Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My first big outing

I've been in Frankfurt more than three months,and although I have been back to the USA twice and taken another trip by plane within Europe, within Germany I have barely left Frankfurt.

Today I took advantage of the holiday (500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door and thus ushered in the Reformation) and took myself to Heidelberg.  There is a weird thing with the Deutsche Bahn - ticket prices to places that are within about a 2 hour drive are ridiculously expensive, so it doesn't make any sense to take the train even when one would prefer to do so. So, my first road trip.

This is the Academy of Sciences building, with the Heidelberg Castle lit up through the fog behind it. I am sure Terry hates this photo. I love it. The photo was taken basically right where I found a parking garage for the car.

I first hiked my way into and around the Philosopher's Way, so named because the university professors of old would come up into these woods and wander.  I had thought the name referred to a particular path, but soon changed my mind. The trails kept splitting off, signposts existed yet directed to places I had never heard of and none of them said Philosophenweg ... so I guess the term refers to all the forest paths.
This is the path up the mountain to the start of the Philosopher's Way. This path is called the Schlangeweg, or Snake Path.

The views were amazing, but hard to capture. This is Heidelberg's famous "old" bridge leading up to the Church of the Holy Ghost.

My morning in the mountain air caused (as the Germans say) a bear's hunger, and I managed to find a little pub-like restaurant a tiny bit off the main touristy area. I intended to order schnitzel  - they had three different kids that weren't pork as well as about 6 different kinds with pork, but then they had venison goulash with a berry sauce and spaetzle. I was sold.

After lunch, off to check out the castle. I didn't plan to actually go in, wanting to save that for a time when Terry and the kids are with me.  The entrance fee is actually due at the courtyard of the castle, so I only walked around a bit. It looks like it's half crumbling and there's plenty of nooks and crannies. The kids will love it.

There it is, looming over the town.

 The last part of the adventure was getting gas for the car. There's this perk where when we use a special card at certain gas stations, we can get gasoline without extra taxes. These extra taxes add up to about half the cost of the gas. I wasn't completely convinced on how this was going to work, so I didn't fill the tank all the way. But it worked! Unfortunately it also entailed a detour that added 20 or so minutes to my drive home. Driving in Germany is a bit harrowing, for example I'd be driving 80 mph and have cars FLYING past me. That takes some getting used to.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

SaTOURday in Frankfurt

[DISCLAIMER:  Terry has not seen or edited any of the photos shown here. He is not to blame for poor quality]

My days are not normally quite this busy ...

It started, Saturday morning, the day after the new curtains in my apartment were installed. Now, instead of hanging an inch or two above the window sill (and thus letting in first and all other light), my curtains hang several inches below.  And I slept past 8:30am.

After going for a run in which I successfully re-created the first few steps of a previous bike ride to Nidda Park, I made breakfast and got ready to hit the museums. The last Saturday of the month is free admission for most, but not all, of the Frankfurt museums.

The Children's Museum is located just steps away from the Hauptwache U-Bahn exit, so I went there first. The exhibits are very cool and interactive, but the place is tiny and it may be a bit young for my kids. I don't think I spent more than 20 minutes inside.

The Museum for Modern Art (yes, I went there. It was free!)  was about what you expect for modern art.  Some of the exhibits were thought-provoking, many just begged to be touched although that was frowned upon, one installation with bench seating did in fact allow viewers to sit so of course I did.
 This is one of many things I hold against modern art. How does this title relate to this work?

OK this one was cool. They are not dogs, but some kind of soft furry material shaped to look like them.

I tried to get into the Museum for Angewandete Kunst (Museum of Applied Art), which I had visited previously, but it looks like it is being prepared for new installations and any way the only door I found was locked.

Across a sweet little park from the Museum for Angewandete Kunst is the World Cultures Museum. The exhibitions focused on south America and Africa and art reflecting on the legacy of slavery.
This mobile is hanging from the entrance and along the two stories of stairs

My last museum stop was the Archeological Museum, located in an old church. There's an exhibit that unfortunately ends before the family comes to visit, all about prehistoric peoples. This was the winner of the day and the one I think the kids would even like. It definitely goes for breadth rather than depth, but I found value in the series of pottery that, in the course of a hallway, brought the visitor through nearly a millennia's worth of change and development. 

