“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
Travelling requires three things; a destination, a few good friends and thirst for knowledge. When the TravelMavens set out on our #VisitPhilly adventure, I didn’t know what to expect. Movies depict it as a tougher city, history praises its foundation in beginning a nation and my actual knowledge of the city was small and incomplete. Always up for a challenge and a sense of adventure, the girls and I boarded my chariot and made the 9 hr (which ended up taking all day!) drive to historical Philadelphia.
After a hard time at the boarder, dinner at the Cheesecake Factory resting in our bellies and a few hours of shopping under out belts, we arrived in Philly under the light of a gorgeous full moon. We were taken aback by how beautiful the city was. Buildings lit up in stunning lights, cobblestone roads and artistic graffiti welcomed us to this historic city with open arms.
Where we stayed: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia
Our first destination, once in Philly, was our hotel, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. It was late and we were exhausted from our drive. When we pulled up front of our hotel, we were greeted by Lawrenece, the doorman. He welcomed us to Philly, made us feel important and even let us in on some gossip going around the city. Our first impression of the hotel was its artistic flare. This is not your typical hotel. There isn’t business casual decor in every room, bland colours and uptight feel. Rather it was bright, artistic and friendly. Even our rooms were not your typical hotel room. It had the essentials (mini bar, full bath, desk, bed), but it offered fun things like Alice in Wonderland novels, loud wall paper and vibrant colours.
This sophisticated hotel in a 1907 building is adjacent to the Independence National Historical Park. It offers the Red Owl Restaurant and a hip rooftop bar for your onsite dining access. The best part about this hotel is its location. Located in the heart of the historic district, you have the “Signer” Statue across the street
and the Liberty Bell,
National Liberty Museum,
American Revolution Museum
and Independence Hall are within a few blocks.
What I Learned:
Now we had just over 48 hours in Philly to check out everything it had to offer. That meant getting up early, lots of walking and acting like a sponge to absorb it all in. It was fabulous. I never realized how important Philly played in the formation of America, I didn’t realize that it was such a foodie place, and I didn’t realize how much of a struggle it would have been to be a hard working American man in Philly when Benjamin Franklin was alive (Can we say over achiever!). Now when the Travel Mavens and I venture off to a new place, we love seeing all the touristy things (and we did! National Liberty Museum, Eastern State Penitentiary, American Revolution Museum, Liberty Bell, Betty Ross Museum, etc), but we love learning the dirty secrets of a place. We want to know where the people living in Philly find the best food, what secrets normal tourists aren’t told and the best ghost stories a place has to offer. While some may be common knowledge, others are tidbits we learnt. Here are a few of the tidbits I learned while in Philly:
- Pennsylvania was named after Quaker William Penn. He was granted the land by King Charles II of England in 1681 as repayment of debt owed to Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn. It was customary to name land after yourself, so it was named Pennsylvania, Penn’s Land.
- William Penn was such a prominent figure in Philadelphia that his statue was placed, in honor, on the tallest building. When Verizon built and even taller building, trumping William Penn’s Statue. This act was thought to place a curse on all of Philadelphia’s sports teams. This curse remained in effect until ComCast created an even taller building and added a tiny statue of William Penn.
- Carpenters ‘ Hall was founded in 1724 to provide Philadelphia’s master builders training in the architectural discipline. It is an interesting building to visit and even features a glimpse at the type of architecture used in the 1700’s. There are rumors that old techniques aren’t the only things that remain in the building. Some people say that if you go through the cellar door, you will find angel stone of people who are buried on the property.
- Hidden through out Philly are Whispering benches. It is said that if you sit on one side, you can whisper something and someone on the other side will hear what you are saying as if they were sitting beside them.
- On an amazing tour of #historicphilly with Tim from Founding Footsteps., about Alleycat from Elfreth’s alley. She is a baker who lives on one of the oldest inhabited streets of Philly. She feeds squirrels by hand twice a day from her bedroom window, she has shared cookies with Miley Cirus and is known as the best baker in town.
- Betsy Ross is known as the woman who created the first American flag (as we know it today). She was very persuasive on its design and encouraged the use of a 5 point start, rather than the 6 point start that Washington had requested. The problem with this story is there is no actual proof. It is hearsay and a story passed down by the Ross family.
- The stories of Washington make him the right choice for founding father of America. He slept in the trenches, he got wet in the rain and refused any preferential treatment due to his position, if his men weren’t offered the same.
- Ben Franklin was a GOD. Not really, but the stuff this man invented, definitely shaped the world we live in today. Not only did he invent well known things like electricity, biofocal glasses, and the lighten rod but he went on to invent other things like the swim fin (age ll), Franklin stove, urinary catheter, and aromonica (Musical instrument). He was also known for creating the first anti-counterfeiting system in the united states (added lead casts made of actual leaves into money). he was a post master (which lead to the development of the Canadian postal system), he owned a printing press (published the Philadelphia Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanac), enlist France’s help with the Revolutionary War, and of course one of the founding father’s of the United States.
Philly was so much more than imagined. The rich history, the friendly people and the delicious food. There is so much discover! It was worth the trip to Philly and I can’t wait to return and dive in deeper!