begged in the first place, that gave me the sense he wouldn't squander the money. Just be kind!

My final port of call during my return visit to Philadelphia had to be the 'Gayborhood!' I had mapped out my Philly day of exploration with a fine tooth-comb, my pre-trip research allowed me to maximise my time to see many parts of the city, that included the city's kitsch corner. Lined with quirky shops and doggy pampering parlours, the understated camp nature of Philadelphia's 'Gayborhood' made me feel very comfortable indeed. I wasn't looking for any drinks within that part of town, I was looking 'Giovanni's Room'. First time around I discovered a wonderful LGBT bookstore that doubled as a thrift store, all proceedings from the thrift products go to fight HIV-AIDS. Bagging two copies of my British 'Attitude Magazine' during my 2012 visit, I settled for a copy of 'Out Traveller'. I saw an ethnic Chinese patron, I asked if the prints were popular with the Chinese students? LGBT texts are hard to find in China!

Content with my mammoth day out spent in Philadelphia, I retraced my steps back to my hostel as I had found its location that morning. Choosing Apple Hostels for the night was the right thing to do, securing reservations at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel caused me many issues. Getting my passport and other items locked away was fine, if truth be told the staff at my New York hostel in Long Island City were much friendlier. The day had been full packed but the night was about to get crazy! Giving myself sometime to freshen up and to charge my phone was just the thing that I needed to get done. Taking my time, knowing the way around city and having patience allowed to see new and familiar sights within Philadelphia's city core. The night ahead was going to be fabulous along South Street, ensuring my accommodation was near that street was hard enough to execute, I had to make the best of the situation. Returning to Philadelphia was the right thing, yes it made my trip better!

Forever Philadelphia!

Joseph Harrison 

2 comments :

  1. Good work dude, must say thats a US city that I havent visited yet, but its on my bucketlist!

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