Sunday, 30 August 2015
The Downtown Marriott was the base for our stay in Philadelphia. Our stay was comfortable and we had a good size room. Service was good. Something we look for in hotels is its location. Is it close to the places we want to visit? In this case, yes it was. We could easily walk to everywhere we were going.
After dinner, we decided to head back to Tavern on Canac, visited a couple of days before. I can tolerate piano bars in short bursts. So we had a short burst, complete with loud piano music and lots of budding singers who were able to belt out songs karioke style.
After a drink at the Moshulu we headed back to our hotel to tidy ourselves up for dinner in the evening. We set off for Kock, a gay restaurant on the junction of 12th St and Locust St. Excellent food and service. It was busy as well but even so, the owner even found time to talk to us. Our British accents had caught his attention.
Knock now has a definite recommendation to visit from me.
The Moshulu is the oldest square rigged sailing vessel in the world still afloat. Moored next to the Olympia and Becuna, it is privately owned and is well known as a high quality restaurant. We went on board only to visit the bar. Very pleasant surroundings and we looked enviously on the food that was provided for some of the other guests.
Moored next to the Olympia is the submarine USS Becuna. Built in Pennsylvania and launched in 1944, it had a role in the Pacific War and then Cold War. It was decommissioned in 1969.
Careful as you enter, the steps from the deck are steep. It took me about 15 minutes to make my way through the sub.
For $15 I was able to get a ticket to visit the Olympia, the Becuna and the Independence Seaport Museum. Sadly I didn't get to the museum but I was able to see the two ships, starting with the Olympia.
It is the oldest still-floating steel warship (it was launched in 1892) and the only surviving ship to have been engaged in the Spanish-American War. Olympia was Admiral Dewey's flagship at a time when the US was emerging as a major world power. It also saw active service in the First World War, once the US had become a combatant nation.
The tour took me about half an hour, time well spent.
From the Irish Memorial we walked to the harbor on the Delaware River. To the let we could see the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Over the river was New Jersey. To the right were the historic ships we had come to explore.
There was a religious rock concert which we skirted around. Elections were obviously approaching. Democrat leaflets for teh Senate were pushed into our hands as we walked past.
From the Gaslight Restaurant we headed to the harbour area. On the way we stopped off to see the Irish Memorial, a substantial piece of work and very lifelike. In the nineteenth century in particular, Ireland saw massive emigration, though not just to the US. Lots of people in the UK are descended from the Irish who moved to the mainland. Nevertheless, the importance of Irish immigration into the USA is marked by this memorial.
Having spent some time at the Money in Motion exhibition, it was now time to spend some real money on breakfast. We headed towards the habour area and found the Gaslight restaurant on Market Street. Good food, good service, and we were there at a time when it was quiet so we didn't have to wait long.
I especially liked the complimentary piece of cake.
Next on our list of places to visit was the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. There was an exhibition called Money in Motion. If you are interested in the history of money in the USA, this is definitely for you. Sadly, photos were not allowed inside but we were given as a momento a small bag of shredded dollars. $100 dollars of old notes taken out of circulation went into each bag. When I got back to my flat in London from the US, I discovered my suitcase had been searched by security at JFK airport in New York. I suspect the bags of shredded dollars had shown up on an x-ray machine looking suspiciously like a sachet of drugs. You can imagine the disappointment of officers as they rummaged through my suitcase and all my dirty clothes to discover that the offending articles were simply holiday souvenirs issued by the Federal Government!
By the way, it was free to get in to the exhibition. Had there been a charge, I wonder if I could pay with shredded dollars!?
Our 3rd day in Philadelphia began back at Reading Terminal Market. Outside the entrance we spotted pens containing animals. Lots of ponies and goats in particular. As a goat keeper myself, this was of great interest to me. I suspect the appearance of the animals must be a regular event.
Saturday, 29 August 2015
The free tickets we got from the Visitor Center allowed us to go on a tour of Independence House at 3.45pm. We had to be there at 3.30pm. A well briefed and informative tour guide explained the history of the building and the convention that met there.
There were about 100 people on the tour. At the end, alas, I was the only one to ask any questions. I was interested to know when Americans think their nation came into existence. I said that most people think of it as 1776 with the declaration of independence. Yet that was a declaration of the independence of 13 colonies, leading to the creation of 13 independent countries, admittedly working together as a loose confederation. Or was it when the US constitution came into force in 1789.
The tour guide added another year - 1783, when Britain formally recognised the colonies as independent. I think what he was telling me was that all three dates are important and the actual birth of the US was a transitional period from 1776 to 1789.