Saturday, April 21, 2012

48 hours in Philadelphia

This posting is long overdue. But in the hiatus, I survived pre-match jitters and matched to my top choice residency. I was so thrilled and have been celebrating and getting ready for this next phase of my life. 

I was blessed with a vacation month this April so I did some small fun trips. 
A and I planned a weekend trip to Philadelphia and I thought I would share my itinerary with you all. I scoured the library guidebooks (Lonely Planet was the best) and combined what was recommended by nytimes (I have a love affair with their "36 hours in..." series) to bring you.. 48 hours in Philadelphia!!!

Day #1:
We got Friday off, so we headed towards Philly at 10am (5 hours planned drive). We hit some traffic so only got to our (love this site!) hosts at 5pm ish but we managed to rush and squeeze in/see from the outside most of what we wanted to see this day. Our assignment was to hit up...

  1. Liberty Bell, Old City Hall
  2. Franklin Court - tribute to Ben Franklin (closes at 5), can see his innovations/fireproof building
  3. Elizabeth Alley and Betsy Ross House (closes at 6)
  4. US Mint (closes at 4:30, free admission)
  5. Dinner options:
    1. The Continental/Martini Bar, retro, lots of food variety., this was the restaurant we ended up choosing. It was a bit pricey but I loved the vibe and atmosphere and my tofu tempura and bruschetta were so delicious.
    A and I got an appetizer of Szechuan shoestring fries with spicy mayo sauce. A bit of a challenge to eat!
    My scrumptious tofu tempura with plenty of creamy avocado.
    The Continental is very conveniently located in Old City and the people watching is excellent. ;)
    1. Amada- Spanish Tapas-
    2. Zahav- mediterranean, nytimes, rave reviews, pricey according to our hosts!!!,
    3. Franklin Fountain-, old fashioned desserts! Did not make it here but wish we could have.
  6. Comedy show- 8pm-9:30. The N Crowd- 257 N 3rd street. $12 in advance. We really enjoyed the show, very intimiate just 50 people and 6 improv actors right in front of you. They get the audience involved in suggestions and taking cues from your daily lives. A really pleasant way to spend an evening on the cheap! And very walkable from everything in Old City.
We were very exhausted and tired by this time in the day but had a great time hanging out with another couple (J and S :))at the Dave and Buster's right on the water front.

DAY #2:
Our goal was to tackle Center City and all the markets this day. We woke up at a leisurely 9am and had a wonderful spread of pastries and omelettes by our hosts to get us energized for the day ahead. We were staying south of the Italian Market so we walked there first.

My favorite piece of art in the Magic Garden galleries.
  1. Italian Market- mostly produce/meats etc out on the street. Apparently some great bakeries etc around the area (we were recommended the cannoli's at Isgro's, which were indeed yummy but I still love Mike's Pastries in Boston). Fante's was also highly recommended by our hosts if you like fancy kitchen cookware or just more specialty stuff like gold sprinkles :).
  2. Magic Gardens- gorgeous and a very cool artsy area. If you like mosaics this is a place to stop by. We were inspired to make a mosaic from this visit and its a great photo op. To quote Nytimes:  "an art center and endearingly bizarre outdoor maze of mortar, bicycle tires, bottles, textiles, artwork and tchotchkes...Isaiah Zagar’s magnum opus is a multitextured, multilayered labyrinth that leaves visitors amused, if maybe puzzled. “I think it communicates something, but I don’t know what that is,” said Mr. Zagar, who frequently roams his creations and obligingly fields questions from visitors."
  3. Me in the Magic Gardens
  4. Pine St. "Historic Antique Row": Between S 13th and S10th street I believe. This street is so quaint with a scattering of antique shops and fun home design stores. A great 20-30 minute detour. We would highly recommend.
  5. Detour: We then walked towards Pennsylvania Hospital because I wanted to see the nation's oldest surgical amphitheater. You are supposed to be able to get a free walking tour guide pamphlet at the info desk but this part of the hosp is closed on weekends. My bad!
  6. Reading Terminal Market: (we've been walking north all this while) and we finally hit Market st.! This market is indoors and the entrance is through a sketchy tunnel. It was fun to roam around to find LUNCH and I got some culinary souvenirs here. I found an authentic philly soft pretzel after much searching (Lonely planet says it should be rectangular in shape and stuck to other pretzels). Very hectic though!
  7. The chaos of the Reading Terminal Market
  8. Mutter Museum: Note (up to this point, everything has been somewhat in a logical walking order in from South philly to Center City). We took a big detour to the west to go to this medical oddities museum. It was so worth it ($10 for students) and fun given I am medstudent.
  9. Mutter Museum. Gross and Cool! (pic from
  10. Dinner at Chinatown (also a big detour, but not bad if you are already in Center City): We went to Nanzhou handrawn noodle house, which had such rave reviews I was dying to go! The noodles were such a great texture and I loved the peanut sauce on mine. A got the House special meatball soup noodles. And tried bubble tea for the first time (very mediocre here, but for $1.75, I can't complain).

8. We finished up the night by trekking all the way to UPENN, had cocktails, then watched a great comedy with our friends J and S, 21 Jump St. I loved it. Sometimes I wish I was back in high school...

9. A wanted a midnight snack when we got back to our B&B, so how convenient that Geno's and Pat's (of cheesesteak FAME) were only 6 short blocks away?

Ironically, we ended up choosing Pat's (because it had the longer line when we got there). I did not partake in cheesesteak eating, but their fries were excellent. I was also here pre-veggie days and I can't even remember which one I liked most! Share one from each place, everyone recommends!

Day #3: 

West Philly and UPENN
Sunday, our last day in Philly! :(. 
We woke up, enjoyed our breakfast then drove to (btw Philly is a city of street parking just fyi)...

1. Boathouse Row: Very pretty. I wanted to see all the crew houses up close. Great for a morning walk and almost made me want to row again. However, we were behind all the houses, not sure how to get the lovely front view without being on the highway.
And old picture of boathouse row that I found, and love (www.
2. We finished up at UPENN. A wanted a tour of Wharton, but unfortunately you need a student ID to get into anywhere on the weekend. Still, it was a gorgeous area and I got to meet a very special man...
Thanks for a great weekend, philly!
and.. extra thanks to J and S who were excellent hosts all weekend :).