By the time I got home it was way past lunchtime and I was hungry and tired. After a brief rest and refreshment, I put my German license plates on the car and hit the road. Selgros is a membership-warehouse-type store, and I went to check it out. Three months into living as a single person, I still have trouble purchasing fresh produce with enough variety that I don't get bored during the week, but that doesn't rot when I can't eat it all. Needless to say, I bought little, although it isn't only full cases of stuff and I did go home with red curry paste and coconut milk.

Back at home, it was time to prepare dinner. When I returned to Frankfurt  last Sunday I took the whole chicken out of the freezer, planning to roast it later this week. My oven hasn't worked for 2 days, the chicken is now fully thawed, oh no, what to do?

Kenji, the culinary genius at Serious Eats, explains precisely how to grill a whole chicken and why one should do it his way. Without a meat thermometer and with the sunlight fading (it was full darkness when I pulled the chicken off the grill) it did entail a few risks, but the result was delicious and we'll find out tomorrow whether it was properly cooked. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Frankfurt, second impressions

Frankfurt reminds me of Philly. There is the downtown with skyscrapers, but much of the housing is 5 stories or less. Lots of green, lots of parks. Relatively easy to navigate the city. It has a comfortable feeling.

I continue to get settled. Yesterday I actually made a cake - I had ingredients and bakeware sufficient to the task. I invited a few people over to share it with me ... Given that I own 8 plates right now (4 big and 4 small) and the cake itself inhabits one of them, it is a small group. I'm not 100% sure I have drinking vessels for all.

Work is both harder and more rewarding than I had expected. My expectation is that I won't be getting bored any time soon, which is just the way it should be. My colleagues are smart, patient, and fun to work with.

The last weekend of each month, the museums have free admission. I used that opportunity to explore a couple of museums and check out the touristy area - the museums are in the neighborhood - and have to admit the scenery is indeed charming.  And the main tourist bridge has, as so many European bridges do, a slew of locks, most of them engraved with names and wedding dates, and in various colors.

This weekend I ventured to a farmer's market. I have complained quite a bit about DC area farmer's markets - they seem to be Whole Foods outside and maybe even more expensive than WF if that is possible, whereas everywhere else in the world the purpose of a farmer's market is to cut out the middleman store, which gives the farmers more income while also reducing the grocery bill for shoppers. This market is more like that, the prices were pretty similar to the regular grocery store but the quality was better, so the shopper still gets good value.  I found the first fresh beets I've seen in Germany, this year's crop and with the tops still on (once I saw a couple of leftover beets, dirt still on them, looking old and rubbery). I bragged to Terry about the beet greens I'll be cooking up this week.

Last weekend I checked out a "street food festival" that was basically a food truck mashup. The Filipino adobo chicken I had for lunch was so tasty I went back for something new at dinner time ... the Balinese stand I had my eye on was sold out of food so I had one of the best falafel sandwiches I've ever had instead.

If nothing else, I eat well here :-)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cabin, Epic Treehouse Version

As usual for an in-the-USA July 4, we headed up to the cabin for the long weekend. It is not news that I love the cabin and everything there is magical and wonderful.  Because of logistical problems we have been debating whether it makes sense to just sell it. Then the kids asked for a treehouse and Terry got a bee in his bonnet to make it something better than a plywood board nailed in the Y of some random tree. Most of our "relaxing" long weekend was consumed with creating Epic Treehouse Cabin Version.

[note: this was supposed to be published a month ago. And with photos. Such is life]

Terry got 8 foot boards and decided not to worry about cutting them down, so the treehouse is 8 square feet. It has two trees growing up inside of it (i.e., it's got 2 tree support rather than just one. The trees come through the floor. They are perfect for leaning against while reading a book).

Day 1 was mostly just framing it out and anchoring the foundation to the trees. We didn't think about taking any photos until that work was just about done, oops, so there's no documentation. A decent chunk of the day was spent simply getting the lumber and tools up the hill to where the treehouse is - in the middle of the woods, nowhere near the lane or anything else that smacks of humanity. Everyone got good exercise and ate a larger lunch than usual - perhaps a bit of foreshadowing what it may be like to have 2 teenagers in the house? Day 1 ended with a trip to Home Depot for more lumber for flooring and the railing, and paint for the railing. And water ice, where we discovered cookies and cream water ice. And chocolate fudge brownie. All dairy-free (we asked). Alex was in heaven.

