Ye Olde Philly

Trip Start Unknown
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Trip End Ongoing

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Saturday, March 22, 2014

Well Philly seems to have more history than most of the states. On our first touristy day we ventured around the majority with our new Australian friend Aaron, all in one strategically planned, and well executed operation.

Benjamin Franklin is buried here, which we didn't know, so of course we went to see his grave, but swerved the cover charge by viewing from outside of the railings. This worked out better as it was closer to him than the path inside. It was covered in pennies, presumably people had thrown them for good luck and fortune, we didn’t at this point.

Running 3 blocks between, Race St through Walnut is Independence National Historical Park, which is lovely on a warm day. There are wall flat screened TV’s playing videos’ of events through the fight for independence, and timelines explaining this. Toward the middle is the Liberty bell centre, of course this houses the Liberty Bell. The queue was huge to get a close up of the famous bell and its crack (The reason for its removal) so we settled for a window shot, which we were happy enough with that. In earlier years it lived in Pennsylvania state hall, also known as Independence Hall, situated across the street. The bell is … well a bell with a natty inscription from the Bible. It seems to mean a lot to Americans but not glad we didn’t queue to see it.

We picked up free tickets from the Liberty Bell Centre, for the Independence Hall Tour (Well worth doing) where we had a very dramatic guide (I wish I could remember his name) who would break in and out of character without warning. He was ear piercingly loud, and loved his job, we left the Hall understanding in detail, what had actually happened throughout the years. The building was where the Declaration of Independence was signed, where the first constitution was drifted but it had also been used as a hospital and a prison since then.

A slight diversion from Old Philly. Our Australian companion Aaron had told us of 'The Space Tree’ a tree that had been taken to the moon and planted to see if it would grow. It turned out it  did not grow, and was brought back to earth to be planted in Washington square. We went for a view of this thing, expecting magnificence and to be overwhelmed, instead we laughed at this silver birch looking twig sticking out of the ground. (As I am writing this, we are on the train to New Orleans, and the next stop is ‘YAZOO’ – Jus’ sayin’ like) Washington Square is also home to ‘The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier’ a memorial for soldiers of both sides during the revolution who were buried beneath. We also took a stroll down Elfreth Alley, (The oldest continually occupied street in the country) it was quaint and cute, and that is all.

We liked our hostel, and thought we would participate in a ghost tour they were giving one evening. It was nothing to do with the offer of  free beer on completion. Although not scary whatsoever, it was a little informative, and we met some nice new people. Vince and Coleen, who were siblings from Lyon, France. On this tour we did visit ‘Big Ben Frank’ once again, where this time felt appropriate to throw pennies.

Day two took us to Pennsylvania State Penitentiary, with a 6 strong group trekking for one hour across town to descend on this grand prison. (guided superbly by Susie who has excellent map reading skills!) It was an audio guided tour and very informative, but also very cold inside. We read and watched numerous accounts from prisoners and guards, including getting a look into Al’ Capone’s cell itself. They were allowed to play baseball at exercise times, until people started smuggling things in; through the returned balls that had been thrown back over the wall. There was also an attempt to escape, but were back in their cells within 5 minutes after leaving a trail of muddy foot prints. Recommend going, even if it is a bit long.

We also managed to enjoy a little bit of history in Macy’s, of all places. Philly’s Macy’s is big the clothes are unfortunately crap but it also houses couple of interesting artefacts from the St Louis  World’s fair. An incredibly large eagle and the Worlds Biggest Playable Church Organ, which was pretty darn huge. 
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