Showing posts with label Philly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philly. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Terry's dad had the kids for the weekend a couple of weeks ago. It was our only chance. We cashed in a bunch of miles and booked a room downtown, right by Reading Terminal Market, henceforth known as RTM. We packed an overnight bag and threw all the ice packs in the cooler. We knew what a weekend in Philly meant - food!

We drove up first thing Saturday morning. Went to RTM and bought as much Lancaster county-grown steak as we thought we could eat in 3 weeks. Managed an early check-in. Moved the car, went to lunch at Vietnam and bought a soft pretzel at RTM on our way back to the hotel. I'd totally forgotten what a pretzel could taste like. Took a nap, went back for another pretzel on our way to Italian Market. Wandered around, popping into stores, buying fresh mozzarella in marinade and duck prosciutto and blueberries. Wishing we'd brought 2 coolers. One more stop by RTM - we had thought we'd find cannoli in Italian Market but hadn't.  Back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Mmmm Malik's. We were worried it wouldn't be as good as we remembered. We were the only patrons in the entire restaurant and it took an hour to get our food. But - worth it! And we drove by our old Philly house for the first time since we moved. The tree we planted is gone, whether it died a natural death or not is up for grabs.

Sunday morning we ate the desserts we hadn't finished Saturday.  Yet again to RTM, this time for beef ribs as we hadn't managed to fit that into our calorie budget. We finished our trip with New York style pizza. Then on to Terry's sister's house, which is conveniently right between our house and Terry's dad's. We met up, had an early dinner and took possession of the children. And got to taste some treats we'd bought at RTM to bring over - the cinnamon rolls really weren't anything to write home about, which was surprising, but the pecan rolls were absolutely delicious.

I hadn't realized how much I missed Philly. When we were there last year I didn't feel like this, but then I was also going through stress at dealing with Alex's medical issues and sadness at leaving Piter so abruptly. This time we left with heavy hearts and a heavy cooler of delicious reminders.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Philadelphia, Part II

The next morning we woke and quickly headed out. First stop, Liberty Bell. There's a new exhibit in front of the building, all about the original President's House and the slaves who lived there. It's really well done and we did have to tear Alex away from the videos of reenactments of the slaves' stories. Zoltan practically raced through the building asking where the bell was and was thoroughly unimpressed when he finally saw it, but he did allow a photo op. Alex declined to participate.
 Snack time in the park was followed by a trip to the renovated-since-we-lived-here Franklin Square.
 It houses what is probably the only fountain you can't dip your feet into. The kids as usual loved the carousel ride.
 Then we hit the playground. I got a lovely nostalgic feeling for Russia when I saw the playground equipment all taped up but not fixed.

We considered the mini-golf through important Philly buildings, and instead opted to treat the kids to ice cream before lunch.
As we headed back to the playground, it started to rain. As we headed to the metro, it started to pour. We stopped in at the hotel to grab our rain gear and off to Lee How Fook for lunch. That DID hit the spot and we even found another menu item the kids would eat - score!

Last stop was getting some Dunkin Donut hot beverages at Suburban Station to warm us all up and being serenaded by a couple of violin-playing kids (OK, teens). Remembering this story about violinist Joshua Bell I made sure we acknowledged the performers and gave a tip. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the concert - hey, we did live in St Petersburg for 4 years!

Philadelphia, part I

Alex had a follow up appointment at CHOP, which I had deliberately scheduled for midafternoon, not knowing where we'd be coming from 6 weeks ago. I had figured the whole family would go and we'd spend some time in Philly, a place so meaningful to Terry and me but where Zoltan has never been - other than as a fetus, which doesn't count.

We ended up deciding to cash in some Marriott points and stay overnight to soak in more of the city, and got a fabulous room overlooking City Hall. I have to put in some props for Marriott, this is the 2nd time we've stayed in one recently and they have great customer service.

We also decided to increase the stress-free quotient of the trip and ditch the car at the nearest regional rail station and take the train into town. Bonus that the kids love trains and we ended up in a nearly empty first car where the kids could watch the man (engineer?) drive the train.

After dropping the bags at the hotel we hit Reading Terminal Market, where Terry satisfied his craving for DiNic's sandwiches and I got me some Sang Kee duck. A quick stop for fresh produce at the Iovine Brothers market for our fruit bat children, and we were set. Mmmm, Philly food, how we have missed you!

Alex and I had to head to CHOP for her follow up visit and the boys went down for naps. I have been meaning to snap some photos of the hospital, it really does look like what you'd expect a world class children's hospital to look like (i.e., very child friendly).

These interesting bell sculptures are right on the walk from the metro to the hospital and something else I've been meaning to photograph.

Before we got back to the hotel room the boys ran out for a bit to the LOVE statue and fountain (Zoltan's exuberant "I want to go to the fontanka!" was often heard these 36 or so hours).

The only less-than-perfect event of the day was when we ventured for Indian food that was metro-able (Malik's, alas, is not, but we have not forgotten you!). The place we intended to patronize turned out to be closed, so we went around the corner to another place we knew existed. All the vegetarian dishes were delicious, but the butter chicken was inedible, the tandoori chicken nothing special, and the goat curry tender but not very flavorful. When what you're really craving is butter chicken, a meal like this doesn't really ease the craving.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Franklin Institute

One thing that's nice about America is that there's a wealth of personal and family history to impart to the kids. Alex is in a science museum phase, she begged to go to the one in Piter for a week or so and that's where Terry ended up going with her during their "special time" together our last day in Piter. So of course, in Philly, can I possible deny her the Franklin Institute?

We got there at 10am and I realized I think it was the first time back since the wedding. I showed her where Terry and I got married, standing somewhere near the precise spot. I showed her the exhibits where we had our snacks and drinks (aka cocktail hour) and of course took her through the giant heart. She went through a second time all on her own. The one downside is there were about a million school groups there so the noise level was deafening, we had to yell to communicate, and many exhibits were crowded.

There were a bunch of new additions, which were very cool, and some old favorites I was excited to show her. It was nice to stay longer than the school groups, as she wouldn't have gotten onto the train otherwise.

We are usually museum'd out by 2 - 2.5 hours, if for no other reasons than hunger and naptime. Today we ate in the cafeteria, decided to skip nap, and left after 4.5 hours only because Alex was getting tired. We managed to catch the planetarium show, which she loves, and as we were leaving a demonstration was beginning in the atrium so we stayed for it. We still didn't see everything. I forgot how super ridiculously awesome that museum is, and it was good to be reminded because after reading McCullough's John Adams I am way less in love with Ben than I used to be and of course nobody can think of the Franklin Institute without thinking of him.