On Day 2 we had to cart more lumber up the hill. We had to paint the railings, too, which was a task largely delegated to the kids until Terry noted what a sloppy job they were doing. He was happy to release them from chores to play with their new friend, a neighbor girl who they had never interacted with previously and who they spent most free moments with during this trip. She and Zoltan were like oil and water - he'd come back upset from some slight, and 45 minutes later be running off to play with her again. In between the schlepping and painting, Terry lay the flooring. We ended up with a very fancy-looking design using both dark and light wood.

Day 3 was constructing and installing the railing, then realizing the kids are little and skinny and they would plummet right off in between the rails, so we needed to add something to prevent that - in comes some old lattice that had been laying around in what was essentially a junk heap and now finally had a productive use.

This project was much more time and labor intensive than I had thought it would be. And It is pretty close to the end for a while - our plan is to use it as is for a while and through the use determine what we'll do next. For example we first planned to close it in entirely, like a real house, with windows and a door. Then we realized it would be a tragedy to make so much of the surrounding area hard to see when sitting on the floor, leaning against one of the trees and reading a book. So we're considering keeping it open. Or using clear plexiglass to provide a bit of weatherproofing while not keeping nature out entirely. And that goes with the roofing options: something solid? a tarp that can be rolled up or down? A mix? All options are currently on the table.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Frankfurt, first impressions

I've been here about 10 days now, more or less, and so far everything is both exactly as I expected and totally different. There's a lot of people crossing against the lights, although I am pretty sure most of them are not German. For example, I heard a Russian couple arguing the whole way down the street and across it ... when the walk sign was RED.

It took longer than I've ever experienced to get internet set up in my apartment, which is a big deal because the internet is how I communicate with the family. But it is now done so I'm happy.

My boss seems great, my colleagues too. I was supposed to be training all week but a colleague called out sick so I started adjudicating visas two days earlier than the training plan had anticipated. On my first day I adjudicated a whopping 32 visas!  I got better at it the next day.  Still haven't figured out my routines yet but that will come in time. One thing I will say, it is good for my diet that when I am adjudicating visas I don't take a break for anything, I even forget to drink from my water bottle which is next to me on the counter (I think as I get more settled into it, though, that will change).  But it is bad for my diet that, like I hear about consular offices around the world, people bring in treats to share just about every day. And my desk is right in front of the nice little table where the treats are displayed.

I can't wait for my bike to get here, because there are bike lanes EVERYWHERE and most things are bike-able but not walkable, unless I have nothing else to do (such as go to my job or get home in time to eat dinner and go to bed). The buses show up at exactly the time stated on the schedule. I am constantly amazed at that.

My first weekend at post I mostly spent getting to know my way around my neighborhood, and stocking up with the basic essentials I need (no broom in the house. Or salt and pepper. Or sponges. Or cleaning agents to use with the sponges)  I've been paying attention to the pantry basics I am buying and thinking about life in other parts of the world, or for other parts of society. Between the rice, oatmeal, and couscous, plus the butter, sugar, eggs and olive oil, I could probably consume sufficient calories for a month out of what I have right now.  Sobering thought as I rush out to buy cherries or wine or some other totally non-necessary extravagance. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Goodbyes, again. And Hello

The car is on its way. The house seems bigger with so much less stuff in it. In the last few weeks I said "so long" to friends and family. For some, I've got a feeling I'll see them when I'm next in town - only about six weeks after leaving - and for others it's still hazy.  Offers to host people in Frankfurt have been extended.

My apartment is fine, everything I need and nothing more.  It is also the smallest housing I've had in the foreign service, good practice for when we retire and live at the cabin!  My boss and colleagues seem nice, my only complaints are happily temporary:  1. it is too hot for me to sleep, there's no air conditioning and Terry has ruined me for tolerating heat and 2. the process to get internet in my house is ridiculous. Makes waiting all day for Comcast sound like a walk in the park. So I am writing from the community center/restaurant in the neighborhood for its free wifi. I probably won't have internet for several weeks. Normally not such a big deal, but it is sort of how I can communicate with my family so it sucks.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mom knows best

A couple of weeks ago we had a very "eh" kind of weekend. We had a lot of chores to do after having neglected the house for several weeks. I had to wake up extra early on Saturday to get the fourth tire put on my car before it ships to Germany (a rant on that coming later, maybe) so the day just couldn't be recovered after that. By Sunday evening the kids were snarling balls of emotions - they sniped at each other, then cried when the sniping got turned around, they whined and complained, and generally acted like two children who had barely left the house all weekend.

