At the end of 2011, I travelled from New York City (NYC) to Philadelphia by bus with a friend, Dira. The bus ticket was cheap and it took about two and half hours if I’m not mistaken to get to Philly. Compare to the busy NYC, Philly was moderately crowded. No wonder, it was the biggest city in the state of Pennsylvania and fifth most populous city in the USA anyway. It was a nice city though; neat and clean. Luckily the weather was good while we were there.Philadelphia train station.
Firstly, we went to University of Pennsylvania to see Dira’s friend. We tried to contact him a few times but it seemed like he was still sleeping. By the time he finally arrived, it was mid day already. I must admit that I was upset since I had expected to stroll around the city of Philadelphia right after we arrived. However, instead of sightseeing in the city, we had to wait for him for a couple hours. -_-
As we walked around, we found Benjamin Franklin statues in some part of the campus. I was about to touch it and asked Dira to take a picture of me with it but he stopped me. Saying that he wouldn’t do it if he were me. I asked why; he said, people spit and peed on the statues. Eww… gross.
Then, he treated us to lunch in the campus cafeteria. Well… well… this recovered my mood. The cafeteria, for me, was awesome. It’s like being in an all you can eat restaurant with so many variety of food and drinks! I had a great time in the cafeteria trying to taste everything. A little later after that, we said goodbye to him and proceed to the city.
Our tour guide named Paul. He’s a university student majoring in History. He took us to Independence hall, Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, City Tavern, Quaker Church, Elfreths Alley, and US Mint.
Paul explained a lot and it turned out that this city was very much related to Mr. Benjamin Franklin. I used to know him as a former President (Governor of Pennsylvania) and a scientist; he found the idea of a thunder rod. But really, he was much more than that. He was the inspiration of the city long before he became the President. He was a world renowned polymath – a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; Mr. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster!, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. Not to mention the fact that he was also one of the Founding Fathers of the USA. Wew! He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department, post office, and a university – we visited the university earlier this morning. He has done so much and deemed as the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.The post office at the time of Mr. Benjamin Franklin. It’s still operating. We took time to send letter home from this post office ^_^
As we move on with the tour, we passed by the Quaker church – they actually preferred to be called congregation (monthly meeting) than church. According to Paul, Quaker was a civic organization built all the way back in 17th century. Quakers found meaning and value in the teaching of many faiths. They gathered and do the worship by musing in silence trying to find their own calling by the Spirit. Everyone divine the calling by themselves; those who feel the urge to share with everyone else at the congregation shall speak. Following the message, the silence resumes.
Do you know the “Quaker Oats” brand? The image of Quaker Oats is a man dressed in the Quaker garb, not because the congregation decided to start business by selling oats, no. But it was chosen by the Quaker Oats company themselves because the Quaker faith projected the values of honesty, integrity, purity and strength.
From the Quaker church, we went to the Elfreths Alley – America’s oldest residential neighbourhood. The alley itself was around 300 years old; it consisted of 32 buildings that were built during the 1720s-1830s, and people of Philadelphia are actually live there until now! There was no one while we were there, and Paul forbids us from peeking through the window as we will disturb the owner of the house. The houses in Elfreths Alley were a simple two-storey building. Judging from outside, it’s not so spacious inside the house.
Paul then took us to the Betsy Ross House – a house known as the birthplace of the American flag. Betsy Ross was known as the one who sew the first American flag. Unlike the present American flag, the stars on the first flag of America were in circle.The first American flag (behind me).
You had to pay an entrance fee, 7 USD, if you want to enter the house. Since we had to move on to our next sightseeing spot, we didn’t enter the house.
Philadelphia was then the nation’s capital, due to this, the first USA’s mint was built in that city. As every nation needs a readily accepted currency, in 1972 the Congress called for the establishment of the mint. It was decided that the coins be made of gold, silver and copper, with $10, $5, $2.50, half dime and half cent pieces, in addition to the coin denominations in the present.
We visited the site of Benjamin Franklin’s house. The house does no longer exist, as Franklin’s grand children no longer wish to maintain the house back in 1812. Now only the frame of the house rebuilt to give an illustration to the visitors about the location and its size. There is a museum next to the frame of the house about Benjamin Franklin. However, it was getting dark thus we had to move on to the next sightseeing spot.
The last spot of our tour was the Liberty Bell. We came back close to the point where we started. Liberty Bell is very important for the USA. It’s an iconic symbol of independence. It was rung for the first time on the 4th of July 1776 after the declaration of independence. Over the years, the bell continues to serve as a symbol of independence. It used to be stored in the Independence hall, but now it’s moved to the Independence mall. There was a long line who wanted to view the bell closer. We decided to peek from outside the mall since we didn’t have time to queue. However we already took picture with the replica in U-penn.With the replica of the Liberty Bell in U-penn.
That ends our walking tour in Philly! Before going back to NYC, I asked Paul about the must eaten food in Philly. He suggested us to try the Philly cheese steak. We bought it for to go – I didn’t realize that they forgot to put the cheese in my steak. -_- I found out about it when I was already back in NYC. After buying the cheese steak we proceed to the bus that will take us back to NYC. We arrived 15 minutes earlier than the schedule. However, as we get on the bus and sat, the bus left immediately to NYC! We wonder what happened to the people who come later than us. (npa).