My day yesterday was spent in the City of Brotherly Love, aka Philadelphia. From the time we arrived to the time we left, there were plenty of things to do and see there. The first thing we did upon arrival was go to tour Independence Hall and see the Liberty Bell, a must given the rich history behind America; it’s nice to see where the Continental Congress kicked off the process that led to American independence. When I saw the Liberty Bell, it was truly inspiring. As one of the earlier symbols of freedom and unity, the atmosphere was incredible; you almost wanted to break out into a spontaneous rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. From there, we were heading off to lunch when we ran into this neat little science museum. Since it was right off the street in a little unassuming location, I thought nothing of it. However, once we arrived, it proceeded to blow my mind. I’m not a scientific person by any stretch of the imagination, but some of their displays were incredible-amongst the ones I really enjoyed were the 16th-18th century manuscripts. Later in the day, we went to the famous Reading Market, which was incredible. For the best comparison, imagine an American twist on Middle Eastern bazaars-lots of little food shops everywhere with hordes of people swarming to make their purchases. One thing that I thought was neat as well was how there were Amish people working in the restaurants at the market, as I wasn’t prepared to see Amish in Philadelphia. Lunch was a struggle, given that simply, there were too many choices (and not a lot of space; it was packed). After all, all the stores had amazing selections to choose from, so any choice you made was a great one.
One thing that I also enjoyed about the city was the blend of new and old. Given Philadelphia’s history, it wasn’t surprising to see the historical buildings in Old Town. However, I thought it was pretty neat to literally have the fusion of old and new on opposite sides of the streets from each other. The balance between these buildings were phenomenal, and it was a fantastic gateway to the past, so to speak. The city in general was really modern yet had that old school feel, and the architecture was absolutely brilliant.
Finally, the Franklin Institute’s Titanic display. When reading up on things to do in the city, this popped up, and I’m glad it did. The main display, it featured authentic items collected from the wreck itself! While perusing the displays, it was stunning to see how remarkably well they were preserved, given how long they were submerged in the cold North Atlantic waters. To give you an indication, you could read the writing and stamps on some documents! Another way to get visitors more emotionally attached was at the very start. When filing through, the staff gave you a card, which resembled the cards passengers received when boarding the ship. On them, they had the name, age, and city of your persona; mine was a 25 year old Swede from Stockholm, a Mr. Ernst Ulrik Persson. At the end of the display, there were plaques listing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd class passengers and the crew members that either survived or perished-you got to see if your person made it through the tragedy. Also featured at the end were some pictures and interactive displays of how they managed to salvage as many items as possible from the ship; on average, it takes 15 hours to completely finish a dive, and 2.5 hours to descend and to emerge, respectively. Sadly, we learned that within the next decade or so, due to the properties of the water it’s in, the ship is expected to implode on itself. Honestly, that’s the tragic thing about it, that something so grand and talked about will eventually be eroded away into nothingness. It definitely was heartbreaking to see how many people died in it, but the display was a fitting tribute to the HMS Titanic.
To conclude the day’s trip, it wouldn’t have been complete without gorging oneself on an authentic Philly cheese steak. Let me say this: they’re amazing! I’ve never been happier with a culinary experience like this before!