Stop #1 was NYC.
Stop #2? Philadelphia.
Three reasons propelled me to visit the city of brotherly love:
1. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of my favorite shows, EVER
2. Iron Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant, Amada
3. Tony Luke’s cheesesteak
Philly is about a two hour drive from NYC. Instead of flying, which would have cost a couple hundred dollars PER PERSON, we took the Boltbus. The price of a one way ticket usually ranges between $8.00 to $20.00, however Boltbus offers $1.00 fares for whoever purchases the first ticket for each time slot. My ticket cost $1.50 ($1.00 + $0.50 service charge) and Henry’s cost $10.50.
We took a taxi from the Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel to the New Yorker Hotel (34th St and 8th Ave). For Boltbus trips to Philadelphia and Boston, the meet up location is right outside of Tick Tock Diner, which is located on the ground floor of the New Yorker Hotel.
The bus was right on time and to my surprise, we basically shared the entire bus with 10 other people! We had ample leg room and though we didn’t take advantage of it, WiFi was available for us to use. I ♥ Boltbus!
Two hours later, we arrived in Philly and checked into Penn’s View Hotel. Besides having jacuzzi tubs in most of their rooms, the location of Penn’s View was a huge selling point for me. There is a bus stop literally right outside and the subway station is just around the corner. The historical sites AND Amada are only a few blocks away and the hotel has a great view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Though the decor might not appeal to some (I didn’t mind it at all), our Standard King room (w/ jacuzzi tub) was a delight to come back to after a long day of walking and eating. Continental breakfast was included with our stay and we certainly took advantage of that. And even though we did a great deal of walking each day, we also took advantage of the fitness room on the 4th floor to burn off some extra calories.
During out first day in Philly, we checked out Reading Market Terminal. I instantly fell in love with the place right as I walked inside. If you think the Farmer’s Market in LA is cool, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The meats and seafood looked so fresh…
… and so did the produce.
There were also vendors that sold sweets and various home products…
… and the intoxicating aroma from the prepared food vendors lured us to one in particular: DiNic’s.
We sat down at the counter and ordered their famous Roast Pork w/ provolone and broccoli rabe. My excitement for this popular sandwich quickly faded when our server told us that they had run out of broccoli rabe AND spinach (at 1:00PM) so only sweet peppers were available. I found it ironic that they ran out of produce and yet, they are located in a public market where fresh produce is sold.
After taking one bite of the sandwich, I was confused as to why so many people swear by it. The roast pork was not only tough, but flavorless as well. I’m not sure if the broccoli rabe would have made any difference.
At least the coffee from Old City Coffee didn’t fail me 🙂
Since our hotel was located near the historical sites, we decided to tour that area before our dinner at Amada. So deeply rooted in history, Philly reminds me a lot of Boston. I love that there is still a small town feel to both cities, even though they are among the most populous cities in the United States.
Many of the popular sites in Philly are located within Center City. The boundaries of Center City are South Street to the South, the Delaware River to the East, the Schuylkill River to the West and Vine Street to the North. Like NYC, Philly (Center City) is very walkable. Also like NYC, Philly’s public transportation system (SEPTA) is very efficient as well. We bought a One Day Convenience Pass for $7.00/pp – valid for 8 rides on any bus, trolley or subway route in one day. For those who want more flexibility, there is also a One Day Independence Pass available as well ($11/pp for unlimited travel in one day). With our pass, we visited many locations where It’s Always Sunny was filmed…
From Logan Circle, we walked passed the Rodin Museum as we made our way to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, where we ran up the steps like Rocky.
As for food, Tony Luke’s was my favorite of all the places we ate at in Philly (I’ll write about my bad experience at Amada in another post). When I was planning Foodcation 2010, I thought about going to Geno’s or Pat’s, but I was less than thrilled to see that reviewers gave them 2.5 and 3.5 stars, respectively, on Yelp. I was interested in Tony Luke’s, but didn’t jump on-board initially because I was short on time and Tony Luke’s is farther away than the other two. However, after reading Gastronomer’s take on the whole cheesesteak battle, I changed my mind. I’m so glad I did because she was right, Tony Luke’s is the real deal.
After 20 minutes on the 57 Bus and a 5 minute walk, we were standing in line at Tony Luke’s.
We ordered a cheesesteak with whiz, roast beef italian (broccoli rabe w/ sharp provolone) and curly fries. I would have ordered the roast pork, but I was still traumatized by DiNic’s. Both sandwiches were DELISH, but I actually liked the roast beef more than the cheesesteak (Henry thinks I’m crazy).
I wish we had more time in Philly; I felt a little rushed at times. So much to see, so little time! I didn’t get a chance to check out UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Eastern State Penitentiary or the Mütter Museum . What this means is… I’m going back to Philly, Philly, Philly…♥