So I said "Get your shoes on, we're going into the woods."  Because nature makes people happy. Here's just one of many articles on the subject.

The kids whined and complained, although now their target was me rather than each other. They staunchly insisted they would be grumpy and miserable throughout the walk. I said that's fine, as long as it's outside in nature.

A segment of Rock Creek Park is just about two blocks from us. One grumpypants was already cheering up by the time we hit the corner of our block. The other grumpypants is more focused and dedicated and it took longer.

We discovered a million wild raspberry bushes, with the berries just starting to form (we also found three dark red ones to taste).  We captured fireflies (something I never did as a child, I don't even remembering seeing them up north). We made plans to come back with proper firefly catching jars, with mesh tops so they can breathe. We saw a couple of deer in the woods, until we scared them off. The serious, dedicated grumpypants decided with me that we should try to get into the woods as many evenings as we can after dinner.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Memorial Day

For the first time that I can remember, there were no illnesses or previous commitments, yet we did not spend the long weekend at the cabin.

Sunday we went to Gettysburg - it's only about 1.5 hours from home and I've been wanting to see it - this weekend seemed an appropriate time. On the way we listened to a podcast about the battles, which was useful as I could explain things from the podcast while standing in the battleground.

Gettysburg does this great thing where kids get a Junior Ranger booklet with information about some of the major sights, things to look for, and puzzles and games.  It definitely helped keep them engaged. Walking around downtown Gettysburg itself was also interesting, with all the buildings marked "Civil War" and trying to imagine what the town would have looked like back then.  We played "what wouldn't have been here" - cars, electricity poles/lines, the road itself.

Then on to visit Terry's sister and watch a minor league baseball game in her hometown.  There were a number of rain delays, but the game was never canceled. There were fireworks after the game, which was also fun. In general, it ended up a late night, but the kids surprised us by sleeping late the next day. Wins all around!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The mystery of fresh produce

 (stock photo)

Washington DC is a culinary wasteland. Yes there are some pockets of excellent restaurant food, usually food from Ethiopia, Korea, Vietnam, or somewhere else far from these shores. There may also be good, fresh produce at Whole Foods or the local farmer's market. However, with 5 mouths in this household the days of $15 bunches of asparagus are behind us.

Terry returned from a weekend in PA with four or five full bags of produce. Some of it was local, farmer's market.  The cauliflower he brought home was the best cauliflower I have ever eaten. 24 hours later I am still thinking about it. 

On the other hand, he brought home two plastic quart containers of Driscoll's strawberries, looking exactly like the strawberries I can find in any of the 6 large and medium sized grocery store chains within a 5 mile radius of my home.

I don't know where Driscoll's is, but it probably had to go through DC on its way to Pennsylvania. However, somehow, the freshness, taste and general quality was significantly better than anything I can find in DC. Given the aforementioned overstock of grocery stores in my neck of the woods, this is not a "supermarket desert". It is a quality food desert.

Can anyone suss out why on earth this is the case? 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The cabin makes me happy

I recently read an article about how spending time in nature makes people happy (here's not the article I read, but something else on the topic). Even just 5 minutes gives a boost, and hours in the woods has measurable benefits.  We spent about 24 hours at the cabin this weekend.

 Weeds can be pretty too.

 We planted the tree that's right in the center, about 10 years ago. It's a crabapple.

Kids reading in their hammocks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I passed!

After just about 36 weeks, I took my language exam and passed.  This means the American government feels safe sending me out to Germany to represent my country in their language and not create a international incident through saying something incorrect or inappropriate.

Intensive German language training is now a thing of the past for me.  At post there is usually a couple-of-hours-per-week class to continue learning or at least not forget too much of what I now know, and I do plan to take advantage of that.  I also plan to continue listening to Deutschland Funk Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (A German radio program on economics and society, in my mind it's like NPR's All Things Considered) during my morning commute. And American politics is a lot more bearable when I first have to decipher the German so I'll probably still read Der Spiegel sometimes. But I have no homework - none of this is required.

I do, however, have to navigate a veritable mountain of paperwork and logistics to make sure I am ready and permitted to travel. And next week I get to start learning about how to do my job as a consular officer.

It's feeling more real than ever before!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Sometime around the pre-election season I had to quit NPR and started listening to podcasts instead. As I got further in German I started listening to news in German. But I usually play a fun podcast during my commute home to make it more bearable.

Today I listened to one all about cake and its relevance in American history. By the time I got home I knew I was making a cake tonight, German review be damned. With my test in just under 2 weeks that is a strong craving indeed.  I mentioned all this to my fabulous au pair, who then whipped up a cake in the 30 minutes between dinner and when she left to bring Zoltan to soccer (I participated too ... I took it out of the oven)

It is delicious.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Test

Yesterday in class we practiced some strategies for handling certain parts of the test. I hadn't been working on these particular parts of the test in a while. I failed spectacularly. Last night I had my first nightmare about the test:  I was in a play and for some reason had never bothered to learn my lines.  So it comes to opening night and there's no understudy and there's no complete script laying around everywhere but I don't even know when it's my line until I notice nothing else is happening on stage and then I tear around looking for the part of the script that has my lines, or at least some direction of where I am supposed to be and what topics I'm supposed to be discussing.

Very hard to understand where that dream came from, eh?

The good news is I feel very confident in my ability to speak German and carry on my job and my life at post. I listen to German radio [aka, news podcasts] and read German news every day. I discuss and debate various topics and while I make grammatical errors or sometimes start on a sentence that ends up so complex that I lose my way halfway through and need to back up and start over (like if I had tried this sentence in German)  I am overwhelmingly understood.  However, as in so many other things, the worry is not about Life but about the Test.

I have two weeks. And if I don't pass, the world does not come to an end. I simply have to learn German for an additional 4-6 weeks before testing again.

But I have my pride.

So I guess this weekend I will be reviewing harder and more diligently on certain areas than I have been in the recent past.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Way More Fun with German

In addition to spending our days in the classroom slogging through the language, we also have other opportunities to play with German.  Two such opportunities came about last month.

One day we had a field trip to the German Embassy. It was the best morale boost, chatting like normal people with Germans in German. The best part - they understood us! In German!

The second opportunity was a special module put together by one of the teachers for handling Consular work. We held mock consular interviews at mock consular windows (apparently called "counters" = "schalter" in German. Probably a linguistic thowback from the days before bulletproof glass separated us from the visa seekers.)

Mind you, my German is riddled with grammar mistakes and missing vocabulary I have to "paraphrase" around. But it appears to be more or less understandable.

It is a little hard to believe that six months ago I spoke no German at all!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Coddle Pasta

We've coined a new term tonight.  I knew I was making a meal the kids have steadfastly and continually failed to enjoy. So, I pulled out a bunch of the cooked pasta and left it out, untouched by any other ingredients. After the kids tried dinner and, yet again, failed to like it, I let them finish dinner with plain pasta saved from before. The "Coddle Pasta"; meaning the pasta that represents my coddling of the children. Heck yeah!

Friday, March 10, 2017


We aren't really a fast food family. McDonald's is something saved for special occasions like being on the road, birthday dinners (kids', not ours), or when the grandparents have the kids and can do whatever they please.

Alex decided she wanted to use her coupon to pick dinner, and she chose the golden arches. There are two within 1.5 miles of our house, and I randomly chose one. And oh, what a stroke of luck!

Right upon the entrance when we walked in was a table loaded to the brim with coloring pages, crayons, craft supplies and who-even-knows-what-else.  I had to drag the kids away when their food arrived and they rushed back when they finished eating. There were balloons handed out.  There were craft projects made. They even each got a sugar cookie to decorate (complete with whipped cream, mini M-n-Ms, crushed Oreos, and a cherry for the top. Oreo seems to have changed its formula because it now has no dairy, so Alex could pile that on, and she finished decorating her sugar cookie when we got home). The ladies working the tables seemed to really like kids, they had good energy and a super relaxed attitude.

I asked what it was all about and they said they are doing "Family Night" about twice a month to better keep kids entertained.  I can say that although I doubt we'll head to McDonald's more often than before, we will certainly aim for that particular one when the next opportunity arises!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Memorable quotes

One of the kids, kicking a tree: Look, I'm a footpecker!

Terry to me, after he shared an article and started a conversation about the new McDonalds' Shamrock Shake straw design: The fibonacci sequence always distracts me when i see it in real life, and not just a recursion example.

Dinnertime rules we have been forced through experience to lay down: 1. No singing at the table until dinner is finished; 2. No dancing in the kitchen.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fun with German

This may be the longest word I have learned thus far:  Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkung
It means speed limit and has 28 letters. I have to imagine that on the Autobahn there is some abbreviation because I am not reading a 28 letter word while travelling at 200 km/h.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fig Newtons vs. Bark Thins

Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt 4.7 ozEspecially because of Alex's milk problems, we have all become very dedicated label readers. Usually, finding something my kids will eat that is safe for Alex is the limit of my capabilities; worrying about chemicals, sugar, and other signs of (un-)healthfulness take a back seat. (And, a lot of non-dairy foods like cheeses and yogurts that replace dairy depend on various kids of additives/chemicals).

Today when I got home from the grocery store we were looking at the labels for the Fig Newtons I'd bought and the Bark Thins we had in the house.

Can you guess which one was better?

The Bark Thins had all recognizable, easy to pronounce ingredients. Less sugar, more protein. More fat, but looking at the ingredients it must be the butter and/or the almonds, neither of which worry us especially in terms of the kids (i.e. nuts are healthy and the kids are skinny anyway).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Great Escape 2016

We try to get a night alone once a year, although it doesn't always happen [note: dealing with house construction or rehabilitation work in the summer does not count]. This time we left the kids with Terry's dad for the overnight and hit the road - to Philadelphia. We glutted on art and food.

When we arrived in the city we went straight to Italian Market. It was a bit smaller than we remembered. We popped into the local tourist info office on the main drag and ended up chatting a while with the women who worked there. Turns out, one of them has a brother in the foreign service who served in Kazakhstan about ten years ago. What were the odds?  The other woman recommended her favorite local pizza place, about half a block away. We have been eating bad pizza for years and had even forgotten how pizza is supposed to taste.  It was so, so good. We also stopped in a couple delicatessen to look and drool and ended up carting back to the hotel some fancy cheeses.

Next up was the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  They are doing a special exhibition about the Mexican art scene post-revolution (1910-1950). The exhibit seemed never-ending - really good, but also overwhelming. I could have stopped for a cup of tea and opportunity to digest mid-way. We hadn't been to an art museum since Russia, and realized how much we missed it.

After checking into the hotel we wandered toward our originally planned dinner at Vietnam - not to be confused with Vietnam Restaurant - the two establishments are rivals and across the street from each other. But, on the way we saw a ramen restaurant and that was that. It was incredibly authentic, right down to the seven item menu, six items of which were soup with a chunk of pork in it and the other being vegetarian. Terry was pretty happy with his choice.  Turns out, ramen is apparently a new thing because we proceeded to find about five more restaurants where previously there had been none.

We headed toward Penn's Landing, which we both realized we had never visited. There's a big ice skating rink right now but it was packed so we didn't take a turn. When we were later hungry again we went to the Franklin Fountain for ice cream, but the line looked about a half hour long so we went to Capogiro instead. Some day we'll try Franklin Fountain and find out whether it would have been worth it.

Next day we headed toward RTM (Reading Terminal Market) for breakfast so Terry could get his creamed chipped beef. Walking through the market afterwards we ran into our neighbors from Maryland! We did a self-guided mural walking tour around center city, which alerted to us to how much Philly has embraced its mural culture - the majority of the murals on the tour hadn't been there when we lived in the city. None of the ones on the list were any of my favorites. Back to RTM for the pretzels. I can't describe how delicious these pretzels are, except to say they you don't think a pretzel is such a big deal until you eat one of these.

I don't know if this is a year round thing or a holiday special, but our tickets to the museum were good for two days. As we hadn't hit the parts Terry wanted to see, we went back for more.  On our way back north we stopped for the one other must-eat on this adventure - Malik's!  As the restaurant was dark, we went and got takeout from the minimart. Still delicious.