Destinations, Hotels, Philadelphia

How I Spent 48 hours in Philadelphia

IMG_20180107_203834_151
Travel back in time when you visit Old City Philadelphia © Dec 2017, D. Bell

It is amazing how being away from a bad situation can provide you with much needed perspective. Last year during my winter break I planned a quick jaunt to Philadelphia. I had never been to Philadelphia and I didn’t really know anyone there, however I spent the first few days of my break mulling around my apartment not doing much. I was determined to end the year by going somewhere. I had to get out of  Washington, D.C. which was where I lived at the time. Someone had posted about the Kimpton Hotels brand and I dreamed (no, literally) about their Fiji soaking tubs. I know some people get really grossed out by hotel bathtubs, but I always bring my own cleaning products when I travel so I cleaned it well before I used it.

I can’t deny that the trip to Philly was rough. First I scheduled and missed a couple of buses. The bus that I finally made was late because the driver had to go all the way to Baltimore to get his license. I kid you not! To add insult to injury there was high drama on the bus, but I was determined to get to Philadelphia. Word to the wise, never take Greyhound if you have another option available. There are other bus companies that provide much better service.

When we finally pulled into the bus terminal in Philadelphia, it was too late to sightsee so I requested an Uber (I could have walked but it was freezing and I had no idea where I was.) Once I was checked into my hotel room I headed upstairs to have a cocktail at the hotel’s swaggy rooftop lounge. The lounge only offered small bites and I was voraciously hungry so I headed back down to the main floor to eat dinner at the Red Owl Tavern.

After a full day of stressful bus travel I was exhausted, so I headed back to my room  recorded a room tour, took a shower, and went to bed. The nighttime views from my 9th floor corner suite were stunning! On one side there’s a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge  and on the other side there’s Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. In the interest of full disclosure, the bell atop Independence Hall rings every hour on the hour. You can see the nighttime view from my room by watching my room tour video on Youtube.

IMG_20180107_205005_484
Kimpton Monaco Hallway © Dec 2017, D. Bell

When I woke up the next morning I looked out of the window and I thought I was Alice in Wonderland trapped inside of a giant snow globe! Snowflakes whizzed past my window and everything below was blanketed with a fresh white coat of snow.

IMG_20180107_203632_902
A snow covered Independence Hall as seen from my hotel room © Dec 2017, D. Bell

While it snowed outside I took a long luxurious soak in the Fiji soaking tub. It was everything I imagined it to be!  All of my cares and worries melted away and the stress that previously had my  muscles tight and knotted seemed to dissolve. When I emerged from the tub I felt like a new woman. I brought my own bath salts, but the products provided by the hotel, Atelier Bloem, are quite amazing and have a refreshing clean scent to them.

IMG_20171229_200110_449
Fiji Soaking Tub in King Corner Spa Suite © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I did a little sightseeing after lounging around the room all morning. I visited Independence Hall but because of the inclement weather there weren’t many tourist out. I crossed the street to visit the Liberty Bell where a line of visitors waited patiently in the cold to get inside of the building where the bell is housed. I was starving afterward so I grabbed a pizza from down the street to bring back to the room for dinner. I relaxed in my room for the rest of the evening.

The next day I needed to check out by noon, but not before I indulged in one more luscious bath in the amazing soaking tub. I planned to stay in Philly to watch the early fireworks show at Penn’s Landing but the temperatures were too frigid so I decided to change my bus reservation so I could leave about an hour and half after my scheduled check out time.

IMG_20171231_193417_363
Corner Newsstand in Philadelphia © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I still managed to have enough time to have coffee at the Cosi down the street from the hotel then wander the streets of Old City until I reached Penn’s Landing. I hopped on the SEPTA for $2.50 and rode the subway down to 30th Street station where I got on the Mega Bus and had an relaxing and uneventful ride back to Washington, D.C.

IMG_20171231_193520_767
They still used tokens. I think they were being phased out © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I definitely want to go back to Philly once the temperature begins to warm up.  It’s an often overlooked tough little city with a lot of moxie and great architecture. The vibe of the city is primarily working class and unpretentious. People for the most part are chilled. It felt like a mix of New York, Jersey, and Baltimore.

IMG_20171231_125049_271
Eagles fans on the SEPTA enjoying a cold brew on a cold day © Dec 2017, D. Bell

Philly has the history of D.C. but the personality of New York. I love it! I want to experience the other areas of the city and I want to see how it operates during a typical work week. This trip was the highlight of my year and I am so glad that I bit the bullet and decided to go. I had two other trips booked and planned earlier in the year but I canceled them. I think it was a bit easier to navigate this trip because it was still relatively close to home. Want to see more photos from my visit? Click here.

I would love for you to follow and subscribe for more travel related content. Please leave a comment below. 

~Ciao!

Advertisements
Budget Travel, Destinations, Tips and Tricks, Washington, DC

What to do when you can’t get tickets to the National Museum of African American History

pexels-photo-1006227.jpeg
Photo credit: Stock photo

Almost two years after opening, The Museum of African American History and Culture still has visitors itching to get their hands on a limited supply of timed tickets. Scoring tickets to the NMAAHC museum is the equivalent of finding the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So what do you do when you have a trip planned to Washington, D.C. but you are unable to get hold of one of the elusive tickets? Below are a couple of alternative African American historical sites in Washington, D.C. that you might consider visiting.

Frederick Douglass National Historical Site Visit the home of Frederick Douglass located on Cedar Hill in the historic neighborhood of Anacostia. Douglass lived in the house from 1878 until his death in 1895. The house is perched atop of a hill at 1411 W Street SE Washington, D.C. Reservations are strongly recommended since only guided tours are offered at the site. Hours are 9-5 seven days a week except major holidays. Visit the website for detailed information and directions: www.nps.gov/frdo/index.htm

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum The predecessor to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Museum of African American History and Culture, the Anacostia Community Museum was opened in 1967 during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. For the past 50 years the museum has offered free educational programs, exhibits, and tours. For detailed information about visiting the museum click onto anacostia.si.edu
African American Civil War Memorial and Museum Located near the historic U Street Corridor and within walking distance of Howard University, The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum is often an overlooked museum. The museum opened in 1999 and it honors the legacy of Colored soldiers that fought during the Civil War. The museum is located at 1925 Vermont Ave, NW Washington DC, directly across the street from the African American Civil War Memorial, located at 13th and U Streets, NW Washington DC. across from the U Street Cardozo Metro Station. For more information about hours and tours, visit their website at www.afroamcivilwar.org