Wedding-Vacation 2013: Addendum to Yesterday, History Tours, Tunnels, and Theater

Posted by Mike Merritt in Travelogue on

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Before I start on today, I’d like to make an addition to yesterday’s post, because I feel like I made the wedding ceremony and the reception sound really routine, when they were anything but that. Both were fantastic anyway, but what made them reallly stand out was the wedding party’s ability to boogie, starting as soon as the ceremony ended and they left the chapel.

When we got back to the hotel for the reception, it got even better. After my cousin and her husband were introduced, the wedding party immediately went into a rendition of the dance from Psy’s “Gentlemen.” And that there helped set the mood and cement the night into my mind.

So that was the wedding part of this trip in a nutshell.

Today officially began the vacation part of this trip, and it was also the busiest so far. The first thing was breakfast for the wedding party and the guests. Originally set for a nearby IHOP, it ended being in the hotel buffet. It was pretty good, all said.

Afterward, I bid adieu to my parents and grandfather, who
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were heading back home, and went off to see the liberty bell and potentially Independence Hall. The first lesson of the day was that the SEPTA subway isn’t built to be obvious to visitors. It takes a minute to get used to. After finally figuring it out – not without some consternation – we made it to the Independence Hall mall, but did not make it to the Hall itself as tickets were sold out (I got a picture in, anyway). So we saw the liberty bell, which is much smaller than it seems and, though I get the symbolism of it, just isn’t as great as I thought it might be.

Next we decided to take a historical tour on a double-decker bus with an open top. We learned a lot about Philadelphia in 90 minutes than we ever could have by walking around ourselves. For example, did you know that Philadelphians have their own version of the “curse of the Bambino” supposedly brought on by building a structure taller than the height of William Penn’s statue? Or that the statue’s hair strands are four feet tall? Me either. The tour was highly informative and entertaining, but it did start to rain. We stuck it out up top until just before it started to pour.

After the tour we were hungry, so we subwayed it to the Terminal Station Market on Market St. It’s a packed collection of shops, vendors, and food-court style restaurants. I’ve seen one before in another city, but this one was cool nonetheless. I wanted pulled pork, but that food vendor was closed, so I got BBQ chicken instead. It was very good, and the homemade macaroni and cheese was excellent; a good meal for $10.

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After dinner, we had to get back to the hotel to go see Wicked at the Kimmel Center across from our hotel, and it was still pouring, so we considered our options. We weren’t going to hoof it in the deluge, would have to take two likely expensive cabs, and I don’t think anyway else but me was up for another subway ride. Luckily my uncle found out that a guy from the tour desk was heading home (the Market was closing soon) and so we ended up with a tour in central Philadelphia’s underground pedestrian concourse that’s adjacent and providing access to the Center City subway lines. Originally built in the ’60s, it was intended as a pedestrian alternative in inclement weather. It went through its rough patch, but is apparently mostly safe now, if a bit creepy and leak-ridden in areas (and stinky every now and then). However, it’s definitely not one of those places most tourists are going to go through during their time in the city, so I was happy to experience it, even once. I like some local flavor, even if it necessitates constant vigilance. We were in a big group, though, so there was plenty of that among us.

After a brief respite at the hotel, we headed across the street for then show. One word for it: WOW! It was excellent. I’d always wanted to seen it, but it never happened, despite being visiting NYC four years in a row. The actress who played Elphaba for tonight’s show was the understudy, but she could just as well be the main actress for then role. She was that good. I’ll have a larger review for the show on the TicketNetwork Blog once I return home.

Finally, my aunt, one of my cousins, and I went for ice cream at nearby place, and it was pretty good. A little overwhelming on the options, though.

Today’s continuation to Williamsburg, VA, will be a long train day, so my report will most likely involve something outstanding (anything), and/or some commentary on the place we’re staying at. The real meat will pick up back up on Tuesday.

I close by bidding farewell to Philadelphia. I will be back as there is so much more to see.

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