Philadelphia

We had a bit of a wait at the bus station – the trend with Greyhound seems to be to keep their customers waiting and not say too much, but we were then on the bus and heading on out of Washington DC. The trip through to Philadelphia with stops would take around 3.5 hours, and we were rewarded with some more great countryside to see for the first time. First main stop for us was the city of Baltimore – the most populous city in Maryland – our bus route would follow Interstate 95 which flows up the eastern side of the US and through all the eastern US states. Baltimore is another large city with a population of over 600,000. One of the main sights that greets you as you come into the city though is their rubbish / power generation plant – they burn local rubbish to make steam which is then used to make power – impressive but also a bit of a sight in the heart of a large city. From Baltimore the I95 follows the last of the Chesapeake Bay inlet before you cross over in Delaware and find yourself following the large Delaware River north. Our plan had been to take a few days to head back down through this area and go around and over the Chesapeake Bay but our schedule has changed as we have one further house sit in New Jersey to see our time out here in the US, so one trip to come back and do as the waterways on this eastern side of the US are pretty special, plus there is the bonus of the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the bottom of the bay that I want to span at some point (23 miles of engineering marvel over and under the Chesapeake Bay).

Stretching over into Delaware – the last state we needed to span on our travels we stopped in city of Wilmington which sits on the banks of the Delaware River. Up and down the river there was signs of industry drawing water out of the river for their production sites – power plants, and manufacturing sites. Our time in Delaware would be all too sort, but nevertheless we spanned Delaware before moving back into Pennsylvania and pushing on for Philadelphia. There’s only around 30 miles that sperate Wilmington and Philly so not a long final push for us. As we near Philly you pass the International Airport and then come up alongside the Delaware River and Philadelphia Harbour. The US Navy obviously have a strong presence here as there was a load of new and also old US Navy hardware tied up / docked along the inner port area. Downtown Philadelphia greeted us with sunshine, but in the shade of all the large buildings, it was fresh, and even a little cold. Philadelphia is another large city – with a population of nearly 1.6 million. And whilst it was busy downtown, it wasn’t too bad pulling our bags the mile and a half to the Fairmont area – the exercise generating enough heat. We met Paula the home owner briefly before she had to head off to work, and were left with Jack – the energetic 2-year-old Golden Retriever – living here in a single bedroom apartment. As it would turn out, the area we were in was all about apartment living and the local streets were busy with other apartment dwellers walking their dogs – some big some small. Across from where we were staying there was a Doggie Day-care that looked to do a roaring trade – the window was always lined as we headed out with Jack for a walk.

We took Jack out for a bit of a walk to get our bearings locally and then dropped him back to the apartment so we could head down to the market to get some supplies. Our routine for the week ahead was to walk Jack later in the evening before we planned to head off for bed so we generally headed out in the cool (just above zero if we were lucky) of the evening around 9-10pm. Our walks oriented us on the neighbourhood – loads and loads of apartments – mostly older buildings that had been given another life as an apartment. Thursday dawned fine but cool so we headed out for a good morning walk with Jack – we headed over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art – home of the Rocky steps, and then along the Schuylkill River which flows up and through Philadelphia. Along the river they have done a nice job with restoring / beautifying the area. There’s a really nice collection of old rowing club houses along one of the stretches of the river and over the winter they have the houses lit up with lights – there’s also ice skating in the park nearby – all very nice. We were rewarded with loads of squirrels doing their thing – they are fun to watch. There were loads / there are loads of nice statues in and around the city of Philly so loads to look at and take in. I had a job interview to connect with that afternoon and with that out of the way we headed into town again to have a bit of a look around and get a few more supplies. Back home we walked Jack later that evening.

On Friday with our morning walking duties covered, Carol and I headed uptown to the Liberty Square area to see the famed Liberty Bell – crack and all. Exploring the history locally, we made our way back up town to the Reading Markets – a very popular spot for eating and buying fresh produce and meats. The place was buzzing with people – we enjoyed a few nice samplers as we went around. Having had a good look around downtown we headed back for Jack and got him out for a good walk again. On Saturday I went off on my own in search of the Simeone Auto Museum – that no one at the local Philly Visitor Centre had heard of and yet, it was again voted the world’s best auto museum last year – a little hidden secret in South Philadelphia. I connected with a couple of buses to get myself across to Sth Philly – spread out along the Schuylkill River was a large petroleum plant or plants – just seemed to stretch on as far as the eye could see. From the bus stop I had a walk of less than a mile to quite an industrial type area where I found the museum. Simeone was / is a local neuro surgeon here in Philadelphia who has done very well for himself and with his spare change went out and amassed one of the most significant collections of rare sports car. The collection is certainly not one of the largest with only around 80 cars in total, only going up to 1975, but it comprises significant sports / racing cars from vintage to mid-70’s. He has had cars win at Pebble Beach – some of the cars in the collection were one of only 7, 10 or 20 ever built – we are talking rare metal here. The museum is nicely set out in the eras that the cars competed.

I took my time and took in all that the museum had to offer – great cars, some nice displays and old videos playing. I spent a good 3 hours soaking up the place before making my way back over to catch the first of my buses back into central Philly. They don’t advertise the museum overly – anyone that follows cars will know of the place and will find it if they are in Philly – and it looked like they were happy keeping things that way even considering the notoriety they have gained being voted the world’s best. I made it back to the apartment and connected back with Carol who’d had a great day doing some exploring of her own. Jack was pleased to see us as we headed out and around the neighbourhood again. Sunday was Super Bowl Day here in the US so we headed out early to take in the Philly Museum of Art – stopping for a picture opportunity with Rocky before running up the famed Rocky movie steps – once was enough today. The Museum of Art – pay as you like on the first Sunday of the month, so cost effective for us today, has an amazing collection – I have to admit I can’t get my head around some art these days – what were they thinking??? The museum had an amazing collection of armour and weaponry from this period and that was pretty amazing to look over. The museum is home for some special pieces by Van Gogh and others – Carol will be ashamed I can’t remember them all – she was certainly in her happy place taking in all that the museum had to offer. I left Carol to it and headed back to the apartment as I had a couple of interviews lined up that afternoon, so I did those whilst Carol found a couple more art museums to enjoy.

With the interviews over and Carol home from a big day of art viewing we sat down and took in our first Super Bowl game proper – and interesting and very drawn out game but it was still okay. Game over we got Jack out for a late walk and then heard game goers making their way home as we settled down for the night. It’s a funny area – drivers, people in general seem pretty impatient around the place as car horns are hooted with good frequency. Mind you drivers seem to just stop in the middle of the road to drop off and pick people up so it could all get a bit frustrating around the streets here. Monday morning had us out early walking Jack one last time before trying to clean the apartment up ahead of us leaving. Jack is such a hairy dog there was dog fur everywhere. With bags packed and the apartment left as we’d found it, we bid Jack good bye and headed off (Paula would be home to him in a few hours). The day in Philly was lovely – the sun was shining and it was finally warming up – quite unseasonal for this time of year but the city was expecting 15 degrees or more today, so it was nice for walking uptown to the bus station once more. After a solid 30 min trudge pulling bags along, I was pleased to finally see the Greyhound sign once more. With that we would wait for our bus to go. Philadelphia had been a good experience for us – loads to see and do and despite its size it didn’t feel too bad. But it’s time to move on again – almost for the last time here in the US – next stop New York